Friday, April 17, 2009

one night in bangkok (parental guidance suggested) [this is like ira glass saying it on this american life. it's not that dirty, but be warned.]

and the world's your oyster. Indeed, this may be true. After killing myself in Siem Reap with a bicycle and the most famous temples in the world, I was looking forward to some relaxation and craziness. The craziness began straight at the Thai border, where I was picked up by a madman driving a minibus. Now bus drivers in Asia, if I were to generalize, are much more willing to take risks than their Western counterparts. I have grown accustomed to that fact, and it doesn't much bother me when a bus driver takes a blind corner at high speed while overtaking a car. This is because the bus drivers are involved in what they are doing and mindful of doing a good job. A good job here means not killing anyone.

This bus driver was different. At the beginning of the trip, he took interest in another passenger's hat, and for the rest of the journey, he was putting it on, taking it off, and playing with it as he drove. He also spent a good amount of time texting, much to the dismay of most of the passengers. He stopped about 8 times, often in quick succession. He would stop to buy himself a snack, and then ten minutes later, he'd stop so he could go to the bathroom. He didn't let anyone else out, mind you, he just went on his own. At one point, a German lady asked him to drive more carefully, at which point he started driving at about 60 kph, leaving us vulnerable to rear end collisions. Then the German woman said you don't have to drive slow, just more carefully, and he went back to the way he was driving before. At the end of the trip, he hit a curb, and that was it. I plan to complain, but I'm not sure who to complain to.

But we all arrived at Khao San Road with no bodily harm. Khao San Road is the haven of all backpackers in SE Asia. It was built up quite a bit. I expected craziness from all sides...which I got, just not the type of craziness I expected. We arrived at the tail end of Thai New Year or Songkran. This means a giant waterfight. People armed with water pistols (big ones, like super soakers) and waterbottles with holes in the top push through the streets spraying anyone that catches their eye. That means if you're soaked you've been attracting attention, which I think is cool. The other side of this is the flour. Vendors are set up along the street selling bowls and little hard pellets of flour. You take some ice water, which is set up in giant coolers periodically down the street, and mix it with the flour to make a paste, which you then smear on others. I took it as a blessing, but there were some tourists who didn't go with the flow, and ended up screaming as they were sprayed with water and plastered with flour. When in Thailand, do as the Thai.

Then we went to Gulliver's Travels, a bar, for a fellow traveler's birthday. Now, I'm a bit awkward around working girls. I will remind you of a quote from a woman I met at Eric Weisbrod's 21st birthday party: 'What do you think this is, a library?' If you don't understand the context of that quote, please email me, and I'd be happy to explain. So the bar, at it's peak, about 90% of the female population was probably not there for pleasure. They were there for business. Well maybe they were there for pleasure, but not theirs. Or maybe they depends on who you talk to.


We were having fun, dancing and drinking, and at this point of the night, most men in the bar are paired up with one of these women. Now this thought has crossed my mind before, but not often: I'm afraid I'm an uptight, northeastern prude. I mean, you can do what you want, and I will not judge you. But man, the thought of a barful of people watching me begin courting someone explicitly only after my money leaves me cold. I can't do it.

So after perusing the bar for a bit, I thought I had found three Thai girls who were not there for business. After dancing a good long time with the three of them, one of the girls asked if I worked at the bar. This was a strange question to ask, but I told her the truth. Then she told me that they all worked for the bar. I bolted.

Now upon reflection, I wonder if what they meant was they were servers, or barbacks, or bartenders on a night off. If that's the case, I regret leaving them high and dry. But as I like to say, and you know I say this all the time, 'Err on the side of caution.'

'One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble.'--now if you don't know this quote, get Chess, the original cast recording, and listen to Murray Head wail. He is a legend. Legend.

1 comment:

Alex in China said...

I can't f'ing believe Gulliver's Travels is still around. I remember going there as an exchange student when I was 15!