Last Days in Bangkok: A Farewell Symphony of Nostalgia, Reflection, and New Beginnings

Note sur la dernière semaine à Bangkok

Radtai Lokutarapol
7 min readFeb 10, 2024

In my waning days in Bangkok, enveloped in the resounding jazz at Foojohn Jazz Club, I revisited the familiar venue to relish the melodies and await the New Year’s countdown.

My choice to return was tinged with nostalgic sentiments. In 2022, I used to frequent the establishment almost weekly, yet life’s course led me away from the comfort of my abode. It wasn’t solely Foojohn Jazz Club that stirred yearning within me;

it was the allure of Charoen Krung, the timeless Charoen Krung Post Office edifice, the venerable residences along Charoen Krung Road from the era of the Rama 7th’s reign, the half-century-old rice vendor, and the Si Phraya Pier ferrying me across the Chao Phraya River to Icon Siam for my visits to the Apple Shop.

As I entered, the proprietors, Jerome’s girlfriend, and Jerome himself, promptly recognized me. “We’ve missed you,” they uttered. “I’ve missed this place too,” I replied. The ambiance remained unchanged, with the only discernible modification being Bee Knees, my favored cocktail, now available as a pre-made option, indicative of an augmented clientele. As the stroke of midnight approached, they escorted me to the rooftop, an unexplored realm for me.

Together, we beheld the spectacle of fireworks, a cascade of 50,000 sparks emanating from the Icon Siam emblem atop the rooftop.

On the ensuing night, I revisited Tep Bar. Although not previously a patron, I had performed as a traditional Thai vocalist there. My soul craved Thai melodies, a desire complicated by my relocation to Italy, diminishing encounters with live Thai music. The bar’s ambiance endured, with a subtle evolution — an expanded beverage selection and unfamiliar musicians gracing the stage.

I savored a Songkran cocktail, a herbal concoction, and swayed to familiar tunes, harmonizing with “Rabam Maengoo” — “Mae Oi, Maengoo, Tua Jaao Pai Suay Tai Nai Maa.” As the melody concluded, prior to my departure, a vocalist approached, querying, “Are you Brother Radtai?” “Indeed, did you study at Thep Sirin School?” I reminisced about my mentor, uncertain if they had ever been a disciple of my revered guide.

Journeying to the shrine housing my mentor’s ashes, I reached Wat Sam Phraya.

Acquiring exquisite jasmine garlands, I approached the shrine, placing a photograph of my mentor above it before bowing with reverence.

In hushed tones, I greeted, “Hello, Teacher. I’ve come for another visit. Today, I bid you farewell as I embark on a new chapter of life.” In contrast to my previous visit, I refrained from bidding adieu then, perceiving my mentor’s robust health. Little did I fathom that one of the most influential figures in my life would depart in February 2019.

The memory remained vivid, and my mentor’s guidance drew me back to partake in the teacher’s benevolent activities about a hundred days later.

“Every lesson you imparted, Teacher, your students recall with precision. Not a single detail has been forgotten. I adhere faithfully to your teachings,” I ruminated. “Teacher, you’ll forever occupy one of the most beautiful segments of my life.”

Enveloped in the warmth of my mentor’s spirit, I envisioned the compassionate gaze with which my mentor regarded me. Overcome, I couldn’t suppress my tears, reflecting on the profound gratitude of a devoted disciple.

Viva la Bangkok

In Yaowarat, there exists an eatery named “Nong New.” Following my return from England, someone commenced courting me, often leading me to relish

Hong Kong-style stir-fried noodles

with red broth tripe at this establishment.

The setting was unassuming, yet the distinctive use of mustard in the Hong Kong-style noodles and red broth tripe left a lasting impression. It beckoned me to indulge once more.

After a wait in line and the consummation of the meal, I strolled along Yaowarat Road, retracing my steps towards Charoen Krung Road, passing the Guan Im Shrine.

Though previously observed, this time, I sensed an invitation from Guan Im herself. “May you safeguard my loved ones while I pursue studies in Milan,” I murmured a prayer before departing. With the clock striking Nine, the shrine’s gates closed, marking me as the final visitor for the day.

I savored my preferred Vietnamese noodles at Khun Daeng

and explored Indian cuisine at an uncharted venue. I rendezvoused with a missed acquaintance, a cherished individual, and anticipated a meeting with someone previously unmet but ardently desired. I engaged in numerous activities, fulfilling longstanding desires such as karaoke with friends,

drinking at the Bamboo Bar,

dining at Esan’s Sanae Larb Goi,

partaking in a meal at Sanitphap Congee, undergoing Botox treatment,

and returning to my favored cycling class at the gym. These endeavors breathed life into my existence, etching indelible memories in the closing days of my sojourn in Bangkok.

In my concluding session with the therapist, we delved into the remorse I harbored for not pursuing various job opportunities, speculating that such pursuits might have bolstered my self-esteem. While acknowledging accomplishments over the past year, I also conceded to feelings of inadequacy across diverse realms. However, the outcome of pursuing those opportunities remains uncertain. Today, I’ve arrived at the realization that the perception of inherent inadequacy and a penchant for failure is fallacious. I am an independent, intrepid, and resilient individual, managing challenges beyond the purview of many peers at this juncture of adulthood. I take pride in myself, genuinely valuing my strengths and achievements.

Le dernier jour à Bangkok à la Thatien

Three years ago, I made the pivotal decision to return to Bangkok. The struggle lay in determining the path forward. Initially contemplating a short-term stay of perhaps six months or a year to recuperate from setbacks in London, reality proved more complex. I ventured down divergent avenues, posing questions and pursuing answers. Through this odyssey, I discovered the allure of Bangkok, a city dear to my heart, where I possess one of its most cherished inheritances. Fresh from a 14-day quarantine in Pattaya,

my companion guided me straight to Tar-Tian for a repast and a leisurely stroll. It struck me then; this city, my birthplace, exudes a charm I only truly grasped with an open mind.

Thus, my intent was to immerse myself once more in the essence of Tar-tian before bidding adieu.

I have bid farewell to the person I love, packed my bags, and prepared to embark on a journey. As they have disappeared from my life,

I turn my face towards the direction leading to the gate at the airport, ready to board the plane. The emotions have been overwhelming over these three years, from the day I returned until now. Despite all the hindrances, I’m here, finally determined to go. And I might never come back.

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Radtai Lokutarapol

Radtai studied acting and screenwriting in UK, having worked in sales, marketing, and UX. His practice is to write creative non-fiction.