“Miss… Miss?” I snapped back into reality and looked up at the tiny Thai woman staring at me from the front seat of the car. It was 7am and we’d just arrived in Bangkok, and I was like the bleeding walking dead.
I should probably give you a bit of back story…
Just a couple of days before, we’d taken the overnight flight to Dubai; a flight that I didn’t catch a wink of sleep on thanks to some Ann Widdecombe lookalike, who had pushed her seat so far back she was practically nestling her head in my crotch, then proceeded to snore for the next six hours straight. So, by the time we arrived at Dubai at 7 am and had to wait at customs for two hours, while angry looking Sheikh’s stared at my bare elbows in utter disgust, I was completely exhausted.
To make matters worse, we had another four hour wait until we could get into our room so, ignoring any appropriate social standards, I curled up on a beanbag in the smoking room like a cat, and drifted off. After waking up to see a random man staring at me intensely whilst smoking and, forgetting where I was, asking him what he thought he was doing in my bedroom, we finally got into the room and immediately pulled on our shorts and headed to the beach, (where I had my religious experience which, by the way, was a fucking episode in itself.)
Anyway, that evening – and I say ‘evening’ loosely as happy hour started at 6 pm on the dot, but I was on holiday so you can fuck off with your judgments – that evening I took full advantage of the two hours of free wine, and felt fabulous… until 6 am the next morning when I woke up to vomit… for the next three hours.
Now, I should probably mention that there was a tiny, tiny percentage of myself that was concerned I might be pregnant. Not a big enough percentage to stop me from drinking the night before, but a big enough part to send me into an absolute blind panic when I started throwing up that morning.
I should probably also mention that, as we were only there for one night during the off peak season, we had splashed out on a 5*resort – so getting off the chauffeured buggy to throw up into a rose bush was very uncool on my part.
Anyway, after spending a day searching for a pregnancy test, (which, as you can probably imagine, is a lot more difficult to find in Dubai than in Liverpool, where I can just wander into Boots and ask our Sheila for her Sunday morning special) we headed back to the airport.
Oh and, if you’re interested, it turned out that I wasn’t with child, instead I just had one hurricane of a hangover. So off we went, for our second night-flight; this time to Bangkok…
And we’re finally back to Bangkok…
I can’t actually remember why I didn’t sleep on the Bangkok flight – probably because I’m not the Elephant Man so therefore not all too accustomed to sleeping sitting up – but, as I said before I went all off-track, I was like the walking dead.
“You tired, Miss?”
“Erm… Yes… Sorry, I haven’t really slept.”
“Here, you take sweet.”
She offered me a sweet that looked like a white Werther’s Original and, (thinking, at worst, it might be doused with rohypnol which would mean I’d finally get a good night’s kip) I took it.
As it turns out the sweet wasn’t doused with rohypnol, but it was certainly doused with something as, within ten minutes, I was wide awake and wired. I suspect caffeine… and probably cocaine.
For the first time since stepping off English soil, I felt alive enough to take in my surroundings – and Bangkok was like being hit by a carnival.
The first thing I noticed was the sheer amount of people which, considering Bangkok is the most densely populated area of Thailand, was hardly surprising. But unlike the grey, bland crowds I was used to when working in London, this felt different… colourful. The city was alive; buzzing, unique and like nowhere I’d ever been before.
By the time we got to the Bangkok hotel, thanks to whatever class A drug I may or may not have recently digested, all plans of taking a nap had gone out of the window. Unfortunately it was still on everyone else’s agenda, so – unwilling to start my Bangkok adventure whilst alone and pepped up on happy pills – I decided to burn some energy at the hotel gym.
It was there that the amount of poverty in Bangkok hit me. Many of the buildings, blackened by the pollution in the city, were completely run down; the residents hanging their possessions out the window for lack of space. What shocked me the most, was the make-shift housing directly below me; a shanty town made from sheets of corrugated iron balanced precariously on top of one another, nestled at the foot of the hotel. There I was pounding away on the treadmill, whilst toddlers – no older than two years old – ran around in the pouring rain with no shoes on. As a visitor to a country, it’s hard to know how, (besides buying things at the Bangkok Floating Market) what you can help in that situation.
So yeah; I didn’t really have high expectations of Bangkok, but within ten minutes of arriving that had changed. It was, by far, one of the most exciting and eye opening places I’ve ever been lucky enough to visit.