Back in October, Tomy and I sat down to try something I think all couples who want to travel should do: we took separate pieces of paper and privately wrote down a list of countries we were most genuinely interested in visiting and why.
My list included destinations like Italy, Germany, and Japan for historical and cultural reasons, while Tomy's list was much further south. His list was aiming for Indonesia, Australia, Thailand, and the like for cultural and gastronomical reasons. The moment we compared lists I felt a weight drop through my chest... we are opposite types of travelers.
It's been clear to us from the beginning that we'd be interested in different types of adventures, but this never seemed to affect anything... until we arrived in Bangkok.
So many travel bloggers go to Thailand and love it. So many, in fact, that I could hardly find any negative information about the place. I feel like I arrived with no warning. Yes, I read about the possible digestive problems and I read about the pollution, but nobody seemed to be mentioning the noise or the constant rumble of a motorcycle creeping up behind you on the sidewalk.
As the days after out arrival went on, I successfully kept my nerves at bay by shopping for cheap makeup, clothes, or sweets. A little high to get me out of my head, you know? There are many cute coffee shops, restaurants, and interesting things to keep a person like me distracted for a while. But the day we went to Chinatown, I simply lost it.
Bangkok is not a place for anyone with personal space issues. If you hate crowds, you will hate it here. If you're sensitive to noise, either you wear earplugs or suffer through it. If you're sensitive to smells, be ready to loose your appetite real fast. Bangkok's Chinatown struck me as San Francisco's Chinatown on drugs. Everything is ten times more colorful, loud, smelly, and obnoxious. The only thing keeping me from losing my mind was that the vendors don't bother bullying you into buying their shitty souvenirs. Seriously, the only thing. I broke down and shed a few tears that day. A miniature anxiety attack.
But that was only the beginning. Now, I know it may sound like I'm complaining and some people may even unfollow us for these comments, but I'm simply trying to be honest.
Everything changed when I saw the r...
Rats. When the sun is up you might see one creep into the gutters by the sidewalk, but once the sun goes down those critters are anywhere and everywhere that food can be found. The culprit is more than likely all the trash bags laid out on the street and the late night food carts. I swear I tried to get over it, I really did. But when I saw a rat run through the restaurant we just finished eating at on Khaosan Road, I lost my appetite almost permanently.
I told myself it was the area. Rats like to live near rivers. Khaosan in on the river... but then we went out looking for a much recommended Labanese restaurant in our area near Sukhumvit. A European couple was standing in front of a pile of trash, blocking the entire sidewalk. The man was taking photos of something in the pile. It wasn't until we'd almost passed around them that I saw that most terrifying site.
Five rats inside a clear bag of trash eating leftover corn on the cob. My stomach sent acids straight up in an attempt to vomit, but my fleeing feet did not allow it. Shivering, I ate dinner with my feet above the ground and my purse tucked behind my back on the chair. I haven't had this feeling since my last family trip to El Salvador, when I saw some 50-odd roaches fleeing from the light in the kitchen.
Telling him was the hardest part.
Today we moved to a new hotel to be closer to the temples. I'm feeling a bit under the weather and my period just ended, so I guess I'm being a bit oversensitive, but when we walked to the cafe today I lost all control of myself.
After nearly getting nipped by a motorcycle while crossing the street, we decided to take a short cut to the cafe we looked up on Foursquare. The shortcut turned out to be a filthy street with dirty street dogs laying everywhere, dog shit on the ground, people laying motionless on the sidewalk amongst the dogs, and a creepy stairway into a hostel full of American douche bags saying, "rad, dude!" For a second there I thought I wouldn't make it out. I could feel my heart thumping in my ears. When we got home I had to say something. I nearly broke down on the way into our new hotel.
The minute I said it, I regretted it. Tomy's face lost all enthusiasm. He mumbled a few words before asking me if I wanted to go home. I didn't have an answer, but he started searching for flight out of here anyway. Minutes passed before I asked him what he thought of it here. Like most people, he likes it. Although he agrees that it is a bit dirty here, he feels comfortable with the lifestyle and the people around us.
Now I can't help but think I ruined the trip... that it'll be my fault that he spent all that money for nothing. If we leave now, will he be able to move on? If we stay will I be able to cope?
We will be leaving Bangkok soon, but I can't help but feel a little skeptical about the rest of the trip throughout Southeast Asia. Am I being too dramatic? Our next stop is Chiang Mai, then a month in Bali. I've been warned about some less than tasteful things in Bali, but the photos all look amazing. Most people I know go all googly-eyed when I say we're going to Bali. Have you been there? Any advice for a European city girl's first time in Indonesia?
If I offended you in any way with this article, I am very sorry. I just think that these are things that must be said so that others in my position may think twice about spending their saving on a trip like this.