We just got back to Bangkok from a one week vacation in Bali. We’d been living in Thailand for 2 months and had two weeks before our flight out of Bangkok relocating us to Vietnam.
Get outta town
We decided that we didn’t want to spend our last 2 weeks in Bangkok. But we need to stay nearby because our flight is out of Survarnabhumi Airport. After being all over the country, I didn’t really care where we ended up as long as it has reliable wifi so I can work.
We found a place on Airbnb that promised exactly that. The price was amazing and it was walking distance from the beach in a small town called Sri Racha. (yes, like the sauce) We requested to book, and our reservation was confirmed while we slept.
We woke the morning of New Years Eve to our confirmation, booked a shuttle down south, and we were on our way that same day. I was looking forward to settling in, taking a family walk by the beach and catching up on a ton of work that night (I know, I’m a party animal).
Just an hour and a half south and we were dropped off on the side of the road in front of Robinson Mall in Sri Racha. The port town is located between Chon Buri and Pattaya, and relatively unremarkable. With a large influx of Japanese workers, the town is dotted with Izakayas, Karaoke bars and Sushi joints and is an otherwise simple, rather sleepy, town.
Getting settled in for the New Year
As cars passed, and passed, and passed, we realized not one of them was a taxi. It was strange because we have found taxi’s everywhere, even in some of the smallest towns. But alas, not a taxi in sight. With our accommodation’s address in hand (Star Apartment), written in Thai, (we’re not newbies) we set off with a tuk tuk.
“It’s impossible that you have a reservation” she said
Once we arrived near the location, out driver seemed perplexed. He drove up and down the street a few times and eventually to the next street and stopped in front of a hostel called “Sri Racha House”, clearly not “Star Apartment”.
The owner stepped out, exchanged some words with the tuk tuk driver, and then asked “Are you looking for a place to stay?”.
“No” I replied “we are looking for this place” as I pointed to my phone with the address written in Thai.
She explained that there is no building address and recommended that I call the contact number. I called and a man that only spoke Thai answered. I handed the phone to our driver so he could get directions. After what seemed to be a long conversation to explain an address, my phone was handed back to me and I was gestured to continue the conversation.
A female’s voice speaking rather clear English, said “It’s impossible that you have a reservation, we only rent for 3 months or longer”
Well it wasn’t impossible. I had a reservation, approved and confirmed by their property and Airbnb RIGHT IN MY HAND!
I asked her to please give us the address so we could come there and discuss the situation. She refused. “I’m not even at the office” she said, and hung up.
And that was it.
We were left on the side of the road with no where to go on New Year’s Eve.
I wish I could say I handled it gracefully. I wish I could say that after 4 years of nomadic travel I handled it like a global boss. But unless that means crying on the side of the road and desperately trying to reach AirBnB, then no, I didn’t handle it like any well rested, balanced supermom may have.
I was pissed. I was tired. I wanted to rest, spend time with my family, catch up on work, and mentally prepare for all the new year had in store for me.
If you haven’t been in a situation with AirBnB, you may not know that it is notoriously difficult to get in touch with them, especially while abroad. Their call back system was not working with my thai SIM card and it’s all around frustrating.
I’m a terrible “tweeter” but have a twitter account. As a last ditch effort, I posted the photo you see above with the statement “Stranded on the side of the road in Thailand because of Airbnb host, little help @Airbnb? “ Now there’s quick trick I learned to get some immediate help, though soon I found that actual resolution would not come until days later.
I was forced to suck it up.
There was no immediate help available. I had to accept my situation and find a new solution without assistance from Airbnb. That didn’t happen without an internal struggle and reasoning from my husband.
I’m a planner, I planned, I had expectations. I’m also American, and though I haven’t lived there for some time, I still have the residual expectations of customer service and the “way things should be” attitude left in me.
Expectations can keep our vision too narrow
But digging my heels in wasn’t doing anything to improve the situation. Once I finally gave in and stopped fighting for things to look a certain way or to happen a certain way, everything changed. In reality, the way I saw them changed and I was able to focus on solutions instead of problems.
Circumstances will come and go as they may, but my choice in how to react and respond to them is all up to me.
I could finally appreciate that we had been dropped off in front of a hostel with kind staff. I was able to accept the dinner they offered my family during their personal New Year’s celebration. I was able to stop having a pity party and appreciate what was happening around me. We were in a nice area, with plenty of places to stay. There were cafes, restaurants, parks, places to get a well deserved massage and so on.
It wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t bad at all, it just wasn’t what I expected. Imagine how much sooner I could have enjoyed all those things had I just released my expectations and accepted what “is”.
Accepting and Moving On
Once I stopped demanding the situation to look different, I was able to adjust and flow.
We decided on a “fancy” place to stay for the night just to feel a bit pampered after the whole ordeal. We chose a place with a pool, gym, library, buffet breakfast and more amenities than would be possible to use in one evening. But it didn’t matter, it just felt good. And after two months of humble travel, it was an overdue treat.
The next day we headed back to kind staff at Sri Racha House and stayed there until we figured out our long term solution.
Resort Life in Pattaya
We had heard many things about Pattaya, and none were congruent with the type of places we like to go to. But options in Sri Racha were slim and we knew we didn’t want to head back to Bangkok.
After another day of searching listings and receiving some assistance from Airbnb we settled on a beautiful resort. This place had all the bells and whistles, the type that is normally out of our budget bracket for long term travel. Had it not been for this ordeal, or the efforts of Airbnb to make their long term customers happy, we would not have had this opportunity.
We headed to Pattaya without incident and arrived at our Caribbean style resort with 2 pirate ships, water park style slides, a kids playroom, gym, cafe, billiards room, movie room and more. Located walking distance to the beach in the midst of bustling city with amazingly reliable wifi, it was the best combination for each person in my family.
None of this would have been possible without going through that sh*tty New Years Eve.
Expectations are limited to what we think
There’s the story of the drowning man. He’s a fellow stuck on his rooftop in a flood, praying for God’s help. A man in rowboat comes by “Jump in, I can save you”. The stranded fellow shouts back “No, it’s OK, God is going to save me”. Then a motorboat comes by and shouts “jump in I can save you” Again, the fellow answers “No thanks, God is going to save me” Lastly, a helicopter hovers above “Grab this rope, I will lift you to safety” The man replies “No thanks, I’m praying to God, he is going to save me”.
Soon the floodwaters rise and the man drowns. He goes to heaven, and confronts God saying “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown, I don’t understand why!”
God replied, “I sent you a rowboat, a motorboat, and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”
Allow Room For Opportunity
When we are so set on what we expect things to look like, we allow those expectations to blind us to opportunities right in front of us. When we are only willing to see through our expectations we miss great things wrapped in different packing.
The man expected to see the divine hand of God, shrouded in light, plucking him from his rooftop. In reality it was Jimbo, in a flannel shirt and a motorboat. The end result of both scenarios would have meant safety from the flood but he was too focused on what he expected his help to look like to see the help right in front of him.
It’s important to gain freedom from the trap of expectations. We need to be open to experience, seeing things with fresh eyes, staying connected, being realistic, and letting go of old beliefs. We don’t need to be the old gnarled oak standing forth against the storm, instead we need to bend like the reed in the wind.