7. Bangkok We bicycled all the way from Malaysia to Bangkok, except for two short stretches when we hitch-hiked in empty trucks and one stretch of about 60 miles when we rode a bus across the mountains. We had a lot more flat tires in Thailand than we did in Malaysia, probably because the roads were rougher. We rode the last three days in solid rain.
We had no major trouble until about 10 miles out of Bangkok when I blew a tire (I ran over a curb) and the back wheel got all goofed up. We bought a new tube, then a new tire but were unable to get the real problem fixed. We must have walked 7 miles that afternoon and evening, more than half of it in the city and all of it pushing those heavy bicycles. When we got where we were going at about 9:00 p.m., we were exhausted. (We didn’t dare ride bicycles in Bangkok because the traffic was so bad. It was worse than Manila.)
We stayed a few days with the Seventh Day Adventist missionary doctors with whom we stayed most of the time we were in Phuket. It allowed us time to locate Ray Huberner, my Baylor friend who lived with us in Manila. Ray said we could stay with him and was very helpful. He’d been in Bangkok for almost a year (teaching most of the time), so he knew his way around pretty well and had some good contacts.
We’d been thinking for some time of trying to work in Bangkok. Traveling constantly, with no place to go back to can begin to get on a person’s nerves after a while. Also our funds were beginning to get a little low … enough that if we didn’t work in Bangkok we’d have to be really skimpy the rest of our time in Thailand, then in Indonesia, and until we got to Australia or New Zealand, where we thought we’d be allowed to work again. Almost immediately Peggy applied for a teaching position at the International School of Bangkok, but there were no openings. The turnover of teachers was great, however, and there looked like there would be a vacancy by the new semester. Ray had other ideas (all teaching English), so we thought we’d follow up with some of them. But if something didn’t turn up soon, we thought we’d just tour northern Thailand, then head south to Indonesia, working our way across that country to Australia. At first we saw very little of Bangkok because we were too busy getting ready for Christmas and getting settled.
8. Bangkok We had all sorts of mail waiting for us in Bangkok. One of Peggy’s brothers wrote all about his travels; it seemed as if he might have caught a lighter case of our bug. But Peggy didn’t receive some mail she expected but realized they might’ve written something that didn’t reach us. The Thai mail service wasn’t the best in the world. And we were advised to ask people to print our address. Most Thais could read Romanized letters, but printing seemed to be a little easier for them than longhand.
9. Bangkok Ray Hubener, the fellow we were now staying with, suggested where we might find jobs. So we left in the middle of the morning (dressed in our best) to go find out if anyone would hire us.
But just after we’d gotten outside the gate of the apartment complex, Ray’s landlady’s employee called us back. The landlady came to meet us and announced, “Sorry, but no pets are allowed.” We had left our little gibbon behind, and he was loudly telling the world that he didn’t like it. The landlord went on for some time about how the other tenants would complain. She also said that Ray wasn’t allowed to have guest without clearing it with her. So we told her we’d leave in the morning. (The next day we moved to what was considered a cheap hotel in Bangkok, although it cost double what we usually paid in the south.)
That run-in rather spoiled our morning, but we decided to go ahead and get some new sandals for me. So we took off again, this time taking Chanee (the gibbon) with us. After buying the sandals and eating lunch, we decided to try at one of the universities (Thamasat) Ray suggested. We figured that I could go in and find out if anything was available while Peggy stayed outside with Chanee.
When I came back out, I had with me a sheet of instructions to teachers and two application forms. It turned out that someone had just quit (classes were just starting for the second semester), so the English department was rather desperate for a replacement. So we were hired, 18 hours between us, which we could split anyway we wanted. Only two courses required any preparation on the instructor’s part. The other four consisted mostly of oral drills, which were already prepared. The following morning we observed a class, picked up necessary books and figured out who was going to teach what. Since we were considered part-time teachers, our pay was 50 baht ($2.50 U.S.) an hour. Those 18 hours gave us money to live on while we were in Bangkok. We also found evening jobs at one of the language institutes and didn’t have to live in a hotel for long.
Peggy and Randy Ford