Bangkok: Fairplay Ariana
This one’s an odd one… Or at least I think it’s going to be an odd one… Sometimes I find myself just sitting down with my laptop, and words just seem to flow… I get caught in a wave of thoughts, feelings, whatever and I just type… I tap away at the keys on this battered and soon to be replaced Laptop (you’ve served me well old friend)… And a few words, thoughts become a paragraph, a window into my thoughts, my life… And that one paragraph becomes two and so on… Other times, it’s different… Sometimes I have no flow at all… Sometimes I sit for what seems like an age, knowing that I WANT to write something, just unable to find the right words… Sometimes i’ll be typing away for an hour, then look at what i’ve actually written, only to decide it’s rubbish and delete all of it… Yes, I need these blogs to be truthful, and yes they are… But I also need it to be entertaining…. How can I expect people to read these things when even i’m not entertained by it? … And yes, there is that part of me that needs people to read these things… Yes, dear friends… I’ve got an ego.
I also seem to have lost my train of thought… Where was I?… Oh yeah… It’s going to be an odd one.
So yeah, sometimes I sit down and bash away at the keyboard… Other times I have an idea for a blog in my head, an idea that sits there for a while, I can be walking Jo to work and suddenly another part of “that” blog finds it’s way into my head… Obviously I can’t just stop walking, whip out the laptop and start to type... So the thought gets put onto that massive bookshelf in my head, I mentally put a post-it note on it and I continue with my day… Sometimes throughout a few days various other thoughts come to mind and they too get put on the shelf… This particular blog (yes, I will finally get round to my point) has had various ideas, post-it notes piling up on my shelf for a while… And now i’m here… Typing… Mentally reaching onto that shelf… Ready (I think) to put those thoughts into a blog…
[Squeel of brakes]
I find myself feeling the need to explain more about my internal bookshelf… I’d like to think that sometimes (not every time obviously, it’s a blog not an appointment with a psychiatrist) these blogs (I just realised I hate the word blog) give an insight into me... What makes me tic…
So yeah, the bookshelf… It’s not really a bookshelf… If I try to visualise it, it looks more like the library in the opening scene from Ghostbusters… Lots of shelves… Lot’s of books.
Those books are memories… Some good… Some bad… Some books are snippets of conversations that for some reason my mind decided to store word for word on a shelf… Some books open up to play like videotapes, replaying out a point in my life randomly… Ever been out shopping for groceries when suddenly, for no reason whatsoever, a full video replay of the death of a much-loved pet plays out in glorious technicolour? Well, I have.. and yes, it sucks. it stops you dead in your tracks, you know you have to function but you’ve got to let the scene play out, I can’t pause the tape, I can’t press eject… It has to play out to it’s conclusion… Wherever I am, whatever i’m doing… Wait for the tape to finish, compose myself and carry on…
In many ways the shelf is an awful lot like that scene from Ghostbusters… So many books… And one scary ghost who can’t wait to make you scream.
Time to climb off the Dr's couch... Let’s get on with the blog, shall we?
Living in Bangkok, well… Living in any city really… You’ll encounter lots of people from lots of different countries… All pushed together in an enclosed space… We all have our way of doing things, we all have our own cultural differences… So even tho we try our best to get along… Those differences can grate on a person… That person being me.
Rudeness is something I struggle with… I was raised to be polite… To always say “please” and “thank you”… To hold the door open for someone… To wait my turn…Those rules don’t apply to everyone.
Why is it that some people will see a queue and think “fuck it”? Yes, I understand that not every culture has the whole queuing thing beaten into them like us Brits do... But bloody hell mate... Can’t you see that line of people waiting for the same thing you want? What part of your brain makes it feel acceptable to just go walking past them and push in… Rude!
When I walk down the street and I see a person moving in my direction I always make way, I let people pass If the course that I am on is going to make me have direct contact with another person I change my course… I avoid collision… Here in Bangkok, this is an alien notion… Men, women, children here have no concept of changing course… I’m tired of having to reroute every bloody journey because some person has decided to walk in a straight line, a straight line that is heading right for me… I tell myself next time i’ll not move, i’m bigger than they are, why should I make way…. But every time I end up moving… I end up getting out if their way… Dear Ade, be less British will you!
