With no travel plans in the immediate future I decide to travel to Bangkok, staying at a hostel in Asoke, two blocks from where I live now. This was more for research than anything, helping local tourism during troubled times while curious of how the coup and curfew has affected tourists and the tourism industry. Being inspired by new experiences I also opt for my first hostel experience bunked up in a dorm room at the Asoke Montri Hostel. This was all very last minute and I arrive as a backpacker shortly before the curfew is enforced to find a completely full shoe rack but a seemingly empty hostel. I am led to my mixed 6 dorm room where I am completely alone. It is the way I wish all hostel experiences would be but, as an unlikely scenario, I don’t feel I achieved the full hostel experience (although I’m happy to leave it at that). Now in an empty room, with little to do but sleep I do as any other visitor to Bangkok should do. I don’t unpack anything, squash my bag into my dorm room locker and go out to experience the street life and ‘curfew’ in Bangkok. Following my own rules on local immersion I go to the closest 7/11 buy a bottle of Sangsom and sit on a street corner to people watch.
My condo is no less than two blocks away but this time I sit on the opposite side, watching over the Asoke Skytrain with tourist eyes. Within minutes I am joined by a happy face, a girl from Lao working in Bangkok, coincidentally a prostitute but less prostitute-y looking than would be expected. She doesn’t like Bangkok but has to be here for work. Amazingly up-beat and one of the happiest people I’ve met in a long time. But, as expected, the happiness often fades in her thoughts. I ask ‘why she doesn’t go home to her family in Laos’ but she needs the money. She talks about the good times where she returns home for holidays, Songrkran, Loy Krathong etc. As always with my one track mind the conversation turns to food and she tells me how to make Sato (Thai rice wine). This was probably the highlight of the night but it soon wanes and she disappears to the nearby Sukhumvit 11. Not long passes before an expat lad joins me for a swig, a former manager of one of Bangkok’s biggest expat bars. Apparently everybody knows him however my life couldn’t be further from the expat scene so I’m not everybody. He shares his new life plans elsewhere in the Middle-East before a phone call takes him away. Not long another girl joins me, she’s just passing through Bangkok, originally from Sukhothai but now lives in Phuket… By now I was incredibly bored and feeling I’d achieved my years quota for socialising I instead walk. It is now well into the curfew and the roadside bars continue to bring in customers. “How come your open through curfew?” – “We turn the lights off and hide alcohol. They don’t say anything”. The traffic at the Asoke Interchange is still busy which is said to continue through to the next morning. There is no curfew here or at least people have forgotten about it. Feeling my job was done I retire to my empty hostel dorm to sleep. I wake the following morning to a less empty room as a young Thai lad is pliéing to unpack his bag opposite. I lie fully clothed, blanket unrolled and neat at the bottom of the bed. At this point I decide to get out. A slightly depressing experience but my job was done, I had my first hostel experience and I can grab my unpacked bags and return home to happiness and hugs from Fanfan and the cat.