- Do something -

1st September '18

Towards the end of my time in London, I found myself to be in a very strange state of mind.

Just walking down the street, for no reason I'd find myself smiling and happy.

There was a little devil on my shoulder being all... the fuck are you so happy about?

But however it happened, for the first time in a while I found myself not needing a reason to smile. That's a good place to be in.

And once again, I can't prove the link between unjustified happiness and meditation. After all, it could have been forged by my distance from Bangkok, and my ability to look back at life with some real perspective. Or it could have been about the anticipation of being about to embark on a long overdue trip into the unknown, and for the first time in a while, I can legitimately say that I have no idea how my life will look in six months.

Maybe it was down to finding a burgeoning passion for programming, giving me something that I'm excited to really learn and progress in, for the first time in years.

And thanks to these and many other alternatives, I again find excuse not to credit meditation with the enrichment of my mood. But once again, it is an awful coincidence that they both occurred in parallel to each other.

And this was only actually a couple of weeks removed from when I was still technically employed as an English teacher. And making all these decisions whilst in London, it was like I'd completely overhauled my life, without actually being there to see it. But alas I would then have to return to Bangkok and come face-to-face with the reality that I'd created.

And on waiting to board my flight at Heathrow, I bought my first book for... well apart from the Hacking with Swift book, which is more of a course than a book that you read, it was the first book that I've bought for years.

Whenever I hear about a book that I think it'll be good to read one day, once I find the time (and I'm yet to ever find the time), I download a sample of that book to iBooks and... well maybe I'll get back to it one day.

So I had quite a large collection of book samples waiting for me in iBooks. And in the couple of hours that I had waiting for my flight, I didn't look for new games to download, or search for movies to watch. I read through all of these samples and I... downloaded a book.

The fuck?

If you understand why I have sample copies of books like Robert Fisk's 'The Great War for Civilisation', Jared Diamond's 'Collapse', and Adam Kay's 'This is Going To Hurt', then you have a better recollection of what my mind what going through when I decided that they'd be good reads, than I do. And I read through the beginnings of all of them.

But what ultimately piqued my interest more than any of them, was Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, aptly titled 'Steve Jobs'.

A day earlier when I'd been thinking about other plane entertainment, an always pointless endeavour because I only ever have the time for a mere fraction of what I take with me, I'd downloaded... a chess app.

The fuck?

Combined with my new found acceptance of a more settled, career-driven lifestyle, I've unwittingly embraced the hobbies more befitting a man of responsibility.

Put more bluntly, I've got old.

I'm rather having my mind engaged by a game like sudoku or a book, than employing a brainless endeavour like a movie.

It's a bit of a chicken and egg scenario, where I can't quite determine if my present mindset is what forced my interest into programming, or whether a once dormant interest in programming arose, and with it in a change in my mind.

Although I think what happened, was as I started to take an interest in programming, I came to my own determination that programming is just logical problem solving.

Here's what you need to happen, what are the steps that you need to take to get there, and how do those steps change the environment that you're working within?

And with that determination, I wanted to sharpen my logical thought, even when I wasn't sat in front of my laptop.

Sudoku, chess etc.

If A does this, and B does this, what happens to C?

And from there it's kind of like my brain woke-up from years of dormancy, of which the problems that had arisen in my life as a teacher, were more he said/she said "problems" that came from spending too much time around the same people, and I suddenly wanted to do things that forced me to think.

It's always with great jealousy that I sit awake through all my flights (and travelling in general), going through the motions of trying to sleep but rarely ever finding success, instead looking around in envy at seemingly every other passenger on the plane, who seems to drop-off in an instant without a bit of bother.

And it wasn't like I was bored. I spent some of the night reading about Steve Jobs, some of it playing chess (beating the questionably challenging in-flight chess game on it's hardest difficulty), some of it playing Bookworm, some of it watching old episodes of the Ricky Gervais Show on my phone...

None of it doing the one thing that I really wanted to be doing though: Sleeping.

Although once I made it back to my apartment, I was feeling rather spritely considering I'd been awake for roughly 26 hours.

The lack of sleep also didn't stop reality hitting the moment that I walked through my front door and realised... fuck, I'm not going to be living here five weeks from now.

