Tale Of Bangkok And A Question Or Two
This submission is part story and part asking for advice. I trust that is ok. This really seems to be the best place to get the information I need. The questions I have relate to health issues concerning Type1 (insulin dependent) diabetics travelling to Thailand i.e. me. I have put them at the end of my little story.
I will be very appreciative of any information that Stickman readers are able to post to the Stick site or email me direct. Thank you, thank you.
Bangkok 37 years ago. I was 20. My first time in Thailand. Just a stopover on my way back to Sydney after a short holiday in London. Nothing remarkable happened I guess but then again I’ve never forgotten it either. I would love to hear more stories from those older, more innocent days.
It was already dark when our jet descended in driving rain at Don Muang. My taxi driver called himself Sam. I was on a mission and felt that time was short. Thanks to a friend who had visited previously I already spoke a few words in Thai…‘Honey Hotel’ and ‘Happy Happy Massage parlour’. (I had never even heard of Patpong or Soi Cowboy). Sam spoke good enough English anyway and told me he would not only get me to the hotel but would wait while I refreshed. Then he would get me to the Happy Happy way before closing time. My only concern was that he wouldn’t tell me what his charge was, instead uttering those immortal words ‘up to you’.
We set off again. The smells and sights and heat and maybe even the prospect of sex with an exotic Asian woman made my blood race. Now I don’t think Sam actually took me to the so-called Happy Happy, even if it did exist? On subsequent visits I saw a place called the Happy Massage but that was not far from the Honey Hotel and I’m sure we drove for about 10 minutes. Didn’t matter, I’m guess Sam thought any massage would be happy happy.
We passed a busload of smiling Thais, most of them women it seemed, who laughed and smiled even more when they saw me. I was starting to take it all in now. I realised this place was just a little crazy. Yippee.
I don’t recall any other customers being at the parlour when we arrived. Certainly no farangs around. Sam stayed with me so I bought a couple of large bottles of beer for us. We sat in wooden chairs at a wooden table in a dark bar area. Sam was easy to get on with and I was glad to have the company for a drink. I got some more beer for us. I guess it was near closing and the girls were sort of behind the glass but most of them started wandering into the bar and yapping away at us, mostly in Thai of course. Laughing and joking they made me and Sam laugh too, who cares what about. No mention of ‘lady drink’, no demands or pushiness at all. I don’t think there were more than 10 girls there but luckily the one that really caught my eye was the one that eventually sat with us. She was great looking, smiley and oh so soft. Yoko, my first Thai girl.
For those of you curious about the monetary side of things I’m afraid I have no real recollection. This was just two nights of fun, a long time ago. I was young and fuelled by beer and testosterone. Maybe I paid the mamasan something and I know I gave Yoko what she called ‘money for taxi’ each morning. Anyway, it sure didn’t feel like much at the time and I was no rich tourist.
It was all so natural. I can still remember her holding my hand and pressing close in the taxi. Sam, to me anyway, seemed like a proud chauffeur taking the married couple back to the honeymoon hotel. And still he would take no money. He said he would be there the day after to take me back to the airport. All smiles, no worries.
She was 23 and certainly didn’t seem like a prostitute. Tall by comparison I think now, her skin fairer, the hair just to the shoulders. The body perfect. The smell great.
When she left in the morning she promised to come and see me the next evening. I figured no way but sure enough she rang my room about 6.00pm. She was there about 40 minutes later with chicken and rice and many other foodstuffs I couldn’t identify. If I’d known anything about the city outside my hotel room I would have taken her out…but it was all a mystery to me still. We had a night in.
The next morning she presented me with an orange before she left. It felt like she had given me some sort of rare gift. She was happy, gracious and beautiful. I knew I’d never see her again.
So it was time to leave. Sam of course was sitting in the hotel lobby as I was checking out and ready for the run back to the airport. We arrived with way too much time to spare. Sam said he’d wait with me until my flight was called…was this guy semi-retired or something? Ok, so I thought I’d get us both a beer and try and figure out what was a fair amount to give him. Once again he just said “up to you”. I handed over some baht (can’t recall that amount either) and thanked him for looking after me. Then for the only time in my life a Thai cabbie ordered and paid for the next two rounds of beer! An hour later the flight was called and I said goodbye to Sam. I never saw him again.
It took me 8 years to get back to Thailand after that first trip. I had a number of long term rampaging trips there during the late 70s and early 80s. Mostly bar crawling through Patpong, Soi Cowboy and Pattaya. Probably a year all up …but I have not been back since 1984!
Sydney, Australia 2008.
The rest of my story is not unusual. Work and now my own humble business here in Oz. A typical marriage I guess to an upwardly mobile, highly strung, hot wired, hard going, impatient, insecure, demanding, Anglo Saxon partner. We split about two years ago….and it wasn’t even my idea.
Somehow, about that time I found myself on a computer and must have Googled Thailand or happiness or something. Eventually I found myself on Stickman’s site and have read many of the weekly columns and submissions since. Some of that writing is simply brilliant. Thanks Dana and Phet and there will be many others I haven’t got to yet.
So, yeah, I am thinking of returning to Thailand. Short term to start. Longer term? An option for the future, maybe.
I have no illusions. I read negative and positive comments on Stickman with equal interest. Life everywhere seems like it was better in the past. I won’t be coming back to the Thailand I knew in the 70s or 80s…but I’m travelling from an Australia that is nothing like it was in those days either. I’ll just go with the flow.
Type 1 Insulin Dependant Diabetes.
I have been a Type 1 insulin dependent diabetic for 10 years now. This means I inject myself using an insulin pen 4 times a day… at meal times and before I go to bed at night. I also need to monitor my blood sugar levels a number of times a day. (i.e. prick my finger to produce a small blood sample). I carry jelly beans with me at all times in case my blood sugar drops too low. Apart from those hassles all that’s required is a fairly healthy life style with a good diet and exercise.
The last time I was in Thailand was almost 24 years ago. In those days I barely strayed from the bar areas, drank 10 hours a day and 1.00 in the morning would usually see me in a tuktuk heading back to my hotel with a girl in tow. Great days indeed.
Insulin dependent diabetics can’t live like that of course…well maybe some do, please let me know…but that’s not the life I’m really after now. The Bangkok Post with breakfast, a book by the hotel pool while brown skin girls frolic nearby, long walks among the traffic fumes, the gym every few days, the occasional massage, some golf, a beer or two on a hot evening, healthy regular meals. By the same token I don’t want to give up the night life altogether. I still enjoy a drink and a chat, eating out, entertainment and a laugh…. and I’m sure not heading back to become a monk.
So if any of you Stick readers are diabetics…or know of someone whose existence depends on insulin injections and monitoring their blood sugar levels a few times a day like I do, it would be great to hear from you and how you cope.
I’m sure you understand some of the concerns I have. Thailand and Bangkok especially, is chaotic, spontaneous, tempting, diverting, hot, noisy, dirty, crowded, fast paced and sometimes a health hazard. I doubt if many Thais would understand how pouring me a normal coke instead of a diet coke would affect me or how I would go having a hypo in Sukhumvit Road? And what’s the best way to carry insulin, glucose monitor and jelly beans around, if that’s what you do …and not lose them?
Ok, ok. I’m sure it can be done. Despite the diabetes I’m fit and active. I look forward to all the good advice.
So when you see an Aussie farang insisting on diet ginger ale with his Mekong or a low carb beer, sometime in the future, say hi. It might be me.
Nice to hear about the old days.
As far as diabetes goes, you could buy your diabetic supplies here and should you need to medical assistance, all of the big hospitals will have wither a Diabetes Centre, or a Diabetes specialist at the very least.