Still in the Big Kok. Still not dead. Not only am I not dead, I’m actually almost officially a teacher now. Got my certificate, got a job. Just waiting for the visa and the all-important first pay check.
I’m 3 weeks in and on the hunt for somewhere to live. Staying with my cousins is luxurious and free, but it’s miles from anywhere and I’m keen to have my own place again. Saw a place yesterday – bedsit, small, clean, has a balcony that faces onto another building. The mattress is covered in plastic faux leather and the windows don’t open. S’cheap though. Might move in, just for shits and giggs. Yeah, that’s right, giggs. I’m a teacher now, I don’t have time for two-syllable words (except for all the two-syllable words I have time for, obvs).
Living in Bangkok isn’t quite what I had in mind when I left, and I’m reserving judgement for now. The thing with big cities is that one is as the other is as the other. Same-same, as they say out here, only different. All buildings an’ that. Tall. Ugly. Impressive. It’s coming into rainy season and the storms are frequent, impressive. Pass me my thesaurus. Rain comes down like it’s the final judgement. Thunder cracks and sounds like you’re standing too close to someone shooting a gun – so bloody loud you can feel the air jolt. Lightening forks from the sky and it’s all National Geographic, up-close and personal, widescreen, HD. The heat is slimy and intense, and the smells too: filthy smog, sweet, charred meat, simmering broths, exhaust fumes that cling to the skin, piss, rot, coffee. Sometimes I pop into a 7/11 just to cool down and get a breath of fresh air before diving back into the furnace outside.
It takes me an hour and two separate modes of transport to get to work on a morning. All my most terrifying and lots of my most wonderful moments in Bangkok have been on the back of motorcycle taxis – crazy, dangerous, infinitely exciting. I work weekends and get Mondays and Tuesdays off. I wear DRESSES now, like it’s normal. It’s not because I’ve suddenly developed fashion sense, it’s because I have to be smart and it’s too hot for trousers. I’ve walked for miles around the city in my free time, not going anywhere in particular, just following the roads, and yet I’ve hardly been anywhere – the Big Kok is enormous and there’s lots to pack in. The thing I did most when I first started wandering was exploring the shopping malls. I apologise for the Americanism but the British version, shopping centre, does nothing to convey the sheer scale of these things. I’m not a huge one for shopping but they’re IMPRESSIVE(that fucking word again), almost comical in their exaggeration, like upper-class caricatures of themselves. One has a massive multiplex cinema at the top and a bloody aquarium at the bottom.There’s MBK, a multi-story indoor market with food court and bowling, an entire floor devoted to mobile phone things, and, and, and. There’s a bowling “league” at work and I’m trying to bowl away my hatred of bowling in order to socialise. I even have bowling socks. Yeah, bowling socks, that’s right. Who wants to fucking touch me.
On work days, I’m up early and back late. I often bring work home. At least I don’t have to cook: I usually eat on the street or bring street food here to eat in the air-con. The street food is incredible. My favourites are ALL OF THE ONES. I don’t eat Pad Thai as often as you’d expect. I go for chicken noodle broth when I can get it (sometimes with a claw, sometimes with mystery objects that don’t taste like fish but are), or for Hainanese chicken and rice, or mystery curry, or simmered pork (<3), or Som Tam – Papaya salad – when it’s not so stuffed with chilli that it makes me feel like my tongue’s going to burn right out of my face. I often use the power of The Point, often go for things I couldn’t name in English let alone Thai, and I have yet to taste something I didn’t like. The other day I ate what I think were patties of deep-fried cornstarch with spinach inside. Sounds gross but it came with a mouthwatering sauce. They have corn on the cob for sale from vendors on the street and they dip it in salted sugar-water to cool it so you can eat it straight away. Meat or fish skewers are being grilled on every other street corner, and you can get a bag of sticky rice on the side for only 5 baht. They sell fried chicken everywhere, with chilli sauce if you want it, and whole salted fish, freshly grilled. I’ve not eaten one yet but it’s high on my list. I’m not keen on mango and sticky rice – the texture of the mango makes me squirm a bit – but BANANA and sticky rice is the food of the gods. I’ve only had it once, from a street food fair, but I’ve always half an eye open for it when I’m walking.
Ah, the food. Between that and the lack of elite roller derby madness, I’m twice the woman I used to be.