Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes Part 12
Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes 12
Sometimes it is hard to look back and identify why we did things in our lives. For instance: in my case, I can't remember why I went to Thailand in the first place. Was I responding to peer pressure? No. Did I have any friends there? No. Did I have a business reason for going? No. Did a friend recommend the idea to me? No. I can't really remember how it all began. I had spent 20 years happily taking schooner vacations in Maine, and visiting Bermuda around Christmas, and going to the Virgin Islands. It was easy and familiar and a part of my life. And I am not normally one to do things on impulse. I suppose it probably had something to do with the fact that Thailand has a reputation as an exotic place. And maybe I might meet a girl who would smile at me. So I ordered some brochures from a trekking company out of Melbourne. The brochures and the pictures and the text and the price looked good. I sent a check. It all began so innocently and with so much hope–and it all went so bad from the start.
Timing is everything and my timing could not have been worse; because perfectly coincident with my trip to Thailand, I got SICK. Really, really sick. Maybe 'should not have even gotten on the plane' sick. Nobody knows what I had. Imagine a combination of upper and lower tract problems plus cough plus a river of brains coming out of my nose plus flu symptoms. On the 30 plus hours of travel that it took to get there, I blew my nose EVERY TEN MINUTES. I blew my nose on airplane magazines, shirts, pants, towels, napkins, handkerchiefs, Kleenex, toilet paper, cardboard, headrest nappies, toilet seat covers, discarded tampon wrappers, diaper table covers, etc. On the 13 hour flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong, the only reason the guy next to me did not kill me is that he had some kind of asthma problem and he coughed every ten minutes for 13 hours.
When I finally deplaned at midnight in Bangkok it was 90 degrees with 80 per cent humidity. I could barely stand. I had an almost overwhelming desire to just lay down on the cool floor and die. There hundreds and hundreds of people on the plane. Because I had been in the rear of the plane in coach, everyone else was ahead of me. By the time I got to the head of the Immigration line I was in no mood for stupidity. That is when it started. The Immigration official asked to see my Declaration form. I told him that I wasn't leaving the country, I was entering the country. I have travelled to many other countries. The Declaration form is the form that you fill out to declare what you have purchased and how you have behaved while in the country. Unless you are clairvoyant you couldn't possibly fill out this form in advance. So I hadn't filled it out. You do not need to fill out a Declaration form on entering a country. Clearly, I had never been to Thailand before. The Immigration official told me that I would have to fill out and present for his perusal a Declaration form before I could enter the country. As he handed me the blank form, he said snidely: "Now you will be very late." To which I replied, "NO SHIT SHERLOCK!". This is an American saying that means you have just stated the obvious–you jackass. This was a mistake. In America you can be very, very aggressive and get away with it. He did not have a happy face–but preventing me from entering the Kingdom probably meant more paperwork–so he let it go.
So now, where to fill out the form?! I move over to one of the empty Immigration counters and start filling out the form. I am instantly told that I can't use ANY of the empty Immigration counters to fill out the form. So I walk all the way to the right where there is a non-Immigration counter and again start filling out the form. Instantly again, two British accented pilots show up and inform me that the counter is for pilots only and that I have to vacate the premises IMMEDIATELY–NOW–SIR. I move. I am running out of options and I am so so sick. I am disgusted. So I just lay down prone on the floor and start filling out the form. Two Thais show up immediately and help me to my feet with the care and concern that you would show to a mental patient. Apparently, a Thai would never lay on the floor and fill out a form because of loss of 'face'. I must be deranged. Finally a light dawns. I go in the bathroom. I go into a stall. I sit on the floor in the toilet stall and use the toilet seat as a table. Welcome to Thailand.
The taxi ride into the city takes forever because the expressway hasn't been built and I am going all the way to the Vientai hotel on the western edge of the city. On arriving, I find that my contracted housing is not available. I am being stiffed by the tour company. This is a mistake. A mistake that they are making. Because I am 'middle-aged' man! Two things happen to you when you become a middle-aged man. The first thing that happens to you is that suddenly your nose hairs and ear hairs start growing like crazy. If you don't trim them at least once a week, you start to look like some guy who is making bombs in his basement. The second thing that happens to all middle-aged men is that they become experts at contracts. I have copies of my housing contract and of my tour contract with me. I lay them on the desk and ask to see the director of the tour company. A 25 year old woman named Cherie is called down to talk to me. She is politically correct, curvy, fertile, and totally hip. I am 'middle-aged' man. By the time we are done 'talking' she is convinced that she does not like me. The feeling is mutual. But I have my housing. She is also my guide.
The next day around 2pm; myself plus the others in the tour plus Cherie take a trip down Khao San Road to a little restaurant. This is a 'get acquainted' session. Now Khao San Road from about 7pm to about 1pm is a fun place. It is basically a block party. But Khao San Road in the afternoon is a hot, boring, stupid, filthy-looking place. So far, I am completely under whelmed by Thailand. I could be sailing in the Virgin Islands instead. Or motor biking with friends in Bermuda. We go into the place and go up to a room on the second floor. There are no windows or skylights, no ventilation, no ceiling or floor fans, no air-conditioning, and no furniture. It is an oven. Refugees live better than this. Prisoners live better than this. It is the Law.
Menus are handed out. Then a voice behind me starts asking people what they want. It is the voice of a young woman. When it comes my turn to order, I turn and look up. And there she is. The reason I have come back to Thailand twice a year since then. Objectively speaking, she was just a young woman in flip-flops, shorts, and a T-shirt. But looking at this woman it was not possible to be objective. She was quite simply the embodiment of SEX. And she knew it. If she had been raised on an island and had never had a single contact with an adoring male, she would still have known it. It was in her bones. You could read it in her eyes. If you picked her up like a suitcase and tipped her down, SEX would have run out of the top of her head. A dark, dusky, musky fluid stream would have run out all over the floor. She wasn't wearing jewellery, or makeup, or heels, or bodyshaping garments. She didn't need them. And she totally dominated the room. It was her room until she decided to leave. She had the Power.
Suddenly, I realized that nothing I had done up until then mattered. I had spent my life basically going from woman to woman. I had never married, or committed, or had children. On paper, I was an experienced man. But looking into her eyes it all came to zero. I would have to start all over. I felt like a mouse in a room with a cat. I was suddenly trivial, transparent, powerless. The tour companies 'get acquainted' meeting went on for some time. I could see people's lips moving. I couldn't hear a thing. I was beginning the next stage of my life.
I still can't quite identify why I went to Thailand in the first place. But I know the EXACT reason I kept going back and back and back and back. There on Khao San Road in that stupid, stifling hot room, I saw my future. And it was wearing flip-flops, shorts, and a T-shirt!
More thoughts from Dana.