Me and Jo went to Phuket for the weekend, a weekend of relaxation and maybe a bit of drinking… We’ve been to Phuket before, but last time we went to a very quiet island resort… This time we’re off to one of Phuket's more lively resorts… We’re off to Patong.
The short flight to Phuket was nice, Jo seems to have her fear of flying back under control, I was really proud of her as we landed in Phuket… Not so proud of the loud, obnoxious English man who was also on the plane with us…
It was as if every cliche about English people abroad had been rolled up like clay and moulded into this annoying individual. He looked to be in his fifties, not a small man, by no means a muscle man either… One of those people I put in the “Fuscly” category (You’re fat but you think you’re muscly mate).. He’s southern… And likes people to know it… He’s with his peroxide blonde (and so it would seem, addicted to the sunbed) wife and two kids… Teenagers, one boy, one girl… The plane lands at Phuket airport, the seatbelt sign goes off and immediately he stands, he gets in the aisle and shouts over to his wife (who i’m guessing had sat away from him?) “Head ’em off at the pass love!” before blocking the aisle as he struggles to get his case out of the overhead locker… He gets his case and starts making odd hand gestures to his wife… As if he’s making some strange plan which will enable them to get off the plane quicker... Nobody is moving... The doors aren’t even open yet, but still, he gestures… She gestures back... He winks at her… Does anybody actually wink any more these days? Eventually the doors open and we leave the plane… Outside the airport, we wait for our transport to arrive... Jo is very good at organising stuff like this.. if it was left to me we’d never get to our hotel… Mr Fuscly is walking around like he owns the place… He approaches various hotel reps outside the airport, he seems unsure of where he should actually be... His kids look a bit embarrassed by him… He stands close to the rep that Jo had spoken to earlier… I’m hit with a feeling of dread… I hope he’s not coming to our hotel… Thankfully, our driver arrived, we drove away leaving “Fuscly” outside the airport….Thank god.
Our hotel is lovely... The staff are friendly, our room is huge… And we have our own pool… Which for me is brilliant, body confidence makes me hate swimming in the public pool... But here I can swim (sort of, it’s a very small pool) and play in the water as much as I want… Awesome. We have lunch at the hotel restaurant and chat for a while with the waiter there, we chat in English and Thai, again I have to say the Thai people love it when you at least try to speak Thai, customer service here is good… But if you speak a little Thai? It gets a whole lot better.
Here’s where I get back to something I mentioned earlier… Manners… Rudeness…
There is a certain nationality… A certain type of people…Maybe not the people… A culture perhaps? I’ll not say what the nationality is (Afterall I don’t want to be labelled racist)… But here in Thailand, it’s widely known that they (THAT nationality) are not welcomed with open arms, they have, over the many years of visiting Thailand, given themselves a bad reputation… And frankly after some of the things I saw this weekend (and after seeing them at various times and places during my time here in Thailand) deserve it.
Again, i’ll not say what the nationality is… I’ll also say again that i’m not racist… As in “i’m not racist”... Not like when someone says “i’m not rascist..but” before saying something incredibly racist…
So, as we entered the restaurant there was a large family eating (of course… it’s a bloody restaurant)... As we sat down we were aware that this family were talking really loudly… Thankfully as we ordered food they left the restaurant, I heard no thank you’s from them... As they left you could almost hear the sigh of relief from the staff… The restaurant was once again (despite Me and Jo being there) quiet and peaceful… Outside the family that had just left were all smoking proudly just outside the door (why is it that some countries still see smoking as being “cool”?) we ate our food, chatted to the staff, said our thank you’s and left…
Later on in the evening (after a nice swim in our pool and an afternoon nap) we headed off into town to see what Patong had to offer… As we walk toward town we are stopped time and time again by taxi drivers “you want taxi boss?” .. “Mai ow Krap” (No thank you basically) I reply only for the next driver to ask the same question… Am I really going to change my mind about needing a taxi in such a short space of time? We walk past various massage places, the ladies giggle as Jo says “Mai ow kah!” (No thanks) as we walk by… I’m noticing a lot of very miserable looking people… I point out to Jo that it seems to be mostly blonde girls… Attractive blonde girls… Does being pretty and blonde also mean you have to walk around like you’ve lost the will to live? Thank god i’m neither pretty or blonde.
