Greetings From Vietnam 7
“Tit for Tet”
Xin Chao Stickmanites, born again playboys, my Lords, Ladies & Gentlemen, Mongers, Whores from around the world & that nice girl from Singapore.
It happens to all of us folks, that time when we can't do it any more, just plain can’t cut the mustard. No coffee in the kitchen, no fruit salad laced with blue cheese dressing, no smoked salmon & cream cheese waits in the fridge. No half trembling, half giggling maid waits to be chased down the corridor. The party is over (sob).
In Vietnam this dreaded time even has a name. It's called "Tet" (Chinese New Year). In my stunningly beautiful mountain habitat of Dalat this means a complete shutdown for two weeks. No restaurants, no markets, no local coffee, no internet cafes (sob). No fishermen in the city centre lake. Even my much prized local massage harem goes home to spend their ill gotten gains on Mama & Papa.
Time to flee to foreign lands for a bit of R & R . Ah yes, how about a few days of debauchery in Snookyville, Cambo & a week or two of culture in Exotic old, Sultry old Chiang Mai? Yeah that'll do. Very nicely.
“Such stuff as dreams are made of” – William Shakespeare
We made it all the way to Chiang Mai my dears, a well trodden path, but 'twas a VERY bumpy ride, surprising little ripples & shocks all the way.
First up came HCMC where hordes of ethnic Chinese roamed the streets babbling away in fluent Russian. Russian? Two new Russian TV channels were on display just to confirm that a new era is on its way.
In Snookyville this Phenomenon reached its apex where thousands of blond giants roamed the earth, speaking not their native tongue but near perfect English. English? Has the wizard of tongues cast a mischievous spell? Will I wake up in Swaziland, spear at the ready?
These Giants have purchased the local Islands by all accounts. The times they are a changing. Just what the tiny Cambo men made of these stunning Muscovite Goddesses I'd dearly love to know. Scared the crap out of me that's for sure and I’m just short of 6 foot tall.
New Russian TV channels on Cambo networks too.
In Phnom Penh your correspondent is used to the not so pleasant odors wafting off the cool breeze of the Tonie Sap. This time it was more alarming. Smoke from forest fires. The skies all the way from PP to Snookyville were grey with the stuff, all the way to the Ko Khong border too.
If you soon have trouble breathing in Bangkok then you know why.
Now your correspondent lives by the power of positive thinking, so smoke or no smoke it’s off to indulge in a little threesome with some much loved Vietnamese sweeties. Very accommodating they are too, good scrub down before & after, and wonder of wonders, ready to share their food with me. Anyone who has attempted to eat the inedible bilge served up in Cambo will know the value of this one. But only one was on duty. ONE? !!!. A very beautiful “one” gave me a real good time too, but but..
No Viet “belles de nuit” left but her, the last of her kind. RIP Twas “wonderful” to know you. For yours truly, a very personal tragedy. The Khmers who have taken over the red light territory, are to me, at least, by far the most gentle & beautiful people in SE Asia. Much too innocent to take on Uncle Hun Sen & his Khmer Rouge cronies .
But these affectionate girls just plain don’t like three up (Sob).
Disconsolate, your correspondent retreated to a “straight “massage parlor on the shore for a two hour oil rub down. To my very great surprise she wound me up quite delightfully & gave a highly skilled happy ending. Great stuff!
After a few days its off to Ko Khong on the ‘ol Hydrofoil. Good value this, fresh air all the way and I’m a sailor at heart. Perchance two young Khmer mums plonked themselves down next to me. Each with a young boy, aged about three or four at a guess. Conspicuously absent were their pants, but this was no act of absent mindedness, no act of forgetfulness. It enabled these jolly mums to play with their sons dicks all the way to the middle islands. Often “son swapping”, often planting strategic kisses. Now your correspondent had heard tell of these goings on, but had never actually seen it. Can’t for the life of me figure it for being healthy or sick. They did flirt with me some but I didn’t know how to politely enquire as to join in the party as son number three.
Now, my dears, the border trip to Chiang Mai from Ko Khong used to be a snip. No baht being available on the Cambo shores the Khmer Entrepreneurs would give baht for your small change at the border, 50 baht bus to Trat, forex at the banks, sample the wonders of Thai food, bus to the Eastern terminal, sky train etc, sleeper train to CM. Voila. This time things were very different. No Khmer money changers. The scumbag bus driver forced $5 out of me (no alternative) only to shanghai me into a new fangled bus terminal way outside of town. No forex Again & again & again. NO DOLLARS!. GO BACK CAMBODIA. Gouged again for a 50% mark up to the Northern not Eastern Terminal. Arriving too late for the banks your enraged correspondent was mugged yet again for money then contrary to assurances dumped outside of Chiang Mai at 2am after a backbreaking journey replete with mosquitos.
