Finding a home in Bangkok

Or another story of Thai kindness

Yannawa Bangkok Thailand

So, I’d learned that my hotel was booked up for the next few days, meaning I had one night left before I would either need to find an apartment or a new hotel. After orientation, which ended early on Wednesday, I took the SkyTrain, called the BTS, to my school’s neighborhood, figuring I’d first find the school and then walk around looking for an apartment.

I found the school without too much difficulty and so began my apartment hunt. I’d seen a few online, all clustered together, and so headed to that area. It was walking distance from the school but included a rather harrowing highway crossing (an eye opening but dangerous way to start one’s day) and the places were really unimpressive, while the best of them was available only in May.

I resolved to keep looking but, after a couple hours of wandering, getting farther and farther from my school and soaked in sweat, I was beginning to lose hope.

In fact, I’d decided to take an apartment for a month at one of the lesser places and then move in May to the somewhat better one. But, before settling for this less than satisfactory solution, I decided to wander through a different section of town near the school.

At one point I found myself in a lively but relatively quiet area, the streets lined with dozens of food stalls and trees, and thought how nice it would be to live here. And it was just a ten minute walk from school and a 15 minute stroll to the nearest SkyTrain station.

Well, lo and behold, there stood what was clearly an apartment building, and it looked dingy enough that I could afford it while clean enough to be comfortable.

I approached a young man who turned out to be a security guard but, the moment I opened my mouth, he looked at me like a deer in headlights, clearly not understanding a word.

As I tried to make myself understood, a young woman approached. She spoke to the man and then explained to me in excellent English that the receptionist had stepped out but would be back. She pointed to a few benches, saying I could wait.

I thought she would be on her way, as she clearly lived in the building but did not work there, but instead sat with me to wait.

I explained my situation and she told me how she had learned English in Thailand, had worked in Belgium as a nanny where she used her English (the family she worked for were Swedish), and now worked as a teacher in a different school, though she was familiar with mine.

The receptionist eventually showed up and spoke little more English than the security guard, so the young lady stuck around, acting as interpreter throughout the process of visiting the apartment, agreeing to the terms and even signing the contract. Without her I surely would have been forced to keep looking, unable to understand the contract (which was in Thai) or convey what I wanted.

I thanked her and offered to buy her a beer but she begged off for the moment and said we were sure to run into each other.

It was a hell of an experience and, as with the men who fed me whiskey and crickets, this one woman managed to turn a rather dispiriting day into a highlight of my time here so far.

So, as I mentioned, the place was well situated and I found that the street it was on turned into a small market where nearly anything could be found (I bought a couple dozen clothes hangers for under $3), including cooked food and fresh fruit and vegetables.

My apartment had a tiny kitchen, but no oven or stove top, so, though I could keep fresh stuff in the fridge, I couldn’t really cook anything. But it would do.

Anyway, that’s the story of how I found my apartment.