Jai gets a phone call from her nephews wife back in Kham Na Di this morning asking when we are coming ack as they are going to make a start on cutting the rice this morning. Oh what a shame, we will miss it !! Still, I dont suppose they will have got much done by the time we get back next week so I wont miss out completely.
By 10:30 it is still raining, and quite heavily by now, but have a few things to do so head out anyway. First off I have to change some money whilst we are in Chiangmai and get it paid into my bank account. As my branch of ther bank is here it will not cost me any charges to make a deposit here and with the weekend approaching the bank will be closed
. I was going to say that I walked to the money changer that I sue but perhaps waded would be a better word to use. Most of the roads are running in water and a couple of times I had to wade through about 6 inch deep floods. When I get there I get a measly exchange rate of 47.5 which is better than the 46.06 that I got at the airport when we got back here but still a long way short of the 70 baht I was getting just a few years ago in 'the good old days'. Take this straight to the bank where I also have to get a new ATM card as mine runs out at the end of this month. All of the staff are wearin quite nice 65th anniversary of the bank T-shirts and when I ask if there is any chance they would like to give one as a present to a good customer I am politely refused. Oh well, if you dont ask you get nothing.
As I get back to the room the sun is actually just breaking through and Jai has returned with some food for lunch.
Head out for a long walk in the afternoon and make a stop to use the internet en-route and catch up with this Journal.
As ever I am amazed by the number of ladyboys that are here in town. They still make me feel most uneasy but most can be quite amusing ...
Ladyboys … that takes balls
I was sat in a bar a little while ago and overheard the two farangs sat next to me discussing whether the person who had served their drinks was male, female, or somewhere from within that indistinct middle ground. Later I heard “that takes balls” and thought that they had got things completely wrong !! Actually they had changed conversations and were talking about steeplejacks but it got me thinking – too much free time on my hands perhaps ?. When I first came to Thailand many years ago there were ladyboys around naturally but is it just my perception or are there getting more and more of them today ? Perhaps they are breeding – not with each other of course unless medical science has made a leap forward (backward ?!). Perhaps the Thai government (OK, that really is a leap into a fantasy world) has a genetic research lab that no-one knows about and is manufacturing them. Perhaps we are experiencing ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ and the ladyboys are actually visitors from Planet Krathoey. Who knows. Wherever they are coming from they are everywhere. Go in a shop and a ladyboy will serve you, buy a beer and the bar will have at least the one, turn on the TV and the program will have one as host(ess). I even went through a spell of paranoia when I thought they were following me around and quite frankly they give me the willies – not literally I should point out
. They say that in the animal kingdom certain species can detect when a person is nervous in their company and then plague that person on purpose. This must be me. I always used to attract the nutter to the seat next to me on buses and now I have become a ladyboy magnet. Perhaps someone could suggest appropriate counselling ? From a distance they can appear beautiful creatures in exotic dress with perfect make-up but up close they are all 6ft plus, with additional high heels, and are intimidating. When you hear “would you like a beer ?” and you turn around expecting to meet Lee Marvin or a WWF wrestler it can be quite a shock to find someone in a frock. Returning to the overheard comment, have you ever thought about what happens to all of the superfluous ‘meat and two veg’ ? Is there an underground trade in these body parts ? With the numbers involved it could be quite lucrative. Maybe the ladyboy could even use the money raised from the sale of superfluous organs to finance their own gender realignment. Maybe a customer could order from a catalogue selecting small, medium or large as required. Do you think it may be like an appendix or gallstone operation where the removed parts can be taken home in a jam jar as a souvenir to display on the mantelpiece ? Brings a whole new perspective to carrying an organ donors card. The mind boggles if you let it. I saw a snippet (bad choice of word) from a gender realignment surgery on TV in the UK once and perhaps the “that takes balls” comment was accurate. I crossed my legs and left them crossed for a few weeks, it was scary stuff. I have read that there are upwards of 250,000 krathoey in Thailand and for the lucky amongst those who have access to money, gender realignment surgery is widely available and at a cost far more favourable than in the west although still some 250,000 baht. Perhaps it is partly the incurred cost that makes so many ladyboys a little too enthusiastic in sharing the wonders of their silicon appendages with the world in general. More to be pittied than scorned , although they never seem to look for pity, are those without the finances who will have to live out their lives as a girl trapped in a boys body. Have you ever thought at what stage in the realignment process the ladyboy would switch from using the gents to using the ladies toilet ? Having someone stood at the urinal next to you wearing a dress can be a little disturbing. How do you identify a ladyboy in a bar if looking for female company ? Size of the hands, size of the feet, Adams Apple … I am sure everyone has their own foolproof method. Of course “you can only get lost if you care where you are going”. I read a letter in a newspaper from a young heterosexual American college guy who listed having sex with a ladyboy as one of his ‘must do’ activities whilst in Thailand. Well, it takes all sorts but if that is what the US college system is turning out I am glad that I missed that avenue. So OK, a jokes a joke, but when a ladyboy from my bar of choice in Chiangmai asked me if I wanted some milk from ‘her’ silicon implant breast then phoned in sick because of period problems I think things are going too far. The decision to switch genders could also be a career move. I can just hear the career advisor at school saying, “have you thought about becoming a ladyboy, I am sure there would be an opening for you on TV”. Well, maybe not. Perhaps there is a bigot in me trying to escape (“yes !”, I hear you say). I have no serious problems with what goes on behind closed doors but is it really a good grounding for Thai youth for them to be so popular on children’s TV ? Maybe this is just an indication of how well adjusted and accepting of everybody Thai people are and the problem is mine (“yes !”, I hear you say again). Thank goodness that the madness of political correctness has not reached Thailand yet and hopefully it never will. I believe the anti-discriminatory policies advocated by this body actually encourage discrimination through highlighting minority groups. I am equally sure that the PC lobby would come up with a more appropriate name than ladyboy as well; gender challenged perhaps. On a slightly more serious note I confess to a complete ignorance but is there a particular reason why this phenomenon is so common in this part of the world ? It has been said that transgender is more socially acceptable here so people are more likely to open up and reveal their true selves. In the west, however, where hostility and spite follow any sexual irregularity perhaps transgender is a bigger issue than is realized with people simply hiding their existence for fear of ridicule. So enough of my soapbox rantings. I am not a bigot, honest injun. At the end of the day they are harmless, more often than not good company and I am happy to live and let live. Being accepting of ladyboys I believe is to Thailands credit, encouraging them I have severe doubts about and finally, the day they make it compulsory I will be the first person on the plane out of Bangkok !! – Yes, being a ladyboy does take balls.
Great nights sleep and the beer induced haze of yesterday has gone completely. It is Jai's turn to go for breakfast so I also get to enjoy a lie in. Decide to make a move about 08:00 only to find that it has started raining so stay put in the room.