Bangkok: The signs were there

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything… Well, that isn’t strictly true… I have written something but for various reasons have decided to delete what I wrote… Maybe those thoughts will reach the page (It’s not actually a page I know) someday… But for now? Forget I said anything about it… It’s a secret…. Just between you and me.

Bangkok has turned to shit.

There. I said it.

When we first came to Thailand, Bangkok was this wild amazing city… A city that never failed to surprise me… A city that never sleeps.

But now, as COVID takes hold the city has indeed fallen asleep, people are falling ill… People are dying… Vaccines are promised, then vaccine dates are pushed back… Bangkok has gone from the city that never sleeps, to the city that just can’t keep a promise.

As I walk from my apartment toward our local shop I see homeless people sleeping in the street… As we walk our friend home to her apartment at night we pass people sleeping in shop doorways, homeless people sitting by the roadside… Beggars with small children… Freelance girls cruising for business that just isn’t there anymore… It’s sad…. Bangkok has finally done something that I never expected it to do… Bangkok made me sad… So, in some way I suppose Bangkok is still managing to surprise me… Just not in a good way.

Let’s talk about something positive shall we? Yeah… Let’s try that.

A while ago (I’m not sure if I wrote about it or not) we started feeding a stray cat that was hanging around the entrance to our apartment building… There are a number of cats that hang around (mostly close to the security guards) but this particular cat had decided that the entrance was the best place to beg for food… So we began to feed her… She’s a beautiful tortoiseshell cat, we called her “Doris”… Each night we’d walk toward the door, every night she would appear and meow loudly at us… We’d feed her, she’d have some fuss, we’d say goodnight and Doris would bugger off… Sorted.

After a while it became quite clear that Doris was pregnant… She’s only just past kitten stage herself so the fact she was pregnant was a bit of a worry… We continued to feed her and give her fuss… Her belly got bigger… The kittens were going to make an appearance very soon.

Doris didn’t appear for a few days, we figured she’s wandered off to have the kittens… When she did reappear she was slimmer… She’d obviously had the kittens… But the kittens were nowhere to be found… For the next few weeks or so Doris would appear, we’d feed her then she’d wander off to wherever she had left her kittens… We discovered she’d made a home for herself under the swimming pool of our apartment… We couldn’t see the kittens but we knew that was where she was going after we had given her food.

Then Doris disappeared. We didn’t see her for a few weeks… We didn’t know where she had gone… We spoke to the security guard and discovered that they called her “Line” not Doris and that she had moved to the building next door… We missed her but at least we knew she was safe.

So time went on… And then… Doris reappeared.

We fed her and I was sure I heard the meow of a kitten… I went to investigate but found nothing… But at least Doris was back.

The next night Doris appeared again… We fed her… Again I thought I heard the meow of a kitten… I went to investigate and low and behold there were kittens!

Four beautiful healthy kittens… Two white ones and two brown coloured kittens… We fed Doris and put some extra food down for the kittens which they all seemed to enjoy.

A few days went by with us feeding Doris and the babies… One of the kittens (the biggest, boldest kitten) went missing… We presume he’d been picked up by someone and is (hopefully) now living the high life being spoiled rotten… The three remaining kittens, A white one I had named “Whitewash”, a brown one with a white stripe I had named “Gizmo” and a brown one Jo named “Sable’’ enjoyed the food we gave them, they are essentially feral cats so we had no chance of any playtime with them altho, we had gotten to the point where we could stroke them a little as they ate… And then we had to leave.

A trip back to England had been on the cards for a while… We have a house back in England that we needed to do some work on in order to sell it…

With there being little to no chance of us getting a vaccine in Thailand we made the decision to move our trip to England forward in order to sort the house and to get our vaccine… In order to fly we had to get covid tests done so off to the doctors we did go.

Now I say doctor… This particular doctor is quite popular with expats in Bangkok and is in fact the doctor that does Jo's botox for her… It is however a doctor I simply don’t like or indeed trust.

So we went to the “doctor”… I had been dreading the COVID test… I’d been avoiding the COVID test… Having something shoved down my throat was something I Wasn’t looking forward to…. However, The girl that did my test was brilliant and I felt no discomfort at all… I was freaked out by the fact that originally they had my date of birth wrong on my form tho…All that worry for nothing… We were told our results would be emailed to us by 9 pm… So off home we went.

Jo had booked botox for later in the day… I personally don’t think for cosmetic reasons Jo needs botox… However, as a cure for migraine it works wonders, so jo going for botox is a good thing… I needed a haircut so I went along with her, while she was having the needles put in her face I’d wander off and get my mop sorted.

Jo went to the doctor, I walked toward a barbers shop, I told Jo I’d come back to her when I was sorted… I got to the barber, sat down and explained how I wanted my hair cut… I actually showed him a photo of me with the haircut I wanted…. “Like this” I said… But maybe a little shorter on the back and sides… “OK” he said and began to work.

Now… At some point the barber must have gotten me saying “Like this” while showing him a picture of me confused with me saying “hey Mr barber why don’t you just fuck my hair up a bit”

Because my friends, that is exactly what he did… He barely cut the top and he cut the back in generic Asian haircut style… Think Bruce Lee from “Enter the dragon”… Just less stylish.

I did the British thing… He raised a barber’s mirror behind my head and said “OK?”… I thought it was shit but said “yeah, great” and decided to go somewhere else to get it fixed.

I got back to the doctors just as Jo was leaving… “What happened to your hair?” she asked… “The barber fucked it” I replied… a short time later we were in another barbershop with Jo explaining what I wanted…

Did I get what I wanted? Not quite… But it is better than what I had.

