Bangkok: People are strange
Bit of an odd one this one… Yes, it is inspired by things i’ve done while in Bangkok, so yes it does fall under the banner of our “Bangkok Adventure”… But it’s not actually about the things i’ve done… It’s about people i’ve encountered, some i’ve spoken to, most of them I haven’t… Just people i’ve encountered in Bangkok in the past couple weeks… And yeah, people are strange.
So, we went to Pattaya again for a few days, it was a bank holiday (oh how they love their bank holidays here in Thailand) so we headed out to Pattaya for a few days, as usual we booked a private car to take us to Pattaya and bring us back, unlike our usual trips our outbound driver was a change to our usual type of driver…
We waited downstairs in the foyer of our apartment block and as planned our driver appeared to take us to Pattaya, he wasn’t as smartly turned out as our usual drivers, a little scruffy looking, he still wore a suit but he looked like he’d maybe had a rough couple of nights and had been, sleeping rough… So we get into the car and head toward Pattaya, usually, these drives are nice and relaxed, Jo often falls asleep and I usually spend a couple of hours listening to music as our driver makes his way to Pattaya… This time it was different, no sleep for Jo and I only briefly listened to music… As our driver weaved in and out of traffic, pulled out in front of a couple of heavy goods vehicles and basically made our two hour journey a game of cat and mouse with death… Luckily we won. No death for us today. The driver did get a gold star for effort tho.
After settling at our hotel we headed into Pattaya town centre, for a night of drinks and people watching… No ping pong shows for us tonight. The town was quieter than usual, I think we were slightly out of main tourist season, after a few drinks and some wandering around the town we headed back to the hotel but instead of taking the main beach road back we walked down the back road, the streets were quite noisy and busy, lots of street walkers, lots of men on the prowl away from the main pick up hub of Pattaya, Walking street.
And that’s where I saw her.
She was laying on a wall, I presume she was asleep… A small woman, i’d guess in her thirties, Jo said she looked pregnant, dressed in nothing more than a bright green baby doll nighty and knickers… Her skin looked awful, she was covered in spots and lumps… She looked wretched. Seeing her really bothered me… I’d seen hundreds of working girls while i’ve been in Thailand, most are beautiful, but this woman was obviously at the lower end of the scale… A woman who looked like she’d pretty much had all of the life sucked out of her… Who would she end up with tonight? What pittance would she accept to be some man's plaything for the night? She was the opposite side of the prostitution coin… I don’t think i’ll ever look at the working girls the same again… You may well be beautiful now but I’m afraid i’ve seen your future… And the future looks bleak.
After seeing her we walked a little longer before hopping an a baht bus to get to the end of the street, Baht buses are basically vans with bench seats, you flag them down and pay ten baht to get to the end of whatever street they are working on, a brilliant way to travel… And people watch. We got on the baht bus, travelled for a few minutes before it was flagged down by a middle-aged English man and his younger and attractive Thai female friend… He spoke English to her for the remainder of the journey while deciding that sitting wasn’t for him, despite seats being available he stood next to her… His companion who we decided was very drunk did sit… In a tiny miniskirt with her legs wide open flashing her underwear to everyone on the baht bus, he continued to talk, she continued to flash… That's true love right there.
We ended up in a little expat bar in the much quieter North end of Pattaya, drinking cheap drinks, doing puzzles and making the bar girls laugh… It turns out that if you mispronounce the Thai word for banana just right you end up saying “cock”… The girls giggle so I spend the next five minutes mispronouncing banana… I’m a simple man and simple things make me happy.
We spend Saturday in the pool and drinking at the poolside bar, the weather is nice, the drinks are cold…The Japanese family using the pool won’t stop taking photographs. It’s non stop, they go to one part of the pool, pose, take a photo, swap the people around but keep the same pose, take a photo… Move to another part of the pool... Repeat. Once they have stopped taking photos they all leave the pool and walk away… Possibly to find something else to take a photo in front of.
On Saturday night we’re sat in Hooters eating chicken, drinking alcohol and enjoying a nice night out… There’s a drunk guy in the bar, he’s swaying back and forth, he’s trying (unsuccessfully) to chat up one of the Hooters girls, he does the drunk walk to the toilets that I believe every single man on this planet has done… The “I know i’m drunk, but if I concentrate hard enough I will get from this bar to THAT toilet without anyone else noticing I am drunk” walk… Newsflash mate, we ALL know your drunk… Just accept it.
After Hooters we had a little walk around the town and then headed back to the expat bar, for some cheap drinks before heading back to the hotel for sleep.
Sunday morning we headed back to Pattaya, today is a treat, something to check off the bucket list… Today we go to a shooting range and do some shooting, we’ve done clay pigeon shooting before and air pistol shooting, but this is my first ever attempt at shooting an actual handgun in an actual firing range… It turns out i’m actually not too bad at it… However, according to Jo it was NOT a competition… Had she scored more than me maybe it would most definitely have been a competition… But being as I scored more than her it was not… Go figure.
