Bangkok: Year One

Time flies when you’re having fun eh?

A year has passed… We’ve been here in this mad, loveable city for just over a year… Twelve months… Three hundred and sixty-five days… A year.

When this opportunity first came along, and we decided to take a chance and “go for it” we gave ourselves a year… A year to decide if we liked it, if we liked living in this strange city, in this strange country… Or, if after a year, we would pack our bags and return back England.

Well, we’re still here… We’re staying.

I’ve learned a lot over the past year… I’ve learned a lot about this country… I’ve learned a lot about myself… The way I view certain things has changed… I’m under no illusion that I will ever stop learning… I think that in life we continue to learn… To grow… Bangkok is one hell of a learning environment.

Looking back over the past year, I find myself asking myself if I would do anything different… With the power of hindsight would I change anything? The answer is… Yes, I think I would.

Physically, living in Bangkok has taken its toll… Back in England I worked five days a week in a hard, physical job, I moved to Bangkok and spent a large portion of my first year here doing nothing at all to keep myself in shape, as a result, my weight and health suffered… Now, after a health check-up that informed me I was not only overweight, but blood tests showed I was pre-diabetic and I had high cholesterol I’m now going to the gym five days a week, doing both cardio exercise and weight training… My weight is slowly coming down, and better still my blood tests now show my sugars are at a normal level and my cholesterol is at a normal level too… What would I do differently? I’d have been going to the gym from the first day I got here… I’d be a toned adonis instead of the mess I am now.

There are other aspects of me that, over the course of my life have held me back… Socially, I think I’ve always been awkward… Here, in this new land, with a new life, I’d hoped that awkwardness would fade… Maybe I’d be able to “wear a mask” be a different version of me, be able to handle social interactions better… Stop seeing people as a threat, stop pushing people away… Let people in… Sadly, even here my anxiety won, time and time again… Each meeting with a new group of people I was held back, unable to interact.

Over the course of the past year I’ve been privileged to meet some truly amazing people, despite my social awkwardness I’ve managed to (thankfully with the help of the social dynamo that is Jo) make some really good friends here… So… What would I do differently? I’d stop being so bloody afraid every time we met with “new” people. Of course, it’s not that easy. We can’t just switch anxiety off… Maybe we’d handle it better if we had some type of visual marker…. Like how an aggressive dog may wear a red colour to indicate his desire to bite people… Maybe us social awkward types should wear a badge “I’m honestly not an arsehole… I’m just awkward”… But yeah, if I could switch it off I bloody well would.

When we first came to Bangkok we ventured into (as all/most visitors to this city do) Bangkoks redlight area, Soi Cowboy… I remember getting angry at people (the men, NOT the girls), I remember judging people… I remember hating the place.

A year on… And yes, my view has changed… Yes, there are men who deserve to be hated, there are men who come here for one thing… Old men, pawing at girls young enough to be their daughters (or granddaughters in some cases), groups of men walking with one girl, one girl who for a price will be shared… Yes, those men deserve hatred… But… There is another side to the sex trade here… Sometimes it’s not sex… Sometimes, it’s a friend for hire… It’s company at a price…You don’t have to be lonely in Bangkok… So, what would I do differently? I’d not judge every person in the same way… In an ideal world, I wouldn’t judge at all… But… It’s not an ideal world, is it?

Ideal world… Such a strange concept… Fuck it… I currently live in an ideal world.

I’m living the dream.

Actually…. There is another aspect of living that both Me and Jo have had to… Well… Learn about.

Living with each other.

Living with each other as a couple… As Ade & Jo… Instead of Ade, Jo and the rest of the family… From the very start of our relationship we’d been a ready-made family, we never had time as just a couple… Now here in Bangkok, it’s just Me and Jo… We’re finally dating… We are also having to learn to let the family back in England, live their own lives and grow as individuals… While we act like two love-struck teenagers.

I think that with the power of hindsight I would have maybe tried to prepare Jo more for how life here would affect her emotionally… The first few months were hard for her, she missed England, she missed her friends, she missed family… I adjusted quicker, I fell in love with Bangkok pretty much the day I first arrived here… Jo, however, did not… So yeah, I think I’d work harder to prepare Jo for this new life.

So... We’ve been here for a year, we love life here… I wonder what the coming year has in store for us… I’m sure I’ll end up telling you everything... Well… Almost everything.

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