101 Uses For a Red Or Blue Plastic Stool
On an earlier trip over I left Bangkok on the morning of Jan. 2nd and went to Pattaya. It was good to see some of my friends, and meet some new fellas too, while in Bangkok. Now it was time to hit Jomtien Beach for some fun in the sun. I had planned on staying in Pattaya for six days. Alas, this was not to be. My lady had informed me on New Year's Eve that she needed to go to the village by the morning of the 6th, so she could do her civic duty, and vote for the Thai Rak Thai candidates. Never knew her to be so interested in politics. Seems she's a damned republican conservative too. Well, most farmers are.
She was adamant on making it there to vote. Being the wonderful, understanding, and supportive husband-to-be I am, I only whined and pouted a little. Shit! Two less days in Pattaya to enjoy. And, two extra days in the village. Which I actually enjoy, but I had planned on some serious sun tanning on Jomtien. This meant, for her to get there in time to vote, we'd need to leave for the village sometime Friday afternoon or evening. The 5th. Dammit, that only gives me four days for beaching it. I knew that no matter how freaking early I grabbed the bus to Pattaya I'd never see the damned beach on Tuesday. One day down the shitter there. Hmmmmm. Maybe, just maybe, I could grab a couple hours in the late afternoon soaking up some sun at the beach in Jomtien. IF I kept the usual family visits with her sister and father to a short hour or two I could gain a couple hours of all important beach time.
Beachtime is very important to us eskimos and penguins from balmy Boston. We're like solar panels. Soaking up any sun we can find for future use during the blizzards and plunging temperatures of February. That dreaded month, which seems to take away more geriatrics, and pushes more poor frozen sods into deep suicidal depression, than any other month of the year. Being still fairly young, the suicidal depression is what I try to stave off. (Listening to Chris Issak and Judy Collins, as I am right now, isn't really a bright idea either. Just deepening my winter's snowbound melancholy really. God is it fucking cold today!)
So I conjure up a little plan to help ease my ass out of the family obligations at an earlier hour. Dinner. On me! At the restaurant of my Papa's and sisters choice. Bring the kids. Pick a place with a nice song and dance show, and good food, and we'll go eat around 7 tonight. I'm outa here folks. Nice to see ya, but let's chat over dinner, as my ass has a date with a beach chair on Jomtien! I explain these nefarious plans with my lass, and she agrees to keep the initial family visit short. Yesssssssssss!! AND she actually agrees to spend some time at the beach with me too! I grab my heart like Fred Sanford, of Sanford and Son TV fame, and stagger about the room when she told me of her plans to accompany me to the sunny shores of Jomtien. The apocalypse must be upon us soon.
By 1:30 that afternoon I got to plant my ass in the sunshine, and thaw my frozen bones thoroughly. From now on, as a precursor to my beach time in Jomtien, I've sworn to only use hotels in Bangkok that have a swimming pool where I can relax and sun myself. In this way any shortened beach time will at least be combined with some Bangkok pool time. With this in mind, I've made a few excursions near my haunt on Soi 22 during my last few days this trip, and found a hotel, for 900 baht a night, with airline staff discount, that has a small pool with sun tanning area on the roof. My new digs in Bangkok.
We spent a nice four days, and some boisterous nights, in Pattaya relaxing, and visiting family and friends. Now, I did ask my lady if we needed to buy our tickets for the VIP bus early. Her words, verbatim, were, —"No problem. Buy Friday. Daytime."— When the hell am I going to learn not to listen to women, any women, when I want something done, and done right?
Having been lulled into a false sense of security, by my lady's seemingly strong confidence in our ability to secure primo seating on the VIP bus to the village, I enjoyed my few days in Pattaya. We had fun with her sister at her place of employment, a small beer bar in a short cul-de-sac off Soi 8, owned by a nice British guy named Stewart that I've become quite fond of. Nice guy, a Frank Zappa aficionado, who I bring C.D.'s he has troubles finding in the LOS as presents. He, in return, has given me a few hard to find C.D.'s and tapes. Only place anywhere in public where I can listen to the whole double album of "Joe's Garage" without a complaint. His biting British wit, and odd humour, makes him a perfect companion to suck down some brews with while whiling away a few hours in the Sin City of Pattaya Thailand. I like the down to earth Brits I seem to always meet in Thailand. It's the snotty upper-class ones who look down their noses at everyone I can't stand. He has a two piece band he now employs for the evenings, and we love to listen to the way these guys can butcher a good western song. Have these Thai fellows heard of one song by Pink Floyd besides "Another Brick in the Wall"? "Allnallchustanuddehblickindawah"
On our last evening in Pattaya, a Thursday, we went to a jammin' birthday party at a bar directly across from Stewart's. The party was being held for the lead guitarist for the band at said bar. These guys were excellent! The birthday boy could seriously rock and the band knew all the songs. West and East. They had the place jumping! At 4 a.m.! Great party, and my lady and her sister, and a few of the lasses from Stewart's bar, got plowed. They were dancing up a storm, and drinking up a storm, and having a wonderful time. I cautioned my lass about her alcohol intake, she isn't much of a drinker, and warned her that tomorrow there would be hell to pay. I just got a huge giggle and a kiss, a "Thank you darling. No ploblum." as she continued to party hearty and shake her booty about. Haven't seen, or heard, a woman puke that much since my high school junior prom. Told her not to touch the Lao Khao. Fucking rookies just refuse to listen to the seasoned pros.
