Bangkok: Melbourne 2 pt 2: “OOH!”

A new day, a new week begins here in Melbourne…

Jo has begun her first full week of work here in Australia, she has a 40–50 minute train ride every morning, so i’m getting up with her and travelling with her to the train station every morning, she gets in the taxi for the final leg of the journey and I jump back on the train and head back to Melbourne. I have to say I quite like it… It gives me about an hour to sit, listen to music and look out the window of the train… I’ve had a love of graffiti art since the 1980’s and the walls here in and around Melbourne are covered in art… Some of it is great, some of it, not so great… But still, it’s art and I love it… One of my other great loves is comic books, I used to have quite a big collection of comic books when Me and Jo first got together, but due to us falling on hard times (well, we didn’t fall on hard times we actually started on hard times) and with us having to raise some money I made the decision to sell my comic book collection (and most of my other possessions too) at a local car boot sale, i’d spent years building my collection and in the space of a few hours it had all gone… But still, we had a little bit of money in our pockets and it gave us a little bit of help on the old surviving front (saved by Superman… AGAIN!)… So yeah, I love comic books, Melbourne has a brilliant comic book shop which I found last time I was here, and I was eager to find it again… Finding things in Melbourne is not easy… Google maps refuses to behave itself here and every street looks the same, i’d planned on doing some walking while i’m here anyway so the search for my comic book shop was a fun one… Well, mostly… I find myself being overwhelmed by the number of beggars and homeless people here… Everywhere I go i’m seeing people sat on the ground holding “hungry and homeless” signs, but still expensive cars drive past constantly… The divide between the rich and poor here is quite staggering… Nothing compared to the divide we have in Bangkok of course… The divide back there borders on the obscene.

I eventually find the comic book shop, calling this place a comic book shop does it an injustice, this place is like heaven to a geek like me… Comics, toys, games…Everything an overgrown kid like me could wish for… I’ve been buying model cars back home in Bangkok but have been struggling to find a model of the Batmobile from Tim Burtons Batman movie… But here it is! I actually found one.. And cheaper than the ones in Bangkok too… Bonus! So, carrying a bag of comic books and my new Batmobile I head off into Melbourne once more… I’ve been planning on having a nice walk today but i’m also trying to avoid being back in our room when the maid is there, i’m hoping to get back, read my comics and relax (yes, I know… A really grown-up way to spend an afternoon) i’m guessing the maid should be done cleaning the floor that our room is on by now so I head back toward the hotel… I’m a short distance away from the comic book shop when things get a bit mad in Melbourne, two police cars sitting in traffic suddenly put on their lights and sirens and zoom off up the road, soon after two more police vehicles go flying past followed by an ambulance, all I can hear is the sound of sirens echoing around, I message Jo via facebook to tell her I think somethings going on somewhere, and I carry on walking… For a little longer… My boot slips on the floor and I end up on my back in the middle of Melbourne.

I have fallen over before.

It happens.

Luckily in the past, i’ve fallen over in places and in situations where i’ve been able to “get away with it”.

Many years ago when I was working for a control panel company in Birmingham I managed to trip myself up while carrying a broom, the workshop was full of people but I managed to pick myself and carry on doing what I was doing without anyone noticing... Bonus!

I fell over once while working with a group of cub scouts... That time I played it off as a joke and got away with it… Bonus!

This time I was in the middle of a crowded city, surrounded by people… There was no escaping this time.

I hear my boot slip… I feel my foot move forward… I feel my ass hit the concrete… I hear a woman shout “Oooh!” (that universal sound women make when they witness someone take a tumble)… I look up and all I see is the face of a small girl (the daughter of the woman who shouted “OOH!”) looking at me …”Are you alright?” she asks… Shit, I felt Sooooo bloody old at that moment… “I’m alright, I just slipped”… She smiles and then checks again if i’m alright… Do I look THAT frail?… “I’m alright… Did I hit you when I slipped.. Are you ok?”… She smiles… I smile/blush and make my way toward the hotel… I can feel i’m blushing… I’m not hurt but my ego may be on the critical list…Damn you Melbourne… You made me feel old.

