Newbie Misadventures Part 2
By Frozen Falang
I won’t bore our readers with tales of misadventure in Australia; not that they didn’t happen, but this is a Thailand site, after all.
After spending a few weeks in Oz, I was becoming bored and restless, so I said goodbye to friends and family and headed back to Singapore. I stayed in a different hotel this time that I think was a little cheaper, but didn’t appear to be guest friendly, with posted notices warning against this type of activity. I didn’t really care, I knew I wouldn’t be there for long. I had to figure out where to go next, and in the meantime I just continued my pub crawling.
I went back to Muddy Murphy’s and spent a relaxing afternoon. I talked with a British expat for a while, and somehow the talk came around to Thailand. He was a fairly regular visitor and told me a few stories, and gave me the names of a few Bangkok hotels that were close to the action and good to stay in. Well, this piqued my interest, and I started thinking maybe I should go there.
That evening, I strolled over to Boat Quay and checked out some of the bars – a nice area with lots of outside eateries and interesting bars, but still too damn expensive. I ended up at Clarke Quay a little later, where I was surprised to see a Hooter’s on the second floor of a building. Well, I just had to check this out so I went up to have a look. Now we all know that Asian women definitely have their charms, but are generally not renowned for their oversized bosoms, and the girls in this one were no exception. It really didn’t do much for me, and I didn’t linger long, although I did pick up a couple of souvenirs as it was at this time the only one in Asia.
I ended up getting a pretty good hum on that night, and didn’t feel too healthy in the morning, but a good walk out in the steamy heat and a few cool beer with a decent lunch took care of that. Where to go, and what to do? There are so many choices from a transportation hub like Singapore. Finally I just said, piss on it, I’m going to Bangkok – I’d just heard so much about it and figured the time was right. If I hadn’t been hung over, I may have had second thoughts, but I just decided to go for it.
Off to the Singapore Airlines Office I went, and booked a ticket for the following day. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, although I do remember sitting in the famous Raffles Hotel bar and boozing for a while… actually this is a different bar from the original one that was famous throughout Asia in the old days, but they don’t tell you that in their ads!! It’s still a nice place to hang out, although expensive as hell. I met an American fellow here who had just finished a job and was killing time until his trip home the next day – he had a digital camera and proudly showed me some explicit shots of his girl from the night before – very interesting, but really not what I am into.
I seem to recall ending up in Orchard Towers that night, but I didn’t pick up any girls. The next morning I felt even worse than the day before, but did my packing and went to the airport with plenty of time to spare. I checked in and headed for the bar to nurse this day’s hangover, and ended up chatting with another American. It seems to me the place had just opened for the day and it was only he and I there.
Well, as soon as he learned I was headed for BKK he started telling me stories of his travels there. I asked him about places to stay and he asked me if I was concerned about morals at all? No, not particularly, I answered. Okay, says he, I’ll write down the name and address of a good hotel for you, it’s a fun place, and close to the action. Okay, let’s have it.
So he writes on a piece of paper, “Asoke Hotel, Soi Cowboy”. Now I had read about Soi Cowboy on the internet, but just figured it for a bar area. All right, now I’ve got a destination in mind for when I arrive in Bangkok.
The flight only took about four or five hours, I think, but I wasn’t able to sleep at all during it (even on the overseas flights I can’t sleep much – I usually just watch all the movies and read, and nod off for five minutes or so every once in a while). Then we landed and proceeded to the immigration area. Here I made another dumb mistake – I saw a window offering visas for sale, and thought I had to buy a visa to get into the country! There was a Canadian girl behind me who made the same mistake, and we kind of hemmed and hawed a little trying to figure out what we were supposed to do. Also I changed some money at the booth there. Meanwhile everyone else was heading to the lines, so we finally just decided to go with the flow, and sure enough we made it through easily. By this time we were about the last people from that bunch to go through, and when we made it downstairs to the baggage carousel, it had stopped and our bags were sitting in the middle of the floor! Okay, that’s done – now for transportation. The girl was being met by someone, so I was once again on my own.