Great party though. I bought the band a round of drinks, and talked to the guitarist birthday boy for a while, once the party finally shut down around 5:30 in the morning. Real sweet guy. I'll look him up again. We had a nice chat, and his bandmates were a fun lot.
I spent the next morning lying comatose in the sun by the pool at the Century Hotel. They do have a great big, clean, pool there. While she, my dunderheaded lass, moaned and groaned, and dry-heaved the morning away in the room, actually bathroom, to be precise. I had to get outta the room. Damned near made ME heave listening to all that wretched retching! Poor lass was a hurtin' puppy. Of course she blamed it on some imaginary "bad food" she must have eaten. Silly girl.
I finally dragged her ass out to eat around 2 p.m., so we could run up to the bus depot and grab our tickets for the ride to the village. I'd run across a small restaurant near the hotel the 2nd day in Pattaya. A place called "The Ducky" restaurant, (now the Pink Lady 2 restaurant-Cent) right on Pattaya Klang road. I had noticed this place before, but never ventured inside to try their fare. A nice, small, clean joint, with an extensive falang food menu, and really good Thai food too. They serve a decent American style breakfast, 24 hours a day, delicious fried chicken, and a tasty chicken club sandwich. I had always noticed a lot of farangs eating there during my walk-by's on earlier visits to Pattaya. My lady tried some of their Thai dishes and declared them very yummy. So I dragged her miserable, hungover butt there, and we had a meal. She had a rice soup dish, and seemed to feel much better by the time we left, even giving me a sheepish wan smile or two during her light repast. I had to bite my tongue to refrain from having any, "I told you so's" slip from my yap.
After eating, and paying our bill, which was ridiculously cheap here, we stepped outside and tried to catch a baht bus to the bus depot. Why the hell is it whenever you don't want a baht bus the fucker's will haunt and harass you up and down the frigging street by the dozens? BUT, As soon as you need one of these motorized pests you can't find one for love nor money within a kilometer of where you stand.
I damned near hailed a tuk tuk, but then sanity prevailed and I snapped out of it.
Finally a baht bus made an appearance and pulled to the roadside. It was filled with about two dozen teen aged school kids, who graciously made room for the oversized farang and his sharply dressed, yet oddly pale, pretty lady. I wear my shades a lot when in the LOS. Mostly so I can surreptitiously watch the plentiful eye candy about without getting a smack, and also to check out the reactions of the citizenry in my vicinity.
We trundled along the Soi, stopping every three yards or so to drop off a kid, and made it to the bus depot before the second coming of Christ, just barely. I helped my lass off the back of the baht bus, which elicited a few sniggers from the young school girls present. I threw some air kisses to the cutest young lass in the bus and a quiet, smiling, "Pom lah khun puying suay" which got them all giggling and screeching hysterically as they pulled away.
My lady gave me a reproachful glance and forged her way into the little office where you buy the bus tickets. As usual the room was filled with the requisite supernumerary staff. Only one guy ever seems to do anything here. My lady starts to converse with the guy, while the others throw in a mouthful of Thai into their conversation at random intervals. Trying to act like they actually work there. I noticed a sudden slump of shoulders from my lass, accompanied by a tiny little stamp of her foot and this little hip wiggle/foot shuffle she does. I know these signs of defeat and frustration too well by now. They bode ill for my ass and back. My lass turns to me, smiling hesitantly like a puppy about to be severely chastised, and states, what to me, is already the obvious, "VIP bus full." She flinches a bit from the "I told you so" daggers shooting from my eyes. I sigh, roll my eyes, and head out the door and light a smoke. She follows me out, stands in front of me and says, "Sorry darling." looking so damned contrite and miserable that I hadn't the heart to make her feel worse. Love her too much it seems to take advantage really. I just laughed a "my pen lye", shook my head, and asked her what WAS available.
