My First Time
I can remember my first time like it happened yesterday.
The doors opened and there was a warmth like I had not experienced before. I know that it would take about 10 minutes before I could cool down and reflect. But first say goodbye to the lovely lady who was present at my first time. Yes my first time to LOS, the heat and humidity are very different than I imagined. You read about it but it still takes you by surprise. And the lovely young lady I had to say goodbye to was the first tourist trap when leaving the plain. She welcomed us with flowers and you had to take a picture with her and yes, it would be yours for 150 baht. And I bought it. I knew it was a tourist trap and you had to pay a lot more than the real cost but the story is priceless and everybody who visits my house asks about it and so begins the story of my first time. I save the photo with me and a lovely ladyboy for the end of the story, always good for a laugh because nobody recognises that it is in fact a man with silicones. So the heat when leaving the plane, the rows at Immigration, the first tourist trap and meeting the rest of the touring group. Not bad for my fist hour in LOS. At least I didn’t have to face the taxi problem I read so much about. So into the bus with 21 other people and on to Bangkok and more specifically, the Grand China Princess (one of the few hotels which the name I still remember) dead smack in the middle of Chinatown.
I have to say I like Chinatown in Bangkok, the 2 times I was walking around there I could look at the items without being directly approached by the salesmen. And there was a buzz I don’t know how to explain but it just felt good. And the bicycle ride through Chinatown was a real happening, biking through those little streets and the people looking at you like you were crazy biking around in this heat and smock.
The second night in Bangkok I had made plans to take a look at the nightlife with a friend in Bangkok but she called in sick so I decided to get a taxi and take a look for myself. What a ride! I jumped in the first taxi available and told him where I
wanted to go. I told him I wanted to go to a bar where there where a lot of tourist but not a naughty bar, just wanted to start off with a beer and some conversation with other tourist to find out what was happening in Bangkok and the best bars
to go to. We drove around for about 20 minutes before we entered a street with one side only gay bars, nothing wrong with that but it is not my cup of tea. And I wanted to go to a not naughty bar, so I asked hey where are we going, the answer
of course was no worry I take you to good bar. He stopped at 2 / 3 into the street and a hidden door opened up and a man was waving to us. The taxi driver pointed and told me to go in. But when I got out of the taxi I took a good look around and
there where no signs on the outside of the door and all the alarm bells were going of in my head. Normally my curiosity takes over but this time. I listened to the bells in my head and got back into the taxi. And was thinking well this is not
going to work, I will never see a normal bar. So I had two options go back to the hotel or try again. I tried again. But this time no bar I told him. I was feeling stiff and changed my mind I wanted a massage first. Ok you guessed right out came
a folder with a beautiful girl and what she could do for what price. I told him no take me to a non sex Thai massage shop. I just wanted to get the airplane stiffness out. So we drove around some more and ended up at some big place with a lot
of neon and I thought ok this will be twice he wants to trick me. And I was right. I opened the door and I looked at a “fishbowl” full with half dressed girls. Needless to say the next stop would be my hotel and try another taxi.
So we got back to the hotel and I looked at my watch. We had driven around for about 40 minutes and seen a lot of Bangkok at night and the damage was only 100 baht. Yep, I didn’t forget to tell him meter on or I get out so the meter was
on, lucky for me. So one other good story to tell to my friends and family for 100 baht, not bad. What was bad was my leg when I got out of the taxi. It was painful and big. This is not the first time (I had an operation to my leg from overtraining
for the marathon and the doctor told me this could happen when sitting for a long period) this has happened and the remedy is always rest. This ended my first night in Bangkok. My second night was with one of the others in the group who knew Bangkok
and wanted to go to the Hard Rock Café so I went along.
The Hard Rock Café: good band but expensive beer and food. The crowd could be roughly divided in 5 groups: ladies who get paid for nightly activities and the men looking for these ladies, expats with their girlfriends , tourists and Thais. And it was here that I had my first contact with a Thai girl. Her name was Na, about my age and she worked as an accountant for a big company. We talked for a while and at closing time we decided to go to a disco to dance and her friend joined us. We had a great time there and said our goodbyes. I have only one regret and that is not asking for her phone number. It would have been nice to talk to her again.