Here I fell into the first trap – “you want limo?” How much? “600 baht” – I knew I shouldn’t go for the first offer, but by this time I was getting so tired that I just wanted to get the hell out of there. Later, of course, I realized I could have gotten a taxi downtown for half that price. Okay, over to the limo counter we went, and I showed them my paper saying “Asoke Hotel- Soi Cowboy”. Well, all four or five of the staff there, male and female, started laughing. Here’s a live one, a farang who just got here in the late afternoon and wants to go to Soi Cowboy already!!
Bloody sex tourists…..
So off we go, and I have to admit it was a nice car – a newer Mercedes, plain-Jane but spotless. We drove all the way in without the driver asking me for expressway fare, and the next thing I really remember is him entering the Soi 23 end of Soi Cowboy and asking a couple of motorbike boys about the hotel. All he got were shaking heads and blank looks and he said nobody knows where this hotel is. Shit, where to now? Well, I said, maybe we can find another. He drove up Sukhumvit towards Nana, and then I spotted the Ruamchit Plaza hotel – I’d seen this name before on the internet, so I told him to go there. We stopped, and instead of just dumping me out and going on his merry way, he actually told me to wait while he checked to see if they had any rooms available. They did, and I was grateful to him for this courtesy – today I would tip him a little extra for that, but it didn’t occur to what was left of my newbie brain to do it that day; I was just happy to finally finish travelling.
I checked in and went straight to my room, where I had a hot shower and basically collapsed into bed. By this time it was around 6:30PM or so, and I didn’t wake up until midnight or so. I could hear loud music pounding from somewhere, and out of my window I could see bright lights on both sides of the street. I just didn’t have it in me to go anywhere that night, so I went back to bed and slept for a few hours more. Little did I realize it at that time, but both areas I had seen that night wouldn’t be there much longer – the one was Clinton Plaza, knocked down to make room for another hotel I believe, and the other was the Sukhumvit Square beer bar area around Soi 10 that was also brutally bulldozed down in one day. (Somebody correct me if I am wrong here, but I’m sure this was the same area).
I didn’t emerge until at least noon the next day, feeling well rested and ready for some exploring. Out onto the sidewalk I went, and started walking towards Asoke – I figured I’d have a closer look at Soi Cowboy, even if it was too early for anything to be really going on.
There I was, the typical uninformed newbie stumbling down the Sukhumvit sidewalk, tripping over missing cobblestones, narrowly avoiding sleeping dogs, sidestepping beggars, and head swiveling constantly from side to side taking it all in. Jeez, what a show – all the crazy motorbikes, clouds of exhaust, bumper to bumper traffic…gorgeous girls all dressed up for the office, riding side saddle on the motorbikes with no helmet or gloves, not even hanging on to anything – as Jake Needham describes it in “The Big Mango” – showing “perfect grace and total nonchalance”. And the smells – it was all just so exotic and different.
Well, I made it to Soi Cowboy and walked up and down the short street – as any one who has seen these areas can attest to, they don’t look like much in the light of day, when you can see how dirty and generally rundown they really look. Okay, time for a beer – here’s one bar that’s open – probably just, the last bar in the street too – Piccolo Bar, it’s called. There’s just me and another fellow there.
We strike up a conversation – for the purposes of this narrative I shall henceforth refer to him as “Rick” – and he is visiting from the Philippines, where he has resided for some years. He has a relationship with a Filipina, and they are planning to marry, but they have had some disagreements and he needs a break away from it all, so he has come to Bangkok for a short holiday. It is also his first trip. He is older than I by some years, but has had an interesting life and we hit it off pretty well.
