Same Same But Different

Trip Start Dec 31, 2004
Trip End Apr 22, 2005

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Monday, January 3, 2005

I am thrilled to learn that Southeast Asians still use their maxim, "Same same but different." I first heard this in Vietnam and later saw it as the name of a cafe and on the back of our tour guide's tee-shirt when I went to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Today I saw it on a tee-shirt and a magnet and better yet it was said to me by a salesman when I was trying to buy some stickers. Think about it: 7UP and Sprite is certainly same same but different as is a Quick Shop, White Hen Pantry, any Bodega, and 7-11s, which by the way are about as ubiquitous in Bangkok as married white men and their rented Thai escorts.

I didn't do much today and as a matter of fact my entire day was same same but different. Same restaurant for lunch and dinner and I returned to the cafe for tea where I'd had breakfast. I went to a pharmacy today and got some pills for this cold that's been sucking the very life out of me. I've felt a dramatic improvement but am still a little off --I don't want to drink yet let's put it that way and I sound like Jeanne Moreau's voice over in The Lover after maybe she'd washed down three sheets of 30 grit sandpaper with a bottle of bourbon. Today's adventures are about health, which is terribly boring.

I walked for about 2 hours to two different dentists (I'm not in pain but there's work to be done and it's cheap here and reliable) and both were closed until tomorrow. I'd have called them but who'd have understood a single word I'd have coughed up? Then I took the BTS (the Skytrain) because I'm so damned cosmopolitan that I didn't even have to pay attention to anything I was doing and breezed through it like I'd been riding it for well over a year. There was an overweight white man (solo --though not for long --pretty soon he'll learn how to buy other things Thai) there struggling to figure out how to buy his ticket and I just dropped the coins in and pushed the correct button and greeted him with a Sa wat dii, slipped my card in the machine and was off. Nice knowin' ya, jackass --see ya on Sukumvit with a 16 year old whore on yer arm 'round cocktail hour.

I didn't really see anything special today -- just sort of hung out and watched people, which means that I saw about 900 prostitutes today before lunch. What are the hookers wearing in Bangkok nowadays you're asking yourself? It varies but a very short skirt is de reguer this season paired with clunky Lucite high heels as high as you can wear them. Can walk in them? Who can? Stagger in them anyway so that you look like a deer walking on thumbtacks.

My lunch was delicious and my dinner was too hot but still delicious. My God, if I don't start talking to people I'm going to loose my mind. Tonight at dinner I sat across from WHAT ELSE(?) a hooker and her john and then as I was having dessert right in front of me I got it again and this time I almost puked. It was really too much for any sane solo traveler who can't speak and has a cold and when English is the lingua franca you're just going to suffer and there's no two ways about it. The one to my left giggled and giggled and talked about how she was scared of snakes ("Wha ha ha ha ha YUK!! Oooooohh no no I hate sneeeks!Hahahahahahaha! AH!") and the "couple" in front of me shared a cell phone and were a little bit more discreet -- he spoke to the person on the phone in English naturally and when it was passed to her she spoke in Thai (which offered a brief respite between the cackling on my left). At one point while white man was doing some curious business deal and was rattling on and on then his painted lady got up from the table walked over to the 7-11 and returned with a beer and proceeded to drink it! They were already drinking a beer but I reckon she got a hankering for her favourite brand and well nothing else would do. All the while this was going on a man with a baby elephant walked by wanting to know if we wanted to feed it and pay him for the food that he already had in his hand. Listen people I can't make this shit up. I refused but wanted to get a shot of it but he whisked the thing away before I could get my camera charged up. I motioned for the bill and just then a woman came up to me with a bird in a little cage saying, "Good Buddha luck! You free bird! Good luck! Good Buddha luck!" I declined because what happens is that you pay for the bird's release and the damn thing flies back and hops back in its cage. Again, this shit really happens -- like clockwork.

After dinner I meandered around my neighborhood and decided to see who was playing at the outdoor bar next door as they have signs up announcing their latest talent who will undoubtedly slaughter a 70s disco tune and render it unintelligible. And the singer tonight ladies and gentlemen was none other than Mum Laconics. I imagine her repertoire to be rather brief if a bit unfriendly. I swear to God I don't even have this good an imagination and I'm going to document Miss Laconics if it kills me.

Right before I walked into this Internet cafe I had to pass the little European cafe where they make decent coffee. There seated at a table was what else but a lady and her customer only this time the hooker had a 5:00 shadow pushing through the pancake makeup and you know what I thought? Same, same but different.

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