Friday, 13 June 2014

I’m on Foot……Again!

Here we go again! Three weeks into living in the tropics and no physical means of transport except my own two feet! I can generally walk a fair distance and it certainly is much flatter here than the hills back home, but the humidity makes me feel like I’ve hit a brick wall generally halfway to wherever I am going.
So I decided it was time to consider buying a car. There is no point transporting my car from home up here as I will need it there on my return visits.
Now we find out the true meaning of NT in Northern Territory. Every car I considered was not available to drive away, as they say, Not Today, Not Tomorrow, Not Tuesday, Not Thursday, Next truck or maybe Next Train. You see everything you want in the Northern Tebaht busrritory has to be shipped up by road train  or rail from down south and it appears that is always months away. The waiting begins!
It reminds me of rubber time in Thailand where nothing ever happened in a hurry, everything was either “mai pen lai” never mind, or “mai me” no have. A shrug of the shoulders and all would be good…..eventually.
I persisted with walking or using baht buses for a while in Thailand, it seemed easy enough, or so I initially thought. For the uninitiated a baht bus is kind of like an old blue ute with a roof over the back with two long seats either side that you climb into and hang onto for dear life.  One is expected to barter with the local currency, Thai baht, for the fare to wherever you want to go.  This was fine during the wet season or the really sticky humid season, but didn’t work out so well during the tourist season.
Off peak season I knew exactly what my fair should have been to take me from our expat compound down to the main street of Pattaya to shop, then return, 20 baht each way, fair enough I could agree to that. However once peak tourist season hit the baht bus drivers get greedy and suddenly want 100 baht, I don’t think so! There are three prices in Thailand, Thai, expat and tourist price. I’m not a tourist, I’m here for the long haul!
One day I refused to pay their asking price, I bartered in my best Thai, but baht bus after bus continually drove off, they could pick up the tourist dollar and make a lot more. I was getting anxious, the school bus was due home any moment, I needed to be home for my boys. A Thai on a baht bike had been observing the interactions and stepped forward to offer me a lift home. 5 baht on the back of his motor bike and I would be home in 5 minutes.
My husband had always warned me never to get on the back of a baht bike. Far too dangerous, he always said. They weave their way in and out of the traffic with no concern for the passenger. I stood their considering my options for a split second, hubby didn’t need to know and I was desperate to get home. Like a rebel I reluctantly agreed, he smiled and helped me onto the back of his bike, reached around to pull my arms tight around his waist, it was obvious how nervous I was, and we were off. I took a deep breath and didn’t know whether to close my eyes but the driver was to my surprise slow and careful.
It took a few weeks but eventually the guilt inside me rose and I confessed to my husband. Within the next week I had a car and a driver. A friend for the rest of our stay in Thailand, someone I not only trusted my life with on the roads but my children as well.
My husband knows me well enough after all these years that when I say I need transport, he had better do something about it. So the car is ordered, we now play the waiting game, come on August and we’ll see if the car actually arrives here in Darwin NT.

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