Expat home in Bangkok - chapter II

The Second Epiphany
Será porque estoy siempre en estado de alta actividad, pero en general la presión no me causa angustia ni histeria . Al contrario, me ayuda a pensar estratégicamente y a llegar más rápido a una conclusión, tras evaluar diversos factores de manera racional. En lo que respecta a la búsqueda de hogar, la presión temporal me hizo despertarme a las 7AM del Domingo pasado y ponerme a leer online acerca de las experiencias de otros fellow expats en mi situación. Estuve indagando bastante rato acerca de Ari, informándome acerca del barrio, viendo fotos, leyendo sobre cafés-restaurantes-tiendas-supermercados en la zona... Antes de que dieran las 11, que era cuando había quedado con mis amigos para ir a ver los templos, tenía claro que quería vivir en Ari: 25' puerta-puerta con el trabajo, 30' puerta-puerta con la escuela de baile, plagada de cafés, restaurantes y tiendas cucas, sin el agobio de putas, borrachos y Chinas locas compra-Vuittones que acecha en Sukhumvit - cierto es que los peores Soi son 8-11 (BTS Nana, donde estoy ahora) pero en torno al 26-39 (BTS Phrom Phong, donde los pisos caros, mi escuela de baile y el EmQuartier) también están las calles cargadas de gente.

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Expat home in Bangkok - chapter I

Este mapa muestra lo diferente que es el turismo de la vida laboral. Los templos de Bangkok están en el río, al Oeste. Pero los expats vivimos, trabajamos y salimos en torno a Sukhumvit, en el Noreste. Por eso como turistas, os recomiendo esta zona ya que tiene más opciones de restaurantes y bares.
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Home away from home

The notion of home
Home is represented by very different ideas depending on who you ask. For those who never left, it is the place where they grew up and stayed, often where the majority of their family, friends and even more distant relatives are. For regular expats, home is typically where the job, friends (at least a subset of them), partner and kids are. The latter is more of an abstract concept, that relates more with the activity than with the physical location. In the past, that's what home was for me. The place where Enrique is, where we work and live together.

Our life in Málaga made me question that concept quite often, as he would not be there on average, for 6 months a year. This summer I had a fun realization, that it felt more home in the tiny apartment of Seoul than the rest of 2017 - he was in Sweden, I was ping-pong between Europe and Asia on weekly basis. Our life in Gangnam was nowhere ideal but, we had each other, on daily basis.

Through the starting of my new life in Bangkok, I am once again reconsidering the concept of home. When hearing with the fun weekend plans with the Spanish and friends in Bangkok, Enrique told me that this seemed like my second Erasmus, which made me realize how lucky I am to be given the chance again (but on my 30s) to have some time on my own, when I can explore who I am, what drives me, what makes me happy. To process this variety of experiences in the silence provided by living alone. Distance relationships are often seen negatively by the society, when in fact it is many of us in this kind of situation (I can count 4 friends who have their hubby in another city). While the transition from being a normal couple into one geographically split is tough, spending time alone eventually provides a chance to shut down the world, take care of yourself in a deeper level. It also makes you give the apppropriate value to the moments spent together for the magic time they are. The true realization of the the volatility of life allows you to live fully.

From the psychological, into the physical home
One of my colleagues was extremely suprised to hear that I was moving to Bangkok "despite having renovated my apartment during the summer". The irony of destiny.

We bought our apartment in Malaga towards the end of 2014, when having some issues with the landlord - I ended up in court as the building owner was not paying back the loan to the landlord, meaning that all of us tenants were at risk of being kicked out as soon as the trial was over - and a hard time to find rental apartments in Málaga which we liked and could meet our budget. Back then it felt like jumping from the top of a cliff, but after completing the major changes - installing the stairs, changing all the hideous brown wood by white walls and concrete floors - we were both happy with the decision. The apartment was instrumental for Málaga to start feeling like home. There was one thing missing though, which was the terrace. It was not very pleasant and we had water leakage under heavy rain, which is more common than you probably think in Málaga. We converted a small pool into the dining area pictured, covered the walls with concrete and installed some ambient lightning. This took the whole month of June, brought me to the hospital (as I had a bronchitis crisis as it turns out I am allergic to concrete dust). But it was finally done, another great job of Adrian Scarrone and his company MDQ reformas (highly advisable if you want to fix your home in the area). When everything was ready, we left to Seoul for the summer. Soon after, I ended up here.

After a notable time, money and effort investment... I am back at square zero, as home-less being who has to battle the real estate market of Bangkok - alone for the first time. As I noted quite some curiosity by those of you who also follow me on instagram and found it extremely useful to read online about the experiences of fellow expats, I decided to write a mini series of posts this week, to capture what it takes to find an apartment in Bangkok.
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Bangkok - Citadines Soi 8

cute bengal cat
Byakko ain't here, but looking at him makes me feel home.

With a bit of nostalgy, from doing this together with Enrique when we moved to Japan let me introduce you my 25m2 home of the month. Citadines is a staple for serviced apartments in Bangkok - in fact the guy at the reception recalled my face from when I came last year to stay in the one at soi 11, can you believe that? - not huge, but conveniently located and serviced, with an option for breakfast or dinner for those of you not keen on cooking your own stuff.

For the rest, just get some food and wine from Villa Market in Soi 11 or Tops Market (under Robinson, between soi 17 and soi 19), to enjoy some conversation for those back home in the intimacy of the little apartment. Truth is, the place ain't big but well distributed and spacious when you manage to get all your stuff in place with nothing hanging around. As you can judge by the pictures, my 4 suitcases fell into place leading to some kind of micro-sized harmony.

I brought a large cup, because I am a maniac for 500ml coffee in the morning and the pink Daruma, to ensure my dreams are pursued.

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Costa Rica - Diving at Drake Bay

The cherry of our nearly 3 weeks in Costa Rica was this amazing boat dive, cortesy of Drake Divers in Bahia Drake. 27C water, great visibility, amazing creatures as you can see in the video. The boat leaves in the morning and you are back on time to catch the boat back to reality (read Sierpe) at around 13.
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Bangkok - Pool Party

Picture from here

During my first weekend here, the guys took me to a really nice pool party. It's a luxury to have experienced Bangkok expat friends, isn't it?

Turns out that these happen every weekend and you can find out what's next in this listing. New for me, but someting I look forward to repeating, specially when my friends start to visit. If you want to give it a shot during your vacay, here come some notes.

  • Parties are during daytime (2-8PM), perfect way to chill the afternoon away and make your choice, whether you go home to sleep or you get changed to hit the buzzling nightlife again.
  • Despite being held in fancy hotels, they are not super expensive. Entrance in BLAST, in Hilton Doubletree somewhere in Sukhumvit, was 400 (10EUR) or 700(18EUR) with one hour free flow of wine and beer. I picked the second option, which turned out to be quite cost effective as I didn't drink much anyway.
  • Some have lockers, some don't. Dresscode is casual, flat sandals and shorts will do. Id on't see a major need to bring a towel, of course you can but you may as well dry just while chilling by the pool. I wore a small bag to have my valuables with me while being able to dance, no towel, sunscreen or clothes to change, it was just fine.
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On the road

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