We landed back in Bangkok after a flight that took about nine hours to get us from Melbourne, Australia, the flight was another good one for Jo, she had a little bit of anxiety when we took off but as the flight progressed she calmed down and ended up enjoying the flight, this may have been in part to the fact she was drunk for a large portion of the flight due to the fact one of the air stewardesses on our flight kept plying her with gin… Jo wasn’t complaining… Why would she? We spent the flight chatting, laughing and watching films… Oh yeah, and drinking too, Another flight with the always excellent Thai airways.

Oh we were glad to be back in Bangkok, the moment we stepped off the plane, despite it being about 9:30pm we could feel that familiar heat of Bangkok… Oh the joys of being warm, how we have missed you! We collected our cases and headed out into the arrivals area of the airport, a quick detour to pick up some bread and milk from a shop before heading down to the taxi rank… As usual, the airport is full of people of all nationalities wandering around, all eager to see families or begin an adventure, all Me and Jo want to do is get back home… The taxi ride was pleasant, I spent the journey looking out of the window at traffic, buildings and people… It feels so good to back in Bangkok.

During our time in Bangkok, both myself and Jo have been quite lucky in the fact we’ve made friends here… But, as we are all essentially living a transient life, sadly people, friends have to move on… Some will simply go back to their home country, others will have new jobs or new assignments which force them to leave, others will make a choice to move away to another country for other reasons, like our friend Triin, who is moving to China for a number of months in order to study… A group of us met up at a bowling alley in the city to play a few games of ten pin bowling, have a few drinks and get some food, our last night out for a while, with Triin.

Bowling didn’t quite go according to plan… Our planned two hours of bowling became two hours of bowling, reporting a broken bowling lane, moving lanes, bowling and reporting broken bowling lanes… However… We still had fun… Despite the continuous issues with the bowling lanes… Strangely, the other bowling lanes had no problems… Just ours… Strange.

We ended up in a beer bar a short walk away from the bowling alley… The beer was good, the conversation was flowing… Or was the conversation good while the beer was flowing?... Either way, the beer and the chat was good! everyone ordered food, me and Jo ordered “chip butties”… One of the (very) few things I miss about England.. Chip butties… Would these chip butties we ordered be any good? Or would our butties arrive and we’d be left disappointed?… Imagine the best chip butty you’ve ever eaten… Maybe it’s one your Nan made you on a cold Saturday afternoon as you sat in her living room watching TV many years ago… That perfect homemade chip butty… This chip butty was just as good… Perfect bread (as a rule bread here in Bangkok isn’t that great) the perfect amount of butter spread on the bread… And then we get to the chips! perfectly cooked homemade chips… The chip butty was a revelation… Man… I fancy a chip butty now.

We were struggling a bit with tiredness and maybe all the chip butties we’d eaten… We had to cut the night short and head home… Chip butties, a pint of Guinness and conversation with friends… Perfection.

Monday morning appears… As Monday mornings do… Weekly actually… Without fail, every week… A Monday appears… It’s Jo’s first day back in the office since we got back from Melbourne, my plan is to walk Jo to work then walk back to the apartment block and spend some time in the gym, i’ve been (well, I was before we had to spend two weeks in Australia) going to the gym every day in an effort to lose some weight and get a little bit fitter (the weight loss isn’t going to plan… I’m not putting any new weight on but I seems to be stuck at my current weight) but I have managed to build up my fitness a little tho… Baby steps… Before, back in England I could only manage less than five minutes on a cross-trainer machine before pain in my knees caused me to stop, when I started using the machine here I started at five minutes, building up to twenty… Twenty minutes was something I was proud of, with my thirty minute walk to work and back with Jo, twenty minutes on the cross trainer followed by twenty minutes of walking uphill on the walking machine every day I was quite happy with how I was building up my fitness… So, Monday morning I walked happily into the gym (sort of) looking forward to getting back into my fitness regime… Five minutes on the cross trainer and I came crashing down to Earth… Back pain, leg pain… Sod this, i’m going on the walking machine… Looks like I need to give myself some time to build up my time on the cross-trainer.

Tuesday turns up right after Monday.. I know! Shocker right?…. I manage fifteen minutes on the cross trainer today… Result!

