Bangkok: Armadillo Pot Noodle

It’s been a bit… Well… Interesting here in Bangkok over the past couple of months…

I mean, well, It’s ALWAYS interesting here… But over the past few months, it’s been REALLY interesting…

Did I write in previous blogs that it seems pretty much crime-free here? Well, everywhere has crime, but from where I live, we just don’t see it… Well, unless you count the time someone stole my phone… But yeah, I believe I have stated in previous blogs that Bangkok is safe… Well folks, that sort of changed… We’ve had some pretty high profile crimes taking place… In January we had a man walking into a mall, shooting people and stealing jewellery… And in the past week, we had a soldier going a bit mad, and killing about 20 people… We were nowhere near these incidents, but still… It was all a little too close to home… And then we have Coronavirus… I mean we don’t actually HAVE the virus (well, I don’t think so) but in general, we as a people are all sort of dealing with it in some fashion… Bangkok is quieter than usual, we have less Chinese people here than we would normally have, every mall has people offering to spray antibacterial gel onto your hands as you enter, lots of people (more than usual) are wearing facemasks, all because someone decided (or so I’m told) to eat bat soup… BAT SOUP. Who in their right minds wants a bowl of bat soup? Who looked at a bat one day and thought “Fuck me, I bet that would be nice to dip my bread into!” Bat soup… What’s next? Armadillo pot noodle?

So yeah, Coronavirus hangs over us, just like swine flu, bird flu, Ebola and mad cow disease did back in the day… Another in a long line of illnesses that will scare us into better hygiene for a while before disappearing into the void… Forgotten, ignored until the next big world killer comes along.

Well, that was cheerful, wasn’t it?

Actually this whole blog has been pretty much doom and gloom from the start… I blame bat soup.

Bat soup… Jesus.

A friend of ours from England came to visit this week, Jo was off work due to her having surgery on her back so we went off to the airport to meet her (as any decent host would) the airport seemed a lot quieter than usual (maybe the bat soup flavoured cloud does have a silver lining) Jo was wearing a back brace ( a delightfully hideous pink coloured thing which she hates) this brace which she wore over her clothes would hopefully make people more aware of her, less likely to bump into her… The doctors have said that walking is fine, in fact, walking will do her good… But, being bumped, stumbling or falling could be really bad… This, of course, has made me quite paranoid, everywhere we walk I’m on constant alert, pointing out every step, every uneven surface… I honestly fear that Jo will get so annoyed with my fussing that she may resort to violence.

Anyway… Where was I?… Oh yeah, our friend… Carol arrived from England (bringing tea bags, Cadburys creme eggs and Marmite flavoured peanut butter for us… Well, the peanut butter is for Jo… I think personally I would rather eat bat soup) Carol had a few things on her “to do” list, visit the temples, go to the markets etc So as any good host would, we were tour guides for the duration of our friends visit, the first place to visit for anyone coming to Bangkok is, of course, the temples, you can’t come here and NOT visit the temples… Well, you could… But when you got back home people would ask “did you see the temples?” and you’d say “no”… “Oh, just went for the ping pong shows then?”

The temples are a must-see here in Bangkok, Me and Jo have been to the temples lots of times, with Jo not being fully fit we sat down while Carol wandered around at her leisure… The sun was shining, the temples were not as busy as usual (Bat soup) but still, it was a good opportunity to get some people watching done… There was an Asian family (well, I presume they were a family) four or five young people and an older lady, all wearing matching “Thailand” T-shirts… They took turns posing for photographs, lots of smiles, lots of posing with two-finger peace signs on display, lots of memories being made… As they finished with their photograph posing I noticed a woman posing for photographs on the stairs of the temple, she was flicking her hair back and forth as her friend took multiple pictures, trying to get the perfect shot… After a while she finished with the hair flicking and then proceeded to try some more provocative poses, pouting at the camera, posing like she’d read a book called “How to pose like a stripper in a 1980s rock video”… Once she’d finished posing her friend took her turn to pose… The same routine, just with bright yellow zebra print leggings.

I enjoyed my time at the temple, I didn’t seem to get so annoyed with the selfie-takers this time around… Maybe I’m softening, maybe I’m coming to terms with the fact that the selfie generation is here to stay… Or maybe I just don’t mind softcore porn posing and yellow zebra print leggings?

After seeing the temples we headed toward the Grand Palace… I’ve lived in Bangkok for over a year now and I’d never seen the Grand Palace before… Well, it is in fact a palace and well… It is in fact quite grand… I found myself wondering if there is a point during the palace building process when someone in charge thinks “Y’know… This palace is just about grand enough”… Has any king or queen ever looked at their palace and thought “Shit… This place is just too grand!”

There is a mural at the palace, it shows the story of Ramakien, Thai’s version of the Ramayana. The story of the Ramakien is the battle between the King of the Demons, Tosakanth, and King Rama (king of humans). … King Rama was able to defeat Tosakanth and was able to take back his Queen, Sida.

(Yes I copied and pasted that bit)

The mural is impressive, but being as I didn’t actually know the story I decided to interpret the story in my own style (or lack of… style as it were) the artwork was impressive, I did note that the artist wasn’t actually very good at painting feet… He (or she) however was very good at painting female breasts… Yes, this journey into the art world descended into me going on a boob hunt.