So the journey through Thailand continued and brought us to the bridge over the River Kwai. We slept in a hotel which I think was about 10 km from the bridge. And although the pain in my leg was gone it was still swollen with water so I decided to go running and let the pump work as my doctor had told me. With running for about 8 miles the water in my leg would be pumped up and handled by my body. So off I went doing something they don’t see very often in that part of Thailand. At first my plan was to run 5 miles along the river and then turn back, but after 1 mile I was stopped by a dog. Here I have to explain some more. I was attacked by three German Sheppards about a year ago so I don’t take risks with dogs anymore. I turned around and headed back towards the village. In the village there where a lot of dogs so I stopped before I entered the village. This made me run between two packs of dogs up and down the road. But the funniest thing was the look on the faces of the Thai people who saw me run. There was one family – father, mother and daughter all on one bike who came back with a camera to take my picture. So if you are in that village and there is a family who tells a story of some farang running looking like he came out of a swimming pool, yes, it was hot and you see a picture of a guy in a red shirt and matching black / red short with a big smile on his face and giving two thumps up then yep, that would be me! And know one more thing that smile went away the next morning. I woke up and made an early morning stretch I think they could hear me in Bangkok. I had cramp in both my legs and I couldn’t walk straight for two days. Man, where is a masseuse when you need one, because the next two days where filled with travelling to the north. Only at the end of the second day could I find a masseuse who could not stop laughing when I told her the story how my legs became that painful. Oh and the masseuse worked in some kind of resort with nothing of a town in the vicinity so the bill for relieving my pain was 1,000 baht for about 1.5 hours. But worth it as after two days of walking funny it is great to be able to walk normal again. Not to mention that the people in my touring group couldn’t stop laughing whenever they saw me walking. Yep 32, and still making rookie mistakes and I don’t think it’s going to change.
The north is for me mostly about nature and the night market in Chiang Mai. The tribes we visited were disappointing and clearly just for tourism. The magic has gone there, people say that the woman in the bars in Bangkok and Pattaya are only interested in your money. Well, so are the tribes but without the smiles and the pleasant company! The tour did include the silk factory, the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep which I want to visit again but than early in the morning and if it is possible have a chat with a monk there. And the usual items tourists visit on a tour. But the real fun is the night market. It was here that I got a yellow armband showing I contributed to a monk who takes care of people with aids. Well so I thought, it is still on debate. My girlfriend is not very sure it was the real deal. When I donated 100 baht I asked what it was for. They told me the monk leading the group was a famous monk who got to study in the US and came back to Thailand to take care of people who are HIV positive. So without thinking twice I gave the money to the monk in person. But when I told the story and showed the yellow armband to my girlfriend she had her suspicions. She told me that that monk doesn’t do that often. And she knows because she works as a volunteer twice a year and sometimes more if she has the time with that monk. So when we go back to Thailand together we are going to his temple and find out if it was the real deal or not.
So the market. It is always fun to see how much time people spend to get 10 baht off the price and how different nationalities handle the whole bargaining act. And it was here in Chiang Mai that some of the group and I visited a gogo bar for the first time in our lives. Very disappointing, only a bar and a podium where some girls danced uninspired. Not what I suspected or imagined. The most fun I had there was a little chat with some guys from Saudi Arabia. And what else? Oh yeah, I bought a good quality suit for about 10,000 baht I think there are a lot of you who can give me the address of a store where the quality is good too but the price is a little better. But I had the choice to buy one in Chiang Mai or Pattaya and I chose the recommended Chiang Mai store. Then we went on the night train to Bangkok, a great ride great view until it became dark. I have to do it again only then during the day. And from Bangkok to Jomtien. What happened in Jomtien and how I got to know my girlfriend (lucky my curiosity took over again and found me on the back of a motorbike driven by a man who got his instructions from a Belgian I met the day before) I will leave for some other time. So here I end the story of my first time knowing it has been written and experienced a million times before, but I wanted to chare it with you all none the less.
It is hard to recapture the magic of the first visit although that said, it sounds like there were a few speed bumps along the way on your first trip.