Delightful Thailand This Winter – Meet the People in Bangkok, Pattaya, Khon Kaen
After a long distance flight and taxi ride, I check in at the Novotel Siam. There comes my taxi driver again, running across the lobby towards me.
The receptionists look worried, anticipating problems. The taxi driver drops my shiny sexy new camera on to me and runs out again. I forgot my camera in his car.
I run across the lobby after my taxi driver and drop 200 baht on to him. He tries to refuse and accepts the money only after serious threatening.
— BANGKOK, NOVOTEL SIAM 2 —
"No, Sir, you shouldn't buy breakfast tickets right now", says the receptionist to me, after the taxi driver incident has been discussed. "Buy them only tomorrow, when you clearly know you want to take breakfast here."
It's so funny: They sell the room without breakfast, and now they even discourage me to buy extra breakfast tickets at check-in time. Originally I thought they sell the rooms without breakfast to make them look cheaper. But later I find out: They sell rooms without breakfast because the breakfast room is too small to host enough customers simultaneously. If you do pay 400 extra baht for breakfast there, you have to wait 15 minutes at the breakfast room reception until a chair becomes available. Another reason why they prefer you not to have breakfast: They are ashamed about what's on offer. I never had awkwardly small breakfast tables like at the Novotel Siam, and the food is not delightful.
— BANGKOK, RATCHADAMRI ROAD —
Around 8 PM, I walk over a dark stretch of grass just outside Lumphini Park to get to the Ratchadamri skytrain station. The actual pedestrian's walk there is an unwalkable construction mess.
Out of a bush crawls a dirty young Thai man: Messy filthy hair, torn dress, mad look.
He points a gun at me.
Anything but die, but I worry I am not just starring in another hard-boiled Frank Visakay fiction. No, the madman physically points the gun at me. The gun looks functional. He points the gun at me and walks towards me, with the gun and a mad look. He points the gun at me. He's about three meters away, pointing the gun at me. I slowly walk backwards, looking at him, him pointing gun at me. I see when he points the gun at me, pulls the trigger and a –
– a very low "klakk" is lost in the Bangkok night.
The guy breaks down on the grass, laughing hysterically. Another filthy individual crawls out of a bush and joins into the mad tremor. They let me walk away.
— PATTAYA, DONGTAN BEACH 1 —
"You want tattoo, sir", asks a tattoo shop tout, flashing a book with tattoo patterns.
"No! No need." I don't even look.
"Just take a look sir!"
"No, I don't want a tattoo anyway."
"Just take a look at my book, sir!"
"No, really not," I repeat softly and continue to read my newspaper.
Shouting obscenities at me, he stamps off.
— PATTAYA, DONGTAN BEACH 2 —
"Hello sir, you want fuck me", asks me a skinny ugly callboy in the bright daylight?
"No, I only like ladies", I say loudly. I hope he and his slimey colleagues behind the casuarina will remember my sexual preferences for a while.
"I no lady, sir, but I have bum you can fuck me."
"It takes more than a hole in your body to tickle my fancy."
"Sorry, what sir?"
"Mai pen rai."
— PATTAYA, HOPF BREWHOUSE 1 —
"Do you have fresh lemon juice", I ask the waitress?
"Yes, sir, but do you want it
– with soda or drinking water
– with ice or without ice
– with sugar or not?"
— PATTAYA, HOPF BREWHOUSE 2 —
In air-con comfort, I nurse my perfect nam manao on a Brewhouse window chair, ponder the tip for my waitress and watch the ongoings on ever-busy Beach Road. Funny, I think, Dana had posted his Pattaya schedule on the Schoocher forum. He had been at the writers' meeting in Bangkok. He should be in Pattaya now, but I didn't see him for three days.
Just with a Dana thought and anecdote on my mind, the real thing rummages past. Dana looks like he did at the writers' meeting: Black trousers held up by suspenders and an old-fashioned, unicolor long-sleeved silk shirt (this time mute yellow, not old rose). He walks real fast and fires annoyed looks left and right – as if he didn't approve of the usual Beach Road mayhem.
— PATTAYA, BURGER KING —
I pay for a burger and Coke with a 1,000 baht bill, but the change is short of 100 baht.
