Spending a Cold Night Locked Out in Chiang Mai

1 Feb

A fateful key

A fateful key

Does this ever happen to you?

You leave the house/apartment/room, lock the door from the inside and close it tight. And only then do you start checking if you took everything necessary along.

Wallet? Sunglasses? Purse? Phone? Keys?

Oh shoot! The keys!!!

It went something like this when Konrad and I decided to go for a late night walk earlier this week. We’ve gotten into a routine of working late and consequently sleeping in later as well.

So for this reason it is already shortly past midnight, when we decide we need to get our blood going and inhale some fresh air.

It is supposed to be just a quick walk around the block, but for some reason I actually put on a sweater. I usually don’t do this. Was it divine foresight, maybe?

Did you take the key?

The moment we start walking down the stairs I ask Konrad if he took the keys. He usually takes them but somehow I still keep asking him.

He looks at me we with big eyes and says: “Erhh…actually no. I didn’t.”

I am certain he just wants to fool me like so many times before, but he keeps insisting that he actually forgot them this time.

Oh great!

At this late hour the reception desk on the ground floor is closed already. Luckily, Konrad took at least the iPhone along. We don’t actually have cell phone connection on it, but our apartment complex has a great wireless signal on every floor enabling us to use Skype. With purchased Skype credit it is possible to call land lines and call phones.

Wireless – our saving grace?

I remember there being a phone number outside on the sign, so Konrad goes out to find it. I have to stay in so I can let him in again. The big main doors are closed at night time and from the outside they can only be opened by a key card.

And where do you think our key card is?

You guessed right, it is attached to the room key that we just locked inside our room. But from the inside the front doors can also be opened with the press of a button. So I linger by this button while Konrad looks for the number.

Finally we try calling it! Anxiously we are almost holding our breath waiting for someone to pick up. Waiting and waiting…but no answer ๐Ÿ™

Only later we learnt that an additional mobile phone number is printed on the key card. We probably would have had more luck with that one.

(From here on the pictures in this post are highly unrelated)

Temple Door Chiang Mai

Temple Doors Wat Santitham

Lucky keys?

Konrad runs up the four floors back to our room to see if he can maybe just pry open the door. In the meantime I walk around the ground floor. I am not sure why or what I am looking for – spare keys maybe?

And sure enough, hidden behind the curtain of an unlocked storage area I find a big bundle of keys hanging. Could we really be this lucky in such an unlucky situation?

Joining Konrad upstairs of course he wasn’t able to just pry open the door. Now we are holding our breath while trying out all the keys in the bundle…

…unfortunately, it seems like most of the keys are for smaller pad locks. And also the few bigger ones don’t work.

Attempts at lock picking

Konrad thinks he can maybe climb up the roof and get to our balcony that way (we are on the top floor after all) While he tries to figure that out I walk back down to see what that unlocked storage area holds.

It seems like a big, wild assortment of items left behind by previous tenants. Among all those things I actually find about 5 other loose keys, a tiny Phillips screwdriver, a pink nail file, a larger flat head screwdriver and a long expired student card of a really cute Kindergardener.

Don’t they use some of these items when they are picking locks in movies? And it only takes them seconds?

Back upstairs Konrad couldn’t find a way to the balcony so I let him try his luck at picking the lock with the items I found. All the while I am googling and watching YouTube How-To’s for lock picking and how to open a lock with a credit card (or student ID).

With his training in PI (private investigation) I thought it would be no problem for Konrad to open the door with all these ‘tools’ available. But I thought wrong. So we try the credit card trick with the student card. Also no success.

Now I try my luck with the tools…haha…but who am I kidding. I have no idea what I am doing.

Acceptance settling in

After more that an hour of trying everything possible we finally wake up to the realization that we will most likely spend the night locked out and our only chance of getting in will be once the reception opens again in the morning.

Konrad also didn’t take the wallet along (I completely stopped carrying a wallet since we started traveling) but he has a few small bills in his pocket. With that he picks us up some water and one of 7/11’s awesome toasted sandwiches.

After this small snack I try to get comfortable on the floor in front of our room. Maybe I can sleep through some of the waiting time till morning?

Palm Tree Chiang Mai

Palm Tree in Chiang Mai

Chilly Thai nights

The hallway is open on the ends and although this is Thailand, here in the Northern mountainous part the nights get actually quite cool this time of year. The stone floor chills us through the bones. I am only wearing a knee-long dress and flip flops but at least I took my sweater. Still, it is way too cold to even think of sleeping like this.

We take turns killing time on the iPhone with research and games and find out that according to Google Maps the reception is supposed to open at 7am. Still a few more hours…

By 6:30am we notice the sun coming up. Who knew there could be a good part to all this being locked out and waiting in the cold mess.

Seeing the sun rise over the mountain side with all its shades of red and orange and yellow was so beautiful. Due to our late-night working routine we haven’t been able to observe a sun rise here so far. Unfortunately, I totally didn’t think of taking any pictures. I guess we were quite tired at that point.

A waking city

We are so cold and stiff by now that we decide to just go outside for that walk finally. Maybe movement can warm us up. But this also means we won’t be able to get back in until the reception opens. Whenever that may be.

Walking through the streets of Chiang Mai just after sunrise was another new experience. Seeing the city wake up, people going after their morning chores…

A man in track suit fills up his water gallons at the vending machine, then uses them as weights as he walks home. At the outdoor laundromat down our street a dutiful woman is putting on 2 loads of laundry at once. (We do those same chores but usually in the afternoon ๐Ÿ˜‰ and even use the water bottle for weight lifting)

The local breakfast eateries are opening up and preparing for all the hungry mouths to feed soon. The dogs are waking up too!

Aargh…I really have no intention of trespassing onto your owner’s property! No need to bark at me so aggressively! Hey…stop running after me

Asian dogs and I are not the best friends, you must know.

As we pass by our place at around 7 am there is no sign of movement or anyone awake yet. So we walk around some more, but away from where the dogs are!

I pass by the same corner again and again just to be able to see once someone comes to the reception desk at our place. Anyone observing me must think I’m a lunatic.

Wat Santitham Chiang Mai

Wat Santitham – Chiang Mai

Finally…

At 7:40 am a girl starts opening up our apartment complex. When we ask her, if they have a spare key for our room it becomes clear she doesn’t understand English. She has to wake up the owner who is sick and had ‘slept in’ for that reason. But she understands us and directs the girl to open our room for us.

What a night!

A quick hot shower, hot tea + a little breakfast and under the covers. Time for us to SLEEP!

Needless to say our sleeping routine this week has been quite turned around since this very lateย early bed time. And now we always TRIPLE check if we have the key with us before closing the door.

Was this a lesson learnt?

Maybe… You can’t be too sure. Can you believe this was already the second time we locked ourselves out in Asia? The first time wasn’t quite as late but still problematic. But this is content for another post.

5 thoughts on “Spending a Cold Night Locked Out in Chiang Mai

  1. Recently I started carrying an emergency 1,000 baht note with me wherever I go in Chiang Mai. I realized that no matter what happens, that $33US will cover it. And in your case, I would have checked into a nice guest house had a great dinner and a mini vacation until the morning =)

    • You are right Johnny, 1000 Baht can get you a lot in Thailand. I had something like 50 Baht in my pocket when we left the room to go for the walk. I hated myself so much for leaving the wallet in the room but I guess that was part of the lesson for that day. Getting a different room for the night would have been “nice” but sadly wasn’t an option due to not having the wallet on me.

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