I get back to the hotel to find the maid has not yet cleaned our room… Her trolley is on the same floor as our room but our “please make up my room” sign is still on the door… I leave my comics and my (thankfully undamaged after my fall) Batmobile in the room and head back out to walk some more around Melbourne, I have no particular place to go, I have no idea where I want to be, I just know I want to be away from my room while the maid cleans it… I feel awkward back at home whenever Daa (our maid) is working… I feel like i’m making a mess in HER house when she’s there…It’s odd…I’m odd… Yeah, maybe it’s me that's odd.

I play hide and seek with the maid for what seems like an age… I get back to the hotel, avoid reception (they keep saying hello to me whenever I pass by) I go up to floor 6, walk down to where our room is… Shit! Her trolley hasn’t moved and our “clean our room” sign is still there… So I go down to the lobby, avoid reception and go for another walk… I walk for half an hour or so and try my luck again… I walk through reception, avoiding eye contact with the girl on reception… I go up to floor 6… I walk to my room… JESUS CHRIST how slow does this woman work?!?!?… Down to the lobby.. Walk past reception (who by now are looking at me wondering what i’m doing)… Another walk around Melbourne… By now i’ve had enough of the place… I return to the hotel, i’m nervous walking in… I tense up when the girl behind reception chimes “Good afternoon sir!”… I try to smile but i’m fully aware that what i’d planned to be a smiling face actually came out as “Leave me the fuck alone”… I go up to floor 6… I approach our room… She still hasn’t cleaned it… I can’t keep walking past reception… I can’t keep walking around this city… I go into my room and grab my comic books…. I decided to find a seat near reception and read until the worlds slowest maid has finished her job.

Eventually, I got into my room, to find that not only is she the worlds slowest maid, she’s also not very good at cleaning a room. Brilliant.

After an hour or so of reading another comic book I leave the hotel to collect Jo from the train station, she’s had the pleasure of sharing a train journey with a rather sad individual who’s been having a rather loud telephone conversation with his girlfriend, lots of talk of spanking her because she’s been a “very naughty girl” and “oh no.. Bare bottom spanks”.. Jo wasn’t impressed, I deduced the bloke was probably single and was in fact talking to nobody on the phone… I wonder how a person progresses from sitting happily single on a train to deciding they’ll invent a girlfriend or wife… That one day when he decides to raise his phone to his ear and say “i’ll be home shortly” to a fictional person who’s not at home and certainly isn’t waiting… And then when does that innocent “I’ll be home shortly” progress to “I’ll spank your bottom because you’ve been a naughty girl”?… Then again, maybe i’m overthinking this… Maybe i’m underestimating him… Maybe he has got a girlfriend… And maybe she has in fact been a very naughty girl.

Customer service has been a thorn in my side during this trip, I fear it will continue to be a thorn in my side until I get back home to Bangkok.

We awoke on Tuesday morning, got showered, dressed and headed off to the train station…

Jo had decided she wanted to go to a cafe to pick up some breakfast on the way to the station, we found a cafe and ordered two portions of toast, the girl who served us couldn’t have looked any less interested if she’d tried… She simply could not be bothered… She asked if we wanted eggs, Jo clearly said that we just wanted toast (pretty simple eh?) well, we get to the train station, open our boxes and there you go, egg on bloody toast… A small thing, I know… But it was the straw that broke the camels back for me… I’ve had bad customer service, i’ve had customer service that's so bad it was verging on being rude, i’m tired of people here generally being rude, pushing past people, barging through people… I was tired of Melbourne and I just wanted to go home.

I spent the journey back to the hotel stewing, once back in my room I read for a while, I may have slept for a while, either way when it came time to meet Jo at the train station I was feeling less negative… Less spoilt perhaps?

I met Jo at the station and we went to a small Mexican place for dinner, the girl serving us was smiling and cheerful, the food was delicious…Good food and good customer service, just what I needed, I left the restaurant feeling much better, even the cold air didn’t bother me as we walked back to the hotel.

We’re both missing Bangkok, yes Bangkok is a city of extremes, it’s a city that isn’t to everyone's tastes… But we love it and we are both looking forward to going home.

So, until next time…

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