"It should be 100 baht more change", I say politely to the cashier.
I get 100 baht more within nanoseconds, no discussion, no eyebrow.
— PATTAYA, IN FRONT OF BURGER KING —
With my burger and Coke, I sit down on the picnic banks in front of Burger King. I do so on several evenings. Every night, the same mix of working girls and expats meets there. The expats – often with a German accent – boast to the working girls about their lifetime achievements, their high status high salary, high rise condo, and glamorous air travel on business class. "Next week I have to do business in Hanoi. You know, I will take Singapore Air business class again."
The working girls nod languidly and without any admiration to the expats' cockalorum.
— KHON KAEN, SQUARE NEAR PARK —
Strolling around park and Kaen Nakhon lake, after sunset I arrive at a large open square where a beauty pageant is underway. To be precise, it is the SEXY LEO GIRL contest.
The competing ladies – obviously good girls, 18 to 22 years old – do short dance performances. Only one chooses a traditional song and dress. The others dance to disco music and make very explicit moves you rather might expect on a discovery channel mammals feature. They are scantily clad in LEO red. In between, a LEO red dance troupe performs hot erotic disco moves. A few hundred people watch, seated on LEO red foldable chairs around LEO red foldable tables (the competition has the same in yellow and green) and drink guess what.
Then men from the audience are asked to the stage. A hip Thai guy who looks like an MTV producer talks into me: "Come on, sir, go to the stage and dance! Let's have fun!" I am the only farang there. I would have taken to the stage in one of my regular pubs around town, but not here out in the open. What with the huge TV camera filming everything. I manage to refuse, but feel like a spoilsport.
Finally six Thai men line up on stage. Do they dance and have fun, as announced? No, first they have to race-drink canned LEO beer, and by command they have to pour LEO beer over their heads.
From the distance of my LEO red foldable chair, I watch the madness safely.
— KHON KAEN, TAWAN DAENG PUB 1 —
At 1 AM I step out of the heaving Tawan Daeng live music pub. "I go to Top West pub", I say to a parking tuktuk.
"Oh, he goes Top West", says a beautiful Thai lady with a smile; she just starts her motorcycle next to the tuktuk.
I don't think twice: "Top West, pai dueay mai", I invite her?
She bursts into a heartbreaking, but regretting smile:
"So sorry, I have to go home now." SMILE.
We drive off, with a regretting smile.
— KHON KAEN, TOP WEST PUB —
At 1:15 AM I step into the Top West pub and make a strategic mistake: I settle next to a table full of drunk Thai males. They soon pester me with whiskey, incomprehensible questions and even dance offers. The music is dull straight rock; it is the first year that music-wise Top West falls behind Tawan Daeng.
— KHON KAEN, CHAROEN THANI HOTEL 1 —
At 2 AM, I step into my hotel room 16 floors high over sleeping Khon Kaen. I have to charge the camera battery, I think. Then I realize: The camera is not with me. Actually, I forgot my shiny sexy new camera in the Tawan Daeng pub where I had cleverly tied my little bag to a chair.
I jump down and grab a tuktuk back to Tawan Daeng.
— KHON KAEN, TAWAN DAENG PUB 2 —
At 2:20 AM, I step back into the now lit-up Tawan Daeng. The pub is just emptying. Three waiters descend upon me. "Sir, camellah, CAMELLAAHH", they shout. Yes, yes, I nod. I am dragged to the main cashier which is manned by an elderly lady, probably the boss.
"You passport", she barks! The camera bag has a passport photocopy. My wallet has another passport photocopy, so it is easy to prove the ownership. I get the camera back and put 200 baht on to the counter. With a ceremonial face, the main cashier distributes this money to two waiters. They wai her for thank you.
— KHON KAEN, CHAROEN THANI HOTEL 2 —
At 2:40 AM, I step into my hotel room again. I put the batteries into the charger and myself onto the white cottons.
Amazing Thailand, I think as I drift towards lala land. They show you guns and cheat on small change – but they go out of their way to give me my camera back.
And that lady at Tawan Daeng tonight was very nice. Her smile! I dream off.
My my, Pothole you are forgetful! Didn't you almost lose your USB drive on a previous trip?!