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.
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.
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.
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):
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).
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.