Bangkok Beginnings

I’ll skip the details of my flight to Thailand; it was pretty average. In-flight meals and films, bloated feet – the usual. Actually, I did meet a trio of Indian men who’s elbows rested on my lap 90% of the time. I let that slide though because they kept giving me strips of the extra naan bread they’d sneakily acquired from one of the air hostesses.

When I landed in Bangkok, the monsoons were in full-swing: thunder, lightening and the beating of rain is the soundtrack to, at the very least, my first month out there. After navigating my way to a hostel in Sukhumvit, I was exhausted. Whilst rain trickled down my forehead, sweat simultaneously trickled down my back and once I’d got to my dorm, I was greeted by a beautiful, slim Thai lady named Suzie Wong.

“Oh you so sexy,” she said as she played with my damp and frizzy hair. I thought she was taking the piss.

We spoke for only a few minutes before the jet-lag began hanging onto my lashes and I had to excuse myself, curl up behind the netted curtain of my top-bunk and sleep.

 

       At this point, it’s a good idea to tell you that I was in Thailand to teach. A few days from now, myself and 23 strangers were going to head to an island called Koh Chang, for a month of teacher-training. We were all meeting at this particular hostel and I was one of the first to arrive. I’m not going to give you a run-down of each person I met – but I will tell you about one.

 

I woke up a few hours later, disorientated and damp. Suzie was first on the scene and handed me a hot, tin-foil ball which, once opened, revealed the odd gift of a potato.

“You eat.”

I reluctantly skinned some with my teeth and thanked her. She returned to the mattress beneath mine. I sat, nibbling at the dry potato for a good few minutes before realising I was really not enjoying the experienc. I lay my head back on the pillow and pulled the eye-mask back down, ready to fall into a deep, rejuvenating…

“Hey y’all!!!”

I’d never heard anything like it. The noise echoed around the room and rang in my ears. I lifted one side of my mask and peered out into the abyss.

“HEY!”

There… I could see it. The culprit was small, American and female. She had square-rimmed glasses and teeth so bright I wondered if there was a black light in the room.

“Hey, I’m Jacey. What’s your name?” She asked with an extended hand.

“Uh, Ashley.”

“Nice to meet ya,” she shook my hand and then clambered up the frame of my bed to give me a hug. It was all very overwhelming.

***

Later, I experienced my first night on Khao San Road: a famous, crazy, flourescent strip of concrete riddled with tourists, alcohol and laughing gas where you drink whisky from buckets, eat scorpions from sticks and dance in the street. I fell in love. And while the rest of us soaked up as much of KSR as we could, Jacey had wandered off and was FaceTiming a friend. Well, somewhere in between the phone-call and paying a street vendor for a chicken wrap, her phone went missing.

“Oh my God, Ash, I’ve lost my phone.”

“When did you last have it?”

“I put it down to pay the boy for my wrap.”

*20 seconds later*

“Excuse me, do you have my friends phone? iPhone?” I showed him mine.

The young Thai boy sniggered and turned around to his three friends who were resting on a motorbike. Was I in an 50’s movie? Jacey continued arguing with the vendor, whilst I thought it wise to march over to the three boys and speak to them (politely of course).

“Excuse me, do you have my friends phone? iPhone?”

I was met with more smirks and the occasional shake of a head. No-one would speak to me and it got very frustrating. One of them had it, I was certain. Jacey wandered over a few minutes later, saying, what I believe was, “Ash, c’mon, they don’t have it.”

I say “I believe” because I wasn’t really listening to anything but the voice in my head, telling me that what I was doing was a good idea. Apparently, Jacey found me standing over the boys, commanding each of them to stand up saying things like: “okay, now you… your turn; turn out your pockets”. She tapped me on the shoulder as I continued to interrogate the three children in my whisky-induced state. She looked at me in bewilderment, then at the boys and then back at me. As she tried to make sense of the situation, a smile crept onto her face.

“That’s my girl!”

We never did find the phone. That dirty street swallowed anything and everything it could get it hands on and as we wallowed in defeat, on a rat-infested kerb outside a our ambitions, our love for black men, our fears…

Jacey was loud, fiery and weird as hell. She was from Alabama and a heavy Christian; she used words like “lit” and “turn up” in everyday conversation and seemed to have no idea about life outside of the US. We talked for hours on that kerb and, to this day, I barely remember what about. Whatever it was, I woke up the next day, knowing that she was one of the kindest, most colourful and addictive people I’d ever met; one of my greatest friends to date and a personal lessons in: don’t judge a book by its cover. She came to be my partner-in-crime in Thailand and that’s why my first post to this site is about her; my time in Asia wouldn’t have been half as interesting if she wasn’t by my side the whole time.

sweaty and sandy (but happy as ever)

***

I feel as though that is too cheesy-a-place to end this blog post, so I’ll quickly ruin it and tell you about our return to the hostel that night. At about 4am, we crawled into the dormitory. Suzie – “a woman of the night” as she called herself – had also recently got back to the hostel and, just as we were drifting off, she whispered:

“Hey…do you want to see my boyfriend?”

And so, the light flicked on, blinding us temporarily. By the time we’d regained focus, Suzie, a woman we’d met only hours before, was stood in the centre of the room, half-naked, grinning and swinging a sparkly, pink dildo around her head.

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