I pushed open the doors to the café, and was greeted with cool air that slapped me across the face as if it were punishing me for being out in the heat for so long. Sweat dripped down my back, my ears, and my face, leaving trails as it slid, slowly, down my body. I was breaking out like a maniac, my hair was sticking up, down, and sideways, and my skin was splotchy and red from carrying over 40 pounds of bags.
“What can I get you?” a young Thai woman said. She had soft skin that reminded me of honey. I was suddenly aware of how disgusting and unkempt I looked standing next to her. I suddenly had the urge to explain that I had been traveling for over 22 hours straight, but held back.
“Coffee,” I said, following her into the café. My huge bag started swaying left and right from my inability to control it, making me look like I was drunk.
“Pick from one of these items,” she said. I was delusional and hadn’t slept in over 30 hours. Making a simple decision of which type of coffee I wanted seemed too hard of a task to complete.
“Um, um,” I said as she stared at me, her eyes getting bigger by the second. “Umm, Thai coffee, sure.”
“Okay, its sweet, it’s good, very sweet. Has milk.”
“Perfect, great,” I said.
“Hot or cold?”
“Hot,” I said. “Wait, no, cold.” Am I allowed to have ice cubes here? I can’t drink the water, so wouldn’t ice cubes count? “Wait, hot.” Then I remembered the temperature outside. “Ugh, make it cold,” I said as she was walking away. I was unsure if she had heard me, so I left it up to fate to decide which type of coffee I would get.
I went into the bathroom as she was making the coffee, opened my bag, and attempted to clean myself up to make myself look a bit more like a normal human. The bathroom was small, my bags basically took up the entire space. This became a problem when a girl walked in and I was forced to have an awkward exchange with her.
“Sorry, sorry,” I said, dragging my bag across the wet tiled floor and to the front of the sink. She stood there staring at me. I looked extremely out of place in my dirty shirt, stringy blonde hair, and American accent. She was wearing a tight blue pencil skirt and a button up white shirt. Her hair was perfectly straight, and she smelled of tangerines. She smiled and walked into one of the stalls, probably wishing she wasn’t in there.
I was definitely in the wrong place. I walked out of the bathroom laughing at myself, which probably fed into the maniacal image I was already portraying.
The coffee was sitting on the counter, ready and hot. I decided to buy a water bottle too, after I realized that my mouth felt like I had eaten three tablespoons of salt.
I hoisted my backpack onto my back, turned to get the coffee, and realized that between the bag on my back and the one on my front, which made me look like a turtle, there was no way I could carry the coffee.
The poor woman ran over to the opposite side of the cafe to get a tray and carry it up the stairs for me.
“Sorry, I just got into Bangkok today,” I said to her. She didn’t answer, which I’m partly glad for.
I walked upstairs to a room full of young Thai students studying and doing homework. I found one empty chair along a window which I claimed. I had to shimmy my way in between tables of students, and managed to almost smack three of them in the face with my huge backpack.
She set the coffee down, I set up my perch, and enjoyed the incredibly delicious coffee (honestly probably one of the best I’ve ever had) while looking out at a random highway in Bangkok.
I stayed in the café, Too Fast To Sleep, for the next five hours working and relaxing while I waited for my Couchsurfing host to get out of work.
I met my host at around 7 p.m. She was dressed in nice outfit too, and I was suddenly aware again of how disgusting I looked.
After lugging my backpack with me, we jumped into a tuk-tuk with another one of her friends, a guy from Switzerland. I was squished in between the both of them, my bags taking up most of the room inside the tuk-tuk.
As I sat there, zooming through the bustling streets of Bangkok, it suddenly hit me that I was in another country, with two strangers I just met, about to go out to dinner in a foreign country. We sped passed roads with names I couldn’t even begin to pronounce, and the driver somehow avoided getting hit by three buses, and avoided hitting a bunch of pedestrians.
The lights from Chinatown dazzled the streets as we approached it. Stands selling fruits and meat were displayed along the sides of the street, and I was hit with the aroma of some mystery food, which wafted towards the tuk-tuk as it pulled over.
We went out to dinner at a local restaurant, and I ordered duck with rice. She and I talked about languages, each other’s cultures, and our home life. She ordered me a ginger broth soup with beans and vegetables in it afterwards, showing me local Thai cuisine.
After we got back into her apartment, she asked me to draw a picture for her so she has something to remember me by. I looked at a wall with various drawings displayed on it from previous Couchsurfing guests and smiled. I loved the fact that she did this, and was impressed with her creativity and ability to keep her past Couchsurfing experiences alive.
Eventually, my exhausted state took over and I passed out.
The next day, I met up with my second Couchsurfing host in the evening.
As I walked into her apartment, which was on the 15th floor of a tall building, I was greeted with a large window that had an aerial view of Bangkok. On one wall, sunlight shone through stained glass with tie-dye shapes of goldfish. White beanbags lined the wall, and a T shaped couch in the center of the room created a welcoming feel.
My host, another Couchsurfing guest and I spent the rest of the night talking. Our host gave us mango sticky rice and Kao Tom Mud (banana and sticky rice wrapped in a leaf). Both were delicious.
Conversation flowed as the twinkling lights from buildings illuminated the night sky. I smiled as I remembered how lucky I am to have such a unique experience in a foreign country with people I just met, two nights in a row. She showed us around the city the next day, and pointed out landmarks as we sped passed them in a taxi.
The three of us even took a motortaxi on our way back to her apartment, which was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. I was holding onto the driver’s shoulder for dear life as he zipped in between cars and sped through intersections…
That night, we stuffed our faces with pad Thai, observed the ladyboys, and took 50 baht tequila shots in between bouts of laughter.
As a solo female traveling in a foreign country, Couchsurfing is a great platform to use to get to know locals and see the city through their eyes. I’m still cautious when I go Couchsurfing; I only stay with females and with hosts that have had multiple positive reviews. It’s a great way to stay on budget as well! I can’t wait to have more experiences Couchsurfing through Southeast Asia.
Follow me on Snapchat for more pictures and videos! (@globetrottica).