Pamela MacNaughtan

Although I’ve shared this story briefly with some friends and travelers, I have never written about it on here (I don’t think I have, sure can’t find it…). At the time I thought that if I told the story (the whole story) I would be crucified for it. Okay, maybe not crucified, but definitely mildly shamed for it. So I more or less kept it to myself. Now that I’ve sat down to put a finger to keyboard I realize how ridiculous I was being. In fact, this may be a bigger intro than this story actually needs! Oh well, may as well go for the gusto and spin my tale.

I spent two weeks in Mongolia pretending to be the tough Canadian girl who could handle the freezing cold better than anyone. Including Mongolians. I walked around in yoga pants, a thin jacket (I was late arriving, I didn’t expect the -20c weather) and my Ugg boots (Yes I am finally admitting to packing my Ugg boots and bringing them with me. You may commence persecution in the comment section below). Although I was sick with a wee cold for a few days at the beginning, my health started to come around and I decided to participate in a 3-day tour. That is when I really started to love Mongolia. When it was time for me to board the Trans-Mongolian back to China I was sad & vowed to return. In summer.

When I arrived in Beijing the air was thick with dust and pollution. My first day back in China was great. I had met some cool Canadian guys in Ulaanbaatar and after dropping my bags at the hostel we went out for possibly the best fresh noodles I have ever had. At the time I was excited to get onto another train and travel to the far Northwest corner of China. The next day however, changed everything.

I woke up feeling groggy. My throat was a little sore and I had a small cough. By afternoon, I had a full blown head cold. My body ached and every time I coughed it felt as though something was rubbing my lungs raw. My head felt like it was too heavy for the rest of my body and I laid in bed for an entire day, wishing I could stay there forever. After about 2 days I made the decision to skip China and return to Thailand. The air quality was not helping my health and I was craving something comfortable and familiar.

As I made my way to the Beijing International Airport I tried to surpress my cough and prayed that I didn’t look as sick as I felt. I was nervous about them not letting me on board and I really wanted to get back to Thailand. The flight was a nightmare. The cabin pressure did nothing for my head. I felt like death. As soon as I would start to feel a little comfortable, I would have to get up to pee, and as soon as I went to sit back down, my symptoms flared and I felt like death again. It was the longest 4 hr flight of my life.

When I landed in Bangkok, I relished in the heat. It was late in the evening and I was catching another flight up to Chiang Mai in the morning. I had 8 hrs to kill at the airport. I was tired. I was hungry. I was craving something spicy and I knew exactly what I wanted.

I grabbed my backpack and made my way outside to find a taxi. It took me a few minutes to find a driver willing to drive me to Nana and back using the meter. As soon as he understood what I wanted, I threw my things inside his taxi and off we went. The heat inside the taxi was intense, but I didn’t care. It was a lot better then the chilly air in China and Mongolia.

I love driving in Bangkok late at night. The traffic is minimal and getting around seems to be a lot easier. The more we drove, the hungrier I got. I wanted hot, spicy shwarma and I knew exactly where I wanted to go to buy it. Nana. Home of amazing Arabic food and oddly enough, hookers. Lots of hookers.

My driver took the toll road (something I shouldn’t have done) and into the heart of Bangkok. As he approach Little Arabic I asked him to slow down while I looked out the window for my shwarma guy. Yes, I had a specific guy that I bought from. As we reached his cart, I asked my driver to stop and wait for me. Without thinking, I left everything I owned inside the taxi and walked up to the shwarma cart. He remembered me. It had been over a month, but he remembered me. Yep, I was feeling warm and fuzzy and happy as hell to be back in Thailand.

I stood on the sidewalk and bought some fresh pineapple while I waited for my very spicy chicken shwarma to be prepared. I chatted with the girls working the grill and cash and secretly wished I could stick around longer. As my chicken shwarma was wrapped and bagged my mouth was watering. I had been thinking about shwarma since Beijing. I was so hungry. I paid him 150B and walked back to where I left my taxi driver. He was still there.

I climbed into the taxi and told him we were good to go. With that he started the taxi and we headed back to the airport. As I sat there the smell of shwarma filled the cab and my mouth watered even more. I resisted the urge to eat and decided to wait until I returned to the airport.

When we finally arrived back at the airport, 2 hours later, I didn’t hesitate to pay the 500B taxi fare. Sure, it was a lot of baht for chicken shwarma. But damn, it was the best shwarma I had ever eaten. PLUS within a few hours, my head started to clear and I felt less like death.

Oddly enough if given the chance, I would do it all over again. In fact, when I flew back to Canada for Christmas, I spied a shwarma place while in a shopping mall with my parents in Calgary. I squealed with excited and almost ran over people to buy some. Sadly enough, it wasn’t as good as the shwarma I buy in Bangkok.

How long do you think it’ll be before I make my way to Nana after I arrive in Bangkok on Oct 17th? My flight lands at 1:15 p.m.


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