It is already the end of November and only now do I begin to write about the time I spent getting lost in another city – of my days under the sun, and nights bathed in colorful light. I’m spending today at a cafe sipping a sweet blend of chocolate and coffee (none of which I fancy too much), trying to recount July. Time has passed way quicker than I have imagined, and yesterdays begin to blur at its edges. At this point, I’m mentally kicking myself for taking far too long to write this post. So let me begin, raw and honest, on my escape. My July.
The month began with moody days from PMS and a desperate attempt at getting a grey stuffed bunny. A comfort toy for the bad days, I’d reasoned. And bad days they were, as I cried tears of childish want when the stores ran out of grey bunnies. By the third day, Drea and I found the bunny I had been crying so badly for. I quickly paid for Fluffy and clutched her soft body to my chest. Fluffy, I instinctively called her. And so for the next few days Fluffy followed me where ever I went, and she was my sunshine during my dark moments. My comfort, she truly was.
There is also a boy I’ve been seeing; I call him P. He was due to complete his conscription soon, and I surprised him with a celebratory dinner by the sea. We shared food over a hearty grilled platter, drinking wine and catching up on the day’s events. And that was the beginning of better days in July. We were both looking forward to leave for Thailand in a few days – I for 21 days and he, 19.
The night before leaving, I stayed over at Drea’s place and she sent me to the airport the next morning. We met P and our other friend Jz before getting breakfast at Starbucks. Soon, it was time to go. I exchanged hugs with Drea before leaving. We’d gotten so close like sisters in the past few months that this would be the longest time I’d be spending away from her. She was leaving for Tasmania soon too, and we would only be reunited in August. Nonetheless, I was ready for my adventure in Bangkok with the boys.
Some 2 hours later, we touched down in the land of smiles. I’d been to Bangkok several times before – when I was too young to remember anything, and every summer since I was 18 – but never quite ventured alone or with friends since my dad lives in Bangkok. This time, I had the adventurous and wanderlust sprit of my friends to accompany mine.
In our first week together, we walked the streets of Siam and Khaosan, and shopped at the weekend market. We would spent some hours in the day working out at the gym in the hotel, and then we would be in search for massage and food places before deciding on our night activities.
One afternoon, we made a trip to Wat Pho and explored the area before taking the Chao Phraya river cruise (a first for me!) around and then to Chinatown. I have never been to Chinatown before, and now I understand why my dad never brings me there. With P’s trusty Lonely Planet guide, we managed to navigate through the ghost town past “Little India”, to a flower market. It must be cheap to be a romantic here. Back in Singapore, wholesale roses would cost you a few bucks; yet a bunch of beautifully colored roses would cost you less than a dollar here at Pak Khlong Talat.
The end of the week drew close and it was time for the boys to carry on with their itinerary, to backpack into the wilderness of Northern Thailand on the bumpy roads of the Mae Hong Son Loop. I sent the boys to the bus terminal that morning, and made my way back to my dad’s apartment with my luggage in tow. Honestly I was a little scared I wouldn’t make it back alone, since a couple of taxi drivers didn’t recognize the address where I was heading. Thankfully one finally did and I was on my way.
At home I was greeted by my dad and a little lion. His name is Bingo, a Pomeranian too spoiled for his own good. His morning cries were what annoyed me most when I was still asleep, yet when day comes the little fluffball would quietly sit on my lap while I work on my laptop. Dad left for Shanghai for a few days and I mostly stayed home with Bingo, or took quiet walks alone around Siam. I guess it’s the most familiar area for me in Bangkok and maybe – just maybe – I like to stick to my comfort zone sometimes.
The boys came back to Bangkok ahead of schedule, and I received them at the bus terminal early one morning. We found ourselves visiting some more new places with what money we had left. But having spent over two weeks in Bangkok, we were starting to run out of ideas of what to do. And so we spent our remaining days watching three movies in the spacious theatres there, traveling for food, enjoying more massages and shopping at Platinum Mall. I’ve got to say though, you should watch the sun set at Pratunam from the overhead bridge if you’re there. I could just stand there and watch the traffic go by as the sun goes down in the distance. It’s an amazing sight.
During this trip, I also experienced the city’s (or any other cities for that matter) night life for the first time. My friends Charlotte and Matthew visited Bangkok during the week that the boys left and we celebrated C’s birthday at Route 66 at Royal City Avenue. It was a weeknight then, and so the music wasn’t the best nor did we enjoy the crowd. I do however remember being my usual quirky self, subtly doing a goofy dance with the stranger next to me and then his friends saw what I was doing. We all laughed and smiled awkwardly at each other after… I’m putting it out here, it’s no secret I’m an awkward person.
Other nights, the boys and I would visit go-go bars at Soi Cowboy and Nana (sorry dad, had to do it!). It’s a messy place, yet it was such an eye opener. Those nights were the most fun – I was overzealous and the boys thought I was crazy. It’s contradicting really, and as much as I enjoyed the nights, I was also saddened that women were still being objectified and that some (or maybe most) of them only do it because they need the money. You know they say that you travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us? This is exactly it. For all of us who have never been put in that position before, it’s time to live our lives with so much more gratitude.
The boys returned to Singapore two days before I did, and I spent my last day with my dad. We had dinner by the river at Asiatique, and shopped a little before we went back to pack my luggage. There was a careless and funny incident with my shopping because only when I got back to Singapore did I realise I’d brought home two left shoes! Got to give a shout out to Perfect Combination though, for being incredibly patient and kind while I sent the shoes back to Bangkok (I got a pair of leather boots from them, which you will see when I publish photos from Paris).
My dad sent me to the airport the next day and we fell asleep as the cab drove in the rain for an hour. I was running late so we hurriedly checked in and walked to the departure gates. I hugged my dad goodbye as he nagged quickly about studying hard and not getting a boyfriend (haha). Then I was in. Honestly, flights alone are what I enjoy the most. Many wouldn’t guess I’m introverted, but I love the solitude and feeling of independence when I travel alone. I’d usually request for a window seat, then I’d plug in my iPod and lose myself in the view for as long as I can, or scribble in my Moleskine.
The plane touched down and I broke out of my reverie. It was good to be back after being away for three weeks. At the immigration hall, I was shocked to see a crowd queueing to get through. I thought to myself that I was surely not going to make it out any time soon. But then it struck me that I was holding this biometric red passport that allowed me to beat the crowd, and what a blessing that was.
It was back to work (but to be able to do something I love, I wouldn’t necessarily call it work) the next day, and I spent the afternoon shooting with the Fairebelle team to celebrate their 4th anniversary (yey!). For the remaining few days of July, I spent quiet days at home and afternoons catching up with my friends whom I’ve missed dearly.
It surely has been quite an eventful month but the promise of a more exciting month ahead was written on the upcoming days in my calendar. I was due back in school mid-August and nothing sounded better than making plans to fully enjoy the last days of my summer break. So, excitedly I say: Goodbye July, thank you for both the good and bad days.