"Can take Ubon bus. Have seat. Have ac and hong nam." she tells me. I grimace at this. I'd taken this bus before, and it seemed to stop at every fucking place it possibly could along the way, adding a couple of extra hours to the trip. Plus the seats were pretty bad, and my back wasn't in the best shape for this shit, but what could I say really? She was clearly determined to make it home to vote in the election if at all possible. I know if I said no she probably would have accepted it, but I hate being a cunt to someone I'd rather see happy and smiling.
I knew I should have run down the depot Tuesday upon our arrival and grabbed the fucking tickets then. I mentally kick myself in the ass and tell her, "Okay darling. Get the tickets now. I'm going to grab a beer here at the shop. Would you like one?" I watch her gag at the thought, and figure that is enough punishment for her. My back was already aching in anticipation of the journey ahead. She ran back inside before I could offer her a whiskey too, and I grabbed a seat and ordered a beer for myself while I waited.
I remembered the first time I had taken this bus from Pattaya. After we had tickets that time, we went to board the bus, and my lady tried to guide me into the bus's luggage compartment, where those crazy Thai's had set up some carpeted benches for the "extra" passengers to sit on. Once I saw this I balked, big-time, and told her in no uncertain terms that this fucking falang was NOT riding in the cargo hold of any fucking bus. I got me a slight case of claustrophobia, and there was no way in hell I was going to ride for 7 or 8 hours in a carpeted, windowless, low ceiling-ed baggage hold. Fuck me! And you too darling! One of the few times I ever got really pissed off at something in Thailand. I ain't fucking cargo!
I shudder now just thinking about this.
She came out a few minutes later and sat down to wait as I finished my Kloster beer. We grabbed another baht bus back to the hotel to pack for the trip. The bus leaves around 8 at night. So we had a few hours before the trek to Surin began.
Around 7 o'clock my lady's nephew, niece, and sister show up at the hotel to see us off at the bus depot. Three of my favorite family members. We grab the luggage and head down to check out.
My lady's nephew, Golf, is the oldest boy in the family. A real nice kid who helps his mom out a lot, and creates no problems for the family. A good, smart, hard working kid, sadly without much future really, as the family is poor. When he graduates next year he'll be the first in the family to have completed his schooling. He wants to go to tech school for auto mechanics classes after he graduates. I've offered to pay for this schooling for him. On a couple of conditions. When his younger brother finishes high school, if he does, he's a bit of a truant now, and wants to go to school for something similar, it is his, Golf's, responsibility to pay his brother's schooling. And also his sister's when she is old enough. Also he has to get a part time job on his days off from school. Preferably in an auto shop where he can apply his new found knowledge. I'd like to see the kid have a trade, and get a decent paying job, by Thai standards, so he can fulfill his responsibilities toward his Mom and his younger siblings. He's the oldest and the man of the family. He has agreed to my stipulations. A good auto mechanic is worth his weight in gold, and can get a job anywhere, or start his own business if he wants. I know he sees what his mother sometimes does with farang to make ends meet, and I know it tears him up inside. He's my lady's favorite, and she his. She never asked me to do this. Never even hinted at it. Actually I don't think it even crossed her mind. I got this by asking her about him, and having her talk with him about his dreams, and his future. He deserves the chance. I doubt I'll be disappointed.
So we grabbed a baht bus to the depot and sat around drinking cokes and chatting until the bus was ready to go. My lass seemed quieter than usual, and drank nothing but some water. Once on board we waved goodbye to everyone and got as comfortable as possible for the coming trip. The seats go back about two inches it seems. Shit. I'm not looking forward to this. Two hours like this on the Bangkok to Pattaya bus ain't too bad, but eight hours to Surin like this could be crippling.
As the bus pulls out of the station it turns left and heads down Pattaya Klang towards the highway connector road. We get about three blocks before it pulls over and takes on a passenger. Oh Jesus. Already! I look around and notice the bus is full. Not a seat available. The new passenger has to stand. As the bus gets rolling again I notice that my lady seems a bit pale. I look at her and ask her if she's okay. She shakes her head no, and damned if she doesn't look as though she's about to hurl…..uh oh. I grab a plastic bag, taking out my two cans of beer and a coke bought earlier, and hurriedly give her the bag, just in the nick of time! She hurls. Getting most, if not all, in the bag. I get the attendant's attention and she runs off to find another bag in case this is not all over yet, and a rag to clean up the small spillage. My lady looks at me, a look of abject misery in her eyes, apologises, and returns to work the bag some more in a Vesuvian manner. I have to forcibly restrain myself, hand over mouth, from blurting, "I told ya not to drink that damned Lao Khao!" Not what she needs to hear at the moment. Poor lass.