Save for the house that I grew up in, no other place have I called home for longer than this one. And unlike some of the other places I've lived, such as in my first stint in Bangkok, or when I was living in China, for some of the time that I lived here, I was genuinely happy.

Just content with life to the point that, even given the opportunity, I wouldn't have changed anything.

Not recently, obviously, but these last three years are still something I look back upon generally fondly of, and it really hit me as I walked through the door of my apartment that... fuck, it's all about to come to an end.

As I've said many times in recent blogs, I'm yet to be able to definitively say what effect my diet inclusive of fasting has had on my overall health. Rather, the logistical advantages of no longer being held hostage by hunger are what make it worth doing.

Hunger's become a normal thing now, so I don't even notice it anymore. I'm just as awake and functional after eighteen hours without food, as I am an hour after eating. And that calmness, that lack of fear of hunger, meant that unlike in years past, I didn't have to rush out of the door to go to the supermarket as soon as I got back.

I was just like... you know what? I'm tired. I haven't slept in more than a day, I just want to go to bed. I can eat again tomorrow.

So that's what I did.

It turned-out to be a mistake, because I only slept until midnight.

I then woke-up, but it was the middle of the night, so I thought... I'll just lie here and I'm sure I'll fall asleep again. I didn't sleep at all last night after all.

Six hours later I was still lying there thinking... well this fucking sucks.

It wasn't until gone 6am that I did get back to sleep, only to then wake and it was 1pm and... well this day that was supposed to be productive didn't get off to a very good start.

I've only had two wearable pairs of shorts for years now. But whilst I was back in England, the zipper broke on one of them, meaning that I was down to one pair of shorts.

Then a big hole emerged in the crotch of that pair, although they were all I had to wear for my final three weeks I was in London, so I just had to hope that it didn't grow big enough for anyone to notice.

I tried to buy a new pair, but London doesn't have any shorts.

At least, London doesn't have any shorts that I'm wiling to wear, at a price I'm willing to pay.

All they have is these... skinny little shorts for £20 or more.

I knew that I could get something better and far more affordable in Bangkok, so I just had to hold-out with one pair of shorts with a large hole in the crotch, until I got back.

Having lived in a country of t-shirt and shorts weather 365 days per year for the past three years, I also only own one pair of wearable trousers.

So with just one pair of wearable shorts, and one pair of wearable trousers, I had to time my laundry in London to coincide with changes in the weather, so that I could hang my shorts to dry when it was cold enough to wear trousers, and hang my trousers to dry when it was hot enough for shorts.

It was quite a challenge, and the first time in my life that I've ever found the five-day weather forecast useful. But on this first day back, remedying my lack of shorts was my one main goal. After all, until I got any new pairs, I was going to be stuck in the unwashed pair that I'd been wearing on the plane. And don't ask me to explain why, but there's just something disgusting about the clothes that you travel in.

Once you've worn clothes on a plane or a long bus or train journey, they just feel dirty.

So up at 1pm, with no food to eat, off I went to MBK.

I instead got lunch at one of the vegetarian stands in the sixth floor food court, eating my first food since getting back to Thailand, twenty-four hours after getting off the plane.

I hate clothes shopping and can never bring myself to do it until the situation I'm in has become completely dire, but wearing these unwashed plane shorts with a massive hole in the crotch sort of qualified.

And for all my aversion towards clothes shopping, I was able to find a stall to sell me three pairs of camo shorts, each of a slightly different shade, for a total of 1,000 baht (£23.57) within ten minutes of starting.

Take that London.

I couldn't even be bothered to negotiate, I just needed to get some shorts and to get the fuck out of there.

Alright, I'm done. This is enough pain for today.

As I'd been queueing to get through immigration a day earlier, I'd noticed that in the queue up ahead of me, was one of my now former colleagues, who'd also taken this term off.

Not a bad human being per se, but not especially someone I'd have chosen to spend much time with over these past three years, had circumstance not dictated that we worked together.

And I know that it sounds somewhat hasty to be at this point, but I already see my job as a thing of my past.

It's gone now, as far as I'm concerned. It's done. It's over.

