One Nerd in Bangkok Part 1
The heat hit me in the face as if someone had just spilled warm clam chowder all over me. Suitcase in hand, I stood in line to get a taxi outside Bangkok Airport.
This being my first time in Thailand, I had researched ground transportation online before landing and hence knew that I was to ignore all the touts and seemingly polite people offering me rides in the arrivals area. Once it was my turn I handed my hotel
address to the lady at the counter who promptly got me a cab. After my luggage was put in the trunk and we were on our way out of the airport grounds the driver said "600 baht, ok?" I was stunned. Wasn't the purpose of the taxi
desk and the little registration slip I had gotten to prevent this kind of haggling?
"No, please use the meter", I said.
The driver was not pleased, made a face that I have honestly never seen in an adult (think toddler who has her candy ripped out of her mouth and replaced with electric eels) and squeaked "meter no good, no fun".
Really? Since when were taxi meters supposed to be fun? This wasn't a carnival ride, or was it? With the pink colour of the car and the infantile attitude of the driver, I suddenly feared I might have flown right into Charlie's Chocolate Factory
and not a supposedly modern Asian metropolis! Would I be drowned in a pool of durian-scented nougat if I became unbearably unpleasant by, say, insisting on proper fare calculation? Not worth it.
I mumbled "500 baht, you pay toll", and Chocolate Charlie grinned and nodded. Great! In the country for less than an hour and I already had to dodge the vultures. <Fxxxing wonderful, out of the airport and the bullshit starts right away. Absolutely shameful! – Stick>
Having been to South America I was well aware of the fact that most locals would likely see me as nothing but a walking ATM or maybe a jolly punching ball but it had usually taken a few days to run into the first scam or robbery attempt down there.
I avoided Charlie's questions. "You got giiiirlfriend here?" "Ohhh want find nice giiirl?" "Home you have giiiirl?") by pretending to speak little English. How on earth had I ended up coming to Thailand by myself and
what exactly did I want down here? I wasn't clear on my reasoning anymore but remembered that I had sold my house and wouldn't be able to move into a new place for 2 more weeks. Being outraged by the prices charged by local hotels, I
had vowed in front of a friend to either sleep in a tent or go somewhere cheaper. When I looked up affordable destinations I immediately stumbled upon Thailand where a room could be had for a quarter of what a decent hotel charged at home, and
airfares were equivalent to maybe 3 days worth of western hotels. So why stay in the rain and cold?
After driving on something that looked like a highway we soon entered densely populated quarters. Charlie honked and drove over sidewalks before depositing me in front of the "Ibis Nana". Online the hotel had offered a nice special
and it seemed to be within walking distance of restaurants and stores.
I would die smelling like a chicken tandoori and encrusted in yellow curry. After checking in, I had discovered that my room's window could not be opened. I am a sucker for fresh air and hate the thought of a stuffy, oxygen-depleted
enclosure. Think "erotic asphyxiation in reverse". I simply need a little breeze and the feeling of fresh air hitting my lungs. Since my room didn't offer that luxury, I had decided to leave the door ajar in high hopes that some
of the outside air would make it all the way through the lobby, elevator and hallway into my room. Better than nothing.
I must have fallen asleep quite quickly and when I woke up I was convinced I had ended up inside a spice bag. I coughed and smelled something that can only be described as a mixture of roasted chicken, curry, human sweat and alcohol. I heard laughing
from across the hall and realized my neighbors had their door open as well. Maybe they were fresh-air enthusiasts too? When I took another look I realized that they were not trying to alleviate the bad smells but actually causing them.
On the floor and bed sat at least a dozen men that I can only describe as "brown" (my Indian friend uses this term to differentiate between Southeast Asians and Indians / Pakistanis). They were surrounded by plates, plastic bags, and bottles
and happily shoveled abhorrent looking food into their mouths. I closed my door, turned on the a/c to at least let the particles fall out (would I find curry-fog on my mirror that night?) and left.
Out in the road I dodged beggars, ladies (or ladyboys?), and food vendors to make my way to the one spot a westerner is not supposed to visit while being abroad, a location so horribly revealing about his character and lack of sophistication as no other:
McDonald's. I had had it with "special odors" and spices for today and was happy to just sit down, have a Coke and a hamburger. After going through the humiliation of having to point out my choice on a plastic card like a toddler
("dadaaaa") I sat down and watched the hustle and bustle at the intersection of Sukhumvit and soi 4.
Another westerner soon joined me and I felt like I should say hi for the same reason that people all over the world get excited to see someone from home in a land far away even though they would never have given the same individual the light of day had
they met "back home". His name was John and he seemed to be in his mid-20s. He had a harsh accent that I placed somewhere in England but turned out to be from Tasmania.
"Wanna go to Cowboy?", he asked when we had finished our food.
What on earth was Cowboy? Probably a nightclub or restaurant. Hadn't we just eaten? I innocently inquired what this Cowboy was and he informed me. I wasn't quite capable of making sense of his accent and only understood "go, go", "nooooice".
Something nice and we should go, go there. Okay, what did I have to lose? Still not sure what it was I asked about attire and somehow gathered that I should wear a shirt and long pants. We agreed to meet back at the golden arches in an hour but
turned out to have to walk in the same direction.
He stayed at a place a few blocks from mine which he said was "Full of old fat blokes. You don't want to know how much sex has been had in that hotel, it is sick but sooo cool."
I had forgotten all about Thailand being a sex tourist destination. So far I had only seen a few girls of the night but assumed most action would be far away from Bangkok in places like Pattaya. None of my business anyways. My new friend and I would go
to some club, show, or maybe even Muay-Thai-meets-rodeo show called "Cowboy".
Very nice start! Infuriating to hear of the crap in the taxi but then I am not surprised…