Bangkok: Gotta catch ’em all

It’s our anniversary weekend, our first anniversary (well, it’s actually our fourth wedding anniversary) here in Bangkok, i’m hoping for a better celebration this time around, i’d managed to make a mess of things last year when I in my infinite wisdom, i’d decided to take control of the celebrations and book us a hotel in Birmingham City centre (Yes, maybe booking Birmingham was not the best start) with a plan of cocktails, and a night out in town all in place in an effort to show Jo that I (even tho I have a terrible track record) could organise something without it become a farce.

*OBLIGATORY SQUEAL OF BRAKES*

Yes, it’s our anniversary weekend, but we didn’t get to start celebrating straight away as Jo has been suffering from back pain of late, she’s had an MRI done and we had to go to the hospital on Friday to get the results… It turns out Jo has slipped a disc in her back, she has to have a needle inserted into her back next week in order to alleviate the pain and reduce the swelling (OUCH) the appointment went well and after an age spent at the hospital we made our way home… On the way, we found a leather store where they make made to measure shoes, boots and jackets… Jo needed a new pair of boots for our trip back to England in June, she found a design she liked, she had some measurements taken and she ordered a pair… The cost of 6000 baht (just under £150) was a bargain for a pair of custom made boots, even better, we were told they would take only a couple of days to make… Awesome… Now back to the celebrations!

Where was I? Oh yeah… Could our hero manage to organise a night out without it becoming a farce?

It turns out I couldn’t. It all fell apart when I somehow managed to get hotels mixed up, i’d not checked my booking details properly and instead of booking a hotel that we’d stayed at before and loved, i’d managed to book a hotel (admittedly in the same hotel chain) buried deep in the back streets of Birmingham, it was all downhill from there really.

Anyway, back to the present day, here we are in Bangkok on our fourth wedding anniversary weekend, Jo had decided to spend Friday night in Nana, a part of Bangkok famed for it’s bars, street traders, streetwalkers and “Nana Plaza” a collection of bars, go-go bars and pick up bars… Essentially a huge lightbulb to the moths that are middle-aged western men looking for a night with a Thai girl or Ladyboy.

We started the night with a taxi ride to Nana, despite Nana being a short BTS ride away, Jo decided a taxi ride would be the start to our night, traffic in Bangkok is appaling… On Friday’s the traffic is at it’s worst (due to non Bangkok residents who work in the city heading back to their home towns at the weekend) So, we’re stuck in traffic for what seems like an age before eventually arriving at Nana, we’ve not explored Nana before, so, tonight should be fun.

We started the night with a drink at an Australian bar, a cocktail for Jo, an ice cold pint of lager for me, we sat at the edge of the bar in an ideal spot for people watching, drinking cold beer while watching a car driver moving random peoples motorbikes around so he can create a parking space was a nice start to the evenings festivities… After a drink it was time to find somewhere to eat, being as it was our anniversary weekend, Jo decided we’d go somewhere a little more classy for dinner… Yes, here in the sleaze center of Bangkok we were looking for something classy.

We walked along the busy streets, stopping every now and then to look at the menus at various restaurants along the streets of Nana, nothing seemed special enough, so we continued to walk… Until we got to an Argentian steak restaurant, we enjoy steak, the menu looked a bit expensive at first glance, but it was our anniversary so we went inside… The place was pretty much empty, there were maybe two tables occupied by couples… After looking at the menu we understood why.

The Argentian steakhouse is expensive. Comedically expensive. £25 for a pork chop? £75 for a steak… Just the steak, by the way, you have to pay extra for anything else… Do you want some fries with that steak? That’ll be extra please.

Jo called a waiter over… “What comes with the steak?” she asked… “Just steak” replied the waiter, he had a weird look on his face, which I later decided was his “This is where people usually walk out” look.

The waiter walked away, we’d been sat there for about ten minutes so far looking at this ridiculous menu, at no point had we been approached to order drinks, we’d just been left to our own devices… So we looked at the menu, I was trying to find something that would not leave me feeling like i’d been mugged… Jo pointed out a steak that was “ideal for sharing”… I pointed out we’d end up paying well over £100 for a piece of steak and then end up paying even more to add luxuries such as fries or a peppercorn sauce… I’m looking at Jo… Jo is looking at me… It was a strange Mexican standoff, both of us waiting for the other to make a move… “Shall we just leave?” she asks… Deadlock broken, I say “Yes” and we make our escape… Fuck you Argentian steakhouse… Fuck you and your expensive steak!

We ended up at a place called “Arno’s” a steak restaurant based in a few locations in Bangkok, we enjoyed a delicious steak and drinks, all for a fraction of what the Argentian place wanted for one piece of steak… I’ll consider that a moral victory.

After we’d eaten we headed to Nana Plaza for drinks, Nana plaza is an “Interesting” place… Very interesting… We ended up in a bar in the center of the lower level of the plaza, reasonably priced drinks and an ideal spot to sit and watch the goings on here at “working girl central” we’re sat opposite a bar occupied by middle-aged westerners and Thai girls/women dressed in skimpy white bikinis, there’s a sign on the wall stating “100% real girls” … A sign i’ve not seen before... I wonder if it’s the only one here... Hmmmm… Less thinking, more drinking!

A bearded man approaches the bar, one of the bars more attractive girls makes a beeline for him, she’s greeting him with a huge smile (maybe he’s a regular) and a hug, her smile makes her stand out, yes, it probably is well rehearsed but it looks genuine… Is anything genuine here?

