January 19, 2005

Thailand: One Night in Bangkok

How good it feels to be alive tonight
The moon is shining in the sky
Reminding me of so many other nights
But they're not like tonight –s.w.

It is lovely here, though in the first hours outside it did not take long for me to lose voice from pollution assaulting my vocal tracts. Happily my body is well on its way acclimating to undesirable environmental contaminations and I no longer manifest short term effects...

I don't normally do massages cuz I'm ticklish, but after the 28hour trip my entire left side was stuck in a knot from being curled up in a ball on those horrible small seats. So I went for a Thai massage. Do you know, they BEAT you vigorously with their fists, feet, elbows, and knees, it is not relaxing at all. In fact I think I forgot completely about the knot, drawn entirely to the pain the small lady caused me on that mat. When she was done I was left for dead, face-down on the mat. A small girl accosted me with a smile and a pleasant, "would you like some tea?" "Does that come with an ambulance?" I wanted to bark back.

Common sense—don’t leave home without it. My friend DX and I had different schedules when I arrived in Bangkok so I was on my own for my first days here. On my second night I was alone and wide-awake from lingering jet lag so at 10pm I headed to Patpong to check out the nightlife. I'd heard from some of you that this was worth seeing (ha ha you snort).

Like most international cities Bangkok doesn't sleep, even on a Tuesday night. And what I thought was an entertainment district aka dance clubs turned out to be the "entertainment" district aka the infamous red light strip. Hmm. I was wondering where that was. Well I wasn't about to high-tail it back home so I befriended some Australians and had drinks with them at an establishment where some very interesting skills were being performed onstage (who knew women could do that down there). All was good until I started home and found that the only transportation in which local language skills were not prerequisite to navigate was the skytrain (yey for pictures) and that shut down at 1am. My Thai is quite poor—nonexistent really if you count the fact that my tonal range is off. On top of that I was earlier in the evening pickpocketed and I only then realized my contact card for D was gone. I could not recall her number or address. I was positive her street was Pay Tai (it was not), and since my pronunciation was off by tones and missing a syllable I could not coerce the cab drivers into comprehending me: "No Pad Thai street Pad Thai food", they smiled humoringly, probably thinking, "stupid farang" (foreigner).

It is a downright sinking feeling to be lost in the middle of an unfamiliar city at the wee hours of morning, in one of the most hardcore red light districts no less, with little money, relieved of credit and calling card, and no idea where 'home' is. Luckily I had that day hopped onto one of the local buses for a round trip sight-see to check out a part of town, and the landmarks in the skyline I was able to recall from that trip guided me in the right direction. D was in full panic, contacting friends, the US Embassy, and the local police. The very next day she made me repeat her number fifty times, and marched me to a cellular provider to open an account. So now y'all can call me, +661.910.8214. She also tattoed her address and telephone number on my ankle with a permanent marker like I was a piece of luggage.

Ya, it's been interesting so far in Bangkok.

4 comments:

Un des oliviers de Flo said...

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Anonymous said...

Oh dear~! And you make us laugh so hard about it now.... you are good at that, you sly tricky (smart) woman!
Susan
@Aloha...

Greg said...

Some facts about Pat Pong: It used to be a pineapple plantation back in the day, but just before WWII, Old Man Patpongpanich bought it for a song, and soon took advantage of the incoming troops on R&R. It's still owned by the family today and brings in over 10 million baht per month in rent.

Kampuchea Crossings said...

interesting, i did not know that! will have to look up old man patpongpanich. great story, thanks!

 
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