Bangkok: Don’t open the cranberries

Where did I finish the last blog? Oh yeah… In the car, on the motorway on our way to the airport…

I’ve been looking forward to this pretty much ever since I got back to England, I struggle in England, I struggle with the cold, I struggle with the different pace that life is lead back in England… I think you get the idea, I struggle… Do I miss living in England? No, not at all… As soon as I land in England I find myself missing Bangkok and all the insanity therein… Bangkok has changed me… Changed me for the better I think.

Bangkok also spoils a person… Customer service here is on a whole different level, we went shopping for a few items at Asda back in England, we chose to use the self-service checkout being as we only bought a few items, there were no carrier bags at the till so we couldn’t pack our shopping away (I know, I know, we should have taken a reusable bag!) so we asked a young store assistant if they had any bags “Yeah” he mumbled” Over there” before half-heartedly pointing over at another till before walking away… That would never happen here, I was amazed it actually happened back in England, what’s happened to people? Don’t people actually want to work any more? We didn’t have a chance to get the name of the young kid that (sort of) helped us (actually, didn’t help at all) but if he is an example of the working youth of today? I have little hope for this new generation… If you ask for a bag in a store here (which you wouldn’t have to, being as bags are everywhere) you would not only be given a bag but you’d have your shopping packed away too… It’s a whole different world, people here want to work, people here want the job they have, they take pride in work… Something the youth of England could do with learning about.

Where was I?

Y’know… Before I went on a rant about the kid working in Asda… Yes! The motorway…

The drive down the motorway was (thankfully) uneventful… The traffic was also moving at a steady pace, thankfully no traffic jams, which had Brexit have happened would not have been the case, with the port of Dover coming to a standstill… Yeah, Brexit… Another reason I’m glad I’m not living in Britain anymore… But, enough about that… I really should stop getting so distracted…

The drive down the motorway as I said was uneventful, we stopped off at the motorway services for a bite to eat and a drink, Costa coffee had swapped all of it’s cups to Christmas themed ones and they were selling gingerbread Santas and Christmas flavoured tea… So Yeah, it looks like Christmas is in full swing as far as selling coffee goes… On the motorway, after we left the services we pass a van carrying the gear for the band we saw on Thursday night (Evil Scarecrow)… We have to take the hire car back to the depot close the airport, as the man working there checks the car for damage I watch the jets taking off, I’ve flown countless numbers of times but still I find watching the planes take off and land fascinating, I don’t think I’ll ever find a time where I’m not fascinated by aeroplanes… The man checking the car gives it the all-clear and we take our luggage over to the bus stop to wait for the courtesy bus to take us to our terminal, we wait patiently (as you do) with our bags until the pulls up, Jo asks the driver if he goes to out terminal, as she does so two men in suits carrying small cases completely ignore the people waiting and get on the bus… Rude! We get on the bus along with another passenger, the two men in suits sit on different rows but continue to talk to each other in German, I tell Jo that when we get to the terminal I plan to block there path in order to get some level of revenge for them jumping the queue… As we approach the airport I have a rethink, why be so petty eh? So, the bus stops, I stand and head over to our luggage, my case is stuck a little and takes a little longer than it should to pull out of the storage space, one of the German men is stood next to me trying to get off the bus, he’s obviously eager to get off the bus, I know I’d previously decided NOT to hinder him… But, the stars aligned… It was meant to be… The very fates themselves wanted this rude German to be taught a lesson! So, I slow down ever so slightly, the German man is getting stressed, I’m trying not to grin as he’s getting more and more anxious, eventually I pull the case out, sarcastically say “sorry” and get off the bus, German man practically runs into the terminal… Mission accomplished methinks.

Heathrow Airport is busy, thousands of people rushing around, pushing trolleys full of luggage, each person has a story, each person is here at this airport at this precise time for a reason, I find myself people watching, wondering what their stories are… I remember how, a year ago Me and Jo were here at this very airport about to embark on the biggest adventure, and risk of our lives… I remember how Jo had said, a year ago that us moving to Bangkok would either mean the making of us or the breaking of us (I’m sure anyone who has the misfortune to spend a night out with us can clearly see it has been the making of us)

[SQUEEL OF BRAKES]

A little history lesson dear reader (there ARE readers out there right?)

Me and Jo never really dated, Jo had two small boys when we met so we pretty much went from meeting straight to being parents, money was always an issue, free time was always an issue so Me and Jo never really had time (or the funds) to spend any real time together just for US (us in capitals…. Not US as in United states…Obviously) as the boys grew into young men (or to be more accurate grew into being taller boys) and jobs, careers meant we had a little more disposable income we had begun to have a small amount of time where we could dedicate time to each other, but nothing on the scale of what we do now… Now, we go out, we travel, we have fun, we hold hands like love-struck teenagers… I think we may make people sick a little bit… But we’re together… And stronger (and happier I think) than ever… Bangkok made us… She’s not broken us yet.

