Bangkok Reds

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“You know the days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds. You mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat, and maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid, and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?” 
― Truman CapoteBreakfast at Tiffany’s

Walking is the only way I truly get the feel of a city. It was on one such walk in Bangkok that I found myself on the edge of a breakdown. We had been walking in the heat through a dreary section of the city. The sidewalks were never ending and our destination felt unreachable.

It could have happened anywhere, but it happened in Bangkok. Our three days there were overflowing with walking and hunting for things we can’t find here in Vientiane, Laos. The first mall we ventured into was immense. I saw H&M and heard the little girl inside my head squeal with delight. Here were clothes I understood and liked! This mall was one of about five or six we found ourselves nearly lost inside of. Bangkok is truly a shopper’s paradise. I’m not a mall lover in real life, but in my new life as an expat in a country where I can find very little of what I’d call ‘normal’ shopping I suddenly found myself ravenous. I had a short list of items I hoped to bring home with us and was able to find almost all of them. Thank you Thailand!

But back to that walk.

At first I thought I was simply tired, hot and thirsty. I figured it would pass. Instead I found this bubble growing inside my chest and it got to the point where I wanted to sit down and sob on the sidewalk. I wanted to go home.

“Home?” I thought. Where is that? I don’t quite feel like our Vientiane apartment is home. With each step I became more distraught as I realized I felt homeless. That’s quite silly I know. When the emotions are given free reign this is what can happen. I felt homeless and lost and somehow it made me terribly afraid.

Ah there’s that fear again.

So we continued walking and after many twists and turns found our haven in the city, a restaurant called The Veganerie. As we fell into our seats, sweating and frustrated, Rob saw my face and said the words that seem to always break my resolve not to cry, “Are you okay?” he asked. I shook my head and went to the restroom to pull myself together. I had to return to the table and admit I was not crying tears of joy at reaching the restaurant, but tears of fear and frustration.

Minutes later a torrential downpour let loose outside. I almost started laughing out loud. How perfect was our timing to be sitting safely inside? If we had still been out walking in that storm I’m pretty sure I would have lost my head entirely. Instead I was safely and happily sitting across from my favorite person in the world, enjoying a perfect vegan lunch as the rain came down and the wind stripped the trees. We lingered as long as we could which is easy when nobody is forcibly bringing the check, trying to free up a table. (This is one more thing I love about Southeast Asia. We have to ask for the check and even then can take as long as we want.) The rain halted almost the minute we stepped outside.

So the angry reds? They passed. I came back to my senses and continued on with our Bangkok adventure. And I remembered where home is.

Home is anywhere as long as I’m with the one I love.

Phuket

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I just deleted a whole slew of paragraphs about our time visiting Phuket last week. I was trying to give the day by day timeline of Rob and my exploration of the island. I hate play by plays. Over wine just now, I asked Rob what I should say about Phuket. How do I put into words our four days exploring and relaxing on a Thai island?

Rob said I should set the scene. I should start with us on our rented scooter, hair in the wind (his words) cruising down the road. Suddenly we find ourselves part of a police check point! Rob has forgotten his drivers license as did every other tourist apparently because each of us is paying the fine before continuing on.

Okay Rob…what should I say next? He said I should tell about pulling over and how one thing led to another and ….

Except guess what – that never happened. Nice try Rob.

We did have a lot of fun exploring the island on that cheap little scooter. We did get pulled over and we did pay the fine. We continued on and for the next few days were on our own following the road as we chose. Not very many of the expected tourist things were on our list. We didn’t even swim in the ocean. I know, sacrilege. We did enjoy a lot of pool time at the lovely resort we stayed at. We didn’t snorkel or dive or rent a boat. We did ride all over the island and get sunburned. We visited the Big Buddha which was probably the most touristy thing we did. We walked on the beach and through the small Karon town where we were accosted by tailors (if you’ve ever been to Thailand you’ll know what I’m talking about)(and the answer is always no, we do not want to have a new suit made in this sweltering weather). We had fun fueling up our motorbike with glass bottles of gasoline sold on every street corner and our vegan hearts were happy to find more than a few delightful vegan cafe’s and restaurants.

Something about already living in Southeast Asia made us lean toward enjoying what was different and new in Thailand and not as interested in visiting temples or touristy locals.

Mostly we tried to enjoy every day in our own way.

Phuket (pronounced Poo-ket) was even better than I had hoped in many ways. As my first trip into Thailand it opened my eyes even more to the fact that as residents of Laos we “live in the sticks”. We just do. It’s not a criticism of Vientiane, it’s just the truth.

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I know this isn’t a typical post about where we went and what we did on Phuket, but honestly I’m just not that kind of blogger. Visiting Phuket was amazing and I was sad to leave, but next was Bangkok….

To Be Continued