Theresa and I arrived at our apartment in Bangkok around 1 a.m. on Wednesday March 16 and I guess that we officially began our lives as ex-pats. Later that morning, Khun Henry, the real estate agent who helped us found our place back in February, came by to meet us for breakfast and welcome us to Thailand. Khun Henry had offered to come by to meet us at 1 a.m. but I insisted that that was unreasonable and unnecessary. Thais, however, really do go out of their way to make others happy, and it was in that spirit that Khun Henry had wanted to greet us in the middle of the night.
Theresa and I swung by my new office for an hour or so to say hello to the staff. We then ran some errands, including a preliminary fitting for my new shirts and suits. At 2 p.m., my driver and I headed out to the airport to pick Calliope. Her Lufthansa flight was due in at 3:30 in the afternoon, and we arrived about 3 p.m. in the cargo area. After asking around, a freight expediter offered to work with us to get her through customs. My driver assured me that this would be the easy way, so we negotiated a fee and then began collecting paper. I have no idea how many times we went from one end of the cargo area to the other nor how many signatures and stamps we ultimately got, but I can assure you that even the French have nothing on the Thais when it comes to bureaucracy.
It was 7 p.m. when I was finally able to see the dog. She was just laying very peaceably in her crate despite the commotion around her. Seeing her, however, was not the end. She still needed to be scanned (to read a microchip that was embedded under her skin when she was a puppy) and examined by a few more agents. Our freight expediters arranged for a pick-up to haul the crate around the cargo area so that we could complete the customs and import process.
By 8 p.m., Calliope was officially in my custody; unfortunately, several hundred dollars more were not. The crate that she was shipped in was very large — 4 feet long, 3 feet high and 32 inches wide. For the comfort of the animal, the airlines require that the crate be at least 3 inches taller than the animal and at least 3 inches longer. Since I paid close to $300 for this thing, I did not want to abandon it at the airport but I knew that it was going to be a real challenge getting it back to the apartment in a sedan.
The crate is a clam shell design with the top and bottom pieces being secured to each other with 18 nuts and bolts. We took the two pieces apart and were able to get one part in the backseat of the car (along with Calliope) and the other in the trunk. Since we did not have any rope (although in retrospect it is hard to understand why we couldn’t find some in the cargo area of the airport), we used the dog’s leash to secure the trunk for our trip back to the apartment. We wrapped the handle around the license plate, attached the clip to the trunk’s strike plate, and tied a knot in the leash to keep it taut.
Calliope has adjusted well and made many friends at the apartment since she arrived. She is remarkably well-behaved as well. I was quite concerned that she would bark at noises that she heard from the hallway or from other rooms. Luckily, the building is very quiet and so is she. In fact, when Theresa and I are not home, we leave her in the spare bedroom and she doesn’t bark at the apartment staff who come in and service the unit.
Calliope misses her swimming pool but we have found a replacement for her. Not far from the apartment is a dog center that does training, boarding, and grooming and, most importantly, it has a dog swimming pool! I know that this sounds a bit far-fetched, but it is true. You can check out the website at:
Theresa tells me that Khun Too, our driver, gets a real kick out of watching Calliope (or Caa-Lie-Oh-Pee as she is typically called around here) swim. He probably thinks Americans have more money than brains and he may well be right.
Kop Khun Krab.
© 2011 Kurt Brown. All rights reserved.