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I was in a haze similar to the valium-induced sleeps I had been lucky enough to have on transpacific flights. Unsure if I was going to the right hospital, I put my last drops of faith in the taxi driver, took in the view of the human traffic and sunk my skin on to the leather seat. I managed to find my way to the office and greeted the attractive ladyboy who I had swapped emails with over the course of the year. I wasn’t due to start for a couple of days which would give me enough time to settle and navigate. The fattest cockroach I had ever seen slowly scuttled across the stairs and my guide was giving me a brief intro to the student dorms. Her words made no difference, I couldn’t focus. My room was on the ground floor: the corridor encompassed sage green doors and there was a large, blunt piece of metal which I stubbed my toe on (and continue to do over the coming weeks)

K explained that J, my German roommate had been at the hospital for a couple of weeks. She was sick the day I arrived. K left us to it and it took me about 5 minutes to unpack my belongings. After a month of backpacking, I was quietly relieved to have a place to store my things. J’s face was lightly damp with sweat, causing her fine blonde hair to stick together in clumps and she ran to the toilet to vomit several times while we were chatting. She wanted to do some sightseeing with me and our timetables matched for the first week. My phone kept going off. B and I were exchanging frantic, angry texts and the idea that this could potentially be going on for weeks made me feel as sick as J.

I went and sat in the court-yard and rang B. It had rained an hour before, so I took my flip-flop off and made circles in a puddle with my big toe. I didn’t care about the large group of Thai students who could probably see me crying down the phone like the pathetic farang I was. The laundry area smelled like sewage and a small cat was touching a frog with its paw.

This was home for 2 months. On the last leg of my trip, I had never felt further away from home and I couldn’t see myself broadening my horizons beyond the 7/11 on the corner. I fell asleep at 1800 hours.

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