What’s wrong with this World?

4 Dec
Bangkok airport - Hm ;-/

Bangkok airport - Hm ;-/

Trying to go on a world trip can be challenging, not only because of all the preparation needed, but also because strange things happen…

  • June-October 08: Thailand and Cambodia start haggling again over a disputed border left unclear by the French colonialists – it’s the Preah Vihear temple that lies on a hill straddling both countries – military is sent in – just my luck as I need to travel between both countries
  • 8 October 08: the Icelandic bank system collapses. No big deal, except that I have all my savings in Kaupthing bank – including the money I need to go and travel…
  • 24 November 08: Citibank is laying off thousands of employees, there is big uncertainty about their financial position and future. Great, I just asked for a Visa card from Citibank to have cash in Asia…
  • 25 November 08: protesters block Bangkok airport to demand the resignation of the prime minister accused of corruption. Where do I fly to? Bangkok airport, of course… Grrr!
  • 1 December 08: It must be a Birthday present for me! The Luxemburg Guarantee Fund will start paying out the guarantee money for customers of the Kaupthing bank. They will pay 100 clients per day the maximum of 20000 Euro – no less than 7000 Belgian customers sent in such a request… so I don”t have to count on this money for another while !
  • 2 weeks without hot water and heating...

    2 weeks without hot water and heating...

    5 December 08: I am taking a shower this morning and all of a sudden the water goes ice-cold. People say that cold showers are good for blood circulation, but the only thing this situation was good for was to ruin my mood. I ring the repair company of the boiler, but of course their Friday schedule is full. Maybe I can try the weekend service (at double the price).

  • 6 December 08: I ring the weekend repair service for the heating. But their Saturday schedule is full, so they book me a technician for the Sunday. No shower for me today.
  • 7 December 08: The technician arrives, fiddles around with the boiler/heating system and gets it to work. Huray, I am saved. Except that half an hour after the technician leaves, the heating and hot water breaks down again… No shower for me – and I get prepared for polar conditions – wearing my jacket, scarfs and hat inside the house…
  • 8 December 08: First thing on the Monday morning is to ring the Heating company to get another repair person in. Of course the Monday schedule is already full, so Tuesday they’ll send a technician. Luckily I go to sports that evening and there are warm showers. Oof, I’m clean again.
  • 9 December 08: Another heating technician comes. I start liking them, because they are my only chance to get heating and hot water. This technician actually knows what he is doing and finds the problem. The electronics of the boiler is damaged and need to be replaced… but of course he doesn’t have those spare parts with him. “Just call the office to get a new appointment” he dares to say! But I leave for my last meeting at work (luckily enough in a seminar centre with functioning showers) and after that I will spend the weekend with my (ex)darling in Berlin. So I book a technician for the Tuesday 16 Dec after my return from Berlin.
  • 11-12 December 08: I leave for my reconciliation weekend in Berlin (read more if you have a password). It takes me only a few hours to realise that this was a big mistake (even though everybody had told me) and the next day I evacuate in all emergency. So I am back home on Friday – without heating… I call the weekend service, but they wouldn’t have the spare parts. So there goes my second weekend without shower and heating. I revert to the good old style washcloth washing with hot water from the water kettle.
  • 15 December 08: I ring the heating company to put my appointment on Monday in stead of Tuesday, but Monday is full. Sigh. I start getting used to sit in front of my oven, with the oven door open, to get a bit of heat.
  • 15 December 08: No sign of my Visa card yet that i ordered with Citibank, so i give them a ring. After being switched through to a dozen of different departments, I burst in dispair and spill my guts to this poor lady on the other side of the phone. But she’ll help me. ‘Just drop by to sign the papers’
  • 16 December 08: The heating technician comes and even has the spare parts with him! I could kiss him, except it’s an overweight Moroccan ugly lad with dirty hands and cheeks. The heating and hot water works again! Except that the boiler makes a noise like a landing aeroplane… “Sorry, I don’t have the machine with to regulate the noise” he says “just make another appointment and ask them to bring the CO regulating machine”. I won’t write here all the swear words I made up. I rang – and of course the schedule for that day was full…
  • 18 December 08: Yet another heating guy arrives with his dirty boots and his CO regulating machine. When fixing the boiler however, he notices that there is water/moisture inside the boiler due to a badly connected chimney pipe. He can regulate the machine, but if the water continues dripping through the boiler, it will ruin the electronics again. So I should get the workmen of my landlord fixing the chimney pipe. I am ready to get depressed… I ring the workmen of my landlord, and of course they are busy…
  • Will i get it? On time? Will i be able to use it?

    Will I get it? On time? Will i be able to use it?

    18 December 08: Wow, customer service still exists in times of financial crisis. After only 3 days i can go and pick up my Visa card and code from the lovely citibank lady – no questions asked, no extra cost.

  • 19 December 08: Hurray, they found some Arab investors to save Kaupthing Luxembourg/Belgium from bankruptcy (where i have all my (travel)money). Not sure how much the takeover by Libyan investors is politically correct, but as long as I get my life-savings back I don’t care!  To conclude the deal, the Luxembourg & Belgian governments have to sign. And exactly today the Belgian government fell over some other bank scandal! So nobody to sign the deal, so the investors cannot save the bank (my savings). Grrrrrrrr!
  • 20 December 08: The workmen of my landlord arrive with lots of pipes and tubes. They start drilling and actually make a new hole in my apartment wall – but I don’t care – I just want hot water, a bit of warmth and a boiler that doesn’t sound like a Boeing 747!  So I could have my goodbye party in WARM heaven.
  • 21 January 09 – I’m saved! The Luxemburgish bank guarantee fund decided after 3 and a half months to give me back my savings that were stuck in an Icelandic bank there! Huray

What’s next?


One Response to “What’s wrong with this World?”

  1. Eric 11 December 2008 at 04:56 #

    Follow the flow and take things as they come. That’s part of the joy of travelling during a long period. If you want to stick to a pre-define itinerary, frustrations will for sure be created. Also, the news always seem to be worse on tv, several times I felt I had a very different perception of my supposely dangerous environment versus what my sister reported to me based on the news she heard at home. There are clear no go area, but you will know it pretty easily. Eric

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