Orangutan, Snake, Girl Fight and Elephant Shit
I have been to Thailand about 20 times over 16 years; most of my visits are short; only being a week or two. Some of them have been for a month, one (this one) for six weeks. All of my visits have been working vacations. I have never been there with the intention of living there, although, I have contemplated and researched the possibility several times. Knowing what I know now, I will probably never live there long-term. But, I will always seek every opportunity available to visit.
Most of my love for and dislikes about the country can be explained by reliving the experiences from my first trip to the LOBW (beautiful women). This submission highlights some of my VERY VIVID memories of that visit.
Before I begin I will give the seemingly obligatory (Stickmanite contributor) background statement. I think it helps to understand the psychological make-up of the submitter (in this case me), and help you enjoy / appreciate the story more from my perspective.
I lived the first twenty-one years of my life in the rural, southeastern United States. I had a typical / normal (if there is such a thing) middle class upbringing. My parents were good parents, good siblings, and good extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents etc…). In many ways, I had an idyllic upbringing. I went to Jr. College for a couple of years after high school and then when I was twenty-one, I joined the military, specifically the US Air Force. I had several reasons for joining; mostly I needed some discipline, also because it was the best way to travel, see the world and escape the monotony of rural America.
My first experience with Thailand was in 1990, I was deployed to Cobra Gold. We deployed to Chonburi (it was literally a “HOLE” back then, I would not be surprised if the new airport is going on top of the site) for six weeks. As a member of the “elite” (yeah right) combat communications team, we were first in, and last out. For those of you who do not know; the annual “Cobra Gold” military exercise only lasts for two weeks. The majority of the people are only “in-country” (as Kelly likes to say) for that time frame / duration. As part of the communications team we are sent in first. It gives a two-week cushion to get the communications in place, up and operational and burn it in before the exercise. Digression – We actually had a deployable LAN back then; it was one of the first of its kind, we processed classified AND unclassified traffic at the same time across it. I realize ‘that’ doesn’t sound like much now, but in 1990, it was a big ass deal, and for what it is worth, a lot of hard work, and on several levels – FUN.
After the exercise was complete, we stayed “on-air” until everyone got out of country and were the last to leave. Set-up takes a week or more, break down takes one day! My first trip was for six weeks—three of them were spent exploring Thailand as a first time visitor.
The following are the highlights of my first time in LOBW. I arrived on the 23rd of April and departed on 10 June 1990. Back when the only beer choices were Kloster or Singha. Even though it was sixteen years ago many of the memories are as VIVID now as they were in June of 1990.
– BANANA BREAD – A little elderly Thai lady set up a little cooking hut, on-base, right beside our communications compound / site. For 10 baht you could get a loaf of the most beautiful banana bread in the entire world! It was delicious! I can still taste it. The loaf would feed my entire crew (six of us) – I bought one every workday. It really was incredible.
– SNAKES – Okay I grew up in the southeastern U.S.: we have snakes; I was around them my entire life. I have a healthy, life-preserving fear of any thing that can bite and kill you – some snakes fit into that category. Back home we were taught to recognize and respect the different types of poisonous snakes; Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, Coral Snakes and Cottonmouths. That’s IT! Four of them; easy enough to memorize and avoid. However, Thailand has a diverse world of killer reptiles; several versions of pythons that are very dangerous, not too mention the Cobra family; HOLY CRAP! A couple dozen “highly poisonous” snakes to try and memorize… In the HQ area of our communications compound, they had a laminated poster highlighting, (w / photo) the most dangerous types of snakes in our immediate vicinity. They were listed in order of their deadliness. After I got past the first sixteen, none of the rest mattered. I had made up my mind – as far as I was concerned, any snake in Thailand could kill me, and they should be avoided, if I could not avoid them then it is kill or be killed; regardless of color or type. Snakes were everywhere too! Our compound / site was a makeshift area set aside for us on a Thai military training base, we brought our trucks and equipment in and set up our systems. Apparently, prior to our arrival it was a gathering place and natural habitat for the multiple species of snakes in Thailand. As you would expect our site had upset their usual routine and now we were unwelcome guests in the middle of their playground.
