Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes Part 62
Thai Thoughts And Anecdotes 62
HONESTLY, SOMETIMES I THINK THEY JUST SEE ME COMING!
When I first started going to Thailand I was struck by the high quality of things that were for sale on the street and in the shops. Unlike other places where the street stuff is touristy and junky, a lot of the stuff that catches your eye in Thailand is fun and nice. I bought things. I'm not normally a shopper but in Thailand I shopped and I bought. I bought so much stuff in the first few years that I used to travel with a big backpack. Now I travel light but in the old days I used to bring a lot of stuff back from my vacations in Thailand. So I have a practiced eye for what is for sale. When walking down lower Sukumvit road in BKK my eye easily reviews the merchandise on the sidewalk tables. Now for me it is mostly same-same! Been there, bought that. Not many changes. My buying days off the street are mostly over. But you can get surprised.
One day while doing the 4pm stagger down Sukumvit back to the Nana Hotel my wandering appraising eye spotted a table near the Greenhouse piled high with beautiful imitation silk shirts. This was not normal merchandise. A wondering man might have wondered where this extremely high quality merchandise came from. Closer inspection showed absolutely beautiful short sleeved, button down, patterned ‘silk' shirts in all sizes and colors. Lying there on the sidewalk table in glorious plenty it looked like Xanadu. Five dollars each! I bought two. The lady who sold them to me was so sweet I had to resist the impulse to talk. Talking would have produced stuttering and drooling and grunting noises and lockjaw. To say the buying experience was a pleasure would be an understatement. Ah Thailand, how do I love thee? Back in the room at the Nana I took my loot out of its bag and laid them on the bed. Both shirts had streaks down the front where they had been folded. I couldn't believe it. Joy turned to disappointment. Ah, Thailand. . . For some reason I had not been able to see the defects in the shirts in the daylight out on the sidewalk, but here in the room under artificial light the streaks and defects were glaringly obvious. No amount of rationalizing or wishing or denial would make this work. I can't wear these shirts back home in the office. They will have to go back. Nuts. Now I start to get the farang shakes because Thai retailers are not known for their ‘The customer is always right.' return policies! And I don't want any trouble.
Back I go. This time the charming (please marry me) Essan wonder who helped me the first time is gone and has been replaced by a mute. Now I am on high customer farang alert because the mutes of lower Sukumvit do not have the best reputations (thieves and weasels) for customer service. So I take a deep tourist breath and start showing the mute the shirt and the defects on the front and I am pantomiming and smiling like a cat in a bird store. "NO PLOBLUM". He could not have been nicer or more anxious to please. I felt guilty. Eventually, I found two replacements that I liked. Different colors but I was happy and I felt good about the experience. Maybe I should lighten up on the Thais and chill out a little bit. More smiles. An even exchange. No bullshit. No problem. Back to the hotel. I'm exhausted but it has been a nice end to a nice day.
Back at the hotel I take my fabulous new shirts out and lay them on the bed. Yup, you guessed it. Both shirts have defective streaks down the front where they have been lying folded in a warehouse somewhere probably for months or maybe even years. Who knows? Defects that make them totally unwearable. I can hardly believe it. The mute that I had dealt with was in full accordance with me that the streaks down the first shirts made them totally unacceptable and now he has given me two more shirts that are exactly the same. He sells these shirts all day long. Apparently, they are all defected identically. HE KNEW. Now I'm angry. Tie me down bullshit angry. So back I go. Get ready for what comes next. Remember–it's Thailand.
As I round the corner of Soi 4 and Sukumvit where the shoe repair stand is and look down the sidewalk, I can hardly believe my eyes. Everyone and everything is gone! In addition to shirts this vendor also sold a lot of other clothing items and had taken up about twenty feet of sidewalk with the ubiquitous tables and sawhorses and backdrop screen and overhead shade roof. Everything is gone. I am standing in an empty twenty feet of sidewalk between two other sidewalk merchants on either side of me. No other vendors are gone or are packing up so it is not a police raid. And the night is young. Prime selling time has just started. The only shop owner who is gone is mine. I am briefly disorientated. Am I hallucinating? Is this early onset Alzhiemers? Have I fallen down a rabbit hole and ended up on a different street? I look around to verify my surroundings. Nope. I ain't crazy and my shirt seller charming lady honest mute people are gone. Vaporized. I look down the sidewalk towards the Skytrain pedestrian overpass near the vacant lot to see if I can spot those big wheeled container things they all use to pack up at the end of the night. Nothing! Goose Egg! Zippo! Nadda! It is as if the ground just cracked open and swallowed them up. So there I am standing in an empty space holding two shirts I can't wear and Thailand has my farang money.
Honestly, sometimes I think they just see me coming!
Well, just when you think that you've seen everything; along comes something that you haven't seen before! I guess that's what keeps us interested in life. On my last trip to Thailand I saw something that I had never seen before. Part of me doesn't want to see it again and part of me does want to see it again. It was late at night and I was hanging out at the end of the parking lot at the Nana Hotel. There is metal sign on wheels that says something in Thai. It is just the right height for leaning on and watching the scene. I wish I was a writer because the scene from curb to curb between the Nana Hotel parking lot and the Nana Entertainment Plaza is endlessly fascinating. It is no more than 6000 sq. ft. but it is a whole world unto itself. An adult world. Not an appropriate place for children. It is a world about adult needs and adult pleasures and sex and money and broken hearts and youthful dreams. The silk purse has bits of jagged glass in it. You can get hurt. I look up and see walking down soi 4 directly towards me two women. One is in her over-the-hill thirties. She's got a face like a ten mile dirt road and her body could absorb 9mm shots without flinching. The other is a SCHOOLGIRL. If I hadn't been leaning on the sign I'd have fainted dead away. This is not schoolgirl territory. There is no way that this is a good idea. I have never even dreamed this dream. The schoolgirl is wearing the schoolgirl uniform of black skirt, white shirt, white ankle socks, and black loafers. How old is she; 15? Who knows? In the States this would stink of set up and entrapment and you would run like hell. This is not the States, this is Thailand; and I am leaning on a metal parking lot sign in one of the most notorious red light districts in the world. They stop right in front of me. I don't say a thing. Just watching. Son of a bitch–it looks like they are both on the game! I can barely credit it. The schoolgirl is oh so young, and oh so giggly and immature. Where are the parents? The schoolgirl is also pretty and shaped like a woman. I start chatting. I'm in no hurry. It's go slow time with this new thing. Lots and lots of chatting and talking and silences. The older woman has discounted me. She doesn't think I am a player. More talking. I am starting to warm up to the idea. This schoolgirl is very attractive. Jesus what a piece of candy! My fingerprints won't be the first ones on her but with most of the Nana tribe you can't find a place for new fingerprints. I'm a little disoriented. I'm a little shocked and a little depressed and a little interested. Getting more interested. But there is no way in a million years I am going to follow through on this. Still, old habits die hard and part of me is on automatic. I throw out a test line–float a fly on the water. She responds that she likes me. I ask her how much for 'short time'. She says, "Twenty thousand baht!" and giggles. More chatting back and forth. I try to get her to drop to 10,000 baht just to see if she knows what she is doing. She won't drop–more giggling. That's it for me. Now I am not so sure of what is in front of me. Maybe she is not on the game. Anyway, she's too young and too immature. I turn and go into the hotel. Another day in Thailand comes to a close. I know I did the right thing.
I also wonder how I'll find her in three years!
He's back! If her skirt was black then she was more likely university than school girl, but then for any readers to note, this second story HAS TO be fictional. School and university uniforms in Thailand are somewhat sacred and one does not get up to no good in them!