It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time…
I only started reading Stickman site 2 years ago when I returned from my last trip that involved sporadic binges on crystal meth.
My Thai story below, includes flashbacks to my travels through South America. My experiences of buying drugs and being in different entertainment zones in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia, all have an influence on how I behaved in Thailand. There are many similarities between Thailand and the countries of SA. The biggest difference is prostitution, in Thailand; it’s specifically catered for foreigners.
There’s a cool breeze, it’s evening in Santiago, the Chilean capital, the last rays of sunlight touching the top of the Andes that surround the horizon. It’s the height of summer 2002, I take a stroll to Bella vista entertainment area.
I notice the style of architecture, colour of buildings, the alfresco bars, how the locals are dressed, I notice the many stray dogs and observed men throwing rocks at them to keep a distance from themselves and girls they were escorting.
I’d read about high instance of rabid dogs in South America before I travelled. After consulting with my doctor, I decide on just having the standard vaccinations for travelling through 3rd work countries, Hepatises A and B also choler. Perhaps I should have also been inoculated for yellow fever, rabid dogs could be avoided.
I sit down to an outside table of a bar, a waitress approaches.
“Una cerveza por favor” I ask using 50 % of my Spanish vocabulary
I take out a small map I had torn from my guide book for a bearing on my surroundings. Consider how unobtrusive it is, in 2015, to use a mobile phone for this task.
As I take in and observe my new surroundings, there are others that are also watching me
My beer arrives, “graces” I smile at the waitress and my gaze continues on her shapely behind as she walks away. I raised the cold glass to my lips when I’m bumped from a passerby, spilling bear over the table.
“Hey Man, I’m so sorry” the young lad quips.
‘No problem”, it didn’t spill on me
This guy, neatly dressed in jeans, T-shirt and as I would notice later, dirty sneakers. The gawky character precede to take the napkins from the table and wipes up the spilt beer. He introduced himself as Juan, asks if he can sit down as he slides into the chair opposite me.
“ Sure ‘ I respond as he pulls the chair to the edge of the table
Juan’s has a polished English accent I just can’t place. We exchange the customary polite conversation that new acquaintance makes. Where you from, how long you stay, first time in city?
Juan, claims he is a student and learnt English in Israel, where he spent 4 years at university. I didn’t believe a word of it.
I’m in Chile for some trekking around Torrs Del Plain national park. I have round the world air pass. The way the ticket works is you fly in one direction either West or east around the globe. My Itinerary was Santiago, London, Bangkok then Sydney. I did consider travelling to the USA, although the cost of medical insurance and having a minor drug conviction made me wary of travel just after 9/11.
South America was the way to go. My love of mountains, climbing and the cheap travelling made up my mind. London was just a stepping stone to Europe, Amsterdam coffee, French Alps, The Mediterranean coast
Thailand would be my last stop before arriving home. I’d discovered Thailand on a map of the world in our family kitchen when I was about 8 years old. My primary school teacher had been on vacation over the Christmas break in 1975. She had a competition amongst her class to guess which countries she visited, and if we correctly answer and could find it on a map, we won a prized. She had travelled to Italy, Turkey, Greece and Thailand. I won the 4 prizes.
My next memory of Thailand was after my Father visited the Kingdom for business. I was enchanted with his 35 mm slides of huge golden Buddha's and pointy temples. He brought beautiful silks for my mother which were a kaleidoscope of shinny coloured material I never could have imagined existed. Colour TV still hand reached the Pilbara’s red dirt in 1978.
I recall my mother inquiring to my father, when she went to clean his business suite, who the long black hairs belonged to?. He shrugged his shoulders and said probably the air hostess.
My next clear memory of all things Thai was a article read in a People Magazine around 1988. The story with pictures, was about cheap sex and drugs, with stunning Thai women that could be found in Bangkok. Cocaine, heroin, opium, the golden triangle,. Sex, N Drugs. wonderful fantasy for a young man. This would swim in my mind for another 15 years.