So we sit there and have a couple of beer, and start yakking with the girls. There’s only two there, an older one tending bar and a younger one – maybe late twenties – out on the floor. The younger one gestures at the older one and says “she my sister”. No shit, sisters working in the same bar, isn’t that something? Of course, I was to learn later just how liberal the definition of the word "sister” is to these bargirls…. Meanwhile younger one is starting to flirt with me….hey, this is starting to be fun. I play a couple of games of pool with her, trying to make sense of the weird BKK rules after playing straight 8-ball for years. One thing leads to another, and the next thing you know I’d paid her barfine and off we went, after making an arrangement to meet up with Rick later.
Back to the room, and into the shower she goes. Hey, I like this – I’ve never had a western woman do this for me before, and I can imagine the response if you asked one to! “What’s the matter, don’t I look clean enough for you, bitch, bitch, bitch….?”
She wasn’t too bad, but nothing outstanding either. I had just asked for short time as it was so early in the day – at least I knew what that meant – and she was there for an hour and a half or so. I gave her 1000b, which I had read was the going rate in BKK, and she started looking a little pouty. What’s wrong, isn’t it enough? She answers, with a coquettish look, “want be your girlfriend”.
Well, hold me up…I’d had a couple of experiences with western hookers in my life, and I’d never heard anything like that before!! Always cash up front, no shower, usually reeking of cheap perfume, and out the door as soon as you’re
done. What a wonderful difference….I hated to disappoint her, but I told her politely that I had just gotten there that day and really would like to look around a little, y’know….but thanks anyway…-). Okay, she was a good sport about
Later that afternoon I wandered over to the Nana Hotel where Rick was staying, and found the walk in that direction even more interesting, with a lot more bars along Sukhumvit as well as all the various vendors. I went up and had a look at his room, a standard room and not really too impressive – I didn’t know at that time that this hotel was really just one big brothel, more or less the focal point of the area along with the similarly named bar complex across the street.
We decided that refreshments were in order, and went down to the Golden Bar, the open air beer bar on the soi end of the Nana Hotel. While sitting there and soaking up the ambience (this is still one of my favourite spots to hang out in BKK, just love watching the street life from there), I hit up a conversation with a German fellow, whom I will refer to as “Paul”. He was probably in his late fifties, long grey hair, very casual clothing – sort of an “aging hippy” look. Really nice guy, spoke excellent English, and had been there for a couple of years. He’d just had a falling out with his Thai GF, whom he’d had a child with as well, and was on his own again. His was a story I’d hear more than once over the years – he’d been successful in his western life, but just got sick of the whole thing and basically dropped out of it. He’d sold his house, his cars, etc…and set his money up in some kind of annuity fund that paid him a certain amount per month, and he was able to live modestly but comfortably in Thailand. Anyway, we chatted for a while, and then he asked Rick and I if we’d like to go and check out another bar in the area – sure, let’s go!! Off we went on foot and the next thing you know we were in the Soi 7 Beer Garden, another famous BKK pick-up spot, although I didn’t know this at the time, I thought it was just another bar; at this point I really wasn’t too clear about how freelancers fitted into the whole scene.
We sat for a while and drank and chatted, and then a girl came and sat next to me – Paul said she was a friend of his, and I will call her “Tai”. She wasn’t really that good looking, probably early thirties and a little chunky, but she was friendly enough and spoke passable English, and we hit it off okay. Meanwhile Rick was meeting her friend Wan, and we had a few more drinks before saying goodbye to Paul and taking the girls across the street to the food court.
We let the girls order, and Tai got me a bowl of tom yum, the spicy Thai soup that I have come to love so much since. Hmm, this stuff doesn’t taste so bad…wait a minute, what are those crunchy things in there, long and narrow and kind of tubular? Jeez, they’re hard to chew…. Well, of course nobody told me that you weren’t supposed to eat the lemongrass….damn those girls, it must have been fun watching the silly farang labour over that bowl of soup. Poor Rick, he never did like the Thai food, and usually took his (western) meals in the Beergarden after that. I have gotten to the point where I seldom eat western food over there anymore, I much prefer the Thai tucker.
After our meal, I think we parted company for the day – Rick went off with Wan, and Tai and I ended up in my hotel somehow – I don’t think it was a very late night. We had no problems getting into the hotel, and I don’t even remember if they asked for her ID or not.
