There are things that scare me more than pregnancy, such as raising children or having a camera crew chase me around as I attempt to parent. But even after disasters such as lying face down on a golf course amidst a spectacular lightning storm (and I don’t even golf), pregnancy still ranks up there on my list of things-that-freak-me-out. It’s not so much the pregnancy itself, but my memory of being eight months pregnant with twins during the hottest season. In Thailand.
While Bangkok might be called the City of Angels, it sometimes feels more like the City of Smells. Waste disposal techniques include dumping sewage in the local canal so pedestrians (also known as targets) can smell it. Especially if you’re pregnant, the variety of stenches presents a multitude of problems, not the least of which is eating without upchucking. Imagine walking along Sukhumvit Road, one of Bangkok’s main arteries. The sidewalks themselves are an obstacle course. Not only does the congestion necessitate having to step over two-foot curbs, but also requires dodging vendors who are selling a range of goods, from pirated Shania Twain CDs and pineapple with chillies, to deep-fried bugs and sex.
(cc) Roger Price, used under a Share-Alike Creative Commons License
If the partially decomposed bat clinging to an overhead wire doesn’t make me puke my Green Curry, maybe it’s the stench of rotting garbage or the sight of a Chihuahua-sized rat. And if my lunch hasn’t climbed all the way up my esophagus yet, then it surely will after seeing a seventy-year-old Westerner lip-locked with a sixteen-year-old Thai from upcountry.
Indeed, as I continue my waddle up the street, ignoring tailors who salivate over how many yards of fabric it’d take to clothe me, I feel a slimy connection to those tourists.
(cc) baby-gaga.com, used under a Share-Alike Creative Commons License
Let’s face it, in Bangkok, pregnant women have a lot in common with tourists.
We both sweat a lot.
We’re both overweight.
We’re repulsed by Bangkok’s street smells.
We’re drawn to wearing ill-fitting clothes, perhaps to further tempt the tailors.
We trip on uneven sidewalks.
We long for a foot rub.
We’ll walk miles off course to search for a clean, Western-style toilet.
We look bad in a bathing suit.
We struggle to carry our extra baggage.
We realize the anticipation of an event is often better than the reality.
We both crave an ice cold beer.
And I didn’t even say anything about sex.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Bangkok, especially now that I no longer live there. Everything people say about Thai people is true. Heck, they’re even nicer than Canadians. And now that I’m back in Canada with -40 winters, Bangkok is smelling pretty good.