From our sleeping area to the work site was a good fifteen-minute walk. In the midday sun, if you followed the dirt road that led around the perimeter to the site. However, you could get there in five minutes — if you took the shortcut, across the field, (through high grass, crossing over a couple of small, swampy streams, we all know snakes like water, especially swampy water, hence the gathering place). Each day either on the way to, from, or at the site, we would see four or fives snakes; green ones, yellow ones, black and brown ones, some were big and some were small, in my mind all of them could kill. This is as good a place as any to let you know that I don’t like snakes. (I do not have an unnatural fear, in that if the snake is over there and I see it, I am fine. But if I am walking along and one is suddenly beside me, I shit myself!) As far as I was concerned it that shortcut / grassy, swampy area was theirs – they could have that entire area) an extra ten minutes of walking thru the most intense heat I had ever experienced, sweating like a pig in heat, was a fact of my every work day! So be it. For me the shortcut was not EVEN an option – sweating is a natural body function and wasn’t going to kill me. I learned to deal with the trade off, for me sweating was an acceptable option and I was JUST FINE thank-you! Snakes in the road were easily avoided and often slithered away to avoid me, unlike the guys in the swamp that wanted to come and visit you. Until you have been pursued, by a big ass snake, (cobra probably protecting its brood, I did not hang around for explanations) in a swampy muddy place, fear has a different meaning. I still get chill bumps when I think about it. Yeah I tried the shortcut –ONCE… SCARY!
– HEAT and HUMIDITY – Again I revisit my previous experiences in life. The southeastern U.S. is HOT! Ninety (32C) degrees with eighty-five percent humidity is very common in the summer and that is pretty damn hot, regardless of where you come from. When you add eight (5 C) degrees and five to ten percent humidity it just takes “hot” to a new level. That is Thailand in the summer. Okay, maybe you get used to it? Sweating profusely after having just taken a shower is uncomfortable to say the least…(I know many places are hotter, it is hotter in desert areas and it is worse in other places, but that was the most intense heat I had experienced up to that point in my life.)
Funny side note: the absolute worst / best part of the heat; on our communications compound / site, we did not have running water or any toilet facilities other than a porta potty; going inside that thing after about a week was unbearable. It was the stinkiest sauna you ever shat in (pun intended) — You could not breath inside, you had to hold your breath the entire time you were in there, it was either that or go find a place in the woods with no snakes to do your business-good luck with that. Whenever someone went in the porta potty we would gather around outside; (actually set up benches in the shade nearby) to watch people blasting out of the porta potty trying to button their trousers, their faces BRIGHT RED from holding their breath while inside. FUNNY! HORRIBLE SMELL!
– INSECTS – Again – HOLY CRAP!!! When I was Jr. High School for science class I had to complete a project that required 25 different insects. The project required me to glue them onto poster board with an information paragraph about each one; genus, eating habits etc… by each bug. It took me almost three weeks to find the insects I needed for that science project. That was with intense searches daily, looking under structures, rocks, boards, in barns etc… In Thailand, I could have finished gathering the requirements for that project in five minutes, and never left the porta potty. I would have needed a larger sheet of poster board too! HUGE INSECTS! Edible too.
– TRAFFIC – Admittedly, traffic is still crazy. But back then the roads themselves were in much worse condition. I will never forget my first trip to Bangkok from Chonburi in the equivalent to a Baht bus. A couple of friends and I still refer to it as “the never ending series of near misses.” UNNERVING!
– SOAPY MASSAGE – My first one was by an older lady (maybe 40) in a little hotel fish bowl in Chonburi – 400 baht – $16; I can close my eyes right now and get a little blood rushing southward when I mentally picture it. FANTASTIC!
