Time is tricksy. Don’t trust it. Don’t think ‘I’ve got ages to put up that picture/apply for that job/visit my sick grandmother’ because before you know it you’re moving out of the flat, or you have 17 minutes before the submit button on the application page explodes in a little fireball, or your grandmother is too sick to speak with you ever again. I have learned these things the hard way.
Time is tricksy: the main lesson life taught me in the past year. One minute I was starting the job of my dreams in the UK, the next my husband had been offered the job of his dreams in Bangkok, the next I had four long months to enjoy London before departing to join him, the next I was leaving the job of my dreams, the next I was perspiring on the Bangkok sky train with Thais (trying to be discreet, failing), moving away to escape this smelly farang who still hadn’t learned never to walk ANYWHERE in Bangkok. Ever.
Our new neighbourhood
We’re perched in an outpost of Bangkok, a city which is so vast I still have very little grasp of its geography. If you asked me to put a pin in a map to say where we were in the city I’d probably stick it in your eye and run away.
What I can tell you about it is there’s a lovely little cafe 5 minutes away where the waitress smiles through my painful attempts at ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in Thai, and decorates the walls with original, evocative artworks and cartoonish owl ornaments. A pleasurable little haven to visit.
We’re just off a busy road lined with motorbike mechanics and pharmacies and food stalls selling fried chicken and fried rice and noodles with pork. There’s a market where, for 60p, you can buy exquisitely sweet, freshly carved pineapples, and som tam; a salad made from shredded green papaya, green beans, tomato dressed with garlic, chili, lime and peanuts. The most recent som tam I bought, which I am (inadvisedly) eating now, is so hot it’s causing me physical pain. I can’t stop eating it.
Our new nest
I’ve been disoriented by a new concept of space, big walls, big floors, balconies and bathrooms in the plural. It’s an intimidating and tantalising prospect to think about filling it. There’s temptation on every street and market stall – giant gleaming buddha statues, waving cats, 5 foot stuffed crocodiles.
Our balconies are a good vantage point for watching the sky tarting herself up in decadent colours before sneaking out into darkness in the evenings, or spying on squirrels as they pick their way fecklessly along electrical wires that a British blue tit would probably balk at. I miss British blue tits.
Outside our apartments ‘soi dogs’ roam, gangly creatures who look like their stringy legs have been stuck on at odd angles. Fluffy and Flip Flop are the most prolific, although in this context ‘prolific’ means lying asleep in the car park, and occasionally approaching you if they think you’re going to feed them. They don’t look very old, but their eyes are old.
So, here we are. And I will be regularly documenting my experiences of this beguiling city because, before I know it, they will be over.
Now I better go and dispose of this som tam before I finish it causing irreparable damage.