Adventures in Errant Errands

Sometimes, I feel like I could live in Thailand forever. That feeling is usually strongest around lunch time:

The lunch that dreams are made of.

The $1.20 lunch that dreams are made of.

Other times – like when I go to immigration at 5 a.m. to make sure I get a place in line to get a ticket to get a number when the office opens at 8:30 a.m. so I can see the immigration official at 10 a.m.  – I’m reminded that Thailand isn’t really my home.

Unfortunately for me and my aversion to paperwork, my passport, driver’s license and vehicle registration all need to be renewed. Soon.  And like a Mobius strip made of red tape, I need each of those documents in order to get the others:

I need my passport (along with 2 photos, a letter from my landlady, an application form, and photocopies of my passport pages) to get a Certificate of Residency from Immigration, which I need (along with my passport, 2 photos, an application form, a heath certificate and photocopies of my passport pages) to renew my Driver’s License at the DMV on the other side of town.

Are you still with me? Take a deep breath, there’s more.

On Monday morning, my plan was to go to the Canadian Consulate, get a quick (but expensive) Certificate of Residency, renew my Driver’s License that afternoon, so I could go back to the Consulate on Tuesday morning to apply for my new passport. It was a complex, but brilliantly efficient plan.

Are you still here? If so, you’re a trooper. Carry on.

First, finding the Canadian Consulate in Chiang Mai isn’t easy. It’s not like the American Consulate, which is right down by the river, surrounded by a giant wall and guarded 24/7. That one’s hard to miss. The Canadian one is in a little out-of-the way building with a tiny little sign you can’t see until you’re right beside it…and since it’s where two lanes merge on a highway, you might be busy looking at a stampede of trucks bearing down on your little motorbike and miss it the first 3 times you drive past.

Oh, there you are!

Oh, there you are!

Eventually, I saw the tiny sign out of the corner of my eye as I was passing it, and slammed on my brakes. I coasted to a stop on the paved shoulder 2 meters past the entrance, and rolled my motorbike backwards down the highway and coasted into the parking lot.

Feeling rather accomplished, I parked my bike, grabbed my mountain of neatly organized paperwork, and traipsed through the wide open door…into an empty office.

Hello? Canada? Is anyone home?

Hello? Canada? Is anyone home?

Really – it was completely empty. For a long time.

It was deserted. Abandoned. Vacant. I could have committed mischief! Or Sabotage! Or Espionage! Or Decoupage! But I didn’t – mostly because I was busy signing the guest book.

Eventually, a shy Thai girl walked past carrying a cardboard box and trying very hard not to make eye contact with me. On her 2nd box-carrying trip, I asked if anyone could help me. She politely explained that someone had been here. They had since gone out – but they would (eventually) return.

I sat down to wait.

After about 10 minutes, Box Girl returned and gave me a phone number to call. I hate the telephone, and wasn’t in a hurry yet, and there were magazines to read, and I had been assured that the person who had left would (eventually) return.

I continued to wait.

After finishing a rather lacklustre article in an ancient magazine, I decided to call the number Box Girl had given me.I spoke with the person who had left, and she assured me she would (eventually) return … next Friday.

Have any of your best-laid plans gone awry lately?

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Adventures in Trouble Raining Down

The other day was a bit hectic, and included fighting with Jason Bateman (in my dream), flooding my kitchen (in real life), baking an entire batch of cookies for the ants (in error), and gardening with the help of my ancient neighbour and his cane (wielded like a sword).

You may be asking yourself, “Why didn’t I read about this? Why wasn’t such a day recorded for posterity on this blog that I sometimes read when I have absolutely nothing else to do with my time?” Dear reader, I have no excuse. It just didn’t seem news worthy.

However, since it’s been so long since I’ve written, and you’ve been so patient, I’ll tell you all about today’s adventures. I’m pretty sure it’s going to sound like I had a terrible, awful, dreadful day. I really didn’t. Overall, I’m feeling pretty good…but today, the rains came…and when the rains come, they bring trouble.

I came home this afternoon to find water dripping out of a leak in my ceiling, an overturned lamp, a shattered light bulb and a completely complacent cat curled up on the sofa, blissfully unaware of the shambles around her. For a feline, she is remarkably un-curious. Not only will curiosity never kill this cat, it won’t even give her so much as a hangnail.

I have no interest in the world around me.

Eventually, buckets were put in place, landladies were alerted, broken glass was swept away…then the bugs came. Every year, the first heavy rain of the season awakens the flying termites, who noisily swarm the nearest lights. Last year, I still had my mosquito net up, so took refuge under it and waited for the maelstrom to pass.

This year, I wasn’t so lucky. Not only was I exposed to the onslaught of fluttery bugs, the floor fan in my room was sucking them in, mashing them up, and blowing an oscillating stream of wings and bug-bodies all over my room. I had high hopes that the cat would at least take care of some of them…but no. Even after one bug flew directly into her face…twice…she looked at me like it was my fault, then sauntered away, completely ignoring the fluttery mayhem around her.

I needn’t have worried about the mess the bugs made. Even as they were falling to the ground, the ants were marching to collect their fallen bodies and cart them off to who-knows-where. (Honestly, I don’t know where…if I did, I’d do something about it.) Now, the only evidence of the bugs is a few scattered wings on the floor, and all is quiet. But the rain has started again…

Adventures in Icky Yuckies

Alright, my long-suffering readers. It’s time for you to have your say! Here’s how this works:

I’ll list, in order, my experience from the other night. You choose which line you think is most shudder/scream/Eeek! worthy. Okay? What’s worse…

1) A giant cockroach landing on the wall nearby.

2) Foul smell of extra-strength bug killing spray filling your living room (preventing you from wanting to eat the snack you were looking forward to)

3) An angry, sprayed cockroach flying around dive-bombing your head for 10 minutes.

4) A dying cockroach twitching under your desk for a few minutes.

5) The definitely dead cockroach completely disappearing while you slept. (Because it’s impossible to cope with dead bugs when it’s dark outside, waiting ’til morning is best. But how does a giant dead cockroach vanish in less than 4 hours!!??)

So, 1-5, what do you think is the worst?

(The good news is that this is the first cockroach I’ve seen in a very long time!)