I have no reason nor desire to step foot back into that school again, or really to have anything to do with that place, especially having to explain to people why I've left, so I hid my face as best as possible to avoid him seeing me and to avoid a "conversation."

On the way to MBK the next morning, I'd been standing on the platform opposite two of my former students, and had to pretend to be looking at my phone until a train drove between us, just to avoid eye-contact with them.

Living so close to my work has been great for the short commute over these past three years. But it now means that this month is going to be a minefield of running into people who're going to try and make me have conversations against my will.

Maybe that's why I'm always attracted to camo shorts. And with three pairs now taking up space in my bag, I did a mini supermarket shop to get enough supplies to survive the day.

My ex-girlfriend came around for a bit as soon as I got back, and gave me a belated birthday gift of a brand new Levi's® t-shirt.

Jesus, I've never had so many new clothes before.

And then, still not remotely nutritionally satisfied after twelve hours of plane food followed by a more-than twenty-four hour fast, I made and ate two dinners and... oh, it's kind of bedtime already. I guess that'll happen when you wake up at 1pm.

There goes my plan to get into a routine of exercising and programming from my very first day back.

I woke up a couple of hours after going to bed, and tried to get back to sleep, but it wasn't happening.

Alright, I'm not lying here all night again. So I got up at 2am and spent four hours sat in front of my laptop trying to program the latest app I was making.

I went back to sleep at about 6am, and probably would have slept for half of the next day as well, except...

... luckily for me, some building work was beginning about ten yards from my bedroom window, so that'll stop me sleeping-in too late, which is convenient.

I was just away for four weeks. You didn't feel like doing this construction whilst I was away?

No, we waited until you got back to help you get your body back on Thai time again.

Thanks, I appreciate it.

Awake nice and early, I then had a full day to get on with things, so started by paying my bills that had accumulated while I was away, then got a haircut, then had to go on an absolute suicide mission, because the best/cheapest place to buy fruit nearby is Tesco... which just so happens to be in the same building I used to work in.

Luckily, I had the perfect disguise. No one would ever suspect that I'd be wearing new or branded clothes. So I put on a new pair of shorts and my new Levi's® t-shirt and... ok, no one will recognise me now. And I made it.

My intentions for this month-off that I have are pretty simple. As well as closing-out my life here and getting ready to leave, I want to do four things:

I had though, given myself until Wednesday to get into a full routine because I was still getting my sleep back on track, and still settling back in by doing things like restocking my kitchen cupboards. I had after all, left here in July thinking that I might be moving-out on September 7th, and had prepared accordingly.

On this day though, after my suicide mission to the supermarket, I did another chapter of my Hacking with Swift book, adding to the four hours that I'd done in the middle of the night. Then I did my daily meditation. And perhaps still in a state of fucking... zen or whatever, I had a bright idea.

Hey, do you know what'd be really smart?

Instead of waiting until the last week or two of this time off to try and get an app on the AppStore, why not start building one now?

Well I'll tell you why not: Because I don't bloody know anything yet. But for some reason, that didn't stop me.

Another four or so hours of sitting at my computer later, putting my day's total at double figures, I was all... yeah, this was a bad idea. I have no clue what I'm doing.

I was having to Google things, copy various lines of code into my project, see what happened, and through enough trial and error, get my app to do what I wanted it to do.

You know that expression of infinity where if a chimp sits at a typewriter for an infinite amount of time, it'll eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare?

It was kind of like that. If I sit at my laptop trying random code for long enough, then eventually my app's going to do what I want it to do.

Me and my bright ideas but... well I've started now.

A few days now removed, I was regretting the decision I'd made when getting off the plane, to go to bed as soon as I got back to my apartment, and not staying awake until a usual Thailand bedtime.

It meant that my body clock hadn't really changed as it normally would, and so no matter what time I went to bed, I was still lying there awake until 4am every night.

The builders were doing a shockingly bad job of waking me up in the mornings despite working ten yards from my bed, which meant the next day was another midday start.

Having learnt Swift and meditated the day before, I decided that I wanted to start exercising on this day. And no longer having breakfast in my life, I just got up and went straight to the park to go running.

Having been suffering for a month in London, from the moment that I got off the plane in Bangkok, you'd have never known that I had a bad knee. I could barely feel a thing.

