The Jangling Man
By Jangling Man
I have probably read about 40% of the submissions on this site, mostly the more prolific writers, who have real experiences to tell, such as Pothole and Cent. All those who have frequented Thailand will have some experience of the "not so good"
side of the Kingdom and I think just about every angle has been covered, so I will not bother to add further to any ones comments.
To tell you the truth I have only had a couple of bad experiences in the Kingdom and considering how drunk I sometimes get, I'm not really surprised. For me, Thailand gives me a feeling of belonging, like this is where I'm meant to be. It is a paradox in that it is both chaotic, yet tranquil, in equal measures.
My friend and I were in Soi Sea Dragon on Bangala Road Phuket. Everyone was staring at the available TVs' around the bars and we wondered what was so interesting…..then some guy came running through the mass of bars and people, wailing TSUNAMI! There was no panic or stampede, everyone just made there way onto Bangala, then started to run for the high ground. My friend and I just stood there gobsmacked."What do you reckon we do?" I asked my friend, feeling alone all of a sudden, "there can't be a tsunami so soon after the last one….could there"? We looked at each other in the silence and against my better judgement I ran for my life!!! The motosai fella was damned if he was leaving the scene without a fare, and he motioned for us both to climb on. I think he was considering going back for another pick up, as he rode the bike like a demon….fuck me….I just closed my eyes!
So we were deposited on Nanai Road, too far away for any tsunami. The previous night, the first night I had in Phuket this time round, was Buddha day, so all the bars on Bangala were closed, so I had to settle for a more sedate atmosphere. The bar was called Claret Bar, run by a little Aussie guy called Darren and a damn nice fella he is. My friend ordered drinks and a girl set up the pool table for us, when I noticed a girl hobble out of a bar stool to the other end of the bar. I immediately recognised her from my first trip back in September last year. Lak and her friend were selling beer from an ice box on the street, and as it was closing time on Bangala, I decided to buy one for the 3 of us. Lak spoke good English so I asked her if she would like to stay with me for the night…..it was fine by her! The story however does not end so well. The following evening, she managed to persuade the reception that I was her long time fella and she got the keys to my room. Arriving at silly o'clock in the morning, I was in informed that "my lady friend" was already in my room. I got the security fella to open the door, but of course the catch was on. I shouted and screamed and banged, but to no avail…..Lak was away with the pixies. Well, being a practical farang that I am, I armed myself with a mop from the cleaners room and began to poke her through the gap….gently at first then harder until finally, with the accuracy of Robin Hood, I launched it at her head! That seemed to do the trick, as she woke up, mop in hand and opened the door. Once inside it was like a scene from Apocalypse Now. There was red shit all over the place. Lak, in my absence, had taken it upon herself to empty my entire fridge (including M&Ms') and then puke the place, like she was painting my room red (instead of the town). The red came from the Spy wine coolers (or maybe it was napalm) Suffice to say, I swiftly booted Lak into the night, never to be seen again, that is until…….tonight!
Lak had hit the big time. She was living with Khun Darren and she was able to drink to her hearts content every night……no more hard times selling beer out of a cool box for Lak! Lak and Darren had been hit by a wave on the rocks they were sitting on and so they looked like the walking wounded. I stayed all night and all morning…..in fact it was breakfast time when Pung swept into the bar.
She was far from what you might call the "classic Thai girl" but I was instantly attracted to her. When she arrived, it was if she brought a sense of order to the place. She cleaned the bar, checked the till, made a note of the stock and enquired if I wanted breakfast. I asked for chicken in oyster sauce, and she quickly disappeared to cook my meal. "Mmmm…aroi" I said, and it wasn't a lie. I asked her about herself and she openly told me that she had 2 kids and a husband who was now with another women and child. I asked her if she would like to have a day out somewhere in Phuket, but she explained to me that after this job finished, she started another job in another bar. Wow! I was really impressed by this girl. She had 2 jobs to take care of her mum and 2 kids……definitely not the bar girl type. I went to her other place of work…Room Bar on Soi Eden. It is not that much of a bar but I was welcomed in like the saviour of Thailand. Pung was asleep behind the cash register. When she woke up, she was alert and pleased to see me. I bought drinks for everyone and this made everyone happy. The owner of a the bar was Alex. She was from Isaan and had a Norwegian fella that set her up the bar. There were the typical bar girls who would fraternise with the customers, young or old, but Pung would stick with her job of cleaning, serving drinks and cooking, if need be. I watched her closely….she would always smile and be polite to customers, but if they wanted a little more, she would politely decline.