Oh yeah… Despite being all for gun control I can actually see how shooting guns can be addictive.
We headed back to the hotel to relax, ahead of the evenings adventure… A trip to the Tiffany show in Pattaya, apparently one of Thailands best drag and Ladyboy shows.
The Tiffany theatre is stunning. a truly beautiful building, the ladies are stood outside having photos taken, the outfits look amazing as do the performers… My expectations for how tonight will go have risen, i’m actually looking forward to it.
First, the plus points.
The show was amazing, yes it’s just performers are lip syncing to a backing track, but that doesn’t matter, it’s entertaining, it’s fun, the stage sets were some of the best i’ve seen… It was brilliant.
The bad points.
People. Everything gets ruined by people.
If a show has a run time of about 60 minutes, if you arrive about 40 minutes in would you bother finding your seat or would you just accept you’d missed the show? Well, some folks (lots actually) disrupted the show by arriving very late… The venue has a strict “No mobile phones” policy... Any phones that are spotted are pointed out by a green laser pointer… Throughout the show phones were being lit out by the bright green laser… A few seats from us sat two men who did not look at the stage all night, they just sat texting… Pointless.
The stage is split nicely into different language sections… Some songs are western classics, there is a Bollywood section, a Thai section and one song aimed at the Chinese… This is where it gets interesting.
Westerners will sit through and enjoy anything…. Western song? Great! Bollywood? I don’t understand the words but I love the music… Thai? Enjoy the Thai culture bit… Chinese? Tune isn’t bad, I don’t understand the words but still, i’ll enjoy it….
However… The Chinese…
Western song? Fuck it talk through it… Bollywood? Fuck it, talk through it… Thai? Fuck it, talk through it… Chinese? Clap your hands and sing along like it’s the best show on earth… Oh, Western again? Fuck it, let's have a chat.
Ignorant. Rude. i’d ban them, honestly I would.
So after the show we wandered around trying to find somewhere to eat… We couldn’t decide on anything, so after a while of wandering we ended up in a small street-based Indian place, the food smelt amazing and the music was great… Until some Asian fellow and his girlfriend turned up, ordered food and then the guy asked the bloke waiting tables to turn the music off as he had to use his phone… The music went off… Asian dude sat there texting… TEXTING! He turned the music off to text. What a prick.
food was delicious tho. Pity the music got turned off.
We went back home on Monday, no drama, no near death experiences.. a nice safe drive home.
The week went as most weeks do here in Bangkok, Jo went to work… I didn’t.
Actually, that’s not exactly correct… No, I didn’t go to work… Jo did… But not as usual, she was actually working in Manilla for a few days… She flew out on Tuesday leaving me to fend for myself.. I survived... Obviously.
I went out for drinks on Thursday night, despite knowing exactly where I was going I still managed to mess it up and get lost, so after a bit of backing and forthing (is that even a phrase?) I ended up at the pub, meeting up with one of the husbands I met back at brunch thing I did a few blogs back, we’ve met up a few times for drinks and a chat, how’s about that, Mr socially awkward only went and made a friend! Drinks were drunk, conversation was had, I made my way home… The BTS ride was uneventful, as was the walk from the station to my apartment... The lift ride from the ground floor to my apartment was a tad strange tho… As I got into the lift I was joined by an (Australian?) man who creepily turned to me and said “I don’t think these buttons actually control this lift…[creepy grin]….. I think when you press the button...[Even creepier grin]… It makes a light flash in the reception and THEY control the lift...[manic grin]” He got out of the lift before I did…. Not soon enough for my liking.
I woke up on Friday not feeling great…Not exactly ill... I just didn’t feel brilliant… But being the absolute hero that I am, I put that behind me and set off on the train to meet Jo at the airport, i’m really proud how well she’s done in regards to flying, she has a genuine fear of flying but she’s worked really hard, using various techniques to get to a point where she can fly without having a major panic attack… In regards to her fear of flying, she’s a member of a fear of flying forum on facebook (trust me, this is leading somewhere) she’d mentioned in passing about a woman on the forum, another fearful flyer who was flying from America to Thailand for her honeymoon (what is it with these fearful flyers putting themselves through hell for a holiday?) who she’d offered to meet up with and show round a market in Bangkok… I’d put it out of my mind… As in, totally forgot about it (who’d want to spend even a portion of their honeymoon with us?)... Anyway, it transpired that one Saturday night we’d be meeting up with them for drinks and a wander around a night market.
Now… I’m not great when it comes to meeting strangers… So Saturday night rolls around and i’m nervous… I have visions of Jo doing all the talking while I come across as an anti-social (which I am) arse hole (which i’m not… well I am… But I don’t go out of my way to be)… However, shock horror… I don’t hide in the background, in fact, I actually talk pretty much from the get-go… I surprised myself… Yay me.