Drinks are ordered, they sit opposite each other chatting, she’s placed her hand on his leg as they talk, he’s really relaxed, i’m pretty sure he IS a regular… Me and Jo order more drinks from our waitress as I continue to watch what’s going on… He’s drinking, he’s chatting, she continues to smile… Then without warning (I have no idea what they’re actually talking about), she sits back and (over her bikini) begins to stroke herself with one hand while grabbing her own breast with the other… I’ve seen bar girls flirt before (it’s what they do)... I’ve seen a Thai policeman openly slap a prostitutes arse as he walks by (in Pattaya)… I’ve seen girls wearing next to nothing on a busy city street... But this just seemed out of place… She’d gone from a pretty girl with a beautiful smile to… Well…. Cheap.

After a few seconds of mock masturbation (a phrase I never thought i’d ever use in any of these blogs) she changes position, she sits forward again and their conversation reverts to what it was before… Odd… Very odd.

Me and Jo have a few more drinks… We pay the bill, which actually wasn’t very high, considering the amount we’ve actually drunk… We leave Nana plaza, hail a tuk tuk and head home.

Saturday passed without drama, we did have a nice thunderstorm on Saturday night, a Saturday night we spent watching movies in the comfort of our apartment… We ended up watching “The Hangover” why not? We watched parts two and three last weekend… And I having no memory of ever watching the first film I thought i’d best watch the first film.. I actually quite liked it... I wonder if the residents of Las Vegas are angered by it the way i’m angered by part two? HMmmmm

On Sunday we headed out to collect Jo’s new boots… By now i’m worried that they will be crap. After all they are not expensive for custom made boots and it’s not taking long to make them… By the time we get to the shop i’ve convinced myself they will be appalling... Yes, she’s paid just under £150 for some rubbish that will result in her arguing with a shoe salesman and me wanting the earth to swallow me up... This WILL be a disaster.

Wrong. We arrive at the shop and even tho the boots are without soles (I originally spelt that as “souls” do shoes have souls I wonder) they look amazing, Jo has a final fitting and we are told to come back a little later to collect them… Colour me impressed, those boots look amazing.

With some time to spare we headed off to the cinema to watch “Aladdin”… trip to the cinema, of course, means a trip to a mall, and today's mall of choice is “Central World” a mall we’ve not been to since our last trip here got cancelled due to a fire breaking out... To get to the mall we travelled via BTS, as usual, our train ride was uneventful…Walking from the train to the mall was a little bit more interesting…

Back in England, I used to ridicule my sons for playing “Pokemon Go” a phone based video game where they’d walk around town catching imaginary monsters and having imaginary battles…They would be walking through town, stopping to catch a monster that doesn't exist on their mobile phone… It all seemed so pointless to me... It still does… I thought “pokemon Go” had run it’s course…. I thought it was gone… I thought the sheer pointlessness of this game had come to an end.

I was wrong.

Walking through the BTS station we were aware of lots of people standing around… LOTS of people… Maybe around 100 people… All standing still, all with a mobile phone in their hands… I saw an older lady holding two phones… Her thumbs rapidly striking the screen… “I think they’re playing bloody Pokemon!” I say… We look around… Everyone is playing Pokemon… I see a young woman holding a red cardboard box… Inside the box, she has FOUR mobile phones, each one has Pokemon go on the screen… Looking around we see more people… More people holding multiple phones… Two phones, three phones… Four phones…. Hundreds of people, various ages… Children, young adults, middle-aged… A couple of old people… All playing Pokemon go… All standing here at this BTS station… All trying to catch monsters that do not exist… Gotta catch ’em all.

After fighting our way through this horde of Pokemon catchers we eventually get to the cinema to watch “Aladdin”… I am not a fan of Disney movies, i’ve never seen the “Lion King” and in general, I find the cheesy sing-song nature of Disney movies annoying…. Except “The little mermaid”… I bloody love that film. Anyway… “Aladdin”… Oh dear. I am not a fan. Not at all. Jo liked it tho… So not a total loss.

After the film, I went to the toilet.

Potentially one of the most iconic sentences ever written in a blog… Seriously, it should be a slogan on a T-Shirt….. “After the film I went to the toilet” on the front… and “After a few seconds of mock masturbation” on the back…. Hold on… Maybe “After the film I went to the toilet, after a few seconds of mock masturbation” is not the best choice for a slogan… Maybe T-shirt design is NOT my vocation. Anyway... After the film, I DID go to the toilet… Where, after using said toilet and washing my hands “hygiene is king my friends” I struggled to dry my hands because the hand driers were blocked by three young Asian guys using the mirrors to beautify themselves…. Face cream applied, hair being made catwalk perfect… Bloody hell, it’s a shopping mall NOT a fashion show.

We leave the mall and head back to the leather shop to pick up the hopefully now complete boots, as promised the boots are finished, Jo tries them on and they fit perfectly, they look amazing, we will definitely be visiting this shop again, plus there’s a cute dog at the shop… Bonus!

I’m supposed to be going to the gym today (it’s Monday morning now) but I got sidetracked by writing this blog, I had intended to just jot down a few points but I ended up getting stuck into it and typing a whole blog (when did I actually start referring to these musings as blogs… Well, if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck…)

So.. Until next time…

Quack.

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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