Friday, 27 January 2017

Running down a dream. 28/4 - 1/5/2016

The morning after the night before........

I awoke in surroundings that had thankfully now become fairly familiar to me, the carefully drawn curtain of my personal cube separating my space from the rest of the well maintained dormitory that lay outside it. I led there for a couple of moments before moving still feeling slightly punch drunk, taking my time to gather up my fragmented thoughts in order to form a cohesive plan for the day before forcing myself up, to shower, dress and lumber downstairs to make use of the breakfast facilities before the deadline for that passed by. The shower took longer than it usually did, as did the dressing and the lumbering and even with my “slower than usual” pace, I still managed to bang my head on the low concrete beam that rested above the stairs between the first and the ground floor as I had done every single morning during my stays there. At least in spite of everything else, somethings were remaining consistent. 

Downstairs in the open spaced communal area I placed a shallow, empty cup under the dispensing nozzle of the coffee tank and pulled the lever into the on position, turning away for a little too long as I deliberated internally the quandary of whether to toast the white or the brown bread. “AAAhhhhhfuuuuuu” inadvertently broke free of my mouth as I whipped back around remembering the previous unfinished task just in time to see the expanding pool of black coffee begin its free fall drop over the side and splash onto the tiled floor below. It was now blindingly obvious that despite my careful preparation for the day, the overly long shower and inadvertent concrete "WAKE UP" bang on the head, I was still pretty far from firing on all 8. I felt like a vacuous hole was sucking my brains out, regurgitating a bit, then sucking again from the inside out, leaving me just a walking, talking liability. I apologised for the mess and cleaned up what I could, finished my breakfast and then headed out to get hold of the now absolute requisite blood testing kit. “Liability” decided it liked being around me so it also decided that it was going to stick around for a few more days, I can’t say I was overly glad of its company.

Although I hadn't managed to find any replacement testing strips for the blood meter that I had been using before, each failed endeavour to do so had also given me an idea of the price I could expect to pay for a replacement and the best place from which to buy. By the early afternoon I had taken a couple of short train rides, walked the length of the large shopping malls in order to stay in the air conditioning and arrived at the Big C Supercentre, or more specifically the nearby “Boots” the chemist. After asking a couple of questions from the counter assistant and paying around £40.00, I left the store with my shiny new replacement meter, an additional 25 testing strips to add to the 10 supplied which would be enough to take the pressure off not only here, but also give me breathing space to find replacements when I finally got back to the UK. I then sat at a window seat at the nearest McThai, watching the traffic and life that was being bathed in the oppressive heat outside, as I took solace with my second very, very large and very, very cold iced Coke Zero.

The first one I had fumbled and dropped.

The initial relief that I felt was soon replaced with slight disbelief as I checked over and read through the instruction manual of my new toy. To simplify things immensely, there are 2 different methods commonly used for measuring blood sugar levels, in the same kind of way that both Centigrade and Fahrenheit get used to detail temperature. I have been using mmol/L (millimoles per litre) for the duration of my diabetic life and the machines I have had access to usually had the ability to switch between the 2 measurements if required. This meter however used the one I wasn’t familiar with (mg/dL, milligrams per decilitre), and without any obvious direct correlation between the measurements of the 2 or knowing a way to simply calculate from one to the other, the numbers on the meter were practically useless to me, or possibly dangerous as you are always going to draw a connection between what you know and what you don’t, even when you know you shouldn’t. For example, a blood sugar level of 9.0 mmol/L might not be overly drastic, but with the converted figure of 162 your mind can’t help but think that your levels might be in need of some serious correction as opposed to a simple, mild adjustment.

The solution as it so often has been was to be found on the internet, with a bit of research leading me to find a conversion table* with which I could calculate between the 2 measurement types.  This I could then keep folded up alongside the meter for reference and although it may have been a little bit cumbersome when on the move, and also a little less than pretty once it had acquired a few small blood spots on it from being folded up after testing, it was functional enough and would be suitable to the task.


With only few days left to survive from my travels my attention had now turned to preparing properly for my return leg. I left my hostel early the next morning to carry my bags the 10 minute walk up to the Lullaby Hotel that I had booked for the next couple of nights to give myself the space I needed to sort out everything in my possession, to rid of the items that no longer served any immediate purpose and clothes that had been worn out on during their time on duty. The overall objective of course was to get my luggage under the maximum weights specified by the airline that was going to be carrying it, so as not to incur any unnecessary additional costs.

The hotel itself was located on Deco Road and was just along from the LubD hostel where I had spent maybe the most nights during my time travelling, it therefor seemed like a somewhat fitting location for my trip to come to an end. The room itself was beautifully presented with a large comfortable bed, large bathroom and large slatted wooden doors which opened up to a small balcony looking out onto the familiar busy junction below. On the opposite corner of the street the restaurant that I had helped ease me back in to travel over 5 months was gone, abandoned and dressed with boards advertising its availability. I took this as a reflection of how things are in that part of the world are always moving, changing and adapting, a complete contrast to the slow, plodding pace that things can often take to get things done back home. To this end you could be fairly sure that the place wouldn’t be empty long due to its busy and prime location, but its condition at this time did give me reason to think back and reminisce. Here was maybe a visual representation of my own self-imposed exile. A personal journey had taken me the best part of two and a half years to complete was now drawing to a close. Nothing lasts forever, no matter how much you might wish that it could.

A few shopping trips came over the next couple of days, fresh t-shirts and clothes to replace my well-worn rags, small gifts and a set of bathroom scales to ensure my bags were under their travel limits, 20kg for the larger backpack and 7 kg for the smaller, carry on bag. The scales eventually fitted into my backpack after a quick bit of reorganisation but it wasn’t long after that I realised that old liability had struck again and I rushed back to the pillar outside the shop where my re-fit had taken place, finding my camera sat on its own on the tiled floor exactly where I had left it, watched over a bemused looking couple who perhaps though the setup was a part of a TV show’s elaborate prank. With my camera safely back on board I then headed back to base to start with the sorting out process.

I didn’t take long before I had a bin full of discarded items and 2 piles of clothes, ones to keep and ones that would not be making the trip back. Clothes from the latter pile would then be used for the rest of my time in Bangkok to ensure that I had a full set of clean and tidy clothes for both the forthcoming travel and imminent repatriation. With the bags now down to their target weight I checked my flights to ensure everything was in order and nothing had been altered late on, noticing then that my flight had been moved back a couple of hours and my baggage allowance was actually 30kg rather than the 20kg I had worked to achieve. However, I reasoned that the stuff in the bin pile was still to be binned, I could no longer be bothered to carry the extra weight both to and from the respective airports, sometimes you just need to have that cull.

With most things now in order I spent the next day at leisure, relaxing as I visited coffee shops and outdoor markets, photographing what I could and memorising the sounds and smells during the precious little time now left to me. For the first time in what seemed like an age I saw rain fall in Bangkok and I watched as the people outside, for once unusually unprepared dashed for the cover of the nearby structures or raised rather ineffectual items above their heads for protection as I sipped on a Green Tea latte from the comfortable confines of a ground level coffee shop. As I sat there I knew very well that I was going to miss so much of this after I left, but I was also aware that in myself, I felt I was now completely done. I was nigh on exhausted in both body and mind and I probably hadn’t been functioning well enough for the last few weeks at least, struggling more than I would have liked to have done since breaking that bone in my foot several months before. As departure day now edged ever closer, it was now being met with a sort of half-welcomed inevitability.