First Steps in Bangkok

The glowing copper and silver city lights keep me pressed against the plane window. Isn’t it funny how landing in a city at night never ceases to amaze? What’s more, the city is throbbing with patches of red, purple and blue. Flying lower, I see fireworks popping up from various sections of a silver lined grid.  I smile. The city is throwing me a private welcome party and despite being deliriously tired (or maybe because of it) – I feel surges of energy running through my body.

It takes me approximately two hours to get out of the airport between immigration, exchanging money and getting a cab. I check my phone. 2:37am Bangkok time. As I press my forehead against another window – I feel just as energized as when I first landed. The taxi swerves, turns down a small street and back onto a large road.  Two initial things strike me: 1) there are so many extraordinary temples and 2) Bangkok is HOPPING at 2:30 in the morning.

The main road that my hostel is off is abruptly closed. My cab driver stops and begins speaking to a bunch of men hanging around the barricade. I have no idea what they are saying except that they keep shaking their heads. The driver then turns to me and says “go there and left.”

Okay. There and left. I can do this.

I grab my things, pay the driver and continue past the group and down the street. It’s filled with garbage. As I get to the next corner, I encounter 4 rats munching away on god knows what. They all look at me at the same time. Okay Sigalle, breathe – you live in NYC, you take subways, you see rats all the time. No big deal. I shake my suitcase and they scatter. Sigalle: 1, Rats: 0.

As I walk a little farther I see a dimly lit “Baan Dinso Guesthouse” sign pointing into a very narrow alleyway. Looking into it – I feel both thrilled and terrified. It’s the most magical alleyway I have ever seen but it’s also 3:00am. And dark. No fear.

Walking through, I dart my eyes all around me – into doorways, at cats scattering by – into other alleyways.  I get to a small wooden gate with my hostel name sketched into it. Opening it slowly, I am greeted by the cutest house you have ever seen. Home. I take off my shoes at the bottom of the porch, climb the steps quietly and peek through glass on the door. A man is sleeping on a cot in the lobby. I tap lightly on the glass and he sits up quickly – rubbing his eyes. He opens the door, smiles groggily and hands me a key.  I carry my bag and make my way upstairs to my room, strip off my sticky clothes. I grab my small toiletry bag and tip-toe to the bathroom.  I brush my teeth and wash the last 24+ hours of traveling away. I lay my head down – and drift off almost immediately.

I can’t wait until tomorrow.

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