Now as I mentioned before I really had no idea of how the freelancer concept worked there – Tai had been introduced to me as a friend of someone I’d already met, and nobody had asked for a barfine either. Tai never asked for money once in the week or so that I knew her, and I never offered her any either – something I am sorry about now. I really didn’t mean to be a cheap Charlie, it just seemed like a boyfriend/girlfriend thing to me.
Tai left in the morning sometime, and I told her I would meet her later in the afternoon at the Beergarden. Rod and I had agreed to meet up again at my hotel at a certain time, and I waited around for a while but he didn’t show, so I went off on my own for a while and did some walking around and exploring. As it turned out, he had come to the hotel, but was earlier than he had said he’d be, so he sat down in the lobby behind a dividing half-wall to wait until the time we had arranged, and then fell asleep in his chair!! I came out of the elevator and walked right past where he was sitting without even seeing him.
Somehow we managed to hook up later, I don’t remember how as neither of us had mobiles. We wandered over to Nana Plaza and had a bite to eat at the little burger stand in the middle of the courtyard – the last time I was there the same woman was still running this place – and had a great time teasing the young girl working there, who had a huge smile. Then we went our separate ways, and I ended up barfining a cute little girl from the Big Dog’s bar, and dragging her back to the room for a short time. I remember she spent forever in the bloody shower, and I said to her when she came out “little girl, big shower!” She just gave me a winsome smile and we had a nice session. I also remember when we were walking to the hotel that some guy sitting at a streetside venue gave us a really disgusted look as we went by…I remember thinking, what’s his problem? I may have been twice her age, but I am in good shape and not too ugly…!!
Shortly after that, I met up with the group at the Beergarden. More of the usual boozing and eating, then we arranged to meet at the Nana Hotel later and go to the disco. We went over and met Rick and Wan around 9:30, and went to the disco. It was absolutely dead, and I kind of wondered if we had made a good choice or not… well, as it turned out we did and we didn’t.
We did because within an hour and a half this place was absolutely rocking!! We didn’t because the place was absolutely chock-a-block full, with gorgeous women wall to wall (and more than a few ladyboys too, haha), and here we were with a couple of relative mutts. Sheesh….it was really entertaining watching the action all around us. At the table next to us were a couple of young guys with two or three gorgeous young girls, and a few drinks later one of these girls was squirming around like mad in the one guy’s lap, while miming a blow job on the other guy!! I’m thinking, I don’t see this sort of stuff at home – if I had been guy number one I would have been ready to burst out of my pants by then. I couldn’t bear to remain seated, so I dragged Tai up for a dance or two, with my eyes shooting all over the room. Other girls were actively flirting with me on the dance floor even with Tai there, and I was really enjoying the attention. When I finally went for a piss break, there were inviting looks and smiles for me all the way to the can and back. Too much fun!! I seem to recall we ended up closing the place, and it was almost as interesting negotiating the parking lot out there too by that time.
Then Tai and I grabbed a taxi and went back to the Ruamchit. When the cab was dropping us off, there were at least forty or more women standing on the steps of the hotel – I asked Tai, are they looking for taxis? No, she said, they are looking for men!! Duh, stupid question or what…but it wasn’t until the next day that I realized I was staying right on top of the legendary Thermae!! I seem to recall poking my nose in there at some time during that trip, but I didn’t think it looked too inviting so didn’t bother going in.
We went to the desk to get the key, and damned if they didn’t levy a 300b “joiner fee” on us!! WTF? This hadn’t happened the night before, and I was not impressed. Off to bed…
Well, by this time Tai had basically moved in with me, and I remember the next morning she left a bag of clothes and stuff behind in the room. I told her I wanted to find another hotel and did she have any ideas for something a little cheaper and guest friendlier? Sure, she said, and we went looking at a couple of places.
