Apr 27th, 2009
It’s been a long time. I shouldn’ta left you. Without some dope
beats blogs to step to. There’s a small Flickr set to step to, too.
Hi. All is not quiet on the Eastern front. I’m in Bangkok, by the way. And it’s not been one night like Murray Head might say, it’s been four. (By the way, what the hell is that song actually about? Anyone? Stiles?)
Wait. Thailand? What? Where’d India go?
Apologies for leaving you hanging. India at least deserves a summary. Bombay was convoluted at times, busy, crazy, conservative, occasionally off-ripping, but good. I’m glad I was there. I like it. It was colorful and certainly energetic. It developed a je ne sais quoi after a while. Indians will say “I love my India,” and I won’t say I’m totally with them, but I can see where they’re coming from a little better now.
Upon arrival in Bangkok, everything was about 180 degrees different; suddenly extremely organized and orderly. For example, the taxi from the airport: the cars were nice, new, and fast, they stayed in their own lanes, they didn’t honk, they obeyed the signals. The other travelers I’ve met here keep saying that Bangkok is overwhelming, the traffic is crazy, etc. Bah!, I say. Stay with 20 million Indians in a 200 square mile area, ride a rush hour train with more than 5,000 people in it (that’s designed to carry 1,700 people) and then get back to me. 1
We’ll save the pensive India summary for later. In the mean time, here are a couple of oh-so-pensive India pictures. Seen near the Khar Road train station in Mumbai:
I met these guys. They’re both cool and in a hard rock band. The guy on the right is a drummer and the Indian duplicate of a friend named Adam back home.
Khao San Road: Backpackers, Ladyboys, and Ping Pong Shows
In Bangkok, Khao San Road is aptly described by Wikipedia as a “probably the most profound worldwide example of a ‘backpackers’ ghetto’.” Indeed, free online encyclopedia.
The streets are packed full of lights and backpackers of every shape, size, and color. Music blasts. Street performers show off. Ladyboys prowl around. Thai girls (that actually are girls) in short skirts try to get you to drink at their joint. Dudes walk around selling lighters – some of which have a flashlight on one end that projects porn. (How handy! I, for one, find it annoying to light things on fire without easy access to a projectable picture of a chick and three dudes going to town!)
Some of the foreigner guys walking around have cute young Thai girls on their arms – who’s company they’ve more than likely paid for. And sure enough, spend more than a minute walking around as a farang guy and you’ll be hit up by guys with porn pictures asking if you want a girl (“Cheap! Very, very young! Special price, my friend!”) or to see a “ping pong show.” (Yes. A ping pong show is not a demonstration of table tennis. It’s what you’re thinking. Only apparently not just with ping pong balls. Darts, pens, string, whistles, candles, and even frogs. Frogs? Mm! Sexy and sanitary!) More gory details here for the curious or oblivious.
Khao San is one of those places that I’m glad I saw, but I got tired of quickly.
That said, the best Khao San moment was definitely when an American from the hostel I went out with accepted a challenge to a for-money thumb-wrestling match from a spunky and awesome 12 year-old girl. And lost. Twice.
My comment immediately after he accepted the challenge was, “Whatever happens, I guarantee he’s losing that 100 baht.” See for yourself:
You might see Crystal Ball Guy performing as well:
Gulliver’s on Khao San Road
Gulliver’s is a bar at the end of Khao San. Standing outside, some drunken Brit stumbled up the stairs, made eye contact with me and enthusiastically yelled out, “The stuff of legends, man!” Right. It seems normal enough at first blush. Certainly not red-light. Pool tables, dance floor, TVs, drinking. Normal until you notice that more than 75 percent of the patrons are Thai girls in short skirts. And they’re all eying you.
“Something tells me these girls didn’t come to this place for a fun night out on the town with their girl friends,” I mention to one of my compatriots. I now have a sense of what it might be like to be a woman who walks into a bar full of dudes.