– WALKING STREET – My first night off duty; one of the veterans of the group decides to take some of us inexperienced boys down to show us Pattaya. YET AGAIN — HOLY FFF—–ING CRAP!!! It was a little wilder and crazier back then – The first “Go-Go we went into (forgot the name, dammit), All the girls were naked and running around the place – I WAS IN HEAVEN, AND I WAS IN LOVE!!! The problem was I was in-love with all of them! A more beautiful set of women could not be imagined. I sat down, away from the dance floor, on the outer ring. Taking it all in, but not quite able to believe it was real. Was it true? Could I have any one of them I wanted? For as long as I liked? Impossible…? One of the most beautiful of the pack; approached me; she was gorgeous – as pretty as any young women I had ever laid eyes on, (if you are reading the Stickman site you know what I am talking about). Long shiny black hair; black mirror eyes that swallow you in, small petite HARD body, brilliant white teeth, perky breasts, beautiful ass, smile to melt kryptonite, beautiful dark smooth skin, she sat right down on my –ahem- ‘erect’ lap, leans back and said “I leery rike you” and I said “I really like you too”, but (showing her my wedding ring) I said “I am married.” She again gave me the most beautiful smile and said “me too!” We laughed all the way to the short time room! God Bless her! We spent the next couple of days together.
– ORANGUTAN, SNAKE, GIRL FIGHT and ELEPHANT SHIT – I had had several weeks of Thailand experience behind me. In my mind I was a wily veteran that had been there and done that; Crocodile farms, klongs, museums, temples, Chang Mai, Pattaya, Bangkok, Nana / Patpong / Soi Cowboy, I had eaten bugs, been pounded into submission at connect four, had soup and beer for breakfast (REALLY HOT soup too!). Fed and ridden elephants, gone for three days without a bowel movement and pissed out my ass for a week! I had watched girls remove things from their nether regions that should not be there, to include; razor blades, live fish, eight miles of glowing yarn and a bird that flew away. I saw a girl with a penis and a boy with huge boobs (or was it the other way around?) I watched sex shows that still make me nauseous when I think about them, and played golf and got a hummer from my caddy after the round, (she was kinda cute –for a caddy) and it was a good one! Overall, the trip was a wonderful experience. I would never be the same, but the most fascinating experience of my trip was one fifteen minute period in Pattaya when my input stimuli were saturated with TOO MUCH INFORMATION-
Here’s my story…
The trip was nearing its end; we were scheduled to fly back in a few days, myself and a few buddies are lounging in one of the open air bars on the outskirts of Pattaya –
o A girl is asking for money / begging; she is holding a small beautiful child with part of his leg eaten off suffering from what I think was leprosy it was oozing, nasty, and gross. My heart goes out and she gets 100 baht.
o Next – another girl is holding – offering for me to hold – I am given to hold a young male orangutan. He wraps his arms around my neck, his legs around my waist, surprisingly he sits very comfortably and we smile at one another. I have made and friend! He looks at me with eyes that say; “I leery rike you, can you please rescue me? I feel terrible for the animal, I can’t help but think it is being mistreated – I am a real softie for babies and animals… I contemplate the possibility of having an orangutan for a pet. I wonder how much it would cost to buy it, can I get it back to America? The reality of keeping him is unrealistic, so I am going to hold him for as long as I can. We have bonded and I know he is getting a respite from his usual routine. Besides he was REALLY COOL!
o A guy is standing nearby — Is this a line for the gullible newbie? Did I scream “here I am, the gullible idiot” when I gave 100 baht to the woman carrying the kid with leprosy? — He is waiting for me to pay the orangutan owner and give the animal back to the girl so that he can put a big ass snake on my neck and take my photo. Well I had already decided that all snakes in Thailand could bite and kill – I don’t like snakes and I am quite happy holding my monkey and I damn sure don’t want a snake around my neck. It isn’t going to happen, he is insistent, he pisses me off and I make a scene cursing him loudly and telling him to “F—K OFF” The orangutan is also frightened of the snake, making me even more defensive. I move away from the snake handler, toward the outside wall / bar of the bar, the owner of the orangutan follows us.
o One of my friends is at a nearby bar booth and has his tongue way down the throat of one of the wonderful little beer bar maidens. We were told that Public Displays of Affection is frowned upon in Thailand, but apparently winning at connect four releases inhibitions that make PDA perfectly okay. Or maybe it was a bet I would not know, I have yet to win a game…
o Unbeknownst to me, my friend had been at the same bar the day before and sat at different booth. The girl that he had pounded in connect four yesterday wants him to return to her booth across the bar for a rematch – he is more interested in continuing with the public display of affection with his current bar girl. I am thinking – I did not know that winning at connect four had such high rewards? It’s a damn aphrodisiac for Thai bar girls… I need to practice!