We ended up on Soi 1 and checked out the Golden Palace hotel – a huge swimming pool, the whole place looking Vietnam war-vintage, and a fairly big room, but no shower! That wouldn’t do….then we checked out one across the street, imaginatively named “Street One Lodge” – this one wasn’t bad, a little threadbare in spots but with the customary farang amenities, and was only 550b a night, cash only. Fine with me… I made arrangements to check in the following day.
We met up with Rick and Wan again at the Beergarden, and then Tai said she had to get her bag from the room and take care of some family business – okay, we’ll do that. We went back to the hotel around 7:00PM, I believe, and were just about to step into the elevator when the security guy started hassling us about another joiner fee! This really was getting to be too much, especially at such an early hour – maybe he expected me to pay him off personally or something but I was having nothing to do with it. I told Tai to wait in the lobby and went up to fetch her bag myself. Then I said goodbye to her and rested for a while before going out again by myself. I slept alone that night, and the next day said goodbye to the Ruamchit forever and shifted to Soi 1.
This wasn’t a bad little place – actually fairly quiet, and with a food vendor and cheap laundry right across the street. They also had a German restaurant in the same building that served both western and Thai food, called the Tilac. Tai joined me later in the day, and I think we spent three nights there together.
Rick had meanwhile decided to go to Pattaya – I wish I had gone with him at that point, but I was still enjoying the Bangkok experience too much. Unfortunately, he told me later that he had been sick with flu for most of the time he spent there, and by the time I finally reached Pattaya he had left the day before.
Well, it was time to play mainstream tourist for a while – we decided to go for the Klong (canal) tour. We got a taxi, and started driving towards the river area, with Tai chattering away with the driver almost the whole way. Finally we took a couple of side roads and ended up in a rundown looking area where the conversation became quite animated, and Tai finally said to me “we go”. Then we exited the cab, and left it sitting there, and started walking away from the river through what appeared to be a low-rent accommodation area, with chickens, ducks, and geese all over the place! What was all that about, I asked. Well, apparently this guy was trying to tout for someone else that had a boat, etc…, but was failing to impress Tai.
We walked for a few minutes, and emerged at a much better looking location, which I believe is called Siphraya Pier, behind the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel. Here they had a proper ticket booth, and I bought us tickets for a long tail boat tour of the canals, including the snake farm and Wat Arun. I think the price was 750b.
We had the boat to ourselves, and it was a nice trip. I remember stopping somewhere and picking up some beer and food, and we gave some food to the boatman as well. We stopped and saw the snake farm and zoo, and caught the show as well. Poor Tai wouldn’t go anywhere near it – she stood outside while I sat on the bench. “Waiiiiieeee, no like snakes!!” I can’t really say I blame her – the way those assholes were flipping the venomous snakes around, it’s a wonder no one gets bitten around there. Anyway, quite entertaining. Then we went on to Wat Arun, quite impressive…very touristy. I think the whole trip took about two hours, and was well worth it.
That night we had our only real disagreement – I had told her about paying 600b for the limo into BKK, and she started haranguing me about paying too much, being stupid, etc,…until I finally had had enough and told her to shut the f**k up because she was making me lose face. Speak to ‘em in a language they understand – I was slowly catching on and that did the trick. Perhaps at this point she was getting annoyed because I wasn’t paying her anything, but I was still thinking bf/GF and had been paying for everything else. I had left money out on the table more than once and she had never taken any. Rick had asked me a couple of days before what I was paying her, and I said nothing because she hadn’t asked for anything….he said he had been paying Wan 1000b a day for her company. I just shrugged it off and basically never gave it a second thought, an action which I do regret today.
And that’s it for this part – stay tuned for more adventures in Part 3, when I finally get to Sin City by the Sea – Pattaya….
Footnote – apparently there really is an Asoke Hotel – and it’s a short time hotel!! That limo driver should have asked the girls instead of the motorbike boys, but then there weren’t many there at that time of day. I still wonder if the American guy in Singapore was having a joke on me, or whether he actually stays in places like that…