A perpetual Googler, I looked it up the next day and sure enough, these girls are glad to go home with you — for a price. I even found a blog written anonymously by one of the prostitutes offering the other view from the other side of the
bed fence. I quote:
Yesterday wasn’t as good as my first time, I have to say. I went with a farang but he only gave me 2,000 baht and my taxi home cost me 100 baht and I bought four drinks myself so really I didn’t make a profit of more than 1,500 baht.
… We sat there for ages, talking and smiling at farangs, but by midnight Anne was getting worried because Gullivers closes at one o’clock in the morning. Then two American men walked by. They were quite old, more than fifty, one was bald and the other had white hair. They both had big beer bellys. I don’t know why farangs like to have beer bellys but a lot of the farangs in Gullivers do. The bald one was called Eric and he liked me and the white-haired one was Gerry and he liked Anne. They bought us drinks and talked for a while and then they asked how much for us to go with him. Anne said 3,000 baht but they said that was too expensive and that the night before they had paid 2,000 baht so Anne said okay, 2,000 baht was enough.
… The sex with Eric was really bad. Terrible. Even with my eyes closed it was bad. He couldn’t stay hard and he blamed me and said that I was a starfish and I didn’t understand what he meant.
So there you go. Suspicions confirmed. Those two American guys she’s talking about could easily be the awful, awful drunk business men I sat next to on the plane to Bangkok who regaled each other with expletive, smut, and prostitute-laden stories of their Bangkok exploits. With a bunch of kids sitting around. Nice, guys.
11 Months on the Road
Bangkok is a cool city. I’m a bit road-weary, though. It’s been almost 11 months on the road now. I currently have really no idea where I’m going next and it’s a bit hard to get excited about places. It’s almost like it’s tough to faze me after Mumbai. There’s one of Thailand’s famed Full Moon parties on May 9th in Ko Pha Ngan. (20-30,000 partiers in an all-night pukefest. Hrm.) Everyone says Chiang Mai in the north is awesome.
Tokyo is one of the few places I’ve thought about that really sparks my fancy, but it also sounds like a nice way to roundly screw the rest of my dwindling budget.
In the bigger sense of things, the rest of my life looms around the corner and it’s hard to ignore. I’ve got extensive and growing bulleted lists of things to do and options for when I return. I find myself frequently considering big life questions without easy answers.
Who doesn’t love the ‘Kok?
Some Bangkok highlights and other goings-on in photo ‘n caption form!
…where I tried this white mystery vegetable. I tried to buy just one, but the lady gave it to me. I took a bite of it immediately after she handed it to me and the four people selling vegetables all started laughing at once. I think you’re supposed to cook them first. It didn’t taste very good.
The next night, I went with out with American Ashley and a South African dude to a place called the Bed Supper Club, which is a club with beds on the second floor. The sign outside helpfully reminded us not to fornicate in the club. That did not, however, stop the lusty couple on the steps outside from getting about as close as you can while leaving your clothes on. Ashley was nice enough to let me pretend to take a picture of her so I could get the couple. Unfortunately, I missed the part where her leg was wrapped around his waist.
Two Great (and atypical) Hostels
Bangkok seems to have hostels figured out. Despite their strange names, both Niras Bankoc and Lub D hostel are fantastic places to stay. The land of smiles did not dissapoint upon arrival at Niras from the airport. Venus, pictured to the right presenting a delicious iced coffee, is hands-down the most pleasant person I’ve met on the trip and is high on my list of Most Pleasant People Ever. The hostel itself is beautiful: teak wood flooring, a bamboo garden on the roof, big screen TVs, and attached coffee shop.
Due to a full house at Niras, I’ve moved to another place called Lub*D Hostel, which hardly fits into the standard “hostel” mold and is touted as the “coolest hostel in all of Southeast Asia” by Matador Nights. I’ve never seen a hostel so well-designed and with so much thought put into it. It’s simply cool. In fact, I was inspired to do a quick walk through video of it so you too can experience the glory of Lub*D:
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more news from the front. Flickr set.