Bangkok : Not teenage, not mutant and i’m almost certain it wasn’t a ninja

With rainy season just around the corner we’re experiencing quite mixed weather, rain, storms, sunshine… for now we’re having a little break in the rain… We’re still having the occasional heavy rain shower but on the whole we’re having some really good weather… I love how hot it gets here in Bangkok, cold weather is one thing I don’t think i’ll ever miss… The rain showers we have here are amazing, a hot sunny day will suddenly become quite windy, at which point we know a rain shower is on it’s way, we have enough time to bring in any washing that may be hanging out just before the rain starts lashing down, sometimes with a thunderstorm... Oh, how I love the thunderstorms here in Bangkok.

Our Thai lessons are ongoing, would I say we can speak Thai? Not just yet… We’re getting there tho… We have two lessons a week, recently we’ve been having a lesson on a Friday evening… A lesson which for the past few weeks has become our “Let’s have a drink while learning Thai” lesson… Wann, our teacher doesn’t partake in the drinking, I doubt we’d get any learning done if we were all drinking… The first drinking Friday lesson was simply a Thai lesson where Jo had one gin and I had a Jim Beam and coke (afterall it WAS Friday) were we drunk? No.. But I think it helped me relax more during the lesson…However… This Friday lesson was a bit different… I may have had one too many drinks and may have been a little worse for wear… I hijacked most of the lesson by engaging Wann in a discussion about what is and what isn’t (in my drunken opinion) useful to learn in regards to languages… I’ll explain… or try to.

When you find yourself in a foreign land I believe there are certain words and phrases that everyone should know… You should be able to order food, drinks but be able to point out what you don’t want… Do you have an allergy to a certain food? Then you should be able to order a meal but be able to say that you can’t eat certain things… I believe that you should be able to give directions and understand directions...And, if the worst comes to the worst you should be able to ask for help… I learned French back at school, what use was “Xavier how old are you? and “the little dog is in the bakery”… nothing at all… Unless you’re planning on sleeping with Xavier and you’re concerned about the whereabouts of a small dog that likes baked goods. After all those lessons at school did I learn what left and right was? No… Did I learn how to ask for help? No…. French lessons were a total waste of time… So, despite learning left and right in Thai… Poor Waan found herself in a debate with drunken me (Yes Waan, i’ll admit I was drunk) about the pros and cons of learning languages… Jo wasn’t happy, she thought I was arguing… Which I wasn’t… Giving Waan her due she handled the debate well and put me straight on a few things… I have decided that i’ll not be drinking during Thai lessons any more tho.

Language debates with Thai teachers aside, Jo seems to be loving life here in Bangkok, she’s loving it more and more as each week passes, she works hard at her job and we’re doing our best to enjoy “our” time together when she’s away from the office, we enjoy our weekends together, we’re visiting different bars and just simply enjoy what life here in Bangkok has to offer us, we have friends here now, Jo has a circle of friends and i’m also out almost every week meeting friends for drinks… Mr Anti-social has suddenly become quite social… Who’d have thought it.

Since getting to Bangkok we’ve been meaning to meet up with someone who a mutual friend told us lives in Bangkok, last Saturday we finally got around to meeting up for drinks and something to eat, we had a nice night but throughout the night I found myself being aware that i’m on edge… I’m not relaxed, i’m self-conscious… I know how I feel but I can’t flick a switch and turn it off, the more i’m aware of how I feel the more anxious I feel… It’s like a never-ending cycle of anxiety… Sadly i’m also fully aware that to the outside world, a world that can’t read my emotions that physically i’m coming across as unfriendly, cold… A bit of a prick basically… But, simply being aware of how i’m coming across just makes me more anxious… A never ending cycle of anxiety and coming across as a prick.

At some point we end up at a small bar in a part of town i’ve never been to before… I’m still feeling on edge, I really want to be smiling, I want to be the life and soul of the party but my anxiety just keeps slamming the door shut, Jo on the other hand is being her usual brilliant self, she’s chatting and laughing… The waitress at this bar is one of the worst waitresses i’ve ever encountered… She doesn’t understand orders, I try to order jack and diet coke to which she makes a comment about me being curvy but ordering a diet drink.. Yes, the waitress called me fat. Customer service at it’s best… You can shove your service tip up your arse love.

