On our first full day in Bangkok, the hubs and I set out with the singular objective of learning to navigate the city's most popular mass-transit system, the BTS. The BTS is Bangkok's sky train, essentially an elevated railway system which runs parallel to the Vagus nerve of the city, Sukhumvit road. It really wasn't that difficult. In a matter of minutes we had trasnport credit cards (called Rabbit cards) and were jumping on and off the BTS to explore at will. We were feeling pretty shmancy. When one particular neighborhood struck us as equal parts entertaining and homey, we decided on impulse to do a little condo shopping and landed our dream place that very day. The place is great. It's large by Bangkok standards, well-appointed and very affordable. We even have a huge infinity pool, our own washing machine (only superdy duper rich people have dryers here), and a gorgeous, peaceful canal/garden area as our backyard. In the next day or so we'll post a video tour of our little slice of Bangkok heaven so stay tuned. Anyway, suffice it to say that we were #winning. But then....
The condo didn't come with dishes, linens and other daily essentials. An Ikea trip was in order. Side note-thank goodness for the convenience of Ikea- and to those of you who read this thinking, as I would have, "They're in Thailand, why don't they shop somewhere local?" I kindly suggest you shove off. A person could spend seven years looking for necessary items in these crowded, albeit quaint mom and pop shops. Don't worry, we're committed to trying to live local but toward the end of the week, we were running out of gas. Ikea was a Godsend. Speaking of running out of gas...
I hate being a passenger in the car. It's on my top-three panic-inducing event list. Imagine my terror when Jonathan suggested, no, insisted that we Uber/Taxi to and from Ikea instead of taking the safe, traffic-less BTS. His logic was sound. We'd purchased a mattress topper and a few other items which would definitely not fit in a regular-sized sedan. I begrudgingly acquiesced. About 45 minutes after my wonderful husband requested a "big van" taxi from a local company...emphasis on the term "big van," a rickety-ass twelve-seated wonder (similar to the one pictured here ->) rolls up. The driver, Thai MacGyver, helped us load our goods and then proceeded to weave, break-stomp and...I kid you not...skid through Bangkok rush-hour traffic all the way home. Sweaty walks home with armfuls of stuff were OK with Jonny after that. And boy were there sweaty walks home. We've been to the store about 152 times...not really...but still. Don't get me wrong, we're so thankful for how everything is working out and that we have the means to set up our little place exactly the way we want. Even so, the language barrier and not having a car make things just a bit more complicated than we're used to. I had to ask for help to find laundry detergent and I still got the wrong kind. Even feeding ourselves isn't always easy. Sure, delicious, cheap food is abundant here but trying to eat at local places with no understanding of written or spoken Thai can sometimes feel like looking out a window to a world of intangible possibility. It's there, you just don't have access (yes, I know there are ways to get around the language barrier but it takes a while to get used to gesturing "bowl of noodles"). Setting up a new life in a new place is fun but it's also exhausting.
So the other night we're sitting on the couch watching Lord of the Rings in Thai because we're too tired to find an English channel and as usual, I'm scrolling through Instagram (hey, I'm a millennial...whadya expect). Realizing the advertisements and videos were becoming increasingly, well, Asian, I said to Jonathan, "Hey I think my Instagram is becoming increasingly Asian." He replied "What did you expect? You have a Thai phone number now."
Cue the waterworks.
"We moved to a place where it's hard to find breakfast!" I wailed. "I DON'T WANT ASIAN INSTAGRAM!" and "I MISS TARGET!" were some examples of the myriad ridiculous comments included in my ethnocentric, tear-filled tirade. Culture shock is a bitch. Jonathan graciously held back chuckles and wiped my tears while I let days of self-induced stress, fear and doubt loose from my mind prison. I'm not one of those people who naturally take things in stride. Sometimes, even when I think I've sufficiently convinced myself I'm OK, something silly will happen and the anxiety monster starts to nip at my heels again.
But I don't let it win...at least not every day. If you have a heel-nipping monster in your life, don't let it keep you from doing what you really want. Because...
Following my little breakdown, we went to put our feet in the pool and gaze out at the twinkling Bangkok skyline. After some sleep and a kick-ass breakfast of som tum thai (green papaya salad) and grilled fish (pla something something), we had a great time putting the finishing touches on our place. I got to meet my new boss and she is amaze-balls. Stuff works out. Reluctant Adventure for the win!
Hearts and stuff,