If you leave aside the four days I spent back in Manchester – via a mentally scarring 14 hour wait on a runway in Aktobe, Kazakhstan – in March 2015, then it would be well over a year since I last saw my parents last, having left the UK early in February of the same year, to begin an Asian adventure with an unspecified return date.
The aforementioned brief return to my homeland is probably an article in its own right, but I’ll quickly skim over the facts while I’m at it.
Long and short of it is thus – I had to attend court as a victim and witness of robbery which occurred in the UK the previous year and, having changed the court date that then collided with my Asian adventure, the Greater Manchester Police kindly paid for my flight to the UK and subsequent return to South East Asia – albeit on a plane which encountered some ‘engine issues’ whilst cruising over the vast expanse of Kazakhstan, resulting in an emergency landing, 14 hour wait and an epicly tedious near 40 hour stomp back to the UK, whereupon I saw my folks, only 1 month after last seeing their faces.
And so, having decided to move to Bangkok at the turn of the year and no longer living out of a bag having securing myself a fixed abode, I was more than happy to invite my parents to come and stay with me on what would be their maiden voyage to the Land of Smiles.
Living in Bangkok and having visited on a number of occasions in the past, I have a fair appreciation of what the city has to offer and a decent understanding of the geography of the place, but by no means would I consider myself an expert.
It did dawn on me, however, ahead of my parents arriving here, that they had no real plan other than spending time with me so, with a slight sense of apprehension, I began to make a few notes for their ‘travel itinerary’.
Having spent a year travelling solo and moving as I pleased, I suddenly realised that I now found myself in the unenviable position of being an unofficial farang tour guide.
I am sure that this is a position many expats have found themselves in before and, don’t get me wrong, I was excited to see my dearest parents, but there is a certain degree of pressure and a multitude of things to take into consideration when assessing how two retirement-aged folk would chose to entertain themselves in Krung Thep.
There was also a slight concern for their well-being: would they be prime targets for the scam artists that take residence in Thailand? Would they fall off the back of a motorbike taxi? Would the weather and the food cause them problems? Would they get the hang of the bum gun? All these concerns were suddenly on my mind.
So with the flights booked, the first consideration was accommodation for their stay.
As they were arriving fairly late on a Saturday afternoon and seeking to optimise my time with them while I had time off work, I invited them to stay with me and my girlfriend in my studio.
After a great catch up and the impartation of all my Thai-based knowledge within about an hour of meeting them, a few drinks and some food in W District, Phra Khanong, were enjoyed.
This was followed by a drunken mattress shop in Tesco Lotus and within an hour or so, the girlfriend and I were cosied up on the apartment floor while mother and father enjoyed a solid night’s sleep after the draining night on a plane from the UK.
After a mediocre sleep and with my mother’s snoring more of a factor than initially feared, the main aim on the morning of Day Two was to find them a nearby hotel, for the greater comfort of all concerned.
This was achieved with the minimum of fuss and subsequently a good touristy day was spent taking a boat on the Chao Phraya, wandering around Wat Pho, having a brief look at the Grand Palace (and baulking at the ฿500 admission fee and multitude of Chinese tourists) and enjoying a beer or two on Khao San Road, all ensuring that I could hang up my guide’s hat with a feeling of happiness and self satisfaction at a job well done.
And to credit my parents, they took everything in their stride including the blistering heat, the hawkers and tuk tuk drivers and they’d even got the hang of the BTS system by their second day.
After brief consultation, we all agreed that Krabi and Ton Sai beach would be a great spot for them to enjoy Thailand beaches without such an arduous journey from the capital and so after a couple of evenings spent wandering around Lumphini Park, enjoying street food and drinking in the view from rooftop terrace bars, they departed Bangkok for the next 4 nights having had a good general overview of the sights of the city.
Upon their return to the capital and having selected a nice hotel in Phrom Phong for them to stay in for their remaining 3 nights, I mapped out the plan – based, unsurprisingly, around food and drink – for the remainder of the stay.
Despite my father taking a worryingly keen interest in ping pong after having explained the concept of the shows here, we all agreed that this wouldn’t be a savoury conclusion to their trip.
And once I explained to mother that a ‘ladies drink’ wasn’t really just a glass of white wine or a fruity cider, she wasn’t so keen to frequent Soi Cowboy and such like areas of the city either.
And so we drank and we ate and we attempted Karaoke and before we knew it, their last night was here.
Last night drinks (spot the recurring theme) were guzzled up and down Sukhumvit, so much so that I wasn’t in a fit state to roll into the office the next day (sorry Mark). And not a Ping Pong show, or Go Go girl in sight, so I assume we largely kept each other in check.
It was a fitting send off for their journey back to the UK and I’m certain they had a great time here. I need not have worried that they wouldn’t really; after all, in the ‘City of Angels’ with a devil on every corner, it’s near on impossible not to.
Featured image is by Qsimple, Memories For The Future Photography plus a public domain meerkat family.