We’re both hungry, so we decide to find some food, after looking at a few places we find a restaurant and venture inside… The food smells amazing, the place is full of customers (always a good sign)... We sit at a table and order food.. order too much food actually… Behind us is a table full of people, all eating, all talking loudly (yes it’s “That” nationality” again) we enjoy our food and have a couple of drinks, the food is delicious, some of the best food i’ve eaten in Thailand, a woman at the table behind us (despite having eaten food) is ordering lots of food to tale away, she’s practically barking her order at the waiter, when she finishes he asked her very politely” Do you want the bill?”.. To which she shouted “NO!” at him “JUST TAKEOUT!” before carrying on talking to the rest of the table… RUDE!
we end up at Patongs “Bangla road”.. Essentially Patongs version of Walking street in Pattaya or Soi Cowboy in Bangkok… Go-Go bars and madness… Or madness and go-go bars… Whichever you prefer…
members of “That” nationality are out in force… I’ve seen them in Pattaya, i’ve seen them in Bangkok… Walking in groups, hunting in a pack… It’s a common sight in areas like this to see a young Thai girl walking hand in hand with a foreign man (Farang)... It happens... Sometimes you’ll see a farang arm in arm with two girls he’s hired for the night… It happens… Sometimes you’ll see a couple (man and woman) walking hand in hand with a girl they’ve decided will join them for the night… It happens…. The one thing i’ve seen a lot of both here and back in Pattaya is groups of (maybe four or five) men of “that” nationality walking with a girl they’ve managed to bargain into a group session with… I don’t understand it… I don’t like it… Prostitution is not safe, it never will be… But some variations of prostitution are safer than others…
The girl with the farang? The girl walking arm in arm with the couple? Probably a lot safer that the girl about to go back to a hotel with five men… Something i’ve seen too many times... Something I wish the girls here would stop doing.
Me and Jo end up in a bar with a live band… The drinks are reasonably priced and the music is good, the band have a great set up… The musicians are all good and the singing is shared out beteen about four singers, each one taking it in turn to sing, it’s a mix of cheesy pop, classic seventies and rock… It was brilliant... It had been a long day so we headed back to our hotel for some sleep.
The next day is a mix of sleeping, drinking and swimming… Let’s round it all up into a thing i’ll call relaxing shall we?
For lunch we headed to a bar close to our hotel, I struggled to find something vegetarian on the menu I actually wanted, opted for a bowl of fries… Jo chose a vegetable pie which sadly they didn’t have so had to opt for a four-cheese pizza… The pizza of DOOM.
So, the pizza arrives… And despite I, only wanting fries decide to help in the demolition of the pizza… Along with a few bottles of ice cold Chang beer… As we walk away from the bar and head back for a nap all I can taste is cheese… Very strong cheese… By the time we get back to our hotel i’ve had a couple of stomach cramps and i’m not feeling brilliant… Maybe a nap will help.
Not quite… I wake from my nap with some of the worst acid indigestion i’ve ever had... It felt like i’d been drinking acid… No food for me tonight… And no more beer! A wise man would decide not to drink alcohol at all… I am not a wise man… So I decided maybe tonight i’d join Jo and drink a few glasses of gin instead… So off to the bar (after drinking some over the counter heartburn medicine) We go back to the bar with the pizza of doom, the pizza may have had murderous intent but the bar itself was nice and the staff were nice… We sat and drank a couple of glasses of gin (it’s quite nice actually) before being aware that where we were it was may too quiet… However, at the other end of the bar, there was lots of talking and laughing going on… So we drank our drink, paid our bill and went off to find the fun!
