What I love about Bangkok

Living in Bangkok has opened my eyes to many things. I’ve learned to just take things slow and not be too restricted by time. I’ve also learned  that even in a relatively peaceful country, underhanded activities such as prostitution and mafias do exist. It just reminded me that in life you will always encounter good and bad situations. Whether you’re happy or sad will very much depend on what you focus on. These are the things I focus on that put a smile on my face everyday.

  • I live in an apartment which is considered middle class. The setup is a bachelors. The furniture is very basic and it’s stuff that I use everyday. We have a pool, sauna and a gym. Yet the rent is much less than I’d pay back home for a similar apartment. And the treatment from the staff is certainly much more than I’d get back home. What stands out for me the most is how the security guards will often stand up and greet the tenants as they walk in and  out. That was so amusing to me when I moved in. I tried to get them to stop but they wouldn’t hear of it. The poor men must get so exhausted by the end of the day. I reckon they don’t even need the gym. Anyway, what this has taught me is that it’s possible to survive on much less in life. We really don’t need all the extra stuff. My life has become much more simple materially. And that has made me much happier.
  • I love going to the colourful markets or floating markets to buy some cheap clothing. In fact, it’s not all about buying but just to experience walking around and looking, while eating some delicious coconut ice cream or other street food.
  • It’s relatively safe. When I walk around at night, I don’t have to constantly look over my shoulder to check if a gun wielding gangster is out to get me. I must admit though, that they stray dogs do make me quite nervous. I mean it’s not easy encountering a dog in another country. You can’t just chase it away by saying ‘voetsek’ like we do back home. Thankfully, I haven’t had any  issues with the dogs.
  • I take delight in going to the market everyday to buy some fresh and delicious produce at a very cheap rate. The local vendors are always smiling and they really appreciate it when you speak try to them in Thai.
  • The staff at 7/11 will always greet you and welcome you every time you go there. I’ve never felt so welcome going to a local store. Speaking of feeling welcome, I feel the same when I go to a restroom  in a big mall. The cleaners will greet you and welcome you as you walk in. To my surprise, I found that they also thank you when you leave. It’s as if you’ve done something that’s worthy of commendation.
  • I absolutely love the fact that there’s always an exotic destination just a stone throw away,  that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. I’ve had the pleasure of going on many excursions here in Thailand, and yet I feel there’s still so  much more to do.
  • I love going to my local street food vendors. I have my favourite dishes which cost a lot less than restaurant food and sometimes taste better. A smile goes a long way with the vendors and in return, they treat you very well.
  • I love the general vibe that I can’t explain in words. I’m not sure if it’s the eclectic nature of the city, where there is a lovely mix of modern and sophisticated buildings and some ancient and more rustic buildings, not to mention the beautiful temples that are scattered about. Or is it the way the people interact with each other, from the vendors who chatter among themselves in such a manner that you wish you knew what they were talking about, to the motorcycle drivers who stand in street corners, looking cool and ready for action. Maybe it’s the contagious smile of the people that leaves me feeling happy and forces me to be a ‘full glass’ kind of girl.

I could write more but I think I’ll stop right here. All I can say is that living in Bangkok has given me a new perspective on life and for that I’ll be forever grateful.












Chickenin’ out

feathersSo the other day as I was walking along a narrow path in Bangwa, I spotted a man coming from the opposite direction making his way towards me. As we walked towards each other my eyes immediately zoomed in on the package he had under his arm. I did a double take to make sure that it was indeed what I thought it was. As soon as my suspicions were confirmed, I swiftly made a u-turn and walked away as fast as I could, with a pounding heart and a great sense of uneasiness.

You may wonder what it was that made me react that way. And I’m pretty sure if I told you, you’d most probably laugh. That’s the reaction I usually get when I tell people that I have a phobia of chickens. They usually make a comment about me being the first person they’ve ever come across who has this phobia. I tell them that there is even a word for this phobia in the dictionary, so I can’t possibly be the only person in the world who suffers from it. The word, by the way, is Alektorophobia.

I first came to realise that I was afraid of chickens at the tender age of five. I remember that day as if it were yesterday, it’s so clear and vivid in my mind. My mother was bent over a steel wash basin under a tree, humming inaudibly as she did the laundry. I played with my dolls on the stoep , quite contentedly. It was a beautiful autumn day in the township of Orange Farm, which is located about 45 minutes from Johannesburg. Anyway, she asked me to be a darling and fetch some pegs from inside our shack. Immediately, I obeyed and skipped my way into our simple but cosy shack. Thereafter, I just remember hearing a thud and seeing a big white chicken staring at me with its two beady eyes! The next thing I remember is being outside near the gate,  shaking like a leaf, sobbing and trying to explain to my confused and concerned mother what the matter was . She thought it was just a stage that would come to pass as I grew older.

She was wrong . I can remember numerous other encounters with our feathered friends that had me absolutely petrified! I  remember visiting a friend and running like my heels were on fire when I saw a chicken underneath one of the kitchen chairs (I must’ve been at least 7 years old). Fast forward to my pre and early teens. I lived in a relatively chicken free area in Wentworth and I remember how I absolutely dreaded visiting family  and friends who lived in Umlazi because they usually owned chickens as pets. Whenever I’d visit the township, I’d  quickly scan the yard before entering for any signs of chickens, such as; some stray feathers, eggs, feces and mealie kernels. I’d also listen carefully for any sounds of clucking. When I was safely in the house, I’d also check under the seats, tables and corners. You may wonder why I didn’t simply inform the people I visited at the outset about my phobia, but I did that once and had a baby chick put in my blouse while I was wearing it and I was forced to sleep in a room full of caged chickens! That was one of the most frightening nights of my life (even more frightening than when we had burglars outside my home ). So I thought it best not to make too many people aware of my problem.

Now that I’m in my twenties, I feel that my fear has intensified. Two years ago I was sitting in a taxi in Johannesburg and I suddenly felt something feathery brush against legs. I dared not even look to confirm my suspicions. The way my body was reacting was proof enough-my mouth went dry, my heart beat faster, and I had an overwhelming feeling of panic. I asked the driver to stop the taxi and I jumped out before he could bring the vehicle to a complete stop. Everybody was puzzled. Last year I visited a friend here in Bangkok. I heard a clucking sound. Panic stricken, I asked if there was a chicken in the house. She replied,”Yes.” I didn’t realise that she was just yanking my chain. I must have really looked horrified. She laughed, told me she was only joking and made a remark that I looked like I was ready to jump out the window. About two months ago, a friend sent me a picture of big red rooster via whatsapp. When I saw the picture, I immediately flung my poor phone to the floor.

So as you can see, I have a serious problem. When I try to analyse it, I’m not quite sure what it is that frightens me so much about chickens. I’m not sure if it’s their feathers, their constantly bobbing heads, the beady eyes, their claws…Even writing about it gives me the shivers! I really wish  I could overcome overcome this fear but at this point in time, I’m not sure how. I guess for now, avoidance is the best strategy.