Today is Monday, December 24, 2012. We are sitting in our new apartment in Chatterat, a tiny town north of the Issan city of Korat. Nee will start work here in another week and I am here to help her move. We are also going to look for a job for me as I will be moving down here in March, once my semester is over. Since this is a Buddhist country, Christmas is more of a party day rather than a holiday thus I am going to apply for work at some of the schools here.
Last Christmas was spent packing to move to Thailand and having a dinner and video night with friends. We had no idea what our future would hold. My future feels that way now once again. Christmas is becoming my time of moving rather than celebrating. Still, we hope to celebrate in some way, though we don’t know what that will be.
Planning never seems to work as planned. We thought we would be in Chaiyaphum by Thursday leaving me Friday to apply for work and the weekend to find an apartment. Our car broke down on the way losing us one day. I also needed to renew my visa as Thailand requires me to check in to immigration every 90 days when I am here for the purpose of working. I could have done my check in at the office in Fang, two blocks from my school but we wanted to be able to use as many of my 90 days as possible. We decided to check in at the town of Nakhon Sawan on the way down, giving me an extra few days. That was the plan.
We spent the night there and found it to be an old city with lots of narrow alleys filled with zooming motorcycles and huge trucks. Nee had heard of a restaurant “near” our hotel and we decided to walk. We got lost at first, were overwhelmed by the pace and confusion of the traffic but managed to push on and finally found the place. On the way we also found a few establishments offering hourly services to lonely men, motorcycle bars, and other uninviting establishments. The dinner was delicious even though the waitress completely ignored us throughout our stay leaving her with no tip.
The next day, we ate food from our ice chest and went out to find immigration. It was easy to find though we were too early. We had some chicken and rice at a street vendor and then found coffee at another while we waited. The office had no line which made us happy after our all day adventure three months earlier in Chiang Mai. Then we found out life wasn’t so easy.
Apparently, I needed to check in where I live or at least have proof of our home via a government registration form. My option was to catch a bus back to Chiang Mai or move on and we chose the latter. Along the way, our car broke down and Nee spent the time calling friends to see if we could get a connection along the way. If she couldn’t do that, we were going to have to go down to Bangkok and use Nee’s house registration. Her best friend grew up in our destination town Korat and she arranged to have her brother meet us at the immigration office.
On our way out of town, our car broke down. Ironically, our Chevy managed to find trouble in front of the only Chevy dealer for miles. We stuck there for most of the day and had to stop at Lopburi for the night, a town famous for its monkeys. As we drove into town, we past a temple with monkeys crawling everywhere. Our hotel had statues of monkeys throughout. We spent the evening in our room listening to music across the street that sounded a bit like someone torturing a cat though I was told it was karaoke.
|A little monkey time for Roy|
We were still a long drive from Korat causing us to drive as fast as possible to get there. Her brother needed to be somewhere at 1 and we still had a 4 hour drive to get there. We arrived at 11:30 and I began to worry the officers would disappear at noon for lunch. I took a number and waited. At 11:45 they called my number and the brother and I went to the desk. I handed over my paperwork and we both sat quietly waiting to hear her ask if I really lived in Korat. She never said anything. She stamped my forms, stapled a paper into my passport and wished me a good day. The brother and I looked at each other relieved.
For Christmas, I would have liked to have either spent it in Fang with my new friends or maybe even be with my sons and brother in America. This year, though, we are going to spend it looking for work and enjoying my Christmas present of being allowed to stay in Thailand another 90 days. As we have had no major mishaps this year, I am thankful for that as well as having made many new friends. I have also discovered that I both enjoy teaching and am good at it. Thus, my Christmas present this year was to discover something new about myself and my ability to persevere.
I hope, as you are reading this, you will have a pleasant and uneventful Christmas and a Happy New Year.