Bored and eating scorpions. .

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
Trip End Oct 01, 2006

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Truly there is nothing to do in this town if you don't like to get drunk every night, and perhaps when I was 20 that would have been the case, but at my age, the novelty of drinking slowly wears off, the bars really all look the same anywhere in the world, unruly drunks and dickhead bouncers get old, and hangovers become cumulative. Going out on a good piss, as the brits would say, is fun for a night or two, or, if one has a good "crew," even three or four, but after that the body cries out for detoxification, and after sobering up, one tends to realize that this city is actually boring.
Once you have seen some temples, maybe a monument, perhaps a palace, you are pretty much at a loss for what to do, unless, like the voracious consumer types, you are into shopping for cheap novelties that you really could get for the same price almost anywhere.
There are any number of tourist trick items--huge zippo-style lighters, cigarette cases, cheap shell jewelry, funny "native" hats (which probably haven't been in style for centuries, if they ever were in fact, "native). Perhaps the most memorable of all of these are the women sporting these hats, who wander around with carved wooden frogs, a sort of noisemaker with a stick that is rubbed up the carved ridges on the back of the frog, producing a rough approximation of a frog sound when in the hands of the seller, and a dull grating noise when in the hands of Farang.
These travelling hawkers seem to just not remember you. They come every day to the restaurant on the first floor of Chada, and, though not a thing has changed since the day before, still go through their spiel, showing their touristy souvenir items over and over to me, and me still smiling, shaking my head no, and waving them off. Perhaps I should try the Indian-style head wobble on them, that might confuse them enough.
An Irish-English friend of mine, Kiran, and I were discussing the fact that though the women walk around all the time, showing their wares, no-one ever seems to buy them, and, in fact, it took 4 days before we were able to spot a tall and whiter-than-white man even looking at one. He actually bought, and also that day I myself saw another one of the if-he-were-any-whiter-he-would-be-transparent farang making the same purchase. Perhaps it was something in the air that day, but it proved out the theory that someone must be buying these accursed things, othewise they would not be sold in such profusion. I learned to do a reasonable imitation of the frog sound, and, after a day of poking fun at the frog ladies, (with some of them poking me with a stick in return), they generally don't bother me at all anymore, knowing that I can make the same sound with my hands. .
I'm going to give one of them a heart attack when I actually leave, and buy one or two of them for gifts. . .

So the days wear on here in Bangkok, at home in Boston, my roommate is moving on the day I get back, so I have had to stay here because of the fast internet connection, frantically scanning craigslist, and screening potential candidates who will share my living space upon my return, strangers, actually that I cannot meet in person until they are entrenched in my apartment for a month before I even return.
Luckily, having been diligent enough, that problem has been solved. I now have a new roommate, and I have never even met her, a traveller who has apparently been working on yachts for the last number of years, and now wants to finally settle back on dry land. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, one can do business such as this by remote these days, and it is much less of a crapshoot in the roomie-finding business.
So with my boring personal business maintenance out of the way, having wasted 6 perfectly good days in Thailand in the tourist hell of Bangkok, I will finally be on my way tomorrow to Krabi, to see the "karst" formations that jut from the blue sea, and then on through to singapore, from which I will fly at last to australia, a country that actually speaks english, or at least does so after a fashion.

I don't want to say that I have not had a good rest here, I have, and many memorable discussions concerning politics, religion, and sex(including a brilliant and spirited discourse about **ahem**giving "oral" to a man, a question asked of Mihal by a nice girl from San diego--funny to see both sides of the coin, as it were, comparing tips . . er, no pun intended. . ), the three things that make fodder for discussion in the minds of most people. Also the food is wonderful, one needs only go down a dirty back alley to find cheap and plentiful eats, mostly nice and spicy, and served with a smile. I have noticed that the Thais tend to smile at you more when they see you in a place that is not already full of bumbling farang.
I will tell you sometime, perhaps, on a cold winter night over a bottle of bordeaux, about my foray into the real dark underworld, trying to get some valium so I could sleep through one hot and sticky night in my little sweatbox, and how that night ended with myself and a good thai fellow (dressed in a semi-native american-style) in a nearly empty karaoke bar singing frank sinatra, and how, at 5 in the morning, the drunks stagger around like that small sri lankan town mentioned an entry back, or sit on the kerbs, still drinking or sleeping. I'll tell you about the "crew" we have had here, 2 Irish, or semi-irish, one american, and one japanese, who could toss back beer like a samurai, how to recognize a woman that is, well, not really a woman, and the big gym-strong farangs that have no idea how to tell the difference (surprise, surprise Biff!), and how the thais love their king. Monday is a yellow-shirt day, in honor of him. .
I may even relate the story of our famous tuk-tuk race through the streets at 4 am, of the indians who came to the second (yes, i was dragged, quite literally to another one) show I went to see, Punjabis and northerners, mostly from delhi, cutting loose in Bangkok, as such things are "not possible" in India, and of the bands, all thais, who imitate the playing of american and european style music, often really well, often not so well. Thais are not meant to sing delta-style blues, I can put it that way.
I can tell you what a deep-fried scorpion tastes like (not too bad, actually, a little like chicken. .), and what mekong whiskey does to your head. I have learned not to walk past a certain place in the middle of the khao san, as the bouncers pick fights, and actually assault patrons (and in my case passers-by) for absolutely no reason other than they are pumped up on some kind of drug, possibly steroids, or some such. No harm done, but I dislike being pushed around, especially from behind.
The nights in Bangkok are not all that dangerous, in fact, this place is tamer than I expected. Boston at night is much more risky, though there are things going on here that one does not ask about as well. Best to leave well enough alone as far as all that goes.
I'll tell you about the fire twirler, perhaps, who finally made enough money to go back to china, and how, looking past him, I saw my old friends from Manali, Leo and Mim, who had been teaching yoga there in India, and now are getting married here in thailand. Pity they are having the wedding on the 3rd, at which time I will have to be down on the tip of the peninsula in singapore to catch my flight.
So, I have been in Thailand for a week now, and I can say with some certainty that I really have not seen anything that you could call thai. Or at least not pure thai. Perhaps the once rich culture that flourished in this trading center of southeast asia has been watered down by farang influence, and the want of money. Greed, I am convinced, is really at the bottom of all problems and suffering in this world, one way or another. I hope it is a little better in the south, this city is getting old fast.
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