I wish that I could explain why, but there seems to be something about the air in London that makes my knee hurt.

I don't know if it's the food I eat, or the way I live whilst I'm there, but my knee is always at its worst in London.

Perhaps the exercise that I did in the days before leaving cracked it back into place, but once I got off the plane back in Bangkok, it suddenly felt fine.

And feeling so great, I wanted to start this day off with a run, having been suffering with what I think is a bit of a mental block of late.

It used to be that I'd run at around 4:30 per km, no matter how far I ran. And any km slower than 5:00 I basically considered walking.

Nowadays though, I've been surprised to run 1km in less than 5:00, let alone all of them. But I really didn't think that this was a fitness thing. My resting heart-rate still gets down to the mid/low forties everyday. I'd just kind of... got into the habit of running slowly.

Even though there were signs pointing to the contrary, I'd just convinced myself that I couldn't run that fast anymore.

'Alright, time to fix this,' I thought to myself as I walked to the park.

I've just got to believe that I can run at a normal pace, and I will.

And I did.

That's the good thing about having no routine. It's the one and only time that your mind isn't set in its ways, so it's the one and only time to change how it thinks.

It was short, I ran just 5km. But I did so at the same pace that I would have done two years ago, proving to myself that it was a mental block, rather than a loss of fitness.

Alright... time to build on that with my time off.

With a park around the corner, a pool and a mini-gym downstairs, and space in my apartment, there's no reason that I can't get into the habit of starting to exercise everyday again.

For a third consecutive day, this day also called for a visit to yet another supermarket. And not waking up until midday, then going running, then getting lunch at a restaurant on the way to the supermarket, then getting rained-into a shopping mall, then finally making it to the supermarket, then going home again in rush hour, it was well into the evening once I actually made it back.

Well... didn't this day go quickly?

I put roughly three more hours into trying to build this app that I was making, until I reached the point of... ok, this is stupid. You don't remotely have the knowledge to build what you're trying to build, and you're not really learning anything this way either. Let's ice this bright idea for a while.

It was to be a social media app that would use Apple Health, and that was the part that I was getting stuck on.

I think that I could have made the rest of it, but being able to access and use the health data that people have stored on their phones was causing me fits so... let's come back to this another day.

So I mercifully shelved that idea for the time being.

It's very frustrating having a vision for something, but lack the intelligence or the knowledge to make it into a reality, but... it is what it is. That's just motivation that I need to learn more.

One discovery that I did make during this process though, was that there's a MacBook setting where if I'm wearing my Apple Watch and sit-down in front of my computer, it senses that I'm sat there and unlocks automatically, without requiring a password or finger-print to log in.

Isn't the modern world amazing?

Despite the late start to this day, I'd crossed-off three of the four things on my daily checklist.

I'd exercised, I'd meditated, and I'd spent some time learning Swift. And importantly, for the first time since getting back to Bangkok, I'd closed all three of my Apple Watch rings (with active calories set to 550), and have done everyday since, helping to ensure that to counter the hours spent sat in front of my computer, I am getting up and moving around sufficiently as well.

The next day was Wednesday, and all I had to do was add in a sprinkling of bootcamp preparation to the day before, and my month off would be running on all cylinders.

Just a daily diet of these four things, exercising twice per day if time allows, right up until I leave for Bali.

That's my plan... for God to ruin.

The builders were still doing a shocking job of waking me up since I was sleeping ten yards from where they were working, and I'd become frustratingly comfortable with them being there.

The most common form of meditation is breath meditation, where you focus on the present moment by focussing on your breathing. But there are other forms, like you can use sensations in your body, or the sounds around you.

I've never really liked to use sound, because I'd always try to meditate in a place that was quiet, and there could be long breaks in sound where I'd find my mind getting distracted.

The builders were providing enough though, that I'd wait for them to get back from their lunch break, and then meditate using the sounds that they were making.

It was the first time I've ever felt that using sound for meditation was actually working for me and allowing me to stay present.

The problem was I'd become so comfortable with these noises going on outside my window, that they weren't waking me up in the morning, and the next day I again slept through all their work until about midday.