“Name and shame the barber that fucked your hair!” I hear you cry… I would… But Thailand is a funny old place…. Some bloke was threatened with jail time because he slagged a restaurant off on trip advisor… So I’ll keep my mouth shut.

So… Hair (sort of sorted) we went home, finished packing our cases and waited for our COVID test results…

By 7 pm Jo had an email, she was COVID negative… I continued to wait…. And wait… By 8 pm I still hadn’t heard anything… Jo contacted them and they said to wait until 9 pm… I was convinced I had tested positive… 9 pm came and went and I still had no email… Jo contacted them again and they assured her they had sent my result…Which in fact they had… But not to MY email address… Some bright spark doing the admin for this “doctor” hadn’t sent it to the email address that was quite CLEARLY marked on my form… Oh no… They (for reasons that are beyond my comprehension) simply typed my name and added @yahoo.com to it… WHO USES YAHOO ANYMORE? And then sent my CONFIDENTIAL results to that address.

Eventually they re-sent to my ACTUAL address and my results (negative) were finally with me…

Now for the reason I stated earlier I won’t shame this doctor… But if you do really want your confidential information sent to a random email address then please by all means go visit Doctor Donna in Bangkok.

The next day was spent finishing up our packing… We didn’t fly until late in the night so the day should have been quite relaxed…. Should have been.

Jo was stressed… She is always stressed when we fly but this time she was a different type of stressed… The airline hadn’t sent our flight confirmation through… Officially (as far as the paperwork was concerned) we actually didn’t have a flight.

A lot of stress and a few phone calls later and all was sorted… We ordered food and I went out to collect it.

Standing outside in the hot Bangkok air I found myself thinking about a camping trip we went on years ago… A camping trip that was delayed due to me leaving my wallet at home and a few other things that delayed us actually leaving to get to the campsite… A camping trip that ended in disaster with one of the kids coming down with Norovirus and with the tent being flattened by a mini tornado causing us to flee the site and find refuge in a nearby hotel… A trip I said that we should never have gone on... “The signs were there” I said… Me leaving my wallet at home was the fates telling us not to go camping.

The fates…. I began to think about THIS trip… How my date of birth had been wrong on my form… How the barber had “fucked my hair”… How the Doctor had sent my results to the wrong email address… The airline messing up our booking… All signs…

I play online Scrabble (random I know, but it IS leading somewhere)… So outside in the hot Bangkok air, I made a decision… I was going to play my two games of scrabble (I had two online games going at that time) if the word my opponents had played reflected badly on this trip in any way I was NOT getting on that plane… I let the scrabble gods make the decision for me.

I nervously opened the scrabble app to find my opponents had indeed placed their words… nervously I checked… Two random words greeted me… Nothing flight related… Nothing doom related… The fates had spoken… I was safe to fly.

We ate food, we ordered a taxi, we said goodbye to our apartment and made our way to the airport.

The airport was so quiet… I’ve been here so many times before but I’ve never seen it this quiet… We had no drama at the airport, we simply handed our bags over, went through security and boarded our flight… Jo seemed calm, she was doing really well in regards to controlling her fear of flying… The flight wasn’t full and there was plenty of room on the plane… The flight time was a mixture of sleep, watching tv and playing games… we seemed to chase the sunrise for hours… Jo remained calm throughout, she had a minor panic but the flight crew spoke to her and calmed her down… In fairness, it was a really good flight… We landed in Amsterdam and spent a few hours wandering around the airport, we had breakfast and then headed to our boarding gate… Our flight looked like it was going to be quite full… Jo wandered off to find the toilets… Across the boarding area I noticed a man with a guitar case…. He opened it up and began to tune his guitar… I hoped he was simply tuning it to calm his nerves or something… But no… He actually began to play the bloody thing… Now give him his due, he could play quite well… But it just looked like shameless attention-seeking… After a few minutes of everyone ignoring him, he thankfully put the fucking thing back in its case.

I now would like you to cast your minds back to when I was letting an online game of scrabble decide if I was going to fly or not…

Jo was still on a toilet hunt… I was bored… So I logged onto the airport wifi and decided to play scrabble…I opened up my first game and what word had my opponent played?

“DIE”

Oh fuck… Now I was freaked out… I couldn’t say anything to Jo… I was buggered… Worse than that I was scared.

Jo returned and I became aware of another potential passenger… An aggressive looking bloke, not wearing a facemask, loudly talking into his mobile phone… He paced around the boarding area… still maskless… Still barking into his phone… I hoped he wasn’t on our flight…

A hope that was dashed when he boarded our plane and to add insult to injury sat a couple of seats away from us… The flight attendants went about sorting passengers out, all the time he sat without his mask on… Eventually, the man sitting next to him using a subtle hand gesture informed the flight crew that the man wasn’t wearing a mask… “Please put your mask on” they said… and then said “thank you sir!” to the bloke who grassed him up. (thus grassing HIM up)

As soon as the flight attendant walked away the man took his mask back off… What a prick.

As the flight took off he put his mask back on… Weirdly wrapped a towel around his face and (I think) fell asleep.

The flight was thankfully short… I had spent it being freaked out by my game of scrabble fates thing… I did keep it under wraps though… I was really happy to get off the plane... Even though we had landed in Birmingham.

We had planned to catch a train from the airport, but upon landing, we found that there was no train… So we took the plunge and got a taxi instead… The taxi journey took an age… All the time the taxi driver telling us how he’s been to Thailand but had NOT gone there for sex with prostitutes which as we all know was him telling us he totally only went to Thailand for sex with prostitutes.

When we arrived in Dudley, I took the cases out of the taxi and walked toward the front door of a house I’ve not seen as my home in over two years… 14 days of isolation await me… Well, this should be fun…

Until next time….

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ade Cox

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