The Cologne House Hunt

If I have only one complaint two complaints about Cologne, it’s that people smoke way too much, and the housing market is a complete nightmare. In no other country I’ve moved to have I felt the possiblity of being homeless so keenly!

To spare you the drama, let me just say that I’ve already been lucky enough to find a lovely house right in the middle of old town. Cobblestone streets, old buildings, reading nooks, live sports showings, birds, the river … I can’t really complain!

But getting here has been one psychological nightmare ride full of sleepless nights and anxiety ridden tears. It’s not just the housing market here is so limited or that most houses have been repurposed for students who have no desire to host couples, it’s also that scammers thrive in this situation.

I was approached by many of these with lovely photos of stunningly furnished houses for such reasonable prices you can’t help but respond. If I wasn’t so good at rooting out catfishers (it was literally my job for a while), I’d be a few thousand Euros poorer.

The approach was quite creative. They’d say they were European and had only just bought and furnished the house, but that they’d gotten an unpassable opportunity abroad. So they thought of renting their house out through AirBnb. However, if someone is interested in it long term, they could also do it through the same way.

Now, if you’re deseperate for a house and hear the words AirBnb, you automatically trust that this is legit. But if you’re someone who actually uses airbnb, you suddenly start to smell something dodgy!

I also came across a second scam where they ask you to transfer money through western union. Apparently bank statements are not legit proof you have enough money to pay for a house.

When I asked why a money transfer, this is what they said.

While I hope that no innocent house seeker buys into these thinly veiled scams, it definitely made good conversation starters. And for that, I’m grateful.

Marking Anniversaries

Bangkok Skyline
The view of downtown Bangkok from my office window

I don’t have a track record of remembering anniversaries and important dates. These days, you don’t need to, thanks to Facebook and Time Hop. All you need to do is put up a post about it and it’ll remind you every year ‘On This Day’.

Very Convenient.

However, I have been trying to be less rubbish at it. I read somewhere that we are potentially the only species on the planet who’s aware of the passage of time and that just blew my mind. We know time flies, we know life is fleeting, and if we didn’t know any better, we’d just be stuck in a routine where one day is just like the other. I understand now, more than ever, why people get into knots about remembering anniversaries.

Today I have been in Bangkok and at this job for a whole year. If I didn’t take the time to look out the window and take stock of where I was standing right then and what journey got me there, would I be giving life the credit that it deserves? Just thinking back to when I first got here and how life has changed in the span of only 365 days makes me speechless. Even when everyday seems the same, you’re never the same person you were when you first started.

Life is never dull and constant.

Sometimes, to appreciate the true complexity and beauty of life, and your own transformation to the beat of the seconds hand, you just need to take a step back and really look.

Life is an amazing journey!

A stormy evening sky in Bangkok
A stormy evening sky in Bangkok

Happy Anniversary Bangkok. You have been challenging and eye-opening, you have been a comfort and infuriating. In not being home, and in sometimes being the exact opposite of comforting, you’ve raised me to be stronger, better, more resilient. In kicking me out of my comfort zone every single day, you’ve made my life throb with excitement! Thank you for a wonderful year!

Books on Trains – The Bangkok BTS!

I have been used to spending a minimum of 3 hours on the road from my university days. And this is not in the good ‘stare out in a melancholic stupor while the rain makes pretty patterns on the window’ sort of commute. It was hell on the road, breathing in carbon fumes,cigarette smoke and the stench of sewage mixed with sweat and breathing out the most innovative curse words known to man. Riding the scooter is not as fun as the Italian movies make it out to be.

Scootering
Damn you Vespas!

Sometimes the nightmare scenes would have music playing through earphones. This was cut short because of how unpredictable traffic was in Bangalore and how quickly people move from the right of the “lane” on to the footpaths. That’s not to say that all of my life’s commuting was nightmarish. There have been moments of great enlightenment. Still, you can imagine that traffic in Bangalore is the 7th level of hell! It really is!

Traffic on the BTS
The only kind of traffic I have to deal with in Bangkok

Since moving to Bangkok though, I’ve rediscovered a love of letting someone else do the driving. They have an elaborate Sky Train and Metro service that connects you to almost all of Bangkok. The BTS is the skytrain system and the MRT is the underground metro system and they teach you a thing of two about life. Having travelled extensively on the London Underground, I find the Bangkok Mass Transit system to be more … laid back.

BTS ChidLom
With views like this, who can resist!

You don’t have men in suits cursing at you if you accidentally stood on the left instead of the right (OH MY GOD IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD) and everyone seems to walk at their own pace so that the heat doesn’t smudge their makeup. I’m all for leisurely strolling and zen like stances so this is a big plus in my book (except when you’re in a rush and are likely to knock down 25 petite women on your way). And while you get crushed in due to the morning rush, you are taller than most people and so can read your book at leisure.

YES, I CAN READ WHILE TRAVELLING. FWORD YEAH!

Doing the dance non-stop!
Doing the dance non-stop!

I cannot understate how amazing it is to be able to carry a book into an air-conditioned carriage and zone out for 20 minutes while you get pulled in to a spectacular story. In London, sight seeing (aka subtly watching Hot Dudes Reading on Trains) was my pastime. Here, the sights are so few (if you count out all the sexy legs strutting around) that you can actually get into reading. I have read more books in the two months I’ve been here than I have in the months coming up to my move!

The Inheritors, William Golding
Current BTS read

I am winning at life!

Okay, enough showing off. What have you been reading lately?

Also, if you have time, check out The Girl Who Wasn’t There and Other Poems on Amazon and give a shout out to my friend Kevin Morris from New Author Online.