Recent adventures have made me very accustom to coach stations, airports security, departure lounges and the trivial processes required to travel from one side of the world to the other. Although when boarding my Eva Air flight (who by the way provide a very attentive and comfortable journey), a strange sensation started to set in. Fear, panic, anxiety… Reality was kicking in. Then an overwhelming sense of excitement flooded my body. I was moving to Bangkok to begin my training to become a professional chef.
Twelve hours in the air and we touched down in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, some six hours ahead of family and friends back on native land. Stepping out of the air-conditioned airport the first sensation is blistering heat and humidity, temperatures are in the mid 30s around this time of year. Fortunately I’ve visited Bangkok on numerous occasions and usually always opt for the metered taxi journey to the city centre, a half hour trip usually weighs in around 250 baht (five quid to you and I). The drive will take you over, under, along and through networks of motorways and roads, with drivers not afraid to display their best street racing techniques as they weave in and out of traffic. Huge billboards advertise the latest smartphones, various Thai corporations and other such unimaginable information. But instead of grassed fields filled with grazing cattle, you will notice rice paddies with Thai’s hard at work wearing their trademark triangular hats to shield from the sun, wading knee-deep in the fields to harvest this labour intensive crop. Once you reach central Bangkok the density of traffic increases, motorbikes zip into any available space left by timid drivers (which there are few), hawkers line the streets selling goods, and street food stalls appear to be on every corner enticing you with delicious smells of grilled meats and fresh fruits. People are everywhere. Welcome to Bangkok.
Again I’m fortunate to have friends and family within the city to help with directions, ordering food and general advice on adjusting to life. I am currently residing on Soi Thonglor in the youthful and hip Sukhumvit district. The demographic seems to be a mix of young professionals, students, expats and internationals. With this brings a diverse collection of restaurants, bars and shopping malls, ranging from the relatively cheap to expensive high-end stores (although nothing is that expensive when related to London pricing). As for travel within the city there are again numerous options; the newest being the clean, air-conditioned MTR underground line, or you can take the BTS Sky Train (again clean, efficient and air-conditioned), most single journeys for these lines range from 20 – 40 baht (40 – 80 pence). There are taxi cabs everywhere, although with traffic these can be time-consuming. Locals seem to favour motorbike taxis, jumping on behind the orange bibbed driver and holding on for dear life. Not for the faint-hearted and truth be told I don’t think you ever get “use” to this form of transport. And of course, in the older areas of Bangkok you can’t deny the charm of riding around in the motor powered, brightly coloured tuk-tuks.
So here I am, slightly hot, permanently dehydrated, but none the less here armed with my Thai translation book, ready to experience life in Bangkok. Next time I’ll shed some light on my training at Le Cordon Bleu.
But until then… Sawadee khrap!