After seeing the palace we headed to the temple of the reclining Budha, The lack of Chinese visitors made the visit to the reclining Budha much more enjoyable, there were no crowds, no pushing and shoving, just the opportunity to actually see the Budha in a relaxed atmosphere…

To end our day Jo decided we would eat at a restaurant that had a view of the sunset over the Wat Arun, she called the restaurant but sadly they only had seating inside so we resigned ourselves to missing the spectacle of the sun setting over this beautiful temple.

We arrived at the restaurant and were seated indoors. Jo ordered drinks in a mixture of English and Thai, I may have said this before, customer service here in Thailand is generally excellent… However, if you use a few words of Thai (even if you pronounce those words wrong) the Thais really appreciate it and you will find that customer service in a lot of cases gets a whole lot better, this I feel, was the case in this particular restaurant… The waiter took our drink order and wandered off, within a few minutes he returned and spoke to Jo in Thai… Jo explained she only spoke a little Thai “Puhd Thai Nik Noi” the waiter then spoke in a mixture of Thai and broken English explaining that we could actually have a seat upstairs on the terrace and see the sun set.

The table we were seated at was the best table in the restaurant, the view was simply stunning, as was the food, we ate delicious food watching the sun set over the beautiful temples of the Wat Arun… A perfect end to a lovely day.

We spent Friday night at a food and bar complex called “The commons” I’ve been here before, in fact it was here that I first met the people that are our closest friends here in Bangkok, it’s amazing that the first time I visited this place and met these people, I sat quietly in the corner, hiding away… Now look at me… I actually have friends!

With Jo needing to rest I spent a few hours on Saturday morning walking around Chatuchak Weekend Market with Carol, the weather was hot, the market was not as busy as usual (Again.. Bat soup)… It was however nice to spend a few hours walking without worrying about Jo… Among Carols items on her Bangkok wishlist was a ride on a tuk tuk… I love tuk tuks so we rode back to the apartment using my favourite form of transport here in Bangkok… Judging by the amount of laughing she did I’m guessing Carol is a fan too.

We spent Saturday night at the railway night market, again, With the lack of Chinese tourists and the fact it was Makha Bucha day with the bars not serving alcohol the market was really quiet, however, we still enjoyed looking at the stalls… Again I spent the night worrying about Jo being bumped or falling over… I honestly do think this will result in Jo punching me for worrying too much.

Time flies when you’re having fun, as they say… And before long Carol was heading off to the airport to fly back to England, Jo had an appointment at the hospital so we were unable to travel to the airport with her, she got back to England safe and sound tho…

Jo was initially told by her doctor that she had to take a month off work, this of course did not sit well with Jo so as soon as Carol flew back to England Jo decided to ease herself back into work by going for a couple of hours, while Jo went to work I went back to my routine of going to the gym… With Jo being out of action and then with Carol's visit I’d not been to the gym properly in a couple of weeks, So I took Jo to work then headed back to the gym… It’s amazing how a couple of weeks can ruin your fitness levels… That first visit to the gym left me feeling like someone had beaten me up, I was weaker than before, less fit than before… I was a mess… I AM a mess… Slightly less of a mess than I was… But still a mess.

Wednesday left me feeling broken, Thursday left me feeling even more broken… Friday left me so broken I actually limped out of the gym.

Thank God for the weekend!

We spent the weekend drinking.

It’s not our fault… We’re easily lead!

W District is an open-air food and bar area, all manner of food stalls serving delicious food and bars serving… Well, booze.

There is a certain joy to drinking rum out of a bucket… It does, however, lead to a cracker of a hangover the following day.

Not learning from our previous adventures we went out drinking again on Saturday, again with our friends Christo and Nicola, we visited another open-air bar area called “Art Box” we drank, we chatted, we listened to live music… We ended up having a go at axe throwing… It turns out throwing an axe at a target isn’t as easy as it looks, maybe with a bit more practice… Yeah… I think I should throw axes at targets more often.

It also transpires that I’m not very good at throwing shurikens either (Ninja stars)… Maybe I’m just not destined to be a stealthy assassin.

Our night of drinking ended with us playing darts in a bar called “Henrys”… I had originally suggested we have a drink at the bar next door to Henrys, a bar called “The shag bar2” … The lack of clothing being worn by the girls outside the bar made us ditch the idea and go to Henrys instead… I did wonder if there was a “shag bar 1” tho… And was “The shag bar 1” so good it warranted a sequel… HMMmmm…. Ah well, where was I… Oh yeah… Playing darts… Well… Throwing darts at a board hoping they would hit the desired spot… You’d think that failing at throwing axes and ninja stars i’d have learned my lesson wouldn’t you… Amazingly, be it skill or just blind luck me and Jo managed to win at darts… It was luck wasn’t it?

Good old luck.

Where would we be without it?

Where would I be without it?

Still living in England? Still working myself to death in a factory?

Good old luck.

Ah well, until next time…

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Ade Cox

A working-class man from The Black Country, plucked from the factory and now living the best life in Bangkok