Stickman Readers' Submissions August 13th, 2003

Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes Part 6

Thai Anecdotes And Thoughts Part 6

1. I am standing in front of a huge mother elephant. This is only a good idea if she thinks it is a good idea. She could kill me in an instant. Everyone else has gotten up on their elephants by using a ladder for tourists. But I have been chosen out of the crowd to somehow climb up over the elephant's face. I get this a lot–being chosen for goofy things. I imagine it is because I am so capable and athletic looking. It's probably because I look stupid. Anyway, the deal is that I put my foot somewhere on her trunk and then I climb up over her face. I love elephants. If the mahouts and touts would meet me at the airport I would sign up right away. But I've also learned a few things. First, elephants look slow and ponderous; but they can spin on a dime. Second, they have big big smart brains. Whatever you are thinking, they are probably ahead of you. Third, when they strike it is your last surprise. Mahouts are killed with regularity. My mahout senses my caution and says, "No problem." I look at the elephant. She looks at me. I imagine scraping my foot across her mouth, or sticking my knee in her eye, or slipping at the top and grabbing for her ear. But I'm on the fence. I might do this. Then I look at her left eye. And all of a sudden I feel as if I can travel right through her eye, up the nerve bundle to the brain, and into her brain. And I can hear what she is saying to herself. And this is what I hear–"Go ahead you little stupid fucking puke; try and climb up my face. Go ahead, asshole; I dare you!" I walk around to the tourist ladder and climb up with the fat ladies.

Free Party at Cloud nine

2. I'm in a long tail boat going across a huge lake. We have to cross the lake in the early, misty morning and then go up a narrow river to a village. People are expecting us. The boats engine coughs, wheezes, and dies. It has run out of fuel. There isn't any extra fuel. We are in the middle of a watery nowhere. The Thai driver curls up and goes to sleep. We drift. Forty minutes later, another boat appears. Fuel is exchanged. No one at the village has left without us. Thais have a different sense of time.

3. I'm in the jungle on an elephant tour. We are in extremely remote jungle near the Burma border, but the path is used regularly. I notice that the path has been burned off on either side. All the underbrush is gone. Just charred earth. This isn't agriculture. It seems senseless and time intensive. I can't get anyone to tell the tourist why this has been done. Then it hits me. Snakes. It is done so that everyone, elephants and people, can spot snakes. I am very happy to be in the elephant basket.

4. I go into a transvestite bar just 'to see'. I am green. Instantly, three gorgeous trannies grab me, throw me on a couch and assault me. Two pull down their tops and are rubbing their breasts in my face. The third has her hand in my pants. I start to get a hard-on. Now they want 1500 baht to 'do me'. It's all too much, too fast. I leave.

5. Elephants again. . . . I once read an article that circus elephants can't go up an incline more than 17 degrees. So the circus people have to make sure that in every city that they go to that the ramps into the arenas aren't more than 17 degrees. Well , I'm on an elephant tour and we come to a river. The river bank drops straight down. Down go the elephants. Up in the basket I have my feet planted on the front rail and my back arched over the back rail. I am almost vertical. On the other side the bank wasn't as steep but it was no pansy-assed 17 degrees either. I think these circus elephants have fooled circus management and they are probably having a big elephant laugh over it.

6. I go into the Royal Gardens Mall on Beach St. in Pattaya. They have a nice shoe store. They have nice crocodile shoes. They are not custom crocodile quality but considering that it is a shoe store in a mall, the shoes are nice. Good price and I can't get them in the states. A stunning Thai girl asks if she can help me. I ask for my shoe size in a wide width. The Earth stops spinning. Incomprehension. Now I am pantomiming. She is getting that frightened look. Another piece of sex candy arrives to help. Still no progress. The manager comes over. A light dawns. The shoes aren't made in widths. One width, Thai width, only. I leave. Too bad. I'd have bought a lot of shoes.

7. Next to the Nana Entertainment Plaza in Bangkok, one of the most well known Red Light districts in the world, is a woman who sells magazines and newspapers on the sidewalk. She's got a big business. 95% of her customers are in the sex business. You go into the bars behind her and you buy your Viagra and anti-biotics and condoms across the street. I ask her if she has any porno magazines. Porno with Thai models. She acts surprised and slightly shocked. I get the impression that I am supposed to feel that I thought, or did, or said something inappropriate. Please. . . . Give me a Break. . . !

8. I go to my first 2nd floor Patpong whorehouse. I'm a newbie. The place is horrible and slightly scary, the girls are not too appealing. One girl is sitting in the bleachers crying. I'm short and there is nothing for me. I have to leave the next morning. I won't get a second chance. Before this, I spent 8 days on a politically correct trekking tour where I couldn't even look at a woman or the feminist guide from Melbourne would call the police. I'm about to leave.

