Confession Of A Mechanic Part 2
Confession Of A Mechanic Part 2
Bangkok Thailand 1967
We had just left Phnom Penh, Cambodia on a flight to Bangkok. The flight was un eventful and soon we were landing at Don Meuang. The airport then was very small then and Immigration was fast and efficient.
The next real hurdle was the taxi drivers.
There was no system and one had to negotiate the best deal as all had different prices. No taxi meters then.
The large influx of people coming to Thailand due to the Vietnam war was like a dream come true for the taxi drivers.
The taxis were small Datsun Bluebirds, no air-conditioning and very uncomfortable for taller farangs. There was no expressway or toll booths then. Mostly open land and rice fields half way towards Bangkok.
The first hotel we stayed at was the Park Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 7, new and very nice, $6 per night. When the 5 of us approached the desk to sign in, the 5 ladies behind the counter all gave us the Thai wai greeting and then gave us a small, wet, cold towel to wipe our face and hands and also a cold soft drink.
After spending 18 months in a construction site of 3,000 men, God the Thai ladies looked beautiful. I feel very fortunate to have known Thailand before the tourists came and ruined it.
Thailand then was under military rule. There was war in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand was fighting their own home grown communists in the central mountains and the north east. Oh I almost forgot, Bangkok had a 12.00 PM to 5.00 AN curfew that was strictly enforced. No vehicles or people were allowed on the streets. Very few if any farangs lived permanently incountry.
The best hotels were the Oriental, Siam and the Dusit Thani which probably was the tallest building in town. On Sukhumvit the Raja was new and very nice, Nana a nice small family hotel, Grace a nice new hotel with a different crowd to today. The Ambassador was built later. The Rex was popular with the military.
The population was maybe 3 to 4 million, only a guess. Taxis were not so plentiful but there were a lot more tuktuks. No condos had been built.
Lower Sukhumvit at that time was a very nice area. No food or merchandise of any kind sold on the street and no prostitutes.
Today it’s a blighted area and a real eyesore for a capital city. All the hotels in the Sukhumvit area had GIs and civilians connected with the wars but very few regular tourists.
Entertainment / Nightlife
The main nightlife area was Patpong which used to be a fun place to go to. No vendors or vehicles allowed then.
There was no Nana Plaza or Soi Cowboy. The Cowboy bar was the first but I think it came later. Petchaburi Road had many clubs and bars with music and dancing catering mostly to the GIs on vacation.
There were a lot of individual clubs & bars some by the President and Amarin hotel areas. Many hotels had their own clubs with live bands playing real music, not the taped ear-splitting, noise-polluting garbage that they call music today. The bands would play song requests. The Nana Hotel was a family type hotel with a beautiful lounge and small dance floor. The live band was very good and it included 3 Thai cowgirls who played the guitar and sang country, western, popular hits and sometimes Thai.
It was really nice but has now gone, forever.
Thai Ladies 1967
Back then it was almost impossible for a farang on vacation to meet a so called good lady. Yes there were ladies available in the clubs and bars, they usually sat off to the side. They were quiet and usually kept a low profile compared to their mercenary sisters of today. Club / bar ladies then were reluctant to ask you for a drink or quote a price. It was always "it’s up to you." Most ladies back then wanted to stay and take care of you for the duration of your vacation. Of course if you had a lady she would always wash your clothes, today they will tell you laundry 2 blocks down the street. Just think back then no internet, e mails, cell phones, no go go clubs, AIDS, no television in hotels and no stupid farangs sending ladies monthly welfare checks.
Back to the Park hotel where we had just received a real Thai welcome. The room was spotless and hot water a real luxury. I felt like I was being pampered. That evening I did not stray far, had supper at a nice Hungarian restaurant, ordered some clothes and hired a tuk tuk driver to be at my hotel every morning at 9.00 AM.
My driver was a good honest and very reliable man but a real speed demon. I gave him the name Barney, the name of a Indy 500 winner Barney Oldfield. He scared the hell out of me until I learned to move to the high side when he turned the corner.
After a while I just thought of myself as a side car passenger on the Isle of Man motor cycle races.
The first morning at breakfast I got to talking to a man who had been in Bangkok for some time. He told me what sights to see and also how he had been robbed by a katoey on Sukhumvit Road one month before. Of course I had to ask what a katoey was.
On the fifth day Joe the young civil engineer who sat next to me on the flight decided to go with me to see the Temple of Dawn. After the dash across town with Barney, Joe looked pale and made the comment he did not think he wanted to make the return trip with Barney.
At the dock two Thai ladies joined us for the river crossing and became our guides for the day. First the temple, a river trip and lunch at a nice river restaurant.
