Now, I don't know how many of you reading this will have been chased in a tuk-tuk through the murky streets of night time Bangkok by a deranged dressmaker yelling your name? I guess it's not high on most people's holiday to do lists and I've not seen it recommended in Lonely Planet. One minute you are sipping gin and tonic while getting ready for a nice dinner out on the town and the next you are being confronted by an angry man leaping from the shadows in a scene reminiscent of one of the Hangover movies.
The situation was made marginally better and almost comical by the evasive driving skills displayed by the tuk-tuk driver who really embraced the moment by throwing on his flashing lights and boom box disco music whilst laughing manically and shouting "Disco yeah?". The fact that we were being pursued on foot by the aforementioned angry man seemed not to be out of the ordinary to the driver and at one point as we joined the main Sukumvit motorway he seemed to know that the man would probably give up the chase and go have a beer somewhere. I never dreamed that careering onto a motorway in what can only be described as a pram body attached to a tricycle would be the better of two options. As juggernauts roared past with their engines drowning out Sylvester's "You make me feel mighty real" I sat back with the youngest daughter (yes she does coincidentally or not figure heavily in my adventures). We clung on to the sides as the driver brazenly weaved in and out of the night time traffic, smoking his cigarette whilst asking us for any music requests. We could barely breathe and I will admit that fear crept in to my voice as I called out our chosen playlist. This scenario was possibly the most white knuckle holiday experience I had endured, although being ambushed in Lima by masked bandits brandishing machetes wasn't special. More about that maybe in another blog.
What led to this bizarre encounter was an ill judged attempt to get a beautiful wedding dress handmade in Thailand. I had spent months emailing my chosen dressmaker and passed across a lot of money, safe in the knowledge that my dress was being stitched with loving care. The WhatsApp pictures that were being sent to me were reassuring and I felt I was as good as there as I watched the dream unfold on my iPhone screen.
Standing in your undies wrapped in a curtain in a back street tailors shop in Bangkok waiting expectantly for the big dress reveal is a little unnerving to say the least. However I had checked in to the recommended hotel and been thrilled when the limousine appeared outside the foyer to whisk me off for the fitting. My daughters unfortunate and ill timed bout of tummy upset wasn't going to dampen my enthusiasm and she clambered into the car beside me looking unwell but valiantly saying she didn't want me to go to my dress fitting alone.
When we arrived at the shop I now think that I started to have a few doubts creep in. There was no sign of anything remotely wedding related, no lace, silk or crepe. The dusty window display featured stacks of brown and beige work tabards and tea towels and as we ventured inside I noticed two swarthy characters wearing very shiny suits. They didn't greet us but carried on talking to each other as they looked us up and down. I told myself that this was obviously the way they did things here and that soon I would be presented with my lovely wedding dress.
The men carried on talking to each other until the phone rang and they were seemingly taking instruction from their boss. They gestured to me and my daughter to wait for a minute as they summoned a woman from a back room to help dress me. My daughters tummy was not co operating with the rest of her body and she murmured "toilet" at which one of the men thrust a huge ornamental tissue box at her and pointed to what looked like a wardrobe door. As soon as she disappeared the men disappeared too and the woman moved forward towards a curtained off corner of the shop.
The woman reached up and swung back the curtain to reveal Cinderella's ugly sister's pantomime dress dangling aloft on a wire hanger. I gasped in disbelief and the woman took this to be a sign of approval. She whipped the thing from its hanger and as quick as a flash pulled it over my head. All I needed was a powdered wig and full stage paint and I would have been ready for curtain up.
I was still speechless as my daughter re emerged from behind the wardrobe door and said "God Mum that's awful, do you like it? How much was that? Did you actually choose that?" I finally found my voice and told the woman that it was not my dress. She then rummaged into a crumpled carrier bag and produced scraps of nylon lace the like of which you would normally see adorning a flannelette nightdress. She pinned these randomly on my sleeves and gave a satisfied grin saying something like "nice, better".
I was practically hyperventilating at this point and my daughter was clutching her sides either with laughter or colic or maybe both. I actually thought I would faint and all I could do was to practice my natural remedy for anxiety. I needed to breathe slowly and deeply which is a natural remedy for anxiety to try and regain balance and control. I pulled the offending item from me and pushed it to the woman who looked crestfallen. The men quickly entered the room as I came out from behind the curtain and tried to persuade me that they could put together a good dress, a nice dress by the next day.
Needless to say I declined their offer and made for the door as I was calling my bank to cancel further payment and claim back the many dollars I had already paid. As we slipped into our taxi, my daughter quietly said "Perhaps you should have stuck to Debenhams?". Later that night after the ensuing foot pursuit we decided to leave Bangkok for a more peaceful place. The next day we went to stay in a retreat in Chang Mai so that we could spend time bathing and feeding rescued elephants. This was such a wonderful natural remedy for anxiety that we left behind the worry and the headache that we had endured. We learned to breathe properly and totally relax as we spent time with these majestic beasts. Breathing properly is a proven safe natural remedy for anxiety which you can practice as and when you wish without any side effects at all. The more you do it the more effective it becomes.
Now I may not be able to give you elephants or a Thai retreat but I can give you a natural remedy for anxiety with all the resources you need to learn to breathe therapeutically and to totally relax.