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Published: December 11th 2014
Bangkok's Got Her Now (Hangover II, anyone? Movie makes a lot more sense now...)
**more of a personal entry than a travel blog post, fair warning***
I hesitate to write this because I already feel the bad memories swirling up to my throat as my insides clench to try to keep them in the pit of my belly. They hurt less down there. But here goes.
Cameron leaves early am, and I have a long sleep and an AMAZING breakfast at the hotel. I even make myself a little sandwich for later. I check out if the hotel and leave my bag at the desk and check out Khoa San Road (the backpackers spot, intentionally avoided for the nights unless drunken 20 year old debauchery is your thing, but fine in the day). I'm looking for a suitcase, as my suitcase has a broken wheel and the back is breaking out. I can't find anything cheap, and the women aren't into haggling, so I head back to the hotel.
I have an hour to kill, so I do some bookkeeping and open up my bank account. I have been keeping most of my money in a high interest savings account, and I just transfer money to my checking account as needed. I should have plenty of money, but my jaw drops when I look closer and realize that parenthesis indicate a negative balance. My student loan payments which I have deferred since I've been traveling just decided to start up again. I am now overdrawn with additional fee on top of that. This wouldn't be a big deal if it wasn't a holiday weekend, or if Thailand accepted American Express, or if my savings account was linked to my checking account. None of these were the case. And since it was a holiday weekend, my bank transfer wouldn't clear for 2 days. So I now have no ability to withdraw from my account, or use a credit card. I call the bank, and they say there is nothing they can do until Monday morning. I then call American express, and they tell me that I can get a cash advance of $500 as long as I can make it to a bank which accepts Amex ...or in other words, Vietnam. I call the online savings account bank, and since the transfer is a third party vendor, they cannot rush the transfer. Screwed. Thank God for Google Voice so I can make these calls via Wifi. I look in my wallet and I have enough for cab fare to the airport, so I should be fine. I just need to make it to Vietnam. Just feels unsettling to not have resources, particularly in a foreign county. I feel a bit shaky, but no big deal, more just annoyed.
I get to the airport and show them my confirmation letter on my iPad. They make me print it out, so I run to the internet kiosk and pay for internet and printing. I arrive back and they tell me the letter is a fraud. I have bought a fake visa. And there is nothing I can do.
Normally in these situations I get angry, but right now all I feel is defeat. I feel small, broke, and defeated. I have an online chat with a company who can grant me an emergency visa which allows me to fly the next day, but that's the best they can do. Its pricey, but I can use my American Express, so it's okay. I comb through my wallet and I have enough to book a cheap hotel, and I can get one near the airport with free transfers, which saves a lot of money and time. So as long as I don't plan on eating, I'm okay. And as long as the visa goes through and I don't have to spend another night. And as long as this visa is the real thing. As long as... As long as... The hotel provides water and a shower, so at least I can worry and fret in comfort. I wait until 1am when my bank finally opens and I call. They tell me there's nothing they can do, but maybe they could call me back? I answer no, no way to call me back in Bangkok. This is when a light dawns on me. I realize that my bank is in Palo Alto, and I have friends in Palo Alto, so if they make a cash deposit in my bank it should hold me til the transfer. I reach out, and Aaron responds right away and says no problem. I'm in tears. It's a bit of a inexplicable feeling to be alone in a foreign place without resources. Really not trying to be dramatic, but I easily could have ran out of money and had no place to stay. I'm sure I would have found a way in the end, such as a money transfer or wiring, but for some reason my stressed brain didn't even contemplate that at first. It's such a crazy feeling to be without friends or family and only the sparse money in your hand. Imagine living like that EVERY day like many people do. I can't.
I have a breakfast of peanuts and instant hot chocolate powder out of the packet because the money still hasn't been processed by my bank. I get an email at noon saying my visa has been processed and I take the free shuttle to the airport and pray this will all work out. I must get out of Bangkok. I know I have a lot of expenses waiting for me at the airport as well, so I just hope $500 a la Aaron Meyers is enough and I jump off of the shuttle towards check-in.
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