Terror precedes adventure. At least to me. Every time a trip nears, there is a sinking feeling in my stomach like I’m making a bad decision or a mistake. What-ifs tumble through my mind like an avalanche, and I question every decision I make a hundred times or more. As the date draws near, the questions become weightier, and the dread grows almost unbearable.
And then I leave. The fears melt away. Issues arise, but they never seem to linger, or if they do, they don’t tend to have much impact on my happiness.
I departed Dallas on February 7th, and flew through Abu Dhabi to get to Bangkok. I had no intentions of staying in the latter city for any length of time, but I didn’t plan very well in the US, and since I want to get into India, I took some time to stop through the Indian Embassy to secure a visa.
This is where the first issue arose.
The first day I went, the embassy was closed for a few hours, so I decided to walk around. Looking at the map, I thought I could make it to a temple, look around, and head back before the embassy closed. But I got lost. For about five hours and 15 miles of walking.
Day three, I returned to the embassy. On time. As I was standing in line, a security officer pulled me away, and directed me to a phone near the x-ray scanner. On the other end, a woman with a stern voice asked, “What are you doing here?” Apparently, I had been seen on the security camera, and looked out of place.
“Um, I was hoping to get a visa,” I said.
“Give the phone to the guard,” she said. I did so, and she and the guard exchanged some words before I was swiftly ushered out of the security room.
Outside, I was given a map, and instructed to go to a different building if I wanted to secure a visa. So I made my way to the building shown on my new map. Upon arrival, I found that this office had closed an hour earlier than the embassy had opened. I noted the hours, and set my alarm for the next day.
I arrived on time the next day to find the building filled with people bustling about, or waiting in one of about 50 chairs arrayed around the room. Typical of any bureaucratic office, LED displays showed red block numbers, indicating whose turn it was to discover they had filled out the wrong forms, and would have to wait in line again. I looked around to see where to grab a number, but instead was quickly shown to another line where I would explain my purpose in being there.
This line moved quickly, and before long, I stood before the desk of a typically surly bureaucrat. Without looking at me, he demanded my passport, quickly leafed through it, and curtly informed me that I could not apply for a visa in Thailand while directing to my attention to a sign expressing the same.
Currently, no foreign nationals without Thai residency may apply for an Indian visa in Thailand.
Before the bureaucrat had an opportunity to shoo me away, I asked how I should get into India. He handed me a paper explaining how to apply for an e-visa, but I already knew this would allow me only 30 days in India. I asked about longer stays, and he said to try again at an embassy in another country.
So, I still don’t have my Indian visa. No worries, though, I was planning on going to other countries anyway. Water off a duck’s back.
The second issue developed on the first or second day in Bangkok. As I attempted to get to work on editing photos, I noticed that my keyboard wouldn’t work. Nor would my trackpad. Being versed in fixing computer issues, I turned it off and back on again. No dice. I tried it again. It worked! However, after a quick rest, I attempted to return to work, only to find that the keyboard and trackpad were once again inoperative. My computer was broken.
I contacted Apple (the computer is still under warranty) and they offered to have it fixed near where I was at an authorized Apple repair shop, assuring me that there would be no problems. Upon arriving at the shop, though, I was informed that getting the part would take 1-2 weeks. Needless to say, I wasn’t very happy with this information, but having no recourse, and a broken computer, I left the MacBook with the repair center, and went on my way.
Remember how I said troubles melt away? Ten days later, I remembered about the computer, and went to check back at the store. Sure enough, it was fixed. They forgot to email me as they said they would, and had provided a non-working phone number, but everything was fine.
Normally, I’m a worrier, easily frustrated and curmudgeonly, but something about this country, about travel, makes all the troubles somehow insignificant. Everything is fixed, the computer works, I’ll be able to apply for a visa once I get to Cambodia. Or Laos. Or wherever life takes me. Life couldn’t be more grand.
More (interesting) stories next post. Stay tuned.