The market was great (as always)... The cocktails were tasty (as always)… The tuk tuk (well, two tuk tuks) ride from the market was insane. Incredibly insane. Two tuk tuks racing each other through the streets of Bangkok… Amazing.
In short, we had a great night… I really enjoyed myself, drinks were drunk, laughs were had, new friends were made.
I woke up on Sunday feeling ill. Worse than I felt on Friday… Maybe the last nights drinking had been a mistake… My body was telling me that it was no longer my friend… In fact, I spent pretty much the whole of that week feeling ill… So no drinks on Thursday for me... In fact No drinks at all for me.
*Squeel of brakes*
[I just realised this is actually just a blog about what I got up to… So my opening statement saying this is not a normal blog is incorrect… Yes, I could go back and just delete the opening statement… Maybe I should… Maybe I will…. Obviously I didn’t because THIS bit is still here…]
It’s our wedding anniversary on May 24th… So this weekend we decided (being as it’s a bank holiday) to treat ourselves to a night in a hotel, we didn’t want to travel far so Jo chose the hotel that was made famous in the film “The Hangover II”... The Lebua, a hotel with one of (if not THE highest) rooftop cocktail bars in Thailand… Luckily I was no longer feeling ill too… Awesome!… Or it would have been had our night at the Lebua not coincided with “Wisakha Bucha Day” a Buddhist day where most places do not sell alcohol. Yes, we planned a night of drinking cocktails on a day when no alcohol would be available. Great.
We did, however, have a brilliant day wandering around the markets in China town… Where I managed to get hit (ever so slightly) by a car trying to drive down the narrow streets.
I wasn’t hurt, I did swear a bit... Learning how to say “cock” in Thai came in quite useful…
After shopping at the market… And after drinking two glasses of fruit juice (no alcohol.. Remember) which cost an absolute fortune by the way… We headed out into town to find some food… After wandering around for a while we found a Turkish restaurant where they were serving beer... YAY!
Food ordered… Beer being drunk… We became aware of the people sitting on the opposite side of the restaurant… Americans. Young Americans. Annoying, young Americans. Well… Even though there were four Americans sat at the table only one of them was annoying… But he was annoying enough to blight the whole table.
He looked to be in his early twenties… A loud… Obnoxious little man… There were two males and two females, Mr obnoxious, A black guy and the two girls… The black guy was quiet… He spoke, but he wasn’t annoying… Mr Obnoxious however was a bloody nightmare… He was an expert on everything… And everyone had to hear about it… The girls were hanging on his every word, and he played up to it… He started talking about a girl he met on a dating app (when did using dating apps become the norm?) he’s showing her picture to the group… “She’s a ladyboy!” he shouts so the entire restaurant can hear him.. “Look at her, she’s totally a ladyboy!”.. The black guy responds with “No she’s not”.. Mr Obnoxious (obviously confused by his friend DARING to challenge him) comes back with “Oh she is… She totally said for full disclosure i’m a ladyboy” At this point, I almost spit my beer out. Would any Thai actually use the phrase “For full disclosure”? Fuck off mate, you’re talking bollocks… Now he’s talking about how he is totally down for Thai culture.. “i’m a FARONG!” he shouts “It’s FARANG” I growl under my breath... What an absolute dick head. Last week I was enjoying the company of two brilliant Americans… Now, this prick is making me want to punch him… Now he’s talking about the shower in his apartment… “It’s so fucking hot!” he’s shouting “And it aimed right at my dick!”… Subtle move there Mr Obnoxious… Get the girls thinking about your penis… Unlike over here at our table where we just think you ARE a penis.
Americans… Swings and roundabouts.
The weekend ended, and life returns to normal… Despite going for drinks (sort of) at the hangover hotel, it dawns on me that I don’t think i’ve ever actually watched “The Hangover Pt II”… So I rectify this by watching the movie on Netflix.
WARNING! RANT INCOMING!
The Hangover pt II is set in Bangkok… In the same way Mary Poppins is set in London.
I’ll explain… Or try to.
The Hangover Pt II (hereafter referred to simply as The Hangover) gives the world a vision of Bangkok where crime is everywhere, the city is nothing but squalor (except for one nice hotel), monks will use martial arts to beat you up, monkeys deal drugs openly on the streets and (this bit really pissed me off) If you go into a go-go bar looking for a young boy (Some kid went missing in the film) the bar owner will ask how young you’re looking for… Because in Hollywood, hey paedophilia is funny and freely available in good old Bangkok.
Not MY Bangkok. My Bangkok is a safe place to live… Is it perfect? No. But it’s not the shit hole this film paints it to be.
Hollywood does this, it creates these false versions of countries… Cities.
Guess what, if you go to England, we don’t all wear bowler hats. We don’t all stand up and say “God save the Queen”, not all buses are red double deckers... And all of our children are not in the care of Mary fucking Poppins.
Am I overreacting? Probably. But this film really annoyed me. I love Bangkok and I hate to see it being given this false image… Especially such a negative false image.
I think I need a cup of tea….
So, until next time….