Chiang Mai Delights
In the last nine days, I have:
– rode on two elephants
– shook a monkey's hand while he stole money from my wallet
– white-water rafted
– seen my first rat and cockroach (if only they were fighting, or the cockroach was riding the rat)
– smoked opium
– acted a speaking role in a movie called 'Kingdom of Silence'
– been guided through the Thai jungle by a deaf, mute, and mentally disabled Thai
– bamboo rafted
– gone temporarily blind from corn moonshine
– got fleas from an asshole cat that I named Seamus (because he liked beer and potatoes)
– eaten a scorpion
– sang 'Frere Jacques' with twenty-five children from the Lahu tribe
– played two shows at a bar called 'The Hug' (mainly open blues jams)
– got drunk
– been punched in the nuts by a small tribal boy and 'trunked' in the nuts by an adolescent elephant
– driven a motorcycle down a mountain at 100km/hr
– watched my friend Soren get hit by a car whilst riding _his_ motorcycle (he's okay, though)
– been molested by a ladyboy
This list is not intended to inspire jealousy, although maybe it will. The point of it (at least for me) is that these kinds of things are not only available in Thailand (well, ladyboys excluded…). I can picture a white-water rafting trip in Jasper, drunk off moonshine and being guided by a retarded native child. What a truly wonderful world it is.
I have to elaborate on at least one of these stories. I choose the acting one, as it happened most recently and I was the most sober. This is not to say that I hadn't drank just as much during this experience (in fact, I drank much more than usual), just that my tolerance has increased dramatically in the last week.
I had just finished my set with the blues band and I was revelling in the customary free beers that the musicians are given all night when I noticed a ratty piece of paper tacked up on a dirty old bulletin board. I read it from the bottom up since the last line of the message was:
"!!!Free Beer There!!!"
Six exclamation marks means business, especially when they are arranged in such a symmetrical manner. I took a sip of the current free beer I had in my hand and decided that I liked it so much I'd read the rest of the message to see how I could keep the dream alive. "Want to be in a Movie?" was the headline. "Yes," I replied to no one in particular. "Then come to Tapae Gate and meet at the Bar Beer Center at 6:00pm January 31st" the sign replied to me in particular. I was planning on leaving Chiang Mai at 6:30pm on January 31st, but I figured that there was really no rush and I'll play the dice. Turns out it was a good idea.
Me and three compatriots trotted down the road at 5:30 the next night. There was me, Ash, RussellGibsonFromAustrailia (his full name, I think), and the most handsome man I've ever seen named Adrian. He's not just handsome relative to other Adrians, mind you, he's plain old handsome. He's 49 years old, he lives on the beach in Spain and he's in better shape than both Joanne MacLeod and Hal Johnston put together. I don't know why I'm emphasizing this so much. Next topic.
We arrived at the Bar Beer Center and found it to be a sprawling warehouse with about 15 different bars set up along the walls. In the middle of the warehouse is a boxing ring. The filming has already begun and there are ten or fifteen men scurrying around
a stunning Thai woman who seemed unconcerned with the attention. I tapped the nearest white guy on the shoulder and asked him if there was still a call for extras. "Yes," said he, "but not for awhile. Go over there." Something
about his bearing demanded respect and obedience. I believe now that the 'something' I'm referring to was the large nametag he was wearing that said "Seth: Director". Well, I can be obedient when there's free beer
involved so my friends and I went 'over there'. "One Singha, please," I said to the bartender. Then a ladyboy sat on my lap and stroked my hair. Hey, it's Thailand, right?
After some time, I extricated myself from his/her clutches and went up to the nearest bar to get another beer. "One Singha, please," I said. The beer arrived and shortly after I was tapped on the shoulder. Fearing the ladyboy again, I turned around with some trepidation to find a small man with small eyes and very small teeth smiling at me. His nametag said "Dasho: Assistant Director". "Would you like to be in a scene, sir?" he said in perfect American. "Sure, I guess. Can I bring my beer with me?" I followed him up to another bar where the stunning Thai lady was sitting with Seth: Director.
"No, no, no Dasho", Seth said as he glanced at me once over, "I need someone older." My mind went to Adrian, the 49- year old with the perfect teeth and wavy flowing locks and rippling pectorals. "I can act old," I said with a confidence I did not feel. I was sure that my big break had passed and that Adrian the Spaniard was going to pierce through my dreams as if they were just another bull falling prey to his Matadorial phallus. Something about my assertion caught Seth's ear. He looked me up and down again, finally pointing at my saying "Okay, you've got the part." Part? What the hell was I getting into? I thought I'd just sit there and drink. Actually, that's what I did.
The scene was as follows: I was to sit at the bar, drinking beer, staring at the hot Thai movie star. She was to be watching her boyfriend who was involved in the boxing match offstage. We did take after take with different angles and different orders of events. The one constant was that I was to drain the rest of a beer at the start of the shot and then order another one from the hot Thai. The best part about my line in the movie is that it is one I had unwittingly been practicing all day. The line:
"One Singha, please."
I nailed it in take after take, but I found myself wishing for one Chang or Keith's or Sleeman's or, heaven forbid, water. Anything but Singha. However, when you're in the industry there are certain compromises you must make for the good of the project. I swallowed my pride (and my Singha) and muscled my way through the gruelling shoot. After about 6 hours of this, my scenes were done and I could relax. So I said "One Singha, please," and sat over in the corner. Dasho: Assistant Director came over and told me that I was going to be needed for another scene tomorrow. "We'll need you to wear that same shirt and bring another one for a different scene." As I'd already been wearing my red shirt for three days straight, I figured that a fourth wouldn't hurt. I gave him my cell number and thus made my first contact in 'the business'. I'm going to be bigger than Jim Varney!
You did that for Singha only?!