Matilda closed her eyes and felt the sounds around her. They washed over her in a way noise never had before. Amplifying everything was the humidity. As the sweat blistered on her skin, it was as if she could feel the vibrations itch their way into her skin.
The journey from the airport to the hostel had been a cocoon of air-conditioning and windows. Now, standing on the street, all the sights came alive. There were smells of people, of petrol fumes and incredibly intricate aromas of food.
These were her first moments in Bangkok, and she wanted to make the memory last. This was the time of her life of taking risks and reaping the rewards.
She was not going to end up like her parents tethered to a caravan, their yardstick of adventure.
She opened her eyes. Young westerners like her walked the streets as if they owned the world. She wanted to have that level of confidence.
The large boulevard was packed with cars, busses and tuktuks. There was a rhythm to the movement that she wasn't yet able to read.
It was beyond midnight and the world showed no sign of spinning itself to sleep. But she was now feeling the effects of a long day's travel.
A street vendor smiled at Matilda. Her little cart was lit by three small lightbulbs and skewers of meat lay warming on the grill.
Matilda pointed to the white meat, and a quick exchange happened. She had no idea as to the value of the money she handed over, and didn't care. It was all part of the experience.
She stood back and inhaled the spices sprinkled over the charred chicken. The meat, initially, was tender.
Matilda came to with a cluster of people around her. Someone was tipping water into her mouth, and she felt the water dribble down her chin. The woman who had sold her the meat was telling those around what had happened. Her words were quick and it reminded Matilda of the chickens when it was time to feed them.
A young woman, dressed as if she worked in an office, translated. The woman had warned her not to eat the hot one. But she, you, insisted. And then you fainted.
Matilda's breath came back to her, so that it was no longer the shallow panting that had sent her to the ground. She didn't remember insisting.
Between her entourage's feet, she could see the squished skewer on the pavement.