I was not impressed at all with Udon Thani one little bit. It reminded me of Urban Liverpool…..dirty and soulless…..which is not strictly true….Liverpool is full of great, fun people, but I did not travel 6000 miles to see some town in decay. Some of the night life in Udon was funny….like the "big boot bar"! I do not remember what the place was called, but girls with MASSIVE platform boots would sing Karaoke, then change for their next song. If a customer wanted to talk with the girl, then she would sit at the booth and chat. But they looked bored (and stupid in their big boots) and I was glad to get out of the place. If you like live bands then Udon Thani is a great place. Some of the bars are outstanding….they look out of place on the dirty streets. We went to a hotel with a live band on. The singer was wearing a spider man suit with something stuffed at the front of his pants, as well as the back! It really was sanuk!
My friend and I took a trip to Ban Dung, not a million miles from the Laos border. My friends girlfriends' family lived in the area, so we decided to pay a visit. First we went to the town….what a fantastic place! There was a market that sold everything your average Thai would need. I do not think many westerners make it this far as adults would draw attention to their kids and point "farang"! I never met an unfriendly face…..everyone seemed happy to pose for a photo…….Then off to the village…..
Along the route from Udon to Ban Dung, it is tree lined and through the trees you can see miles upon miles of paddy fields, The roads are empty except from the gaily covered buses. There are buffalo, knee high in water, chewing god knows what under the hot Isaan sun. The landscape is flat, not a hill in sight and the palms stand silently , as we speed past their beauty. I can see people with straw hats, bent over in the fields….some wave but most are too busy with their labour…I hum the theme tune to Apocalypse Now but I don't know why……
The highway ends and our car turns onto the red earth of the village. Some of the houses look decent….on stilts……but decent. "My birds place is the worst in the village" he warns me……and guess what?…..he was right!!
When I looked at the house, shack sprung to mind…….That's all it was….a shack! We were quickly surrounded by kids with no shoes and led to a table with a sort of roof, in front of the house (shack) The kids sat there, drinking us in like we were aliens from a far away planet. Their faces were serious at first, but when I showed their pictures on my digital camera….they were all smiles and were happy chattering to each other. My friend gave 5000 baht to mum and we were soon fed, corn on the cob and a curry, all of which was very tasty and not too hot. These people were dirt poor, but seemed happy enough. Chickens roamed amongst the soi dogs, all looking for a morsel to eat. My friend and I took a walk around the village, and found an old girl selling large bottles of beer Singha for 80 baht. then he showed me the land he had bought, to build a house on. We took a walk further down the soi and were we are introduced to cousins and aunties and uncles etc, then lead to a house with a TV. Mats were laid down on the concrete floor and interested neighbours appeared from everywhere. One fella offered me some drink (I don't know what) and I took it all in one gulp. This brought laughs all around, with pats on the back….apparently I had past the test! They wanted my cigarettes and I wanted their tobacco….so we were all happy.
But I missed my Pung
My baby Pung…..(she is 30 years old, the same as me, but she is still my baby)
I wanted her and she wanted me….all for the same reasons. She makes my heart flutter every time I think of her. She was able to have 1 afternoon off. I hired a motosai for the day and picked her up outside my hotel. She always dresses conservatively, nothing at all revealing. We go to Kata Noi beach, a really nice beach and we find a bar that over looks the beach. We do not talk much….we are both happy to be in one another's company. She orders a beer and I order a coffee. A guy walks out and starts to talk with her. She has worked with him before, and they chat about old times and new times. He inclines his head towards me, and she explains that I am a good farang, that we are just friends and no, she is not a bar girl. The fact that a Thai guy talks with my girl so naturally and like a friend, tells me I have made a good choice….my Pung is a good girl.
Time to go
My last night is a little bitter sweet. Pung is working at the Room Bar and there is a party waiting for me. I think that Alex.,,,(the owner of the bar) wants to spend all my remaining baht tonight, but my money is finished. Alex has balloons and food, and I have about 2000 baht to my name. I can feel the tension, but I never asked for the party…
Pung calls me to the bar. She presents me with roses, a hanker chief , a doll for my daughter and hair clips. I am moved to tears. I had bought her nothing…..
Pung enters my room for the first time. I like to keep it neat and tidy and she looks approvingly. She tells me that she is on the "time of the month" and I tell her it's ok. I take a shower and get dressed. I have one hour before my taxi takes me to the airport. She sits on the end of the bed and I motion her to lie down…..
She is beside me and sniff kisses me…..it is the most loving yet erotic kiss I have ever felt…
My mind is in a whirl….I am for the first time in life, in love…..I will never forget that moment…..
Jangler (to jangle is the Scouse verb, to gossip about people and life)