They both spoke fairly good English and worked the second shift at the President Hotel. We met them again a week later.
The next day Joe and I took the 17 hour train trip to Chiang Mai. No VIP air-con buses back then. Chiang Mai was a small, quiet, beautiful town. I think we stayed 4 days. We wanted to visit Chiang Rai but were advised not to go as it was unsafe to make the trip by road.
All too soon it was the last day of our vacation and we took Barney, his wife and his 2 beautiful, lively 6 year old twin girls to lunch. The girls were quiet at first as I don't think they had seen a farang before. After lunch we gave them each a Teddy bear for their Xmas. I don't think they had ever had a toy before. To see two poor girls so happy had to be the highlight of our vacation.
We stopped at the President Hotel and said goodbye and thanks to the two ladies who had been such gracious hosts.
Later I went alone to a club near Erawan owned by a French lady. When I left it was 15 minutes until curfew. The streets were already deserted and with no taxis available so I had no choice but to walk home to the Park Hotel. As I walked home I was just reminiscing about what a great vacation I have had and tomorrow it's back to being a mechanic again on diesel engines, bulldozers and earth movers.
I was just approaching Wireless Road when a taxi with very dark tinted windows slowly passed me and stopped about 300 yards ahead of me. I'm thinking what the hell do we have here. The passenger door opens and out steps the most beautiful tall lady, I mean katoey, long flowing black hair, a silk like dress signal, red high heel shoes, a set of breasts that would make most real women envious and a smile to kill for.
As he comes towards me, with one hand I signaled for him to stop and with the other I pointed for him to get back in the taxi but he just kept charging towards me like a bull at a red flag. Just as one of his hands was going for my crouch and the other for my back pocket I stomped hard on his toes and gave him a strong push backwards. He staggered and fell on his hands and knees with his arse facing me, his dress was up on his hips and he was showing red panties that matched his shoes. I drew back to kick his arse but instead drove my size 11 shoe between his legs hoping it would connect with some male body parts. It worked! He gave a loud shout almost like the honk of a pig and a loud gasping sucking sound. He is now laying on the sidewalk with one hand in his crotch area and between breaths he says I go taxi, I go taxi. He gets up and starts running for the taxi with me close behind to make sure he does not change his mind.
About halfway to the taxi one shoe heel gets stuck between the paving stones. He turns about 180 degrees and leaves the shoe then kicks the other one off. I now notice the taxi is moving very slowly with the passenger wide open. When katoey is about 10 feet from the taxi he dives for the front seat like he is going off a diving board. That’s when I reach out and grab the long black hair flowing behind him. He continues into the taxi and I am left holding a beautiful wig of
The taxi takes off at full speed with a puff of smoke, the passenger door half closed and 2 feet still sticking out.
I would have liked to have heard the two robbers' conversation.
DRIVER: My goodness what happened to your wig and shoes?
ROBBER : Wig and shoes, hell you should see my black and blue swollen testicles. Would you believe it? I was down on my hands and knees asking Buddha for guidance when he kicked me. Tomorrow I drive the taxi and you rob the farangs!
DRIVER : That means we have to buy more wigs and shoes.
ROBBER : That farang has convinced me that perhaps it's time to think about a career change.
It was my last night of my vacation and there I was on Ploenchit, holding a pair of signal red high heel shoes, a beautiful black wig and it's 8 minutes until curfew. The street is totally deserted and the town is dead quiet.
Just then I hear a tuktuk in the distance coming from Sukhumvit. I wave him down and tell him Park Hotel. He has no watch but keeps pointing to his wrist and saying curfew, curfew but when I pull out 50 baht – $2 then plus a pair of nice shoes and a wig which he put on. The trip to the hotel I am sure broke the speed record.
The hotel lady receptionist asked me if I had enjoyed my vacation. I told her yes, I have had a wonderful time but that I did have a run in with a katoey as I walked home tonight. She said you have to be careful as sometimes they steal. I told her yes, that’s what I understand but the one tonight was no problem after I explained things to him he got back in the taxi and drove off and everything worked out just fine.
Some of you readers may think I am some sort of sadistic monster, so let me try to explain. I am 6 feet tall, 165 lb, don't drink or smoke, am kind of quiet, non confrontational, polite, and I don't let small things bother me and I certainly don't make a habit of going around kicking people in the nuts.
But when a thief, the scum of the earth tries to steal from me, then they have gone too far and it's time to retaliate.
We left Don Meuang airport at noon and as the plane was climbing skywards and the landscape was fading fast below I thought of the famous words General Douglas MacArthur said as he left the Philippines in 1942. "I shall return Brutus."
Keep tuned for part 3.
Fun story. It's interesting to hear that back then some parts of the country were best not visited due to safety concerns.