Longterm travel brings joy and adventure but also challenges and frustration. I guess we haven’t been paying attention but we discovered that Jack’s debit card expired and mine is about to expire. We use our cards to get local currency wherever we go and without them we have no access to cash. This is especially critical right now as we’re traveling in areas where credit cards aren’t generally accepted. So now what?

Our replacement cards are sent to our mailing address in New Jersey. The bank will sent us replacements directly but only after canceling our one remaining working card. We chose instead to have my sister mail the New Jersey cards to us in Thailand. But where? And how long will it take?

This scenario threw a spanner into our Make It Up As We Go approach to travel. We spent a few days deciding where to go that could receive a DHL package and getting the address to my sister so she can start the ball rolling on her end.

We are Bangkok bound. A hotel accustomed to business travelers seemed like a good choice and after phone calls to the front desk to alert them to our incoming mail all we had to do was just get ourselves there.

We booked the overnight train from Chiang Mai and splurged on a first class sleeper cabin. Unfortunately the newer train was fully booked so we were on the older, shabbier, but still clean one. For the same price, I might add. That seems unfair.

The seats weren’t particularly comfortable, there was no room for our luggage, and since Covid there’s no food service. But it was about a third the cost of flying and we’re always up for a new experience.

The train pulled out of the station just before sundown so there will be no scenery to look at. We brought our own food and water, and when the train attendant made up our beds we just settled in to read for the evening.

The air conditioning was on full blast despite all efforts to turn it down or block the vents. We both shivered most of the night and we were glad to arrive at 6am and warm up.

We had booked the hotel for a week expecting to wait for our DHL delivery but as it turned out the package beat us there. Now we’re in a comfy hotel just beyond our normal budget for a whole week. We hadn’t planned to spend any time in Bangkok and don’t really know what to do here. But we’ll figure it out. We always do.

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  1. Cindy Balfour

    We experienced a similar situation in French Polynesia. Our card was only set up for local use. We were thankful to have a friend at the bank who mailed the card to our TX address but mailed the activation code under separate envelope. After lots of texts, we got it worked out the overnight fed ex took 10 days but the agent in NukuHiva watched for it and held it until we could claim it. So disorienting…

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