A young woman rushes past with her luggage on a trolley, her young daughter (well, I presume it’s her daughter) wearing an almost matching outfit and runs alongside her, I wonder where they’re going… What adventure awaits them… An old European man appears, pushing a trolley full of cases, he’s soon joined by a younger (than him anyway) Asian woman (Thai?) and their (I presume again) daughter… The old man looks tired, his skin is grey, he wears grey boring “old man” clothes… He’d look at home sitting in an English pub, reading a newspaper while drinking a pint of real ale… His companion (wife maybe?… Yeah, let’s say wife) is the exact opposite… Attractive (for her age), Glamorous, dressed in an outfit that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a 1980’s disco… Their daughter is also dressed much cooler than her Dad, in sports gear and a pair of truly hideous oversized bright orange and pink trainers, she’s pulling along a small piece of hand luggage that looks very expensive, I’m looking at her hand luggage and have a little bit of luggage envy, that little case was a work of art! It looked like the luggage you’d see in an overhead compartment in a train from a 1940’s detective movie but on a smaller scale, she also wears a pair of bright green oversized headphones, her Mom is quietly barking orders at her Dad, He, being a dutiful husband and father does as she tells him, I feel that sometimes he looks back on his life and wonders where that beautiful sweet girl he met on that holiday of a lifetime all those years ago went… To be replaced by the Asian disco diva with attitude.

The daughter wears her headphones and wanders around the airport, she sits away from her parents… Maybe the headphones are to drown out the constant orders her mother barks out…She sits a few seats away from us and opens her case… A case which is equally as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside…Luggage envy is real people!… She takes off her green headphones, places them in the case, pulls out a pair of red headphones and puts them on her head... She closes her case and sits alone listening to whatever music she has decided upon… I’m presuming it’s music… I decided the headphone swap was because maybe the headphones she had on earlier had run out of charger… But, I saw her later (she was on our flight) and she was wearing the green ones again… Most odd.

We didn’t seem to have been in the airport for long (even tho according to our watches, we had) when we were called to board our flight… We didn’t have the relative luxury of premium economy on this flight, just economy… Gone was the extra wide comfortable seat… Gone was the extra legroom (actually the legroom here wasn’t too bad)… Gone was our two-seat chair layout… Now we had to share our row with two other passengers…

Jo informed me that she was feeling nervous, she’d had such a good flight on the way out I had completely forgotten she was a nervous flyer, I tried my best to calm her as people continued to find their seats… Soon, it was time to take off, the aircrew made their final checks, the seatbelt sign was illuminated, people were told to switch mobile devices to aeroplane mode… At this point, Jo noticed the man sitting in the row opposite was texting on his phone “HE’S ON HIS PHONE!” I looked over, yes, he was texting on his phone… The plane began to move along the runway... “HE’S STILL ON HIS PHONE! I’M GOING TO TELL HIM TO SWITCH IT OFF!” she panics… We’d had such a good flight out that I simply didn’t have the patience with her that I should have had… She began to cry, I just got angry… She kept gripping the chair in front as we began to take off… I pulled her hands away, the passenger in front didn’t need this hysterical woman pulling on their seat… Jo became more upset, I just got angrier (It transpires that at some point Jo DID tell the man to turn his phone off but I was in such a bad mood I didn’t notice)... Eventually, Jo calmed down… I, however, did not… I was in a foul mood for the first hour of the flight… Food was served but I wasn’t hungry, all I wanted to do was fall asleep and get this flight over with… I wanted to be off the plane and back home… My trip back to England had not been a great success and now the panicking by Jo had just pushed me over the edge, I was stuck on a plane and my mood was turning blacker and blacker…I silently vowed to never fly again… To anyone else on that plane I must have thought I was a right moody arsehole… And you know what? They’d be right.

Jo fell asleep after dinner, I sat staring at the blank screen in front of me… I was in such a bad mood I couldn’t even be bothered to watch a film… Now, that’s BAD! At some point I fell asleep, I’m aware of this because I went from staring at a blank screen to being in a twisted position with a sore neck… And my mood had lifted… I no longer wanted to punch every passenger on the plane, I no longer vowed to never fly again… I also felt like a total prick for the way I’d reacted to Jo and her panic… Jo was awake, I apologised for getting angry… Thankfully she accepted my apology… We spent the rest of the flight switching between sleeping, playing games on the inflight entertainment system, quietly chatting and walking around the plane… At one point we walked to the back of the plane to get a drink, the aircrew were all at the back chatting quietly as most of the passengers were sleeping… A young man was also at the back of the plane, he’s opened up the window shade allowing bright light to flood the rear of the plane, one of the stewardesses (By the way I’m sure Eva Air only recruit stewardesses from modelling agencies) asked him to close it, she explained the other passengers were sleeping and she didn’t want them all waking up… The man closed it…. But immediately reopened it as soon as she turned her back... Prick.

