3rd Tour Of Duty (Tour De Force)
England, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, SE Asia? These were the options that I was tossing around as I had offers from friends in all the European countries to visit, but in my heart and soul I knew that the latter would win. My mind was firmly made up when I received an e-mail from my mate in NZ asking "Will you be my best man? I am marrying a girl in China." Does shit stink? My ticket was booked the next week.
My mate Brett is an ex South African who emigrated to New Zealand and joined the NZ police force. This bit of trivia will become relevant later on. He was the man who first planted the Thai seed in my mind after his first trip with the words "Pay your money and get there, you will not regret it!" I never have and never will. Standing at almost 2m tall, with myself much shorter, we made an odd travelling pair. Having already seen most of Thailand and Cambodia, my eyes were firmly set on seeing Vietnam and now with the option of also seeing a bit of China, I was raring to go. The plan was that I would leave a week before Brett and organise my Vietnam visa in Thailand (another excuse to spend some time in LOS:-) and then meet up with him in Hanoi. We planned on having a week long Bachelors party in Nam before he tied the knot in China. Brett forwarded me some photos of his future Missus who looked absolutely stunning, as well as some of her letters. He had met her through a dating agency on the net and corresponded via an interpreter. They had never met each other! The ramifications of this later on will live with me for the rest of my life.
Home alone – Thailand, July 2003.
I had always boasted that I would have no problems travelling alone, but when one finally has to, the excitement is also tinged with a sense of unease. However everything went very smoothly and soon I was relishing the sounds, smell and heat of my home from home. This trip was at the end of the SARS scare, and various hotels were offering specials, so I ended up staying at an upper class hotel at a very reasonable rate. Even the prices in the mini bar were good, so after 3 ice cold Singhas, SSSS (shit, shave, shower, shampoo), I hit the streets to buy a few necessities. I always travel very light, normally just hand luggage, and then buy everything I need in Bangers, all the while using my favourite phrase "Mai krap kob khun" to avoid all the touts, tuktuk / taxi drivers, tailors and conmen. Visas and other plans could wait till tomorrow, because in my mind I could only hear one word over and over…Nana..Nana…Nana. A quick call to Stickman to try and meet and pay my debt of 4 beers after losing a rugby bet <A lesson to readers….don't bet against Stick on rugby! – Stick>. Unfortunately Herr Stick was booked for the evening, so the beers will have to carry over till my next visit. I always use a tuktuk for my first trip in BK, it makes the blood flow (sometimes out of sheer terror) and leaves you feeling revved up and ready to enjoy the evening.
Maybe I am just lucky, but every time that I have been to NEP, the place has always been buzzing, and more importantly I have always managed to stumble into the gogo that is showing all. Tonight was no exception! Some of the most beautiful creatures that I have ever seen. One girl in particular stood out and had all the looks that appeal to me. Long black hair, a dazzling smile, body to die for and the movements of a young untamed foal. At the end of the dance she almost slipped leaving the stage and I made as if to catch her. Even if I should become an incoherent, incontinent old man, I will never forget THAT smile. It turns your insides into a writhing mass of snakes and gives you an instant groin churn. I think you've had at least one such experience guys. Before seeing BK's equivalent to Helen of Troy, I had been chatting to one of the waitresses who was now firmly ensconced next to me. She was really a nice girl, spoke reasonable English and had a nice bubbly personality. It was with great regret that I saw my dream walk past, give me THE look and then get snapped up by another awe struck punter. Oh well, such is life! Sometimes it's better to carry the dream of what could have been than having the bubble burst by reality.
All in all it was a very pleasant evening and after many ice cold frosties, the effects of the flight and all the following excitement was beginning to tell and I called it a night. Back to the hotel and the sleep of the satisfied, dreams filled with visions of perfection. Zzzzzzzzzzz
The next morning I started my prep for getting my visa for Vietnam and after enquiring at various travel agents in the vicinity of the hotel, I started feeling a bit of despair. None of them seemed to understand that I needed a multiple entry visa for Nam as I would be visiting China and re-entering Vietnam. Eventually I asked at the tourist desk of the hotel and they called the tour organiser who turned out to be a really sexy Siam Siren. Those tight black skirts and white blouses bowl me over. She seemed to understand my needs (Unfortunately not THOSE needs) and advised me to rather get my Chinese visa in Hanoi. She would arrange for me to get my Viet visa. I think my judgement was clouded by her beauty, because after I had handed in my passport and paid the visa cost, I got the feeling that maybe I had not made her understand what I needed. This mistake would haunt and torment me in the coming weeks and my carefully and so far flawless trip was rapidly coming apart at the seams…..
I now had to wait 3 days for the visa, and I did not particularly want to spend them in BK, so my extremely elastic arm was twisted and before you could say Soi 8, I was on my way to Ekamai station en route to Sin City. I'd arranged to pick up my passport and plane ticket that Saturday at the hotel. A couple of cold beers bought at the station, a 92 baht bus ticket and I was on my way to Disneyland. Smilingly refused to pay the 50 baht asked by the songtaew and paid the actual fee of 20 to take us into town. We were having such a good chat in the back that before I realised it, we were way passed my drop off point. When I finally pushed the buzzer I knew that I was in for a long walk. The weather which so far had been cool had suddenly decided to crank up the volume and humidity for this stupid Farang who had had the audacity to deprive an honest songtaew driver out of an extra 30 baht. Sweating profusely, cramping and with blistered heels from my newly acquired sandals, I made it to the lodge I always stay at. Please Almighty Whoever let them have a room!! I would have chopped off an arm to leave as deposit. Thais have this irritating way of making you wait while they check the computer, call over a friend, chat and point at the screen and then eventually slide over the registration form. Eventually…aircon on full blast, I ravaged the mini bar as one would a virginal bride, rapidly depleting the stock of cold beers to rehydrate myself. This brought home to me how unfit I was and I vowed to walk as much and as often as possible.
When in Pattaya do as the Pattayans do! Spent a great 3 days there looking up old "friends" and making new ones. You all know what happens there so I won't go into any details 🙂
Left for Bangers early that Saturday, looking forward to my upcoming trip to uncharted lands……
(To be continued….)
Very nice start to the report. Knowing you, I want to read more!