Wednesday is the day of the week that I have to change my gym routine, Wednesday is the day that Daa our maid cleans our apartment, this means that I can’t go to the gym and have a shower straight after (I don’t want Daa traumatised by me showering while she’s there) So Wednesday is the day I walk Jo to work before going for a long walk around Bangkok, on previous Wednesdays i’ve walked fourteen kilometres before returning back to the apartment… So on Wednesday morning as Jo is getting herself ready for work, i’m getting my backpack ready, I put my water bottle in there, I put my wallet and my phone in the bag too… All ready for my walk in Bangkok… I walk Jo to work and start my walk toward the park where I usually spend about twenty minutes feeding a cat, yes one cat, I met her a few weeks ago, she’s a stray who I see at the same place every time I go, she has some food off me then sits with me having fuss… She’s stray so has no name but i’ve sort of named her Kika (No idea why, it just seems to fit)… My plan is to visit a shop on the way to the park to pick up a sachet of cat food, as I get to the junction of the road that I live on I wait at the crossing waiting for a gap in the traffic I decide to have a drink of water, I take off my backpack and see that the zip is open, I step back from the road and look inside the pocket… My mobile phone isn’t there, my wallet is still in the pocket but my phone is gone… I check the other pockets (just in case i’ve put my phone in the wrong pocket) but still no phone… Even tho I know my wallet is safe I still double-check… Yes, my wallet is there but my phone was gone… I walked quickly to my apartment, maybe i’d just forgotten to pack my phone… Maybe my phone is laying on the coffee table in my apartment… I get back to my apartment and see that my phone isn’t on the table… I recheck all the pockets in my backpack… Still no phone… I switch my laptop on and message Jo at work telling her what had happened and ask if she could try and call my phone (i’d hoped to hear it ringing in the apartment)… Jo messaged back to say her call went straight to voicemail, confirming the phone had been switched off… Shit! It had been stolen… The phone is fingerprint and password-protected, so security isn’t really a worry, any applications that are risky on my phone (bank etc) are also fingerprint and password protected too, so nothing to worry about there either… I change the password on my facebook and twitter accounts… I’m still pissed that someone stole my phone tho… I run through the events of the day, I mentally retrace my steps trying to pinpoint when my phone was taken from my backpack… At no point was I anywhere with anyone behind me… The walk to Jo’s office was deserted… The walk toward the park was also deserted ( I saw people, but at no point do I recall anyone standing or walking close behind me)… I continue to retrace my walk… The only point where someone could have been behind me in order to open my bag was when I stopped at the junction and wanted a drink of water… The phone must have been taken seconds before I removed the bag from my back… Had I noticed the phone was gone then looked behind me i’d have probably seen the thief walking away… But I didn’t… Instead, I just checked my bag a few times before going home… Bugger.

I stewed for a while, I ran scenarios through my mind… What if I HAD noticed the thief messing with my bag? What if I pass a street seller later today selling MY phone? The answer my friends is… I do nothing. The normal rules do not apply here… Bangkok has a “flexible” approach to law… I’ll explain… Or try to.

Let’s say for instance my phone was stolen in England… Later on that day I pass someone in the street with a load of mobile phones displayed for sale… One of those mobile phones is without a doubt mine…. In England, you would have a couple of courses of potential action…. You can confront the seller… Or contact the police… Here, it’s different… If I did see my phone for sale and I confronted the seller? I’d find myself on the losing end of an argument with a stolen phone seller and a large group of Thais who will take his side….. If I contacted the police i’d possibly find myself on the rough end of the corruption that sadly still taints the Police here in Bangkok… It’s a lose-lose situation, the best course of action is to forget the stolen phone, get a new one and don’t be stupid enough to put it in the zip-up pocket of a backpack ever again.

I eventually left the apartment and walked to the park, via the 7Eleven to pick up a couple of sachets of cat food, I was still stewing but as every minute passed the more I just blamed myself.

The park was full of people, people walking, people jogging, people exercising, people doing Tai Chi, nannies pushing buggies around, nannies walking hand in hand with toddlers, people laying on the grass… And me… Minus a mobile phone but still on a mission to see the cat I have no right to name… I’m looking for Kika.

As I walk to where I usually see Kika I see she’s playing with a lady, the lady has bought along a cat toy which Kika is enjoying playing with, Kika looks happy, the lady looks happy… I have a little feeling of jealousy… “How dare she play with MY cat!”… I walk past Kika and the lady she’s cheating on me with, I walk around the park, when I get back to Kika’s spot I see she’s laying underneath “our” bench… She’s all alone now, So I sit down and have a drink of water… “Meow!” I look around and Kika is walking along the wall behind me, All is forgiven Kika... How could I remain angry with you?… I empty half of the cat food sachet out into the wall and Kika runs over and starts eating… What follows is a strange mix of me feeding a cat I do not own, stroking this cat as she eats while telling her all about my phone being stolen… People walking past must think i’m some deranged foreigner who talks to stray cats… Which actually, I’m pretty sure I am…. Kika finishes off a whole sachet of catfood before she joins me on the park bench, she curls up beside me and lays with me for a while, she lets me stroke her as she lays there purring… She has a number of scars on her head from previous adventures, but I notice she has less scars than last time I saw her… She’s young, but she’s learning to survive, She’s beautiful, She’s friendly…. She’s another friend i’ve made in this strange city… I hate the fact she has no home, but at least I know when I go to the park she has some food and someone who cares… I care to too much if I’m honest… I just want to pick her up and take her home, but our apartment doesn’t allow pets… Plus, maybe Kika is happy with her life…. Maybe i’d just cramp her style.