As one of the crew was making us a drink (coffee for Jo, tea for me) I noticed a series of notes all pinned (pinned? maybe not actual pins) to the wall behind us… Passenger numbers, meal times… And one instruction is written in capitals…. DON’T OPEN THE CRANBERRIES… It looked so menacing… So vital to the survival of everyone on the flight... DON’T OPEN THE CRANBERRIES!… We had to ask a stewardess why the cranberries had to be kept locked up… It transpired (I've used that word so much lately) that the plane will continue you on to Taipei after we get to Bangkok and they need a certain amount of cranberry juice for those passengers… We walk away with our drinks, making the stewardess laugh by saying “For God’s sake DON’T OPEN THE CRANBERRIES!”.

The flight continues, we sleep, we chat, I play games…

A man is messing around with his luggage in the overhead locker and his bag falls, hitting the man behind him in the head…Thankfully it was a small, light bag… Had it been OUR duty-free bag, the man would have been killed… I find myself looking through the films and decide to watch a Korean film (with English subtitles thankfully) called “Inseparable Bros” a comedy/drama film about the friendship between two boys, a physically disabled and a mentally disabled (is disabled the politically correct term these days?) living in Korea… I loved it, absolutely loved it… I’ve decided to watch more foreign films in future… On my own sadly because Jo refuses to watch films with subtitles.

[SQUEEL OF BRAKES]

While looking on google for the correct title of this film (and it’s country of origin) I actually found a site that has the full film to view online!

The film ended just as our plane came into land at Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok…

I stand at passport control, the queue is massive, we’re heading into tourist season here to every airport from now unto the madness ends will be like this all the time… I find myself watching the people in the line waiting to get their passports checked… A blonde woman catches my eye… She must be well into her fifties, the amount of plastic surgery she has had on her face in an effort to remain young looking has reduced her to looking like a woman wearing a plastic mask and a blonde wig… She looks ridiculous… Her husband is a short stocky, rough-looking man… I decide they’re Russian (as you do)… Their son is an awkward-looking kid, large build, tall… But no confidence, He’s wearing a t-shirt, shorts and a hat on his head, he shuffles nervously, he seems to be intimidated by his Dad…Meanwhile, his Dad stands like he owns the place… He sees himself as an adonis and his plastic faced wife as a sex symbol… I think he needs glasses…. I think his kid needs therapy… Or a baseball bat with his Dads name on it.

There are groups of men here… English… French… Groups of men that are from a particular type of tourist I’ve grown to despise here in Bangkok… No, not sex tourists… Even tho some of them are truly hateful… I’m talking about a whole different group… Muay Thai tourists.

Muay Thai tourists very rarely travel alone… They always travel in groups… They always wear the same matching T-Shirt or Sweatshirt, each one emblazoned with the logo of whatever Thai Boxing club they train at in their own country… I silently hope they all get the shit kicked out of them when they go to a Muay Thai camp.

Then I see him… He’s walking toward the end of the queue, he’s about 5 ft 8, medium build, he’s wearing a blue tracksuit and sunglasses indoors (A crime in itself.. Only the blind and Roy Orbison had the right to commit such an atrocity) He may be only 5 ft 8, he may only be of medium build… But in his mind he’s 6 ft 8, he’s got the body of a 1980’s era Hulk Hogan… He is TEN MEN (For the non-Brits amongst you, Ten Man is a phrase that describes someone who believes he is as tough as ten men… As in… A dick head with attitude) He’s walking like he owns the world… He has a sly smile that says “yes I know I’ve got my sunglasses on indoors and I don’t give a fuck”… He disappears from view… I’ve lost him… Where can he be?.. Suddenly he re-appears… In the other queue! And he’s pushed in front of people! He’s not only a ten men… He’s a queue pusher too… Oh, I do hope he gets subjected to a body cavity search before he leaves the airport!

we walk through the arrivals lounge, airport limousine companies call out to us as we pass… I wish they’d stop thinking I’m a tourist… I wonder if you can get a shirt printed that says in Thai “I’m not a tourist, leave me the fuck alone”… I may have stumbled on a money-making idea there.

We finally get to a taxi and head off into the busy streets of Bangkok, on our way home…

Home… it’s been home for a year (well, a year tomorrow)… I’ve been writing these diaries… Blogs… Musings for a year… A year!… I wonder what adventures the coming year will bring us?

Ah well… Until next time…

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Ade Cox

A working-class man from The Black Country, plucked from the factory and now living the best life in Bangkok