The attendant returns, hands her a fresh bag and a cloth, takes the full bag, which my lady tied neatly once she saw the new vessel, ready for whatever may be remaining of her last meal, and they chat a bit in Thai about getting her some medicine for her upset stomach. I produce forty baht and give it to the nice lady. Deemed an adequate amount of baht, she leaves us, taking the full bag with her for disposal at a later time, thank God. I didn't relish the thought of that bag sloshing about near me for the next few hours. I open a can of coke that I had bought with my beers and tell her to drink a bit to rinse her mouth. Plus I tell her our doctor friend said it's good medicine for her upset stomach. She looks at me and smiles, the mention of this man always brings a smile to the face of any lady who knows this gentle, noble soul, and says, "Yeah? Sure? Him say dee?" (dee=good) "Sure." I say, while trying to remember if he said coke was good for upset stomachs and puking, or just diarrhea. Fuck it. Can't hurt anyway.
She cleans up the little mess she made, puts the cloth in the bag and stashes it. Taking a few more sips of the coke her color returns and she looks much better. "Must be the caffeine." I think. "A wonder drug this coca cola, for sure!" She smiles wanly and puts her seat back as far as it will go, and closes her eyes, drifting off to sleep almost immediately. The smell of fresh vomit envelopes the area. Shit. I breathe through my mouth and crack one of my beers and gulp some down. Nice way to start the voyage huh?
After a while the bus stops again and two or three more people get on board. No seats left, so they all stand in the aisle. I manage to grab a few winks myself, probably snoring like a baboon.
I'm awakened an hour or so later by the jostling of the bus stopping. Hmmm. Must have stopped a few other times too while I was asleep. Now there are about ten people standing in the aisle, and another four or five trying to get on. What the fuck is this? The attendant shoo's all the standers back to the rear of the bus. Then she gets out, along with the driver of the bus, and they open the luggage compartment. From there they withdraw—-a stack of blue and red plastic stools!!!??? They drag the stack of stools into the bus, and start handing them out to all the standees, who now plunk themselves down on the stools in the aisle of the bus. What the hell is this? I've never seen this act before. Looking behind me, I have an aisle seat, I see the bus aisle is full, from right behind my seat, to the goddamn bathroom in the rear. How in the hell am I going to be able to get to the frigging hong nam if I have to take a fucking piss? I mumble a few obscenities as the bus starts off again anew, and roll toward my lady and go back to sleep.
Next time I wake up I notice something bumping my right shoulder. Opening my eyes I look, and there next to me, crammed into the aisle, is a young Thai guy, his head resting on my shoulder. In front of him is at least five more people sitting in the aisle on the blue and red plastic stools. Holy shit! What the hell would happen if there was a fucking accident? I notice that the ac isn't ac-ing very well now, and the temperature has risen with this crowd of extra bodies. The shocks don't seem to like this extra burden either, probably a weight way over the manufacturer's recommended limitations for the suspension. The bus sways like a wide hipped bitch through every curve, and feels like it'll tip over at the slightest provocation. This is insane. This is Thailand.
Seeing that sleeping beauty, my lass, is awake, I interrogate her as to this extra passenger phenomena. "Everybody go village to vote." is her explanation for this strange happening. I delve further asking if this is legal. Don't the police frown on this? Isn't it somewhat dangerous? What if a fire breaks out on board? What if there's an accident? WHAT IF I HAVE TO TAKE A PISS DAMMIT? She smiles and shrugs. Pisser, just fucking pisser. These folks are so blaise about their safety and well being and comfort. I also find out that times such as these are a windfall for "Man drive bus" and "Lady work bus" it seems. I guess any baht paid from the plastic stool people goes into the pockets of the driver and his attendant. Nice gig huh? No wonder they have a stack of stools in the luggage hold. These fuckers don't miss a thing.
By the time we stopped at the halfway point rest area I was indeed feeling my "slight" claustrophobia, and I had to piss like a race horse. I had to literally climb over people and walk along the tops of vacant stools to get the hell out of the damn bus! I thought I'd break my frigging neck on the way out. I damn near didn't get back on.
The rest of the ride was sheer hell. The bus arrived in Surin at almost six thirty in the morning. Never again! I swear! Never again.
Too bust to comment at the moment.