Alright, this is stupid. I'm going to have to start setting an alarm, because my body's just not adjusting to Thai time, so everyday I'm losing my entire morning.

Apart from that though, with no errands to run, Wednesday was exactly as I'd envisioned. My perfect day.

It began with a short meditation to get my mind in a good place to start the day, followed by a quick workout in my apartment using one of the many apps that I've accumulated.

Then it was lunch to break my fast from the day before, of which the norm has become at least seventeen hours between the last calories of one day, and the first of the next.

My target is just sixteen hours, but an hour or two seems to get inadvertently added.

During those seventeen hours, I take nothing into my body other than water (not even tea), and if you'd told me three months ago that I'd be able to go seventeen hours without food, and feel nothing, I'd have told you that you were crazy.

For pretty much my entire life to that point, I'd eaten anytime I was hungry. I'd have dinner before bed everyday, and eat as soon as I woke-up. I was of the mindset that I could not function when hungry, and this fasting experiment has taught me that... actually that was all in your head.

And I still see it as that; I'm still not convinced by the effects of fasting, so it is still an experiment to me. But I do love the freedom of my life no longer being controlled by food.

Three months ago if you'd told me that I'd have to go twenty-four hours without food, I'd have panicked. Today, I'd just be like... cool.

After lunch, I then did a longer meditation. Then I sat down to learn Swift for a while, before in the late afternoon I went down to my building's mini-gym for another light workout.

Then more food, then I started my bootcamp pre-course work.

The first part of this was mercifully short, so I then had a monster session of Hacking with Swift, to complete what the author himself described as 'by far the longest project in the series.'

And then, on lacking a PS4 to help me unwind, I finished my day by reading (the fuck?) the next chapter about Steve Jobs.

On the day that marked exactly one month until my flight to Bali, this was exactly what I wanted everyday until then to be like.

A life optimised for getting my mind and body into the best possible shape for this bootcamp.

The order that I do things doesn't matter. How I exercise doesn't matter, and I have six different exercise apps on my phone to randomly choose from, as well as just swimming or running or anything else on my own. How I meditate doesn't matter, and I have three different meditation apps on my phone, although often shun them to instead use a timer and a relaxing playlist from Spotify. And how I learn everyday doesn't matter, just so long as I'm learning something to do with programming.

As the guy from Reddit that I linked to a couple of blogs ago said, "it really doesn't matter if you don't know that the path you're on is the right one. It really doesn't matter, as long as you do SOMETHING."

Just as long as I am exercising, just as long as I am keeping my mind in a good place, and just as long as I am learning everyday, or almost everyday, then it doesn't really matter how. Just do something.

And I'm hopeful... hopeful, that it'll be the perfect combination that come the end of the month, I'll be in the best possible position to make a success of this bootcamp as I can be.

To a person reading this, you might think that... dude, you're taking this way too seriously. And you'd probably be right, although it's a mindset shaped by fear, if I'm honest.

A fear that, for this bootcamp I've quit my job, I'm leaving behind my entire life in Bangkok, and devoting a tonne of time and spending a tonne of money.

I can't recall another time in my life where I've invested more into something.

The closest course that I've ever done to this was my CELTA, but that was almost a quarter of the price, half the time, and was when I was already travelling.

And I've uprooted my entire life before, for example the last time that I left Bangkok to go and live in China. But that was to a new job that would be paying me (I left richer than I arrived), having had just a year and a half to plant my roots here, whilst always planning on leaving.

For this bootcamp, I'm displacing more in my life than I've ever done before, investing more than I've ever done before.

If you think how seriously I've taken the responsibility of teaching people over the past few years when, in my current job as an example, some of my students have paid just 3,000 baht (£70) for a six-week course.

I used to lose sleep at night wanting to make sure that I did my best by them. Imagine how it must feel to be a teacher at Le Wagon, when people have quit jobs and invested thousands of pounds... in you as a teacher.

Hopefully it's a responsibility that they take seriously, because I've encountered many teachers over the years who don't.

Although I've always been a person who felt that a student should be responsible for their own education, because shit teachers exist in the world, and they always will. So you'd be a fool to bank your future on having a good one.

I enjoy the Mark Twain quote, "Don't let your schooling interfere with your education."

