Readers' Submissions

Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes Part 40

  • Written by Dana
  • April 5th, 2004
  • 9 min read


Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes 40

PSYCHE BANK

'It was a dark and stormy night.' Well, actually, it wasn't dark and it wasn't stormy. But I have always wanted to use that line. The problem is that nothing dramatic has ever happened in my life that would call for a great opening line like that. My mother once tried to slap me. I ducked. She hit the refrigerator with her hand. That was dramatic for a while. But not in a Wagnerian or Medieval or Great Author way. Actually, my life has been so uninteresting and I am physically so un-noteworthy that I am most times invisible socially. Except when I travel. Leaving my own tribe and culture and transporting myself half way around the world to a place where everyone looks different should further diminish me. But it doesn't. The same social and visual uniqueness that makes me a target also makes me special. Maybe that is one of the appeals to visiting Thailand. I stick out. I call attention to myself by my differentness. I bring on myself examination and comparison and attention that I can't get in my own society. I'll never be a king or great lover or a celebrity or a philosopher or an entertainer in my own culture. But I don't want to be invisible either. I have ego. I have psychic needs. And one of those needs is to be noticed. In Asia, in Thailand; I get noticed. And I am wondering if the very difficulty of it is actually something I enjoy. The rudeness and the hostility and the aggressive indifference and constant relegating of me to a foreigner (inferior) status is attention of a kind. I think I like the attention. And I like the opportunity it gives me to act back in return. To seize the individual social day and act superior or act offended or act outraged or act shocked or act disappointed by the Thais that surround me in the Kingdom. Having to stand in the hot sun in front of the Nana Hotel and hail six taxis before I can find one that can actually perform the task of being a taxi actually gives me a perverse form of pleasure. It is a kind of warfare; the civilized against the uncivilized. Walking down the long steps of Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai to the second terrace and surrounding shops and then more steps to the first terrace and surrounding shops I am surrounded by Thais that make me feel superior. My fellow humans don't know that we landed on the moon 20 years ago, or that caucasian blood and Asian blood is the same, or that gravity differs on different planets. They never heard of germ theory or Darwin or plate tectonics or biochemistry or the Magna Carta or the Bering sea land bridge. I am superior and I feel superior and it gives me pleasure. Maybe that is one of the strange components of travel to Thailand for me. In my own country I am superior to most other citizens but I don't feel special. Here in Thailand I get to reap my dues. So in a perverse way the shit that is unloaded on me almost daily by the Thais is their unwitting dues paying. If I was the same as them they wouldn't notice me. If I wasn't markedly and obviously superior to them they wouldn't be aroused and irritated. I don't think I am the only one to reap this strange emotional and intellectual fruit. The Stickman site is full of the shock and the disappointment of the western tourist. And yet if I called up every one of these submission authors I'll bet that within ten minutes on the phone I could get them to tell me that they couldn't wait to go back to Thailand. A place where they will be noticed, and a place that will require that they gird for battle against heathens. A place that will highlight their superiority through its own lack of class and style. In Hamburg or Perth or Rio or Jeddha or Oslo or Cairo or New York they are nobodies. Their own society doesn't give them their due. Life is short and time is fleeting and not enough respect is being deposited in the psyche bank. But in Thailand deposits are made on a daily basis. As soon as you leave the hotel you attract attention. It may be negative attention but it is attention. The woman who hates the whistles she gets from the construction workers working on a building; is even more angered if she gets no whistles. We crave and need validation of our existence. In Thailand I get that. Walking down the steps of the Doi Suthep temple I can see the touts and the photographers and the hawkers and the beggars and the retail tribe waiting for me. It used to irritate me. Not so much anymore. I have learned to reinterpret the experience. I'm going to get attention. People will smile. I am more relaxed and accepting of the experience. I smile. I laugh. I put my arms around their shoulders. Situations that I did not handle so successfully before I am now more at ease with. I'll probably buy something. I'm loving this. I love Thailand. I'm already planning my return and I haven't even left yet.

