The year 2000 was forecast to be many things, and many things were forecast to happen which fortunately for the planet, did not.
One thing that did happen though was some farang infidel suggested that Soi Machin be renamed Sukhumvit Soi Zero. This opinion was voiced in a certain column of the Bangkok Post and as the author of said column fills, (filled), it with other people’s opinions, the discussion was allowed to simmer for a few weeks.
Naturally, the farang inhabitants of the real and original Soi Zero reacted to this scandalous suggestion by writing and e-mailing in the proper style to the author of the relevant column, but his interests lay more in the reportage of bars and their
managers rather than detailed examination of the rights and wrongs in any given area.
An investigative journalist this guy is, (was), not. Not unless you desire the going rate for a short time with a Patpong whore that is.
Soi Machin was, (and is), a line of beer bars located under the expressway where it passes over Sukhumvit Road and runs parallel to the railway track.
When a freight train goes past it can be quite entertaining to watch your bottle of beer vibrate it’s way along the bar counter…..
Most of these bars are o.k., for a noggin as they aren’t go-go and thus the bints are less mercenary. Another prime factor is that the place is built down to a price and therefore the beer is cheaper.
Now, the real Soi Zero is more or less directly across Sukhumvit Road from Machin and is a small Soi which runs down to the canal end of Soi 1 and is also known colloquially as Soi Bumrungrad after the name of the hospital that is located there.
At the end of this little Soi you will find various wooden style Thai dwellings which have rooms rented monthly. There is one area which is surrounded by a concrete and breeze block wall and the buildings there are where we used to live.
All amenities are provided, i.e., electricity and water. The showers and toilets are communal and clean and outside there is a small wooden shack which is a shop. (Shopette). The ancient guy who owns the shopette is willing to give credit where credit is due and this can be jolly useful when times are hard.
Some of the residents have food stalls and there is a constant supply of wimin’ checking in and
The only conceivable reason to venture out of the place is to go and replenish one’s supply of beer tokens. (These are patterned things which you get from banks. You give them to shop owners and they give you beer in return. A splendid idea which may well catch on as credit cards are / were not accepted in that particular Soi in Bangkok).
And here is how it originally got the names of Soi Zero and Soi Nowhere:- A Frenchman, an Australian, an Englishman and a Scotsman were sitting round a table one night outside the shopette and were doing what they generally did in the evenings. This was
to drink beer and talk a lot.
We had lapsed into silence after watching a couple of newbie wenches stroll up the Soi into the darkness when Robin said, ”Feck me. If someone had told me five years ago that I’d be living here, I’d have feckin slapped ‘em”.
We laughed until Robert said, ”Yea, Soi Zero- there’s nowhere lower to go….”.
Henceforth Soi Bumrungrad was known as Soi Zero, and this in late 1995.
We all had friends out with the area so word soon spread about the new name for the place.
On one occasion we even grabbed the postman and said that any mail addressed to Soi Soon, (Zero), was actually meant for us. There being no genuine Soi with the number Zero.
Being Thai he readily agreed with the logic of our argument and if we wanted our mail addressed to us in Soi Zero then fine by him. After all, there were only four farangs there anyway.
Four and a bit years later, the mention by the Blackguards of Soi Machin in the Bangkok Post caught our collective eye and even though none of us were still resident in Soi Zero we retained fond memories of the place and were a bit aggrieved about this suggestion.
However, our correspondences received no attention which bothered us not one jot as it will always remain Soi Zero to us and we have the photographs to prove it.
Whatever anyone says O.K.?
The wife to be and I had rented an apartment nearer work and to get away from Ekamai, an area which had been slowly but surely driving us up the wall.
My wife to be had never had an apartment before which contained a real live husband to be, a husband to be which could be alternately cared for and nagged at, a role that she fell into with great enthusiasm. Cooking, reading and drinking beer had been
delegated to me and thus domestic harmony was attained.
She who must be obeyed worked in a major hotel chain and worked a rotating four shift system, one month of each before beginning the cycle once more. The first month that we were in the new pad, she was working nights which we found to be a drag, but what the heck – we needed the loot.
One night whilst in the land of Nod the phone rang. I had to answer it as my resident receptionist was at work and so blearily picking up the handset beside my ear muttered a sleepy, ”Hallo”.
In my experience, late night phone calls generally involve death, mayhem and unhappiness and whilst not always together, you can bet that one or the other will be involved.
A cheery voice boomed down the line, ”Meester Jam-ees-on….(I just love the way that she says that), what are you doing…..?”
A few seconds to get my mind into non-mayhem mode, and then, ”Sweetheart, I was sleeping, what do you think that I was doing?”
‘O.K., then‘, she replied ‘and would see me in the morning’.
I hunkered down at peace with the planet in the knowledge that this most lovely lady was becoming paranoid about me and if you know Thai guys then you will understand why. But I ain’t Thai.
Some time later my dreams of puppy dogs and ice cream were interrupted once more by the ‘chir-ping’, of the phone.
My wakening reflex was to look at the clock and saw that it was 3 AM.
I have an inbuilt hatred of pagers you see due to working with helicopters on oil rigs and having to be involved with 24 hour air ambulance flights. In winter at 4 AM this must traumatise people to the extent of suing the inventors of pagers.
I have been traumatised so many times: Do you urban commandos know the stress involved in actually having to wake up and get cold?
The horror…the horror…..(Credit where credit is due: Apocalypse Now). Angrily I snatched the phone and snarled, ”YES?”.
It was her: She was checking to see if I was still asleep.
Why is everyone so harsh on poor old Trink?