Too much! I didn’t need this abuse, I can get it back in England anytime I want. And in that benighted land, its free of charge too.
Forced to walk 4 km into town the Veerachai Court guards mercifully recognized me and gave me shelter in the laundry room. God bless ‘em.
How very different things are back in Vietnam, every little Nguyen is taught the merits of money changing just after potty training and sent forth with a wad of roubles dollars & yen. If he doesn’t get a 500% roi every day then no noodles for him that night.
Conspicuously absent from Veerachai was the pitter patter of high heels up & down the stairs all night long. Where are the “belles de nuit”? Sitting in sullen rows, legs bedecked in jeans, the bar girls & dancers having gone from being poor to downright pathetic .
The morning light brought the sourpuss Dragon Lady from Veerachai, NO DOLLARS! even before she said hello. Room rates up from 4000 baht a month just 18 months ago to 500 a night now. Desperate for a port in a storm I succumbed for just one night.
Banks open for forex! Yippee! But grim signs all over, internet cafes up from 20 baht an hour to 30 baht, one hour oil massage 280 baht up from 200 baht, the river Ping buried in brown sludge, swimming pool up from 50 baht to 75b.
Sod this for game of soldiers.
For me, Its out of this nightmare tourist circuit in one day or straight back out of Thailand, never to return.
Off to morning coffee by the night bazaar just 10 baht check. With those little bits of batter too. At the day market Belgian waffles with raisins 10 b. check, Cowpat & onion soup just 20 baht check. Screams of recognition all the while too. Off up the Ping River past the fruit & veg market an old haunt, a massage place riverside in a wonderful old Teak Lanna house. Two hour oil massage just 300 baht. Later on in the day they took care of me “very” well. Masseuse with that killer smile, scampering around in those swishy Llanna pants, her house full of fountains, fish ponds with irises. Unguents ointments & exotic aromas percolated the air. Only in Chiang Mai.
Further on, my wondrous riverside villa, buried in the serenity of old trees, tranquil. Just 300 b a night. Well ok. Wonderfully romantic, it just screams for female company. But nothing doing, no hotel safe, no overnight stays. Sorry girls. Practically empty, It needs transport, too far out. Is the river bus still active?
On to my old school, across the river. If its still there, should be a hoot to listen to the students wangle it so that I end up doing the homework I set them.
Thais to their bootstraps.
It is. Wonder of wonders.
The streets full of smiling faces, I’d forgotten just how gloriously olde world exotic and just plain good at spoiling us Chiang Mai is. Charming, Decadent. Sultry, predatory females occasionally strayed across my path. Unique to Thailand? Nah, try Latin America. You mongers don’t know what you’re missing.
Spotted a couple of hairdressing girls with skirts so short that the tension on trying to spot their delightful rear ends was electric. Yours truly was rooted to the spot. Shave & hair wash?
Just then I paused to ruminate on these past two years. For I had resolved at the time to make Chiang Mai my home. But with a weak heart my Cardiologist ordered me out of the City come April, no winds to drive the traffic pollution out of the city.
No great loss for Dalat is an incomparably better place to live, even if Chiang Mai is a far better place to party.
But even so, car fumes driving me out? They’ve bothered me for half a lifetime. Alpine skiing as a young man was spoilt by choking for air back in Gatwick Airport. Upon returning to Blighty after a decade in the US of A I was stunned to find that 30 % of English kids have asthma.
Now I don’t begrudge Stickman writers their precious SUV’s & AC Cobras, in their prams or out of them. I still dream of my Mediterranean gin palace, twin Volvo deisels positively belching black smoke. But do we really have the right to deposit vile poisons into the air with impunity, making our cities uninhabitable?
I have a dream, free at last, free at last, god almighty free at last from these noxious fumes.
What to do? Well my native England has had great success with making its towns pedestrian only.. Commercial vehicles enter at night.
Dalat is a joy on Saturday/Sunday nights for the self same reason.
Chiang Mai is a cinch for an electric only solution, say on a 40 km radius. Park & charge metres everywhere. Power? A nice little mini (micro even) hydro dam up the Ping river. Pack a wallop these. Maybe surplus for neighboring towns. A filter to take the sludge out of this once beautiful river?
The ‘orrible little samovars sent to the (soon to be) Cambo Desert
Wouldn’t it be luverly?
Whether I can so easily outflank the fiscal assault on my limited resources on my next visit is questionable.
Whether I will actually want to travel all this way just to see Main Street USA in the form of Hagan Daaz, Macdonald’s & Starbucks is another issue to ponder.
But Chiang Mai is still a magnificent old city, unique.
“plus ca change plu c’est la meme chose”
The more the world changes, the more it stays the same
So now it’ll be soon be time to return to the far more intelligent, far more beautiful, far more eco-friendly climes of Dalat. I wish, I wish, that its citizens had SOME idea of the sensory delights available in glorious Olde Chiang Mai.