Bangkok, Tipping Point
One of the great advantages of living in Thailand seemed to be the golden rule that for every year I got older, for some reason the girls just kept on appearing to get younger. This worked all well and good until my recent 3-night trip to Bangkok, the spell has been well and truly broken. Maybe it was even happening before, but for sure this time there was no mistaking it, the girls simply looked old. Wherever I went, it was the exception rather than the rule, to find new recruits to the industry. 30 was the average age, and what was most upsetting of all was to see a few women in the German Biergarten in Soi 7 late on Friday night who were even older than me at 60. Kind of gets everything into perspective of just how desperate they were, to be still trying to sell their wares at that age – really sad. Has the prostitution industry reached a tipping point, effectually peaking of those it can attract?
If I said things were quiet that must have been the understatement of the year. First thing on Thursday morning I couldn't believe how quiet Sukhumvit Road was. Some nights I think I was the only guest in my hotel in Soi 11/2. Saturday night at Tilac it seemed half the staff wanted to sit beside me, and I was even quoted a short time rate of 1200 Baht at BGS7. The China dolls at Thermae were still raising three fingers to propositions though.
Try and catch a visit to IKEA, if you are ever thinking of setting up a home – it’s a must.
Rainbow 4 versus Tilac. The former goes for a pack 'em high, sell 'em cheap by the sheer volume they have up on stage. Solely shuffling room, I didn't have one eye contact interaction. Yes, in the plaza they are the cream of the crop, but they have a very detached remoteness about them.
Tilac on the other hand has created an atmosphere, and the venue looks great in comparison. The girls also look very good in their attire, and finally even if it might only be a perception, there's a general feeling of friendliness. Tilac wins by a country mile.
The end of an era. This week my hotel, the President Inn in Soi 11/2, is closing down to refurbish. They think it will take a year. For the last couple of years it was like lying awake waiting to hear its final death rattle. My raison d’être for staying that I didn't have to pay for the air-conditioning, plumbing, or TV not working, as this was all included in the price. The great advantage being that I knew that I was only paying for value. Hopefully this will be reflected in long-standing, die hard customers like me when they re-open. No problem in paying a premium over the current rate of 1000 Baht, but sure as hell everything had better work. The location can't be beaten, and the front rooms are double the size of the comparable shoe boxes in the area.
The new Took Lae Dee restaurant in Foodland Soi 5 is worthy of a visit just to admire how a modern, state of the art kitchen cum diner should be designed, with its many work stations. And for some reason the clientele also seemed to have gone up market, settling into their new surroundings. But the best bit of news is that the prices are still a steal, for what must be the best quality food for an air conditioned restaurant in the heart of the tourist Mecca Sukhumvit Road. The early bird breakfast if you can make it before 9.00AM is still 54 Baht, but if you go berserk and sleep in it will only set you back another 11 Baht.
Is it me or has the counter been raised? If so, what would be easier, lowering it, raising the floor, or replacing the chairs? Lunch was at the new Swedish IKEA shopping mall, 15 excellent meatballs for the price of 10, steamed potatoes and gravy, masses of cranberry sauce all for 95 Baht. A half litre bottle of water came in at the princely sum of 7 Baht.
The top two floors of Terminal 21 are restaurants, but examining the small print they were requesting me to pay their staff salaries of 10%, and Government taxes of 7%. Vote with your feet I say, so I continued on to the Queen Victoria in Soi 23. Solely in the mood for just a snack, I finally decided to settle on a roast beef baguette. Three huge slices of rare beef as requested, the ubiquitous horseradish sauce, side salad, plus a healthy serving of French fries, all for 195 Baht.
Has Bangkok ever been cheaper?
Eating and drinking al fresco on Sukhumvit Road seems to have hit a new high. What must be the ultimate smorgasbord to the rodent fraternity, I wouldn't be surprised if there hasn't been express tunnels and highways built to connect Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Furthermore, you just have to think back a year ago when during the floods there were Noah Ark shiploads of refugees seeking the safety of dry land in inner Bangkok. Rats are just simply everywhere you look at night, nigh on a plague of rats. The question of course is just how bad this epidemic will have to get before something is done about it.
I spent a day getting on and off the BTS, and I don't think I have ever climbed so many stairs in my life. Having cleared the automatic barriers there were three flights of steps to climb, rarely was there an escalator. Outside of getting on the BTS where it commenced, there was a cat hell in chance of getting a seat. Getting a seat of course on occasions where the least of my problems, just finding somewhere to stand was often an event, and then of course to survive the noxious fumes of some bodies BO. As if all this wasn't enough, this was all compounded by the captive advertising and mobile telephone conversations. A walk in the park it wasn't.
Hailing a taxi also proved extremely challenging on occasions, midday on a Sunday morning, no traffic and no customers nobody it seemed wanted to go to Don Meuang Airport.
Then of course there was the dispute about not using the tolls and highway, why do they feel they have a right to listen to, and "put on me" all their god dam music.
I'll tell you what, at the end of the day maybe taking your life into your own hands by getting into a Phuket mafia tuktuk isn't so bad after all.