Stopovers to and from India (Stopover on the way Home)
The best thing about having to go to the Indian interior for a week of work is the fact of the cheapest flights to Kolkata just happen to change planes in Bangkok – and if you have to change planes, you may as will have a break. I wrote up my on-the-way to India story recently, this is the way back. I managed not to get sick in India which based on past efforts I see as a major accomplishment. Dettol hand wash is great and never touch your face with your hands!
Again some of the things that amused me as I walked and stopped around Bangkok town.
A helping hand: Like most good farangs of my vintage, it has been bred into me to stand aside to share access through the narrow spots on footpaths. I do this in the LOS too, but don’t think I have ever had a thanks, a nod or even eye contact – except from other farangs. I think I’ve figured it out. This behaviour is expected, part of the Thai “working together” idea; it takes an extra effort to get a thanks. An older female food vendor was pushing her cart across a street and struggling up the ramp on the other side – I lent into it and got her up onto level. She was amazed and waied me for a good 10 seconds before moving on with a big smile. Now I’m happy, my local “thanks” count is one.
Nana Plaza beer bars: Does anyone else think the new signage (Nana Main Station and others) is making it all a little bright in the central courtyard and making everyone a little more visible? Maybe some dark glasses will solve both problems for next time? Certainly no need for flash photography anymore.
Shoe Shine at Big Dogs: Wearing almost brand new joggers I’m solicited for a shoe shine between the railings by the urchin below and refusal gets me a dirty look!
Travels through Chinatown: The back alleys – well not really but with the press of humanity, they feel like alleys – are a fun place to spend a few hours. The latest telephone, a stick of satay, an air compressor, a bolt of cloth, a set of scales designed in the 20’s, hand-made clothes and everything between is available. Where does it all go? Sometimes in minimum lots of 4 or 10 for touristy type items. I’ll tell you where it goes.
A pair of cargo / Bermuda style shorts in Chinatown are 150 baht but can be had for 100 baht without much haggling, the identical shorts are 300 baht listed at Pratunam market and 450 baht – can be had for 300 baht – at Sukhumvit – and that’s just for one piece. Sadly I got mine at Pratunam for 200 baht and the pocket zip lasted all of one day. I wonder what the true cost is?
Almost a victim: I was walking along the front road footpath of Pratunam market on a Sunday – the press of humanity, dodging boiling oil, ducking various eye gouging structures – when the flow of people started to slow in front of me, the woman in front started to look at almost everything and I started to feel the build-up behind me. I find it unusual that Thai women other than in gogos make any physical contact with farangs so found it odd that I was being jostled. One in front – the “blocker” – one behind, – the “distracter” – and one to the side – the “robber”! <This is one area in Bangkok you do have to be careful of the Filipino pickpockets – Stick>
I figured this all out after the event, but my sub conscious must have been ringing as I glanced down and there was a hand in my zippered shorts pocket slowly extracting my wallet. I grabbed said hand and sent her on her way with a steely look and counted my blessings. The three of them then went off to corral their next dopey westerner. 3 girls, about 35 – 40, jeans and tee shirts, golden skin, brown eyes. The jostling must have been the pat down to figure out where the wallet was.
Pimp My Cab: Jumped into a cab and was happy to have a driver that wanted a chat – in English. He rummaged in a bag and pulled out some LED driving lights for his cab. He spoke reasonably well but could not read the package and wanted to know where it was from and a few other details. Good fun and passed the time nicely. If you see a beaten up Camry with Audi style daytime running lights, it’s him! He had a mate in an Auto shop and got them for 180 baht (I’m sure that’s the rate for locals).
What a trip to Chinatown means to the girls: I have known her for a while and she really knows better, but after regaling her with all I had seen on my walking trip to Chinatown she looks intently at me and says “You pick something up for me?” It’s the gold! Only the gold that matters and they can’t help themselves.
Swimming Ability: Being from Australia where 95% of the population seems to live within an hour of the water, you take swimming for granted. A quick survey of some bargirls recently tells me that 2 in 10 can swim (a bit) and none would go in the ocean above their heads. I can’t remember what got us on to that topic, but it was interesting conversation, and better than “wot your name?” “where you from?”, “we go boom boom?”
The Gangnam phenomenon: Finally, if you haven’t seen it it’s worth a request to the DJ. I was in Lollipop in Nana when it came on and there were some pretty good and some pretty awful attempts at the latest Korean dance craze. Surprisingly the talent was with the servers and mamasan. A good laugh was had by all.