Bangkok: More tea Vicar?

I bought some tea… Yes I know, you’re sitting there thinking “Woah! What a life” I know, I know it’s just so Rock N Roll, i’m living the dream… I went out to buy some tea… Not tea bags… Oh, no... Loose leaf tea… Proper tea… Real tea… Consider your minds blown.

We were introduced to the dream in liquid form that is masala chai while back in England at the Download festival, now here, back in Bangkok we’ve tried to find a version of it that is as nice as the homemade one we tasted back at Download, the closest we’ve gotten is tea from a posh tea place in one of our more expensive malls here… It’s a tad pricey, but a cup of masala chai at the end of the day is amazing and it sends you off into the deepest of sleep.

Jo bought a bag of tea from this particular place as soon as we got back from Download, was it identical to the one we had at Download? No.. But it’s close… Anyway, after a cup of chai every night, that initial bag of tea was empty… Jo was at work and my mission for the day was to go to the mall and bring back more masala chai… Mission accepted!

The walk to the mall is something i’ve done countless numbers of times, we’re heading into the rainy season here so over the past couple of weeks we’ve had bouts of rather “British” weather, not much sunshine, grey skies… Rain... Lot’s of (but not lots by rainy season standards) rain... It’s been a bit miserable weatherwise to be honest…But here, on this day? It’s sunny, it’s hot… It’s Bangkok! Traffic is moving slowly down the road, the air isn’t as fresh as i’d have liked it, the recent rain mixed with the return of the hot weather has left the drains in a state of unpleasantness, some drains smell quite bad, the smell catches you unawares… You can be walking happily, breathing freely… When suddenly... Bam! the drains get you... Not nice... Not nice at all… Thankfully these attacks don’t happen too much… Not enough to ruin this walk today… I pass by a hotel i’ve passed by hundreds of times, but today i’m looking at it differently… A few nights ago we were walking past this hotel, watching two huge bats flying around a tree, I love bats, they fascinate me…These bats... Huge bats... Proper Batman bats, straight from the comics bats, amazed me… here in the daylight... No bats… I really must walk down this road at night more often… But still, the memory of the bats makes me smile… So, I carry on walking down the road… On a mission... A Rock N Roll mission… To buy tea.

I enter the Emporium mall and walk into the ice cold air conditioned store selling clothes that I honestly believe no sane person would buy or wear… Designer clothes that cost a fortune that frankly look hideous… Someone must be buying them tho... Right? I exit the store and walk through the mall, passing tourists and shoppers as I go, heading toward the shop that sells tea… Well, it’s not actually a shop… Well.. it is... But it isn’t… It’s actually a tea room… tea restaurant?… Cafe?… No.. it’s nicer than a cafe… I’ll think of a word to describe it later on no doubt… But for now, it’s a restaurant that sells tea and cakes… A cafe… A posh cafe.

It’s tea room isn’t it? yeah… Tea room.

I wait for the girl behind the counter to finish serving a young Asian girl… She’s bought a box set of tea, she’s paying for it as her boyfriend(?) is hovering in the background… She finishes paying for her tea then she turns to her boyfriend with an angry look in her eye, she barks something at him, practically barks orders at him… The boyfriend switches on his camera and begins to film the girl who has just bought tea and made him look like an absolute idiot in front of everyone… His camera points at her… She looks at the camera and switches from (sorry for the phrase i’m going to use here) the biggest bitch on the planet to a sweet girl out buying tea… He films her as she turns away from him, doing her best to pretend she doesn’t know she’s being filmed (despite ordering the poor sap to film her)... I wonder if this video is uploaded somewhere (of course it is)... I wonder how she’ll edit it… I wonder what sweet comment will she make on it… I wonder how often, is this poor boy forced to be her cameraman…Forced to document every little thing she does… She picks up her purchase and leaves the shop… Her little puppy dog filming her as she leaves.

I spent a bloody fortune on masala chai…. I put it down to a language mix up, but I ended up buying twice as much as I actually wanted…. Ah well… It’s a good job we like drinking the stuff.

The walk back from the mall was a mixture of people watching and chatting to Jo via phone about flights for the next time we come back to England (all the time trying to think of the best way to tell her i’ve spent too much money and bought too much tea)… Jo is reeling off lists of possible airlines we can fly back with, i’m going through the motions of listening but essentially saying “it’s up to you”… All I want is a flight back where I can maybe have some leg room and I don’t want to sit near the window… Bloody window seats… Every flight Jo books window seats, she then decides she must sit by the window, despite the fact she hates looking out of the window… I ask her why she books window seats, she always responds with “I thought you’d like a window seat” to which I always respond with “Why would I want a window seat when YOU always insist on sitting by the window even tho you hate looking out of it?”.. This is almost always followed by Jo looking a bit confused before changing the subject.

For the record, I actually don’t like sitting by the window on Aeroplanes… Looking at the engines freaks me out and I hate the way wings flex… I “know” they can flex safely, I totally understand wings are designed to bend and flex… But every time I see it, it freaks me out… So I tend not to look out of the window… So yeah, window seats? What's the bloody point? Give me an aisle seat every time…. Plus (just had another thought in regards to window seats) if you’re on a long haul flight (which most of my flights are these days) and if you find yourself in need of a visit to the toilet… There’s nothing worse than having to wake up a sleeping passenger in order to get past them to go to the loo… I don’t tend to sleep much on planes anyway... So yeah, aisle seats for the win!

So yeah, here I am in the stifling heat of Bangkok, walking back to my apartment while Jo talks about flights… A driver swings his car into the car park of a hotel without looking if it is safe to do so… A tiny Asian man in mirrored sunglasses (He looks a bit like Chow from the Hangover movies in those glasses) driving a huge car simply driving without a care in the world into a hotel, people step back as he drives at them, nobody is hurt luckily… I don’t know if he understands English but I called him a prick anyway.

Cars, motorbikes, bicycles, scooters… I LOVE Bangkok… But I HATE the lack of consideration when it comes to vehicles here… Plus, the lack of basic driving skill drives me mad… Rear view mirrors? What are they? Nobody checks behind them before reversing… Nobody checks their mirrors before swinging their cars out onto the road... Pedestrians mean nothing here, the car is king… But it just seems that nobody actually knows how to drive one here… It amazes me that in the 8 (?) months or so that i’ve lived here i’ve only seen one crash on the road… I’ll not count the time I got hit by a car at the market, Jo argues that I only got “tapped” by it… I still say that any contact between me and a car counts as me being hit… It wasn’t the near-death experience I made it out to be at the time I admit… But that car DID hit me God damn it!

I’ve seen more near misses than I care to mention, the idea of actually driving here terrifies me… I think i’ll take my chances and remain a pedestrian… Jo keeps talking about learning to ride a motorbike… I’m hoping she doesn’t go forward with it… Bloody hell, the streets of Bangkok are already dangerous enough!

I think I need a cup of tea…

So, 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