This part of the night comes to a close, our new friend wanders off to play cards with friends and Me and Jo (after finding our other friends were no longer at the bar we thought they’d be at) head off to another part of town to have a few more drinks, it begins to rain as leave the bar and hail a taxi.

We had no real plans, the best nights often start out as a “no plans” night…We find ourselves in a quiet bar near to the sin centre of Bangkok, Soi Cowboy… We sit at the bar and order drinks, I need the toilet so using our Thai lessons we ask where the toilets are, the bargirl points to a doorway and tells me where the toilets are, I leave Jo at the bar as I slide the doors open to find the toilets.

There's an amazing scene in the movie “The wizard of oz” where Dorothy Gail (after being carried away by the tornado) emerges from a world of black and white into a wild, bright technicolour world… Me on my search for a toilet in this bar was somewhat similar… The bar was quiet, a few people sat at the bar chatting and drinking… As I slid the doors open I walked into a dark room with a pool table… Half naked girls were playing pool and shouting at each other, shrieking with laughter at jokes that my very limited grasp on the Thai language didn’t let me understand… I found the toilet and locked the door behind me… I felt like I was in there for ages, the noise and laughter getting louder… Eventually, I finished, and walked back into the dark room… The girls were still playing pool but i’m sure they’re wearing even fewer clothes… I hurried back to Jo who is laughing and chatting to the girl serving drinks, I tell her it’s a bit mad in the dark room.. But here it’s quiet…Jo goes to the toilets and when she returns informs me the girls are playing pool for clothes.. Strip pool basically… A game i’m guessing wouldn’t catch on back in England.

We play a bar game for a while as we chat to the girl behind the bar, after a few drinks we head off into the night... A few more drinks and we head home.

Monday morning arrives and Jo is not feeling well, she wasn’t great on Sunday but here on Monday morning she’s worse… No work for Jo today… Tuesday is a bank holiday and i’d planned for us to go to the park and have a picnic, Jo still wasn’t well so I was hoping a couple of hours sitting in the fresh air might do her some good.

I love the park, it’s got a large pond full of fish and turtles, people sit on the grass and enjoy the day, stray cats wander around, it’s a lovely place to be… We walk into the park, we see a nice clear patch of grass and head toward it with our blanket… My foot skims across a large stone on the ground (today i’m wearing my converse as opposed to the Doc Martin boots I usually wear) I don’t want us to have this large rock under our blanket so I decided to move it, at which point I discover it’s not a rock… It’s a small turtle.

Looking down at this small turtle shell i’m stuck with one question… Is the turtle alive?

I’m looking at his shell, hoping to see some sign of life, but I see nothing… No movement… No sign of head or legs… Is it simply an empty shell? I pluck up the courage to have a closer look… I’m worried i’m going to find a rotting turtle… I know i’ll freak out if he is dead (yes i’d decided he was a he) but I can’t just leave him there... What if he is alive? What if I leave him and someone steps on him? I have to see if he is alive… Getting closer I see that he’s alive… His little face is hiding within the shell… He’s about a hundred metres away from the water, i’ve no idea why he’s where he is, but either way he’s not safe here… I almost stepped on him, had I broken his shell i’d have been devastated (not as much as Mr Turtle.. But still) so I made the decision to pick him up and take him down to the edge of the water… Carefully lifting him up, I carried him toward the water… An old Thai lady stared at me wondering what I was carrying, she smiled as she realised what it was… Two small children playing by the water with their mom Look up as I approach, the bigger of the two points and says something… “Nik Noi” I say (little in Thai) as I set him down by the water (the turtle not the kid)… Feeling like i’ve done a good deed I head back to Jo and our picnic, I see the two boys and their mom close to where the turtle is… I’m hoping I don’t see one of the boys pick him up and throw him like a frisbee.

