Wednesday, August 09, 2006

12 Thai truths

If there is one thing I learned from living in Thailand it is that in the face of a problem, the approach most likely to bring success is nearly always to stand calmly and smile gently at the situation and the people involved. Freaking out, shouting, threatening, begging and all the rest never work, but remaining incredibly calm and staying put can often bring results.

And this seems to hold true in Korea. Our container has now arrived from Bangkok and a team of men are standing by ready to unpack it on Friday. Today was Wednesday and this morning I went to collect the keys for our ready-to-move-in abode. It is now 6pm and I do not have the keys. The house needs to be painted and cleaned before we move in.

As the landlady chatted away to me in Korean (looking me directly in the eye which was most endearing considering I had no idea what she was saying!) and our agent translated for me, the nub of the problem was that the house was not ready but we were. Since we are paying $200 a day to stay in our wholly charmless serviced apartment, we dont want to delay too much on moving into our new pad.

For a while it seemed hopeless - the painters couldn't start until Friday at the earliest, it would take at least three days. Mrs landlady hoped I would understand that the people who just moved out had had some problems and were delayed and they havent had time to get things ready.

Our agent duly translated back to her that of course, we understood absolutely and there was no problem except for the fact that we are now paying rent and a hotel bill concurrently. Smiling away and nodding agreeably at each other the landlady suggested perhaps we might only like to paint a few crucial places. And with my face almost aching with the length of smile, our agent duly communicated to the landlady that while this would of course save time, once some parts have been painted, there would be some very obvious places which had not should we take this option.

The smiling continued for some time. We don't have the keys yet but the house will be painted tomorrow and we will move in on Friday (let's not get too hung up on the quality of the paintmanship, eh?!).

As husband pointed out, if the house had been ready, the chances are that our container would have fallen off the boat in the South China Seas, or been shored up sheltering from a typhoon for weeks on end.

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