FRENCHIE

Sometimes the random parts of your life can come together in ways unimagined. Sometimes information from the past can save your ass. In a previous incarnation of who I am; I lived and sailed in the Caribbean. You soon learn that on every town beach in the Caribbean lives a wasted short Frenchman alcoholic. He sleeps under a boat or a tree or in the gutter or in someone's shed. No one remembers him sober and no one remembers him arriving on the island or the beach and no one knows his story. He looks like a wreck. His name is always Frenchie. And he is getting more pussy than any other man in sight. No one knows why. The women love the guy. Literally. And the guys love him too. He is a riot. Fun. Friendly. Reliable. Kind.

It is my first night on my first trip to Thailand and I am lost. I am sick and I am so tired I am losing the will to live or to struggle. I am on or around Khao San Road and I can not find the Vientai Hotel. The hotel is located only one street over from Khao San Road but I can't find it. I have walked for hours. I am actually skilled at map and chart reading and celestial navigation and positioning one's self according to the cardinal points. But on this night I have lost it. I am so so sick and so so tired and I am beginning to look like prey to the night time jackals of the area. Tuk-tuk drivers are actually following me and grabbing at me. I punched one in the chest. Street hawkers are blocking my way. Kids are following me. If I ask for help people try to sell me things. Or want baht to give me directions. Then stumbling for the umpteenth time down Khao San Road I look ahead and spot my savior. Frenchie. I know the type and this man I know. This man and personality I have met all over the Caribbean. I run up next to him and ask him for help and for directions. He turns to me. He is short and French and alcoholic and wasted and kind. "No problem," he says in French accented English. He stops me, takes my arm, turns us around; and delivers me minutes later to the lobby of the Vientai Hotel. He saves my ass. Thanks Frenchie!

TRUMPET

Greetings Editor Bangkok Post: Hello to you and yours and thanks for writing. There isn't much going on here. It's colder than a mamasan's tit in a brass bra and the snow in the courtyard is thigh deep for the raven haired, almond eyed, small waisted Thai women who come to throw snow against the window and ask me if I want to come out and make love. Porntip, my wife, says it's ok that they throw snow against the window because they are 'eaters-of-dog' and she will be number one wife to best husband forever! Her comment has her usual unequivacleness and mystery; and reminds me of how we met.

Last year I had contracted to deliver a cargo of condoms, piano keys, alpacas, chilis, fried roaches, monks, and virgins to the Siamese Sultan of the Kubla Khan whose pink coral castle guarded the Sundra Strait. Just south of Ko Lan Reef off Nana Plaza Bay while the brigantine Mai Pen Rai was ghosting along on a satin green sea; I happened to notice a lateen rigged vessel on the horizon. With a frothing bow and centipede appendages, it was soon clear that she was rowing and sailing directly for us. Was she a pirate? Was she a ghost?

Up went the skysails, stunsails, wind canopys, brassieres, monks umbrellas, sleeping mats, and anything else that we could think of to gain speed. But it was to no avail. The lateen was faster. In desperation, we threw over the condoms, the alpacas, the piano keys, and the roaches. The lateen kept gaining and we could soon spy her decks filled with Malay men and yelping soi dogs. She was sporting cannon, grenade launchers, bazookas, blunderbuses, machine guns, crossbows, and high-powered rifles. We had a deckload of virgins from Udon and some bicycle-tube slingshots that could throw rotten fruit.

Around 1pm the forces of Satun were astern and the battle began. Soon our decks were running red, the sails were full of holes, and my white linen suit was all splatterdashed with my best friend's brains. Virgins were crying. Soi dogs and Malay men were licking their lips in anticipation of the coming boarding party. So intent were they on sinning that they failed to notice the big black squall that had crept up behind us both.

The squall struck both ships at the same time. At the first thunderclap; suddenly a half-naked woman with a red skirt and lacquer black hair raced out on to the end of our bowsprit and started blowing on a trumpet. The apparition so astonished the pirate captain that he failed to mind the squall, rounded up, and was capsized. As his ship was rounding up; I stepped to starboard, hauled down on the spokes of the wheel, and bore off before the wind. Over my shoulder I could see nothing! The pirate ship was gone. Like a ghost. To this day I have no idea what that woman thought she was doing by running out on to the end of the bowsprit and blowing on a trumpet; but her name was Porntip and she is now my wife. We are expecting our first baby soon. We will name him Trumpet.

Stickman says:

You didn't shock me this week, Dana.