For the record… They didn’t.

We enjoy our picnic, the sun beats down on us and the day gets quite hot… Jo is still not feeling great so we head back home to our apartment… Jo heads straight for a shower as I potter around the apartment (yes, i’m at that age where it’s acceptable to potter)… Something catches my eye… I ignore it… But something about what i’ve just seen bothers me… I have to double-check.

I stand at the patio doors that lead out onto our balcony looking out over the city… Yes, I do believe I saw what I thought I saw… Over on a balcony of the building opposite ours is a man… A stark naked man.

Naked. Properly naked… Not “i’ll just wear my boxer shorts naked”… Naked as the day he was born naked.

I hear Jo switch off the shower… Mr Naked is still there…. I hear Jo grab a towel… He’s still there… I’m sure that by the time Jo comes into the room he will be gone and she won’t believe me… Jo leaves the bathroom and is the bedroom… “Jo... Come here!”

For the record, the naked man sat outside in all his glory for about an hour.. Body confidence to the max people.

Jo went back to work on Thursday, she still wasn’t well but she had to go back to work… She even gave me a job to do… Yes folks today i’m doing an admin Job, the first bit of “actual work” i’ve done in over 8 months… And guess what, I actually enjoyed doing it… Just hoping I did it right, without any mistakes.

The weekend roles around, we have a drink-free Thai lesson on Friday and Saturday begins with a trip to the cinema to watch “The Lion King”… I’ve never seen the original verson of this film… I love movies, I love going to the cinema and “The Lion King” is regarded by some as a classic and yet i’ve never seen it… And the reason (I may or may not hear you ask) is quite simple.

Hakuna Matata.

I hate that song with every fibre of my being.

It makes me cringe, it makes me angry… Mr Bluesky by ELO is a song that regardless of how low I feel, it never fails to bring me out of a low spell, it can always make me feel better… Hakuna Matata is like the ANTI BLUESKY…. It makes me angry… It brings me down… Hakuna Matata is vile and I hate it.

As a result I never watched “The Lion King”… Until Saturday.

I’ll not review it… But it had “Hakuna Matata” in it… So I hope you can guess how I felt about it.

Saturday night and Me and Jo are out again… We’re meeting up with the bloke from last weekend, this time he’s bringing his girlfriend with him… We meet in a bar a short walk from our apartment, I open the night by apologising for the way I may have come across last time we met… I was much more relaxed and actually really enjoyed myself, after a couple of drinks we went to a Japanese place for food, and then off for some more drinks, we ended up in a bar called Otto bar, a bar i’ve not been to in ages, it was quite early so the band wasn’t playing… Instead, there was a computer with Youtube on, anybody want a song? Just walk up and put one on. A decent system right?

Sort of.

We sit down and order drinks… There’s a song playing in the background which I don’t recognise, as the song comes to an end an older white-haired man practically jumps off his stool by the bar and runs to the computer to put a song on, he chooses “lido shuffle” by Boz Scaggs (A song I love)… It’s obvious this man believes he has domain over this bar and the music that gets played in it… “Lido” ends and he rushes to the computer to play a song by “Bad Company”.. I have a mini drink-fuelled rant about how when Bad Company’s Paul Rogers toured with Queen that he was crap, an American sitting close by remarks that “Some people may say Queen were ALWAYS crap”.. To which I reply “And those people are wrong.”.. Stupid man.

A short game of cat and mouse concludes with his song finishing and our friend putting a Metallica song on... White hair has been defeated in this battle but he comes back to continue the war… Metallica ends and White hair swoops in to put on “Living in America” by James Brown... Fair play mate, you can’t beat a bit of James Brown… He follows this up by putting “I feel good” by James Brown on… The companion of Mr Queen hater gets up and puts a song on... Some crap cover of “To love somebody”.. We leave the bar and head back to our apartment to drink more and play OUR music.

We had a good night, I was more relaxed and I think we all had a good time… Must do it again.. Soon!

I awoke at 7 am on Sunday with a hangover…

A small price to pay…

So, until next time…

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