o The two girls have a heated verbal exchange and then start fighting over my friend “the connect four champion of the world” (well this beer bar anyway). I mean really fighting! I should share at this point that I have no qualms admitting that I will walk twenty miles in the worst Thailand midday heat to watch girls fight or make love–watching either one makes me “HAPPY”. It might be a little barbaric but I LOVE GIRL FIGHTS – hair pulling, ripping each other’s clothes off. IT WAS GREAT! After they had ripped each others shirts completely off – if they were not slapping one another, or hair pulling “OUCH” They were pulling or punching at each others tittys in a vicious fashion. (This was much more exciting than watch a girl shoot ping pong balls or smoke cigarettes with their kitty cats). It was all happening right beside me. EXCELLENT! The orangutan and I have a knowing smile between us, he liked it too.
o I am still holding the orangutan; leaning against the bar facing the street, and I have a myriad of thoughts in my head; visions of the child with leprosy, that asshole with the snake, and then the excitement and adrenaline rush of watching the pure uninhibited display by those two bar girls. When I look out on the road to see an elephant walking along in traffic not more than 10 feet from me / us, traffic is heavy, so he is walking slow, then again maybe it was because he had to shit. It was not a large elephant, by-elephant standards; but he was larger than most I had seen in Thailand. In reality even a small elephant is HUGE, relatively speaking. So between the overwhelming size of the beast, along with the gentle nature of its movements; the orangutan and I are captivated; we are watching the elephant intently. It stops, squats, and proceeded to emit the most INCREDIBLE shit I have ever witnessed? Perhaps, he had eaten more sugar cane than he should have, or maybe accidentally got ahold of one of those peppers that will blister your mouth, asshole and everything in between – I don’t know? I do know for at least 45 seconds, a four to six inch tube of excrement shot out of his asshole into the middle of the street. The pile of shit was a foot high and at least three feet in diameter it was by far the most shit I have ever seen in one place.
Life goes on, traffic moves and car after car proceeds thru the shit. Well now my location has to be vacated because a huge pile of shit smells like a huge pile of shit. I give the girl 500 baht and the orangutan, he stares deep into my soul and hugs, me, holds me tighter, as she pulls him away he touches my face as looks at me; “I leery rike you.” As she leaves the bar he and I continue to make eye contact – we look at one another like lovers departing, it might sound stupid, but it was an emotional moment. When she pulled us apart I felt as if I was being separated from a good buddy and it hurt me. I wanted to save him from his fate and I was unable. It bugs me to this day.
At that moment I was emotionally drained – The surreal experiences and vivid images of the past fifteen minutes were swirling in my head. It made me dizzy, for the next four hours I could not get the images out of my mind. And even now they are powerful and strong! I dare you to find another place that can offer that many emotions delivered in such a short time span.
Note to reader; I have shared this story several times; to the well traveled and the not so well traveled, and received different responses. The only people that can appreciate it are people who have the “been there did that” T-shirt. Any single event above, transpiring in its own right, would have been noteworthy, but not as significant without the additional events. All of them happening at the exact same time were too much for my simple mind to absorb. It was overwhelming to my input stimuli; visually and emotionally.
To this day; over sixteen years afterwards, it stands out as a life altering surreal
experience. Realize that I was youngish, (28-years-old), still mostly inexperienced; even though I had previously had a couple of short visits to Korea and Philippines but I still had / have a rural mental concept of “how life is.” Then and even now, deep down, I am just a “good ole boy.”
It is part of the incredible attraction of Thailand! I love it, I get giddy each time I am preparing to go. I travel often and NOWHERE else that I travel do I get an adrenaline rush when I make my reservations, and when the aircraft touches down at Don Muang; I am absolutely drunk with excitement! I wonder what kind of emotions I will have when I land at Chonburi for the first time?
A fun read.