What followed was a night of drinking, playing Jenga, being surrounded by bar girls, laughing, more drinking, playing bar games for shots… erm… drinking… And lots more laughing… I spent the last hour drinking water as I didn’t want to get too drunk… Jo, however, was very drunk, she was having a really good night, she may have drunk a little too much tequila… Well, she definitely drunk too much tequila being as I spent the next two hours back at the hotel nursing Jo as she vomited in the bathroom… But hey, you only live one right?
The next day was spent with a recovering Jo… The water i’d drunk had helped me avoid a hangover, Jo was not as lucky… The daylight hours were a time of recuperation for Jo… I think she may be avoiding tequila for a while.
We spent our last night in Patong back at Bangla road, we started the night at a small bar chatting to a really nice ladyboy called “Micky”.
When it became clear that I would be moving from England to Thailand one thing became quite a common subject when some people talked to me… Ladyboys.
London? Double-decker buses. New York? Hotdogs. Bangkok? Ladyboys.
It was unavoidable… “Don’t go shagging no ladyboys” “Watch out for them ladyboys” etc etc.
So we’re sat in a bar with Micky playing connect four (by the way Micky after years of practice is one killer connect four player) Micky, despite her long hair, makeup and huge breasts obviously was once a man, but you know what? It doesn’t matter… Was she a ladyboy? yes... But more than that she was friendly, polite and one hell of a connect four player, we chatted about Patong and how she feels about the place, we chatted about who causes trouble in Bangla road (surprised to hear it’s actually not the English) at some point we were joined by another girl (i’m going to stop saying the word ladyboy now), a funny girl who ended every sentence with an overdramatic “DARLING!”.. She accused us of cheating (jokingly) while playing a bar game, I told her i’ve played that game in Bangkok and Pattaya and it’s Patong that’s got the rules wrong (for the record the Patong way of playing this particular game is better than Bangkok or Pattaya) Over the road from us a group of ladyboys (yes I know I was going to stop using that word) were posing for photographs with tourists… Tall beautiful (yes folks, beautiful.. I’ll say it as it is…) women posing is some seriously ridiculous costumes… Lace, sequins, headdresses, they looked amazing… They were joined by a girl that looked like a tall Ariana Grande… Ariana Grande with huge fake breasts but still, Ariana Grande... Fairplay Ariana… I was asking Jo “how do they hide it”? The costumes these girls wore left nothing to the imagination... Jo tried to explain “taping” to me… I think I understood it… While we were at the bar i’d noticed a small framed girl working the bar too, she was attractive, dressed in a cocktail dress but what got my attention was the fact she had only one stocking on… I’m not OCD at all but the fact she only wore one stocking really bothered me… Two high heeled shoes but one stocking... WHY!... They come in pairs God Dammit!... We continue to drink, play games, chat as Ariana and her friends pose for photographs… The girl with one stocking sits on a stool at the bar and is messing with her shoe… The shoe being worn with no stocking… The shoe is obviously causing some discomfort… I’m thinking “you should have worn it with a stocking love” when she lifts her leg to take off the shoe… revealing that she wasn’t a natural woman after all… I thought i’d known about the girls here, this one i’d honestly seen as 100% natural but no…Fairplay love. Fairplay.
We leave the bar, hug the girls and make our way into the night…
We ended up back at the music bar, the band are playing and the drinks are flowing, Jo has had enough gin and so decides to order a jug of cocktail… Its overly sweet bur still we drink it… I’m people watching as we drink, a young lad is out with an older man, he’s had too much to drink and is sick on the floor, the older man drags him off into the night… A large group of men, yes “that” nationality stand outside the bar, one of them is chatting to a girl as his friends look on, at the back of the group is an angry-looking older man, he sneers at every girl that walks past, he genuinely seems to hate women, i’m hoping his friends don’t involve him in anything they may have planned for tonight.
As our night ends we head back to our hotel to sleep.
At breakfast, i’m looking out over the sea… The beach looks beautiful here…I find myself thinking about the tsunami that hit back in 2004… It’s sobering to look out over this area and think that back in 2004 mother nature did it’s best to destroy it…
As i’m typing this i’m being told that some bombs have detonated back home in Bangkok (i’m currently in Melbourne)… What the fuck is wrong with people?
Until next time…