Always a good question when you are supposed to be learning about dealing with a new country, a new culture, a new reality.
Really, it’s mostly the little things for me. Maybe that’s because what once were bigger deals have been dealt with in the past and now seem less ominous.
I have to put a certain amount of money into a Thai bank in order to get my retirement long-stay visa that’s good for a year, and then renewable. I’ve chosen Krung Thai Bank, solely based on their excellent website, which pretty much answered all my questions and concerns. It also seemed to be very friendly, if a website can do that.
Not sure it matters which bank I make the deposit anyway. Krung Thai allows regular transfers from my U.S. bank; provides an ATM card, which can be used at all Thai banks for a very small fee, unlike the $10-11 I’m assessed every time I use an ATM in Thailand with my U.S. card.
Of course, I could go there and they might not let me open an account. I’ve asked a local woman (the sister of the hotel owner where I stayed when I first arrived) to go to the bank with me for translation purposes, but they might still not let me open an account. Which means going to another bank to try again.
I’ll be sure to report on the experience.
I thought it might be a good idea to find the bank on a map (Google) and found their main office was not far from me. I walked there today and could not find the bank, asked a couple of people unsuccessfully (the language problem is as I feared), before finally going into a shop because one of the services listed outside (in English, no less) was taxi service. I need someone I can call so thought it was a good idea to go in.
There was a family of four sitting on the floor having a 4 pm meal. The food smelled great. They asked if I wanted to eat. They invited me to sit down. They did not know me.
The woman gave me a map and her husband’s phone number to call for taxi service. He was the man sitting on the floor with two little ones. She also cuts hair but quoted me 20 baht for a haircut and then said 150 baht. Think I’ll try elsewhere as I’ve seen others who charge 80 baht ($2.20).
But she did show me and marked on the map where we were and where the bank was. And she translated the bank info I had on a cue card. Her husband will get a shot at my infrequent taxi business, although Edi in Batam made a small fortune off me.
Edi is what I need here – someone who knows the area, speaks some English, will help me with tasks, not just drive me around. For example, Edi went into the Batam cable TV office to help me start service, and another time purchased some copies of keys so I could save $2. Seems silly now. Anyway, an Edi here would be good, as would a contact within the motorcycle taxi universe. I can’t just pick up a taxi or motorcycle taxi where I live; I have to call someone.
I also came across another laundry and noticed a sign that said 80 baht/kilo. Finally, a laundry charging by weight. However, upon further review, that’s way more than I paid in Batam. Back to Plan B.
I have also located a local dental clinic if I want to get that long-overdue cleaning and checkup, several bicycle shops if I decide I want to make my life less safe but more mobile, a number of small eateries, several more bakeries, and, oh yes, the keymeister was finally home.
I have tried several times to get spare apartment keys made. The shop is just at the end of soi 41 but the guy’s never there. So I keep stopping by. Today, his place was open – but there was no one there. Someone in the back said 10 minutes, he was in the toilet. I needed soda and beer anyway so walked across the street and returned. Six keys for 150 baht, or less than a dollar a key. That doesn’t sound cheap (and maybe I was given the farang price) but I haven’t had a key made in the U.S. recently for comparison, so I don’t know.
Final lesson: There’s a small retail-looking area at the end of the street along the beach that I thought included a small restaurant. There is also faded lettering on a wall about massages. Since getting to a local restaurant from my apartment is a trek, I thought this place might be an alternative for local food.
So I walked in, asked an older woman about food. She motioned me to a closed off space that looked like a kitchen and then I asked about the massage. She then introduced me to Oar who was inside a small, two-bed massage parlor. She actually speaks decent English and told me they once sold food there but business went away. Her massages start at 250 baht for one hour, typical of what I’ve seen.
So no food there, sodas yes, and massages. Local food remains four blocks away.
This is going to take some adjustment. I think I had it too easy for four years in Indonesia. I need to get back to that original “I’m going to Costa Rica to live a new life” mentality of six years ago.