Then I hear a door shut and I turn around. Out steps an Essan stunner in an empire waist dress and heels. Her breasts are spilling out the top. She's about 4' 8'' tall. My vacation is saved.

9. I take Noi on a trip to Chiang Mai. I look into the all night train from BKK to Chiang Mai. It's 14 hours. I'll get a first class cabin. But wait a minute. If Noi and I spend 7 hours sleeping, there is still another 7 hours to account for. Too boring. Too long.

So instead I book us on a plane trip. It's only an hour. Noi has never been on a plane ever. Never taken off, never landed, never looked out the window and seen the Earth below. Never been exposed to all this wonderful miracle technology. I give her the window seat. Do you know what she liked the most? Do you know what made the biggest impression on her? Do you know what she found captivating? The seat-back fold-down table. She must have lowered and raised the seat-back fold-down table at least 15 times. And we think of marrying these children!? Are we nuts?!

10. I'm somewhere west of Kanchanaburi at a monastery. There is a cave with a Buddha. You can go in. Sitting in the cave off to the right is an elderly monk. He is smoking cigarettes. One after the other. Hour after hour. Year after Year. He isn't friendly, or accommodating, or smiling, or informational. He isn't even connected. He probably does an 8 hour shift. And when he isn't smoking cigarettes, he is chewing betel nut. His rotten, colored teeth are stumps. Betel nut is a narcotic. Cigarettes are addictive. This guy is a drug addict masquerading as a philosopher in orange. I decide I'm OK. I'll just stick to being me. I'll be a good, quiet, generous, open minded tourist. But I'll be a careful buyer.

11. Lek and I are in a tuk-tuk. Normally, I would never do this alone because tuk-tuk drivers are a criminal underclass that is tolerated by Thai society for cultural reasons. The Thais know how to use the service but no one else should. But Lek is doing the talking so I assume I am somehow protected and it will be ok. It is negotiated as a 20 baht ride. When we get to our destination, I give the driver a 50 baht note. Now the game starts. He can' t find the change. But he has picked on the wrong guy. I have already lost interest in Lek so face is not an issue. And I am on vacation, so time is not an issue. I just sit back and wait. I can sit there until the sun goes down. I don't give a fuck. Eventually, this elderly guy finds the change. As I am climbing down he slaps me in the face. I don't retaliate. He knows I can't. Farangs have no rights. Not even the right to defend ourselves. Would he have done this to a Thai? Of course not, he would have ended up dead.

The experience reminded me of a recurring dream. There is a wonderful Civil War novel called Andersonville by Bruce Caton. It chronicles a civil war prisoner of war camp. The camp became a Darwinian theatre where the strong preyed on the weak. As soon as you entered the camp, the predators and the bullies would strip you of your clothes and possessions. Every day after that was a fight for life. One day on a given signal, all the weak and the wounded and the disenfranchised and the dispossessed rose up and beat the crap out of the bullies. It was a planned en mass uprising that completely changed the social dynamic. My recurring dream is that someday all the farangs rise up on a given signal, and beat the crap out of the Thai nearest them.

12. When you go to the Royal Palace you should buy a paper umbrella. They sell them across the street. Inside the walls of the palace is always suffering hot. And the glare off the buildings can be blinding. So everyone wears sunglasses. And by wearing sunglasses they deprive themselves of what they came to see. Part of the architectural wonder of the Royal Palace is the tiles and paints and gems(?) on the walls. With the reflection from the sun, the decorated walls are fabulous. But if you mute the effect with sunglasses you miss everything. Buy a paper umbrella.

13. I'm on a trekking tour. I don't really know where we are. We are waiting for a train that will take us to Kanchanaburi. We are in the middle of nowhere and it is blistering hot. We wait 3 hours. We wait under the shade of an outdoor restaurant. Lying on the benches. Panting like dogs. The train comes and stops. We scramble across tracks and sharp pea gravel and help each other on board. The train is unbelievably hot. No comforts. No fans. No air-conditioning. All the windows are broken. Nothing but bare steel. And it is slow. It ambles. Men walking to the hangman's noose move faster. But I start to get into it. Little things lose meaning. Time slows down. I can feel the warm steel on my bare feet. I even like the dirt. I am regressing. Simplifying. Stripping down to essentials. It is the hot season. The fields are bare and brown. You can't tell the tapioca fields from the other fields. It all looks the same. A woman comes by selling food. I buy a beer and some mystery meat on a stick. Sticking my head out the window is delicious, like a dog riding in a car. There are two Japanese girls on the tour. College girls. Virgins. They are sticking their heads out the windows and taking pictures of each other. I walk up beside one, put my arm around her waist, and smile for her friend with the camera. I can feel the girl's abdominal muscles cramp and flex beneath my hand. But she doesn't move. I can feel her yearning flowing into me. Everyone is laughing. I love being a tourist.

Stickman says:

More wisdom from Dana…