Juan offered to show me around the local area of Bella vista and Salamanca, the place has a bohemian vibe to it. I decline and say I’m having an early night, still being fatigued from the jet lag. He insists I should see the monument and home to Pablo Neruda Chili’s famous poet who won the Noble prize for Literature
I relent. He seems harmless enough. We leave the bar and grab 6 pack of beer. Not far down some cobblestone streets with closed art galleries lining our way, we come to sit on steps that form a small amphitheatre that overlooks Pablo Neruda stone bust. We crack open a bottle of beer each and Juan tells me about his famous poet. I take out a fresh pouch of Port Royal tobacco, rolling papers and being to roll a cigarette. Juan tells me it’s difficult to find papers for tobacco. It’s from my duty free supplies. Juan then roles one up
There are 2 street kids loitering close by. They see us smoking and come closer and ask Juan if they can have some. Why not?, They don’t know how to roll tobacco, so I roll for them. We all sit, smoke and drink. My Spanish vocabulary increases as Juan and the street kids introduce me to culo, pecho, cono, mierda, puta, lengua, labios. Not as poetic as Pablo’s use vocabulary.
“I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps. “
I take a long drag on the rolled cigarette; look up and from nowhere, appeared men shouting and guns pointed at us. In split second I thought that Juan and the street kids had set me up and were going to rob me. 6 or 8 men with guns drawn were a bit much for a robbery. I’m pushed on the ground and didn’t dare move or struggle. Juan and the street kids were hauled to their feet and pulled away.
Juan kept yelling “no problem, Miami Vice, Miami Vice, DEA, DE.”
Juan cops a fist the stomach that makes him shut up. I’m pulled up by two people and taken over to a side wall of the amphitheatre.
I notice some are wearing body gun holsters and have badges attached to their clothing. There are 3 people surrounding me, guns put away. One is a female dressed in dark blue like all the other men. Her face was strickling beautiful, wore pink lipstick and her hair was pulled back in a tight, short, platted pony tail. If she had bigger breasts and aviator sunglasses I’d swear she could be a Lara Croft clone. I’m told in English to empty my pockets. I hand over my pouch of tobacco and wallet and it’s searched. I’m turned to face the wall and frisked by one of the men. Juan keeps shouting “no problem Maim Vice DEA.”
My heart rate is somewhere near normal, maybe still at 70 beats per minute. I’m asked where I’m from. Australia I respond as I reach back into my pants and from a hidden inside pocket I produce a photocopy of my passport. He glances at it and returns it, asks if I have anything else hidden. I look back at Lara Croft and can only shake my head. Miss Miami Vice tells me its illegal to drink in public and people who make their own cigarettes in Chile are people who deal drugs.
Lara Croft warns me to stay away from undesirable people like Juan and the street kids who are all know to police. I’m then escorted back to the bar areas and head directly back to my hotel.
In the next 6 months, as I travel along the Andean countries all the way to Colombia I’ll become accustomed to having firearms around. I’ll learn fast what countries it’s possible to pay a bribe to police for a small amount of drugs, Ill also at times through caution to the wind and take risks that haven’t been thoroughly thought through.
Stickman has said many times, when you visit another country. Don’t do what you normally wouldn’t do in your own country. Well in my country you can’t buy pure Cocaine for US $ 20 a gram. If I could I would, but who wants to pay US $ 500 for Coke that only 35% pure or $1000 for a gram of Crystal Meth when in Thailand it cost only Bhatt 3000.
I arrived in Bangkok early 2003. I've just spent the winter fishing in the north Atlantic off the coast of Ireland, the warmth of Thailand and the tropic is welcoming my winter bones. I arrive downtown Suhkumvit and alight from the taxi to the population spewing from the blue diesel powered busses; it’s suffocating. The hustle and bustle of the chaotic cities with its poor footpaths and broken sewers and strange smells isn’t much different to the Mega Cities of South America. Only the people and location has changed. Sure there are some culture difference, food, languages. And of course it’s difficult to compare the neon of Bangkok night life to any other poor thought our metropolis
I walked down Soi 2 to the Atlanta hotel. I had read it has a wonderful old wooden foyer with writing desk and beautiful garden surrounds to escape the chaos I paid 350 baht for a room with fan. It had a clean swimming pool that was sufficient to swim laps and colour my body after the cold grey winter of Ireland. It was interesting to note, that they had a hand painted sign saying “Sex Tourists” are not welcome. How times have changed with the internet ; looking at Atlanta Web page now, One ponders the drunken debauchery orgies played out, that they had to post their philosophy of which cliental aren’t welcome.
