Well, I can now say I have traveled further East than Warsaw landing here in Bangkok on a fairly warm day in early September. The ride from the airport was akin to a ride from New York’s JFK airport. Advertising infrastructure on massive pylons, concrete motorways and a looming set of bright skyscrapers…the only difference being we were driving on the left. A small sense of home.
Day one consisted of settling into the apartment some eleven floors up with the inevitable uneasy glance at the gaps between the balcony wall and wondering if a ten month old could possibly fit through them. Probably not, but one cannot take chances so the doors from the living space will be firmly locked once the enthused lurching of an infant being held by a parent turns into the perambulations of a road runner. Something every parents wants as a milestone for their child but then wishes they could claw back as we realise our 20/60 vision needs some new glasses pretty sharpish to see where the little blighter has hot-footed to next.
Our first foray outside came a scant hour into arrival as we attempted a stroll down Soi Langsuan. What I thought might be a gentle outing turned into a mogul run that means Whistler is flat by comparison. Every ten yards of a Bangkok sidewalk is punctured by an entrance way with a smiling security guard that is easily a foot lower than the crumbling sidewalk. You note quickly that people move along with a sinuous grace here, lifting feet a fraction higher to deal with trip hazards, weaving through the tiny gaps between concrete walls and hawker stands with their delicious odours that make you conscious of a rumbling stomach. My problem was we had a push chair. (it is at this point I’ll unashamedly say that Bugaboo proved it was worth every cent – though I recommend aspiring parents get one on EBay rather than shelling out a $1000 on a new one). What should have been a five minute walk to the end of the road and the destination of the glorious Limpini Park took twenty minutes of pushchair lifting, manoeuvrings, cursing and repeated stumbling. If you want wrists of steel, forget the gym. Do that four times a day.
Still we made it to the local foodhall which was like walking into a Waitrose. I can buy more here within 5mins walk/20mins stroller than I can within a 30min drive in the land of UK. Incredible, really. No need to stock up on marmite before leaving. No need to stock up on anything. I’ve bemoaned for a decade the inability to get soft baked chocolate chip Pepperidge Farm cookies in that green and pleasant land having becoming addicted during a sojourn in New York but lo and behold they gazed fondly down at me from a shelf in the shop. Six packs later…thank heavens for the gym!
So we returned to our sparse apartment where we must wait for a few days for our home items to arrive. In the meantime we have no TV, just a DVD player. We look at each other, look at the ten month old and realise we’re in for three days of “Everything’s Rosie.” Don’t get me wrong, a brilliant CBeebies effort for infants but once you’ve watched all 13 episodes ten times you just crave something…anything else.
Sigh. Is this what diplomacy is all about?