[Squeel of brakes]

Minor issues occasionally turn up in life… Tiny, seemingly insignificant things…. Like… Having a phone stolen… A simple little thing like that… Shouldn’t cause too many problems should it?… Freeze your mobile number… Buy a new phone… Simple right? Wrong.

Email accounts I set up years ago, email accounts I notoriously keep forgetting the passwords for were also stored on that phone… Online bank accounts… yes, they are fingerprint protected but still, you can’t be too careful can you?… Paypal… eBay… Twitter… Facebook… All those passwords need to be changed… And even tho i’ve changed the passwords I still find myself double-checking my bank accounts… My Paypal accounts…. Just to make sure my old phone hasn’t been used to steal my money too…. Such a headache. A total pain in the arse.

Note to self… Make a note of all your passwords.

Another note to self…. Don’t ever let your phone get stolen again!

After a long week at work for Jo we decided we’d head out into town for a couple of drinks (and a chip butty) Jo had been invited out to an event at a tailors in town, a friend from her work was playing in a band and she had promised to attend… I have to say that I actually enjoyed myself… The event was actually a one-year anniversary party for the tailors' shop… There was music and a free bar… You can’t go wrong with a free bar… I’d noticed a man walking around in a silver smoking jacket, everyone was dressed smartly, this man just stood out… Jo commented on how she liked his outfit, the man then became Bangkok's answer to Austin powers when he shouted “YEAH BABY!” before talking about fashion and how he should have worn leopard print… It’s one of those nights when I, who usually opts for jeans and a T-Shirt, am really glad I decided to dress a little smarter…. I’d have felt so out of place if i’d worn my usual clothing choice… We spent a couple of hours at the tailors before heading off for a pint of Guinness and a chip butty… Pretty decent night!

On Saturday morning Me and Jo headed off to the hospital for an eye test…. Well, two eye tests… One each…. I wear glasses for reading and Jo has had a few issues with her eyesight of late so off we went for an eye test… Well, it wasn’t actually an eye test… It turns out Jo had actually booked us in for an eye HEALTH test… So we spent a couple of hours at the hospital having various tests… None of which helped with me getting a pair of glasses I can wear all the time, instead of putting them on for reading, taking them off to see everything else… Jo decided she wants another tattoo so after the hospital we headed of to Nana for her to get a quote on the design she wanted, it was lunchtime so we headed to a nearby bar for some food and a couple of drinks… To cut a long story short, by the time we went to the mall to get my replacement phone we were both a little worse for wear… As in tipsy… As in…. A bit drunk.

Despite the slight drunkenness we managed to get me a new phone for a pretty good price too… Maybe there was a silver lining to that cloud that is petty theft.

Sunday morning and Jo and Me are on our way to the tattoo studio for Jo to get her new tattoo… Jo’s appointment is at 11.30 i’ve arranged to meet a friend in a nearby bar at 12:00 so I can get Jo settled at the studio before heading off to the bar… The studio is in Nana… Nana is one of Bangkoks most notorious red-light areas… Walking from the tattoo studio to the bar i’m heading to leads me past massage parlours and beer bars… I walk past a freelancer (prostitute) plying for trade on the street corner… I almost laugh out loud as she advertises herself to a prospective customer as “I am HAPPY HOUR!”… I hate walking past the massage parlours… I hate walking past the freelancers… I hate walking past the bars where girls try their best to entice you in…. I hate it…. But, not for the reasons that you may be thinking.

I have no issue with the girls who work at the bars or the massage parlours… I have no issue with the girls who ply for trade at the bars or on the street… I understand it… I know it’s just what happens here…. The reason I hate walking past is… Quite simply… I feel guilty every time I say “Mai ow” (I don’t want)… It’s like a world of “It’s not you, it’s me” on repeat.

After a few drinks and some food with my friend, I head back to the tattoo parlour… Hours later, we leave the studio… Hours! the tattoo took about 10 hours to finish… Jo is happy (actually overjoyed) with the tattoo but she’s in pain… She’s tired… We stop at a bar for a drink before heading home… Jo’s leg is sore and my arse feels like a block of wood after i’ve been sitting on a stool for hours watching a tattoo artist create a masterpiece…

We’re both tired… We need to sleep…

So until next time… Night night.

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