Bewildered in Bangkok – Getaway Journal


I landed in Bangkok simply earlier than midnight on a muggy night time in April. Extra particularly, 14 April, proper in the course of Songkran.

‘You go, you go!’ my driver barked at me as I stared wide-eyed at him from the again seat of his taxi. Water splashed towards the home windows. I may see no signal of the Inexperienced Home Hostel. ‘You go!’ he shouted yet another time, as I climbed out of the automotive and retrieved my baggage from the boot. I used to be there to show English for the 12 months and had overpacked so desperately that I strained below the load of my suitcase. It was too laborious and too heavy to hold so I dragged it, wheels spinning within the moist streets.

As quickly as I closed the automotive door, the taxi driver crept again into the sluggish visitors. As I circled a jet of water hit me within the face. I discovered myself staring down the barrel of a water gun, connected to the arm of a Thai teenager who sprayed me once more, then centered his consideration on some women to my proper.

I had recognized I’d be arriving throughout Songkran, the Thai celebration of the brand new 12 months, however I used to be not anticipating shenanigans of this scale. In every single place have been individuals armed with water weapons, water balloons, buckets of water and bowls of talcum powder. Everybody, not like me, was sporting goggles. They aimed randomly, focusing on something that moved and particularly issues that didn’t transfer, like me.

I seemed round, determined to get my bearings. My telephone wouldn’t work as I hadn’t purchased a sim card but, and anyway, who would I name? I put my hand in my pocket, feeling round for the handle of the hostel that I’d had translated into Thai, and pulled out bits of soggy, disintegrated paper.

I stumbled ahead, laden with baggage and no clue the place to go. I went to face below a vivid yellow signal and tried to determine my subsequent transfer. This was not how I used to be used to arriving in overseas nations. I used to be an airline brat, and from the age of 4 till this second, I had travelled in model, flying enterprise class, being put up in good lodging and fetched from the airport in a beautiful coach to be deposited safely on the door of a resort.

Illustration by Jess Nicholson

‘Do you want assist?’ English! However with a French accent. A shirtless boy with moist, shoulder-length hair approached me, and I advised him the place I wanted to go. He didn’t know the place however he stated he’d assist me discover a taxi. He turned and walked in the direction of a darkish aspect road. I tightened my grip on my baggage however didn’t observe. He returned a couple of moments later with two males in helmets who requested: ‘The place you go?’

It didn’t matter what number of instances I stated ‘Inexperienced Home Hostel’, they didn’t appear to grasp. They stated a couple of phrases to at least one one other in Thai, then out of the blue stated ‘We all know!’ They have been motorcycle taxi drivers, the simplest strategy to get round any metropolis in Thailand, however I didn’t know that but.

The French boy helped me with my baggage, loading my baggage onto one bike and piling me onto the opposite. He waved and we have been off, getting sprayed by passersby as we manoeuvred to get out of the crowds. All of a sudden, the bike with my baggage went left at a fork and my driver and I went proper. I shouted, however he ignored me. There was nothing I may do however cling to this stranger and hope I ended up at my hostel.

We drove for about 10 minutes, then mercifully the neon inexperienced lights of the Inexperienced Home appeared. I hopped off the bike, slightly ungracefully and was about to start yelling about my baggage when the bike with the baggage pulled up. I grabbed them, fished out my pockets and requested the drivers what I owed them. ‘2 500 baht’. I had ฿3 000 (R1 000) which was speculated to final me for much longer than my first two hours in Bangkok. Having not but developed any Thai haggling expertise, I had no alternative however to provide it to them. 

Moist and drained, I dragged my baggage into the hostel and didn’t even thoughts that my room had no home windows or that it was painted lime inexperienced. I grabbed a Wi-Fi code and went to unpack my iPad, which I’d simply been given for my 18th birthday, to let my household know I’d arrived. It was nowhere to be discovered. That defined the detour. 

I wakened the following day at nearly midday, with no iPad and a skraal pockets, placed on my most waterproof garments and headed outdoors to get conversant in my environment and to get myself a water pistol. I turned proper out of my hostel, was instantly drenched by Songkran revellers after which took the primary left to search for a gun and almost walked straight into the intense yellow signal I’d stood below the night time earlier than. 300 metres from my hostel.

This text initially appeared within the February 2022 print challenge of Getaway.

Initially written by Lauren Dold; Illustration by Jess Nicholson 

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