Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tourist Meltdown
Finally, it happened... I took an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (12 hours) and didn't sleep well. Ate nuts and raisins because all the food had meat. Got off the train in sauna-like 50 celsius heat (over 100 F), and asked a taxi driver to take me to my hotel: the Golden Cupid. He said sure, I know where it is, 100 Bhat. Then he took my confirmation paper and saw there was no address and revealed he didn't really know where it was. I said "you lied to me." He agreed... So, here i was, tired and hot and unshowered, and no address or phone for the hotel that no one had heard of. Well, it was highly rated on Tripadvisor, but Expedia didn't think of presenting location info with the confirmation e-mail.

So, I saw an Internet computer and went to look it up - decent solution. Meanwhile, the taxi driver lingered about a foot from me. I asked him nicely to back away - about 5 times. Then he finally did and sent two buddies to ask me if I wanted a taxi. They all have this way of "claiming" you - the first one to ask, tells others to back off and if you go with another, the first gets a cut. Also, the Asians have this idea of personal space that is 1 foot from each other and that does not fit my American social space needs... They watched over my shoulder while I checked e-mail, reading to see if they could see a hotel address, and I finally became THE UGLY AMERICAN. Ok, not that bad, but just turned around, raised my voice quite loud, and put up my hands and said "everyone please leave me alone!" Then I walked out of the train station with address/phone number, into the street and got a tuk tuk (motorcycle with two seater on back).

While riding, I recalled my day before. I was at Wat Marahat learning Buddhist mediation for 3 hours. It was wonderful. More on that later, but the procedure--while walking as slowly as possible, for example--is to say each thing in your mind 3 times: lift foot, lift foot, lift foot...lower foot, lower foot, lower foot, tread, tread, tread. It is a practice that gets one to be more mindful of every body/mind thing in the minute and to not let a story in the mind or body run on and on while one is doing something else.

Soooooo -- back to the tuk tuk: hot air, hot air, hot air; agitated stomach, agitated stomach, a.s.; road vibrating, road vibrating, road vibrating; thinking, thinking, thinking; tired, tired, tired; Thailand, thailand, thailand; beautiful trees, b.t., b.t ... It worked! I got right into the pleasure of the moment again and did not rehash the train station unpleasantness...
I must also say that something I learned on my weekend with Tracey at Taylor Group helped: Responsibility is not blaming anyone for what happened, including yourself, but just going forward with a solution.

The new and improved Judy.

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