Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Get Thai'd! You're talking to a tourist...

The plane door was opened and with one final nameste I left Nepal behind and sucked in the warm, heavy scent filled languid air of Thailand. Knowing that this joyous experience wouldn’t last long I breathed in deep and hard. By the time I was outside the airport and filtering the air via a Marlboro it was gone.

The taxi to the hostel was a strange affair. After 252 days I couldn’t see a single snow capped mountain peak. Also travelling on a road with 4 lanes of traffic just felt weird

I’m staying at the Urban Age Hostel just off Silom Street. My room isn’t ensuite and it has no window. It does however have a great bed, aircon that really works, free wifi and as I found out when I walked 50m from the front door a pub called the Duke of Wellington nearby!

Inside the Duke of Wellington

“The Good”

As the heavy wooden door gently closed behind me trapping the icy air from the heat outside I stared. First at the several TV’s showing football, then at the ideally positioned pool table and then lastly at the bar. I walked, softly with slight hesitation towards it. Arriving at the bar I pulled out a stool, sat down and looked at the labels on the pumps. The barman asked a question and I answered. Moments later a superbly poured half litre of Heineken was in front of me. The outside of the glass was covered in condensation; the froth of the head was teasing me to take a sip. I paused the glass millimetres from my aching lips for a moment, enjoying the pleasure of the drink not yet drunk. Then I quaffed.

After 11 months I finally had a beer that was:

a) Ice cold
b) Not polluted with glycerol

You have no idea what that was like!!!!!

I put the glass down looking with wonder at where my fingertips had momentarily warmed the glass and dispelled the condensation, caught up in the rapture that my taste buds were experiencing
You know what; the second beer was just as good!

By now it was nearing 7pm and I went for a walk to find some food.

“The Bad”

I was walking along Silom Street and it was full of street vendors selling all manner of hot and tasty local food when I came across a KFC. I walked past it but only just! However, when shortly after that I came across a Burger King, the lure of a bacon double cheese burger was beyond my ability to say no!!!

Damn….it tasted good

“The Ugly”

My hostel is right next door to patong, the red light district (which shows lack o f judgement on my part when I booked the hostel) and with the exception of me there are a lot of old, fat and bald western men walking around looking for what….a happy ending of course!
Walking down the side streets looking at the girls outside the numerous “massage parlours” with a worn out but fixed smile on their faces made me wonder…

Now personally if a woman wants to earn a living on her back with her legs in the air, then that is fine with me. However I’ve never heard a little girl answer the question “what to you want to be when you grow up” with the answer “a sex worker”.

The next day I went shopping….I HATE SHOPPING!!!!!!!

Being sad, working class and English I ended up at Tesco (my mum thinks she‘s posh because she shops at Waitrose). Why? I had a dream….of a cheese counter going onto into infinity. What I got was 2 foot of chillier space with a choice of cheddar, Edam or Gouda all pre packed age lumps from that well known cheese producing country of New Zealand. I walked away empty handed with my head hanging low.

That night I was bimbling when the heavens opened (yep its monsoon time again) so I took shelter in a nearby bar. It was 30m wide and 4m deep and all the tables faced the pavement. I liked it! After the rain had stopped I went mmm… As the Duke of Wellington was now my local I went down the side streets along outdoor markets and pass the many and varied “dance bars”. Despite the requests and offers I passed on by. I mean you wouldn’t take a staving child to a sweet shop and tell him he can look at the sweets but he can’t taste any of them. That would be cruel!

Freudian slip number one: err….see above

The next day found me awake, slightly hung over and confused. The watch said 08:21 but for some reason I just couldn’t believe it. Not having a window can be a drawback after all. After a shower and my usual breakfast it was on board the sky train (in my head I call it the skylark…remember that TV show?) for the quick trip to the end of the line and the central pier. The lass at the hostel told me not to go on the tourist boat but to get on a local boat instead as it would be 130 baht cheaper. Seeing a boat pointing in the right direction, full of local people I jumped on board. The boat left the pier and headed out into the middle of the river. It continued heading to port till it reached the other side and parked at the pier directly opposite the pier it had just left. Then everyone got of…

Walking is much more fun!!!

A few warm hours later I was at the place where all the temples and the odd palace were. My first thought was N.A.F.T but I forced myself to at least see one. So one large lazy golden Buddha later I felt satisfied and moved on pass the royal palace and into one of the 1000’s of 7 till 11’s (open 24 hours a day) that litter this city for a cold drink. Outside a man was very keen to show me a 50m statue of Buddha that amazingly was not only nearby but by good chance was only open day, for free (scam anyone?). I pointed out that I had seen a bigger one in India so I couldn’t be arsed to see this one. The look of complete disbelief that crossed his face was like a dark storm cloud ruining a sunny day.

Later heading towards the train station, I was sitting down outside a closed shop on a semi deserted street smoking a fag, when a middle aged lady sat next to me. She told me that she worked across the street, pointing out a dilapidated apartment block, as she spoke. If I liked she had a young and good looking girl from Nepal that I could “have” if I wanted to. Several thousand Nepali girls are sex trafficked every year and not all of them end up in an Indian brothel. This one didn’t look set up to cater to an exclusive cliental which made me wonder what would happen to her when she was all “used up” and no longer making her madam money.

In the evening it was time for a long overdue manicure. First I had an hour’s foot massage, which completely chilled and relaxed me out. The young lass doing the manicure asked me how long I wanted my nails to be. I guess that Thai and English people have a different idea of what “short” is. The last time my nails were this short was one minute before I finally decided to stop biting them

Thailand have very kindly decided to throw a big party on my birthday, or as they call it New Year. It’s a 4 day affair that starts in two days (the 12th). This is also the day I leave Bangkok if I can get a train ticket. I could tell you the 1st half of this story but I really can’t face reliving it just yet.

I’m sitting in the pub (no real surprise there) trying to open a packet of fags. Without nails it truly is bloody difficulty.

One more thing: after two days I still think that being able to turn on a light bulb 24 hours a day is a miracle worthy of worshipping a new god

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