Your teacher is one resource of the many available to you, particularly in today's world, and you should not and cannot rely on other people to impart knowledge into you. It's your responsibility to go out into the world and get it.

Every teacher has had those students who think that to learn, all they have to do is show up to the class. They've now done their part, and it's now your responsibility as the teacher, to put knowledge into their brain.

Yeah... that's not how it works.

By the same token though, I thought this bootcamp a worthy investment, because having tried to teach myself for the last few months, making dubious progress along the way, I want the guidance and knowledge of someone that knows more than I do, present, and ready to help. And I want peers who're going through the same journey that I am.

The proposition of that is, for me, worth the upheaval and cost for what it potentially... potentially could do to give me a future to look forward to.

I wouldn't have had that continuing to work in my Bangkok job, so regardless of how this course goes, leaving was the right thing to do.

But with there still being so much on the line... I'm terrified.

That's basically my motivation to get my body and my mind into as perfect a place as they can be. Fear is a great motivator.

And a part of me's happy that I'm putting myself into the best possible position for this to be a success. But then a part of me is still terrified about what is completely out of my control.

What if I get sick, midway through the course?

I'm focussing a lot on my health right now, but no one, however fit and healthy, is immune to everything.

I haven't ever been sick enough in my life to take a day off, so you could say that I'm due. And this is a new country. The first new country that I'll have been to since 2012 believe it or not. Maybe there'll be something there that my body'll react badly to.

Or what if I get injured?

If the motorcycles in Indonesia are anything like in Thailand, then even being a pedestrian isn't safe. What if someone ploughs through me and I'm in hospital with a broken leg?

Although I looked, I was unable to find travel insurance before I left England, because all of the ones that I checked had stipulations in the fine-print that precluded me from eligibility, mostly about how long you must have been living in the UK prior to travelling.

That might be a blessing, because that lack of a financial safety net might prevent me from doing something stupid like renting a scooter of my own while I'm there. But what if some freak injury or illness happens anyway, and I have to miss a week of this course? Can I even catch up?

Or what if my laptop breaks? You can't do a programming course without a computer.

What if I get robbed? What if I lose my passport before getting a visa extension and have to leave the country mid-way through?

There's no situation that I'm running through my mind, that isn't a risk for me or anybody else, every single day of our lives. But because I perceive there to be so much on the line, it's like I'm on hyper-alert.

For the next three months, everything matters.

And there's another part of me saying 'oh just relax. Whatever happens, happens. Every cloud has a silver lining. Make the best of it, no matter what.'

But then the first part responds with 'no don't say that, fear and paranoia are good.'

They always say that about fighters and boxers. Being scared as you walk to the ring is what makes you alert and ready. The time that you walk in there feeling confident, is the time that you get knocked-out.

How was I able to backpack for as long as I did with barely a problem?

Because I think about every little thing, and prepare for every little eventuality.

I can never sleep on public transport, like I said at the beginning, and I don't think it's a comfort thing. I think it's a paranoia thing.

Whose hand is going to go through my pockets while I'm asleep? What if I wake up and my bag is missing? That's my cards, money, passport and MacBook gone. Am I going to be glad to have had a thirty-minute nap then?

It's kind of like I've got a devil and an angel on my shoulders.

One is telling me to relax, and everything will work-out fine. Don't worry about it. And the other is all... no, fuck that shit. There's too much on the line to leave to chance. If this fails for any reason, then your fallback is to go back to being a teacher with no future prospects. This matters and you should care. Fear is your friend.

I don't even know which one's the devil and which one's the angel.

I suppose that you need a little of both. You need to have that motivation to do everything in your power to ensure that there's a positive outcome. But at the same time, sometimes due to chance or circumstance or incompetence or bad luck, then your best just isn't good enough, and you need to be able to make the best of that as well.

And when I think about it like that, I'm in the perfect mindset.

Terrified enough to put 100% into this, but also realistic that it still might end badly.

Well... I guess I feel a bit better about it now.

My focus is very much on the future, but I haven't quite forgotten that I also need to arrange a smooth departure from Bangkok.

For example, I have a decent sum of money in my Thai bank accounts.

