~ the musings around moving into my new apartment
At first I was not “in love” with my apartment. I had spent the last seven days in a marvelous AirBnB in Saigon and my simple dormitory-style room had potential to be comfortable, but wasn’t entirely ready for me. Fortunately, Andreas and I almost immediately left the room and went to the Thai version of Walmart; Big C. There we bought enough things to turn the bare-bones room into a comfortable student dorm. We bought towels, bed sheets, pillows, blankets, toiletries, mirrors, an ironing board, an electric kettle, a lamp, rugs, and tape for me to hang up photos of my family and friends on the walls. We even bought a chair so I could play guitar outside on the little porch. Now after two trips to Big C the apartment is pretty comfortable. All I have to do now is decorate it. I want to make this space into my oasis from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.
Bangkok is an easy city to live in. The majority of people, taxi drivers included, can speak simple English. There is a plethora of international brands and most importantly pharmacies. I remember the struggle I had to find a dependable pharmacy in Vietnam. In Bangkok there are Boots and Watsons’pharmacies everywhere. I chuckle remembering that in Vietnam we once bought medicines one day’s supply at a time to make sure that the pills were reliable. I guess that I am lucky to have experience in many countries and that, particularly because of time spent living in India, this city seems like baby’s bathwater when it comes to finding quality items and communicating.
I am rather fond of the metro system in Bangkok, since 1999 it has been magically whisking denizens around the city. The metro makes the city accessible and cuts out the need to haggle with the stubborn taxi drivers or ride on the back of motorcycles, which is a constant reality in Vietnam. I bought a metro pass and now I can skip the lines for individual tickets. Again, I believe that because I had grown accustom to forty-minute bike rides in Saigon to go from my home to the city center, the metro lines (called MRT and BTS) make Bangkok seem easily navigable and smaller.
My neighborhood is situated just a few hundred meters away from one of Bangkok’s larger bus terminals and larger BTS stations. When I first arrive here it was rush hour. I was flustered by the “humidity” and the need the need to push my bags through the dense foot traffic. I could not have pulled my two heavy suitcases through the throngs of people down unknown streets towards a little ping on my Google Maps without my right-hand man Andreas. Moving into this new neighborhood with my friend accelerated how quickly I took a liking to this area.
After two days in the area, I determined that I like this place. I like the smaller street I live on, relative to the busy bus terminal. I like the five Seven Elevens between my apartment and the BTS station. I like that there is a small grocery store nearby and a modern air-conditioned gym at the end of my block. The gym is prophetically named, “Fit D”. Now I have to join up. Although the gym is much smaller than the gyms in the USA, the fact that it has AC, English speaking staff, and showers makes it light-years better than the sweatboxes I went to in Vietnam and Nepal. Again another reason that I think Bangkok is such an agreeable place to live.
Bus and Metro in far left and park I live near to on the right
The best part of my neighborhood is that my building is built along Santiphap park. The park is a peaceful cut-away from the hustle of the area. In the nighttime there are lovers and joggers sweating in the park. In the late afternoon there is a large group exercise class in the park. At this moment (Sunday, 6:18 PM), the blaring music of the exercise class is filtering into my room. The instructor is shouting encouragements through a megaphone and the people are grooving along Richard Simmons Style.
Initial impression was that Bangkok is hot, modern, accessible, and agreeable. I don’t predict that adjusting will be the biggest challenge of living here. I am thankful that I have lived and worked in more strenuous conditions, and that because Bangkok is relatively more accessible I can spend more time and mental energy on my mission to learn as much about UNESCO as possible and start my career in Higher Education, also learning Thai and continuing to study Latin dancing.