So within the last two days we were able to finally get a car. It’s nothing fancy. We got a Mitsubishi Lancer (not sure the year). Our friend who had offered to help us find a car delivered on her promise and had the car sitting and waiting at my wife’s school to drive away the day following her offer. I’ll tell you, driving in Thailand versus the way you’ve always driven in the states is a challenge at first. The driver’s seat is on the right side of the car instead of the left. The blinker’s and windshield wipers are also switched. Your gear shift (our’s is automatic) is still between the two front seats but you are manipulating it with your left hand. The BIGGEST challenge is that you are driving on the left side of the road and you must also navigate the many motorbikes, bicycles, tuktuks’, and motorbike taxis. I’ll say that my first few minutes of simply driving from the school to my house were a bit challenging but now I feel pretty good about it for the most part.
That evening we met up with many of our new neighbors as they invited us to join them for a neighborhood get-together. The neighbor hosting it was only two streets over. Again these people were very welcoming. We were greeted with a beer and some snacks. A diverse group, we were a mix of people from America, Ireland, India, London, and New Zealand. They were all very impressed at our move to Thailand but also tickled with our “international virginity” or naivety to the change and knew we were most likely in severe culture shock, which we are. Our children played with their children and we discussed life in Thailand, our lives before the move, and simply had a good time together. There was something reassuring about seeing other people who have successfully navigated some form of normalcy with a move to a foreign country. They’ve developed routines, they get around where they need to go, they’ve conquered the initial fear that you have upon arrival… and that fear is the fact that you really have no idea where anything is and don’t speak the language.
That night my wife fell very ill, vomiting through the evening, perhaps from some food that didn’t sit well. She was sick from about 1AM to nearly 10PM the following evening. It’s difficult being sick here when you are new to the area because you can’t find your plain chicken noodle soup or saltine crackers or just many of your comfort items from the west. Everything has a seaweed flavor, or soy, or shrimp, etc. Luckily I could find some good old sprite and toasted some white bread. She began to feel a little better towards the afternoon but really not 100% until the next day.
Since we finally had a ride, and my wife was feeling a little better, our family went out to a market called “Big C” in Rayong, Thailand to get some home goods and essentials. The “Big C” felt like a combination of a mall, flea market, and a Walmart all in one. There you can buy nearly any kid of cellular phone you could imagine, grab a DQ Blizzard, have some fried chicken feet, get a pedicure, and get maybe even get a new home stereo. It’s a one stop shop. For me, it’s still difficult at the moment to convert the USD cost in my head from Thai Baht, Thailand’s currency. We are learning. Luckily we got most of the goods needed. We even picked up some KFC on our way out. It was a nice touch of familiarity from home.