Nothing to write home about, but too much to just forget about too. And my ideal scenario would be to just leave it there, and to continue to access it from abroad, because apart from anything else, things are cheaper if you buy them as if you're Thai.

Spotify is about a third of the price in Thailand compared to the UK. Digital PS4 games are about half the price in Thailand.

But you have to pay for them with a local bank account, and making such arrangements is kind of where Thailand starts to feel like a third-world country.

On the contrary, I can and do use my UK bank accounts online all the time. Thailand doesn't make it so easy though.

For me to buy anything online with my Thai accounts, they send a confirmation text message to my Thai mobile phone number. So... I'll be able to continue to use my Thai bank account from abroad, either by being able to access my Thai phone number from abroad, or by being able to put foreign phone numbers onto my Thai bank account.

I decided to try to arrange the former of these first.

The company that I get a mobile service from also provides my wifi, so I wandered into one of their stores, and told the girl that I want to cancel my wifi subscription at the end of next month.

"You can't tell us this early," she tells me. "Come in about five days before you're going to leave and tell us then. Then we can arrange an engineer to come to your condo."

But... I already know when I'm going to leave. Can't I just arrange this now?

Apparently their infrastructure is incapable of making an appointment four weeks in advance, so I'll go back in three weeks, and I can almost guarantee that they'll bemoan why I'm giving them so little notice.

So next I asked about my phone number: "Can you enable roaming for me, so that I can use my number abroad?"

She said yes, fiddled around on her computer for a bit, then told me that "you need to top-up your account with 10 baht."

"What do you mean I need to top-up my account with 10 baht?" I asked.

"Your SIM card has been suspended since August 22nd," she told me. "You need to top-up your account to activate it again."

I've used my phone today you numbskull, I can guarantee that it's not been suspended since August 22nd.

Slightly flummoxed, she looked at her computer again for a minute.

"OK, roaming is now activated," she suddenly told me.

I have no idea if she was just making that up or not, she clearly had no idea what she was doing.

Finally before leaving I asked "how long will my SIM card remain active while I'm abroad without topping-up?"

For as long as I can receive text messages to this number, I can continue to pay for things online with this bank account, so it's important to know how long I have until the account deactivates.

"It'll be active for thirty days," she said. "But then you have to top-up every thirty days."

Ok, you clearly have no idea about this. I have many times gone more than thirty days without topping-up my phone, including last month, and my number has never been deactivated and my credit has always remained. So God knows if this has actually worked or not.

Next I'll try my bank. Maybe I'll have more luck there.

When I left Bangkok almost five years ago, I then tried to add a foreign number to this bank account, but at that time they told me it wasn't possible.

I assumed that it'd be the same now, but it can't hurt to try. Maybe they've upgraded their software over the last five years to be able to handle foreign phone numbers.

So I explained to the guy on the door what I wanted, asked him if this was possible.

He told me yes, gave me a ticket, told me to take a seat.

My number got called, so I went to the desk and explained to this guy what I wanted to do.

'No problem,' he told me, and he took my passport and bank book, and gave me some forms to fill-out.

Finally he asked me what number I wanted to add to my account, so I wrote it down and... "this is a foreign number," he said.

Yes. Do you remember when I walked in here and said that I wanted to add a foreign phone number to my bank account?

"Oh, we cannot do that," he responded.

Great, thanks.

Which has left me in a situation where I might... might be able to use my Thai phone number from abroad, and hence access my bank account. But I might not.

If I can, I'll certainly need to top-up my phone credit within a certain period to keep it active, but what period would that be? Definitely not the thirty days that this girl told me. So if I fuck it up, it could leave me in a bit of a catch-22 situation, where I need my phone number to make payments from my bank, and I need my bank to be able to top-up my phone and...

Fuck it, it's not worth it. I'll probably just empty the account.

I'm going to miss a Hell of a lot about Thailand. I've spent a total of almost five years here. That's about a seventh of my life, and that's not a mistake, there's a lot to love about this place.

This inefficiency though, which gets fobbed-off as just the "Thai way" of doing things, will drive you up the wall.

Never mind, I won't have to deal with it for long, as less than a month from now, I'll no longer call this country home.

Four more weeks to get myself as ready as possible for Bali. And that's exactly what I plan on doing.