New to Bangkok

How is this real? I woke up a few times in the night, but made the official decision to stop sleeping at 9 am. I couldn’t believe that I was not only alone in a hotel in Thailand, but starting a life here. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!

I spent the morning scourging the Internet for apartments. There were a lot of great ones in my price range, but I decided it may be better to go to a real estate office in person. At noon, I hit the streets anxiously and thought I would try getting to the Re/Max real estate office on my own. I had looked up directions ahead of time, and headed for the BTS station to start the adventure. I proudly got off the train and at street level, I thought I would reward myself with lunch. I had green curry and shrimp, as that is one of the only things I know how to say.

Rainy view from the BTS

After lunch, I went back to the street and walked toward my destination. Weird, that McDonald’s looks super familiar. Maybe they all look exactly the same? NOPE. I had made a loop back to my hotel’s street. Extremely flustered and without WiFi, I decided I needed someone to just take me to my destination. It took me a solid 10 minutes before I had the courage to approach a motorcycle taxi and ask for a ride. At the time, I didn’t know that Thai people only take motorcycle taxis for very short distances. They automatically charge more for idiot tourists who don’t know that, so I paid him a good 3x the going rate.

We got to the address and my heart sunk. It was massage parlor with giant lips on the sign that I was 100% sure was not Re/Max. I showed him the address again, and he motioned for me to call the phone number on the ad. He graciously waited as I called and sweat in the street. An American man told me that the office had moved. I wanted to crumple up and disappear.

The American gave me directions and I scribbled them down in my notebook. I told my driver where to go in broken Thai. He didn’t turn when I wanted him to, so I panicked and asked him to turn around and go back to “Lao Sai,” or turn left. He did, and we ended up going down another street I thought seemed wrong. Why the f am I giving anyone directions? I have no idea where I am! We came to a slow stop and we brokenly communicated. I didn’t want to waste his time, so I got off the motorcycle and tried to thank him and go it alone (or give up and cry). He asked a few people around him about the address, and urged me to call the Re/Max number again. On the phone with the agent, I realized that we were just a few buildings away! I almost leapt for joy and thanked the driver excessively.

Being one million degrees here, I was sweating pretty heavily when I walked into the Re/Max office. The agent, Siri, looked very concerned and asked me if I was okay. She power walked to get me some filtered water, and seemed genuinely worried as she turned up the air conditioning. I tried to laugh it off and vowed to get used to the tropical heat ASAP. We talked budget, location, other wish list items and made a plan to meet the next day to look at available condos.

Scenes from Ari

After fulfilling my main task for the day, I realized I had nothing else planned to do. I had developed about 10 blisters from all of the walking I had done in the first 48 hours. As someone sans thigh gap, I was getting a pretty intense leg chafe and was cringing with each step. Despite not wanting to spend a lot of time walking around in pain, I chose to head to a cool neighborhood and walk around.

Wanna?

I had read that the neighborhood Ari was essentially the Brooklyn or Hayes Valley of Bangkok, so I got back on the BTS to explore. Almost immediately after I got off the train, it started pouring rain. I ducked under a plumeria tree until I decided to wait out the storm with a foot massage. Second massage in less than 48 hours… Only God can judge me!! The woman gave me some amazing shorts to change into that I may have worn backwards (unintentionally):

Hot new pants

Coming from the California drought, I was blown away by the torrential downpour. You could have told me that this was a monsoon and I would have believed you. Post massage, the masseuse gave me hot tea and some dried fruit to snack on. I waited for the rain to stop and applied a thousand bandaids to my blistered feet. Two days of tromping through Bangkok had really ruined my barking dogs.

I walked into the drizzle and tried to find street food to eat. It’s a challenge to find street food as a pescetarian. Most of the stalls seem to serve pork and chicken. If a vendor does sell fish, it looks like it has been sitting out a while, and I have been so wildly paranoid about traveler’s diarrhea that I refuse to take that risk. Giving up on food, I kept walking around checking out the area. Ari had many similarities to the cool cities it was compared to online. There were a number of restaurants that could have been plucked out of San Francisco or New York that I’d love to visit for dinner (when I actually have friends here).

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

I got back on the BTS and headed home in case the rain started again. Like an idiot, I didn’t bring an umbrella out despite it being the rainy season. Back in my temporary neighborhood, I walked around looking for food. I turned down a busy street and found myself in the midst of many bustling bars. Signs advertised Buttery Nipple cocktails and I noticed that the white people were mainly single, white males. The bars were teeming with beautiful Thai women, and more lined the street. My chest tightened and I was instantly depressed when I realized that I was in some sort of red light area and that these were prostitutes. I kept walking down the street hoping to escape the sad reality and got out as quickly as possible. I know I will have to get used to seeing the sex tourism that goes on in Thailand, but it was hard to take in the first time around.

I ordered a Chang beer at a tourist-y pub called Bully and the bartender gave me some free popcorn. I happily gobbled up the popcorn, two beers and watched golf on mute for a good 30 minutes. After warily chatting with the two men in the airline business next to me, I beelined back to my hotel. I’m mandating a two beer limit whenever I’m alone to avoid the whole “lost drunk in a foreign country” thing. I cringed when I realized I had beer and popcorn for dinner. Americans, am I right?

Tomorrow marks a new day, hopefully one filled with apartment leasing and good food eating.

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3 Replies to “New to Bangkok”

  1. I can’t tell you how happy I am that you’re documenting your journey!! Loving each post. This reminds me so much of being in Bangkok alone last November, from the chaos of trying to navigate to taking in all of the new sights and sounds, and daily massages! Can’t wait to read more and fingers crossed that you find a glorious apartment. happy hunting! 🙂

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