What not to do in a foreign country when you don’t have a working phone. (blogging101 day #4)

I’ve written and deleted the sentences I wanted to preface this post a few times, but since I can’t seem to phrase what I meant to say exactly, I’ll just go ahead with this:

Art. Color. Painting. Decorative. Meaning. Story. Advice. Recommendation (e.g. books, films, etc.). Growth.

These are the foundation of why I created this blog, and if any of these keywords clicked with you, then you are probably part of my audience, despite age/gender/ethnicity. I have a feeling that the me in the future will be cringing while reading back on this (probably thinking ‘this is what you call target audience?!’), but sorry future me, you make mistakes and you learn and grow. This has got to happen.

This blog post will be heck of a long one, considering I haven’t even started.


This is the story of my friend who came to Bangkok to accompany her mom on a ‘business trip’. We met up over the weekend, and I took her to an open air themed market, where we walked around for a few hours before calling it quits when the rain started to pour. I then took her to a large shopping area, and we ate and walked around some more. Nothing really interesting happened.

Around 9.30pm though, I dropped her off in front of a mall where she was supposed to meet up with her mom at Starbucks inside. The problem was, there were 2 Starbucks, each on different floors, and that my friend did not have a phone capable of calling any person on the entire planet Earth (no roaming). You can guess what happened next.

Her mom called me approximately 20 minutes later, panicking and asking me “WHERE IS MY DAUGHTER?!” (capslock for flair), and I told her to go to Starbucks on the 1st floor because I remembered distinctly that I told my friend to go there. (She didn’t, I only knew later.)

The thing is, her mom couldn’t speak English, and after a few more calls where we still couldn’t get anywhere, I was getting extremely panicky as well. She kept saying something in another language, punctuated by the occasional ‘STARBUCKS’ and ‘HOTEL’, and I kept repeating ‘FIRST FLOOR’ back to her.

I was extremely relieved when a few minutes later, my friend called me from a phone of some stranger she’d enlisted for help, and told me to tell her mom this stranger’s phone number.

TIP #1: If your foreign friend ever came to your country, MAKE SURE TO TOP UP YOUR MOBILE MONEY IF ITS PREPAID. Because if not, you can end up like me, who couldn’t send a simple FREAKING number message, and kept calling her mom on the landline trying to tell the number to someone who DIDN’T UNDERSTAND ENGLISH.

In the end, when I just didn’t know what else to do and who’s phone else I could borrow, I got my friend to go wait at the first floor Starbucks, and we promptly lost connection. After which, I realized that HELL what her mom was trying to tell me was that “I WENT BACK TO THE HOTEL, CAN YOU PLEASE TELL MY DAUGHTER TO COME BACK HERE?”. And you know how I realized that? Because about 5 minutes later her mom called me again and handed the phone over to her other friend who is slightly better at English so that she can send me this message.

Yea.

By then the shopping mall was closing, and I was trying desperately to call the concierge so that they can connect me to Starbucks’ line, and it was such a good thing that my friend got the security guard (who by the way also couldn’t speak English. I don’t know how they communicated.) to help her call me so that I can screenshot the map of her hotel in Thai to that phone to show to a taxi driver. (The hotel is situated in an area that isn’t really easy for tourists to navigate.)

TIP #2: ALWAYS carry a brochure or anything with an address of the hotel you’re staying at all time in case you don’t know how to get back or communicate the way.

With some relief, I disconnected after reminding her to call me once she reaches the hotel. Then, I called her mom to tell the good news, at which point the mom asked me for the taxi driver’s phone number. Excuse me a minute while I die of horror at my carelessness. Who sends their non-native speaking friend off at night at the back of some guy’s car without obtaining any means of communicating her?!

TIP #3: Make sure to get the details of the taxi you are on, especially if it’s at night and you’re a lonely female in a foreign country, and notify someone with it. License plate, driver ID, and phone number in this case.

Luckily, nothing happened thank all that is holy.

TIP #4: Just…have a phone that can call, please. Don’t be lax, maybe thinking that there is no need, because it only takes once for you to regret.

Okay, this all sounds shorter and much less dramatic than I thought it would. Nevertheless, I was really stressed out in that moment. And to make up for that, here is a quick watercolor sketch of something happy and calm (i.e. greenery and clear skies). Used only 3 colors if you can tell: phthalo blue, sap green and burnt sienna. I actually wanted to do something dark and moody, but today is not my day.

Blue skies

Anyway, if you have any experiences or advices on this topic, please, please, please share.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time xx


TIP #5: Wasn’t going to put this in because it isn’t universal, but heck why not. If you’re a tourist in Thailand, make sure to check if the meter is on before getting on a cab. You don’t want to end up paying twice the rate.

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14 thoughts on “What not to do in a foreign country when you don’t have a working phone. (blogging101 day #4)

  1. The painting attracted me to this post. I suppose it’s your original as you love colors. Am I right?

    I liked tips. It’s so common here in India among cab drivers to go without the meter. Foreigners specially feel very bad. 🙂

    You might put a larger font if you would. I like reading larger font because I wear glasses. But maybe you shall take another opinion. Please follow your instincts. If you like to keep it it’s your blog. 🙂

    Anand

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the consideration. 🙂 🙂 Now I have started using the zoom feature of browser so it’s not a problem as far as I am concerned but other visitors might find it difficult. In any case please test it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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