Flying solo

Actually, the flying itself wasn’t so hard.

From being dropped off at the airport until we reached cruising altitude, there were several periods of tears. The poor girl at the check in counter only narrowly avoided experiencing one when she asked why Aaron wouldn’t be using his ticket (she was going to offer to help with a travel insurance claim if he was sick), but must have sensed what was coming and changed the topic to how exciting it would be to go on an extended trip around South East Asia.

Once the plane had levelled out though, having two seats to myself wasn’t terrible.

Airplane wing

I don’t mean to sound flippant. It was still overwhelmingly sad and lonely to be there alone (until I was actually on the plane there was always a chance he would change his mind, and I imagine Aaron would tell you the same thing), but how often are you guaranteed that extra space to curl up and sleep on an overnight flight?!

Arriving in Bangkok, I confidently navigated my way through Immigration and onto the train that would take me into the city, and drop me off only a few blocks from my hostel.

Train at Hua Lamphong Station

With only one minor wrong turn, I walked myself there (thereby saving myself whatever exorbitant fee a tuk tuk driver would have seen fit to demand of a newbie to the city, such as myself) and they let me check in early. So far, so good!

Cosy Hostel

It was once I settled into my room that the uncertainty crept in. I wanted to be this big, brave world traveller, who confidently strolled out into this new city and this new life, and made the most of every opportunity that came my way.

But I couldn’t do it.

I stayed in my room. And I chatted to my parents on Facebook. And I did some research on how to get places for tomorrow. I managed to spend about five hours doing that.

Hostel room

Then the power went out. No more internet. Just me, and an empty room.

So I took a deep breath, and walked out the door.

I retraced my steps back to the Information Centre by the train station, and got a copy of what turned out to be the most useless map of Bangkok in existence.

Honestly, who puts four different parts of the city on the same map with nothing to show how far apart those four sections are, or how to get between them?! I didn’t find that out until several days later though.

For now, the guy in the Information Centre said it was too late to go to the Royal Palace or the main temples, but there was one temple nearby, and I could walk to Chinatown. So I decided to do that.

I found the temple with the Golden Buddha.

And then, I just walked. I think I must have skirted around Chinatown, but I never really found it.

Chinatown

I walked past tyre shops and plumbing supplies shops (at least I think that’s what they were). Through rain and sun. Round and round probably, but I’ll never really know. I walked until I was lost (which didn’t take long) and then just kept walking, knowing (because they kept reminding me) that there are tuk tuks everywhere in Bangkok, and if I couldn’t find my way home I could always get a ride.

Traffic and market

Eventually, I started to get hungry, and thought it might be time to start trying properly to get home.

I didn’t hold out much hope of achieving either without assistance.

I walked back in vaguely the direction I thought I might have come from.

And then suddenly, there it was. Rama IV Road. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The light at the end of the tunnel. At the very least, the main road from which I could find my way home.

Rama IV Rd, Bangkok

Pushing my luck, I realised I was still hungry so doubled back to find the tasty looking food cart I had seen a few blocks before.

It took me a while to find (and somehow I found it from a completely different direction than the first time) but my problems were only just beginning. There was no menu, and they didn’t speak English.

Stall and table

“Make me anything” I tried to mime.

They didn’t understand, but they did start pointing to things and, as I really didn’t mind what I ate, I started nodding.

A few minutes later, a bottle of cold water and a plate of chicken fried rice (with tomato and egg) made its way to my table on the side of the road.

Fried rice - first dinner in Thailand

It tasted like success.  And it was delicious.

Of course, then I had to find my way home again after. Somehow, again like magic, the road appeared ( heading in completely the opposite direction than I had thought), and home was on the wrong side of the road.

I didn’t care. I survived a day on my own.

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