I wonder how many encounters with a prostitute I would need, to be labelled a sex tourist..
I enrolled in a Thai language coarse for a week, to see if I could learn a bit of the language as I’d planned to go riding a motto cycle up north at some stage.. Figure if you’re in a country, its right to learn at least a few polite words of the host nation. Always good understanding numbers, ask for the bathroom and other stuff. I soon discovered this tonal language wasn’t going to be easy. After 10 days in BBK and a few fun nights at Nana and short time hotels I ventured to Patong to dive the Similan Island and Burma Banks. One of my Aussie mate’s dived the waters few months previous. He recommends I dive on the Wicked Witch <it doesn’t operate nowadays>. The Witch was a sturdy reliable wooden dive boat with a top class Thai crew. I book in at the shop and make payment for the hire gear. The man behind the desk remembers my friend and asks if I need some other supplies for weeks trip. I’m not a big fan of marijuana, I decline.
2003 wasn’t the smartest time to buy or sell drugs in Thailand. Tasking was having his big drug purge and it’s alleged it was a licence to kill. Kill your enemies, set people up, takeover control of someone’s drug turf, fix up your annoying neighbour. It was a right bloody mess ; in 3 months 2000 people would be dead and at year’s end over 70 000 people arrested, Some people think drugs is all about misery and desperation and death and all that shit, which is not to be ignored, but what they forget is the pleasure of it. Otherwise people wouldn't do it.
I would stay in Thailand for 4 months. I had the rent a girlfriend experience for 1 month; we toured around the country stopping in Channing Mai just in time for Songkran. She (I forget her name) was a non descriptive stereotypical girl from Isaan who I met at a disco in one the hotels in Patong She wasn’t stunning, not ugly, not fat, not skinny. She was a normal type of Thai bargirl. The girlfriend experience eventually turned toxic and after her tantrum and tears I deposited her on the train back to Bangkok.
I find the whole bar experience to be somewhat predictable. It’s not like you have to put much effort towards what you desire. It as straight forward as putting money into a vending machine to buy a can of Coke.
Select, deposit money, retrieve drink, consume, feel pleasure, throw can in the trash. If you don’t like Coke, try a Fanta.
I did visit some bars and bar fined a couple of waitress while I was in Chiang Mai. But most evenings I was content to stay in my guest house and drink beer with a few expat British guys that stayed there for long periods of time. Also the two Thai girls running the place, were fun to be around. There was also an older Thai woman in her 40’s that lived there and would change us a small amount to launder and iron our cloths. I had found the place by chance when I was walking past and noticed a scrap of paper taped to the entrance said “ Room 4 Rent “
The guest house wasn’t a normal run guest house as such, It wasn’t in any guide books, there was no tourist information there and the Thai girls running the establishment never asked for my passport to be registered. On the outside of the compound on a soi off Chaiyapoon was stenciled in small black ink 666 Mc
One evening we all went to a Thai entertainment complex that had some absolute stunning Thai women. There was a Fishbowl attached to commodious lounge where you could relax and watch ladies sing; in Thai of course. Opulence adorned this establishment. It attracted a more upmarket clientele and hostess. No trashy bargirls with bad manners, or drunk farangs swilling beer in dirty singlets with body order more pungent that a shop full of durin.
Easy Corner Bar was one such a bar that attracted one very foolish drunk man. For whatever reason the dumb imbecile in a beer Chang singlet slapped one of the girls in the face. With in 1 minute all the broken glass and blood was washed into the sewer. Bins were paid in the second minute as the bloody man with deep cuts to his face and stomach bleed porously in the street. The bar had its roller shutter down within 3 minutes and all bars in the soi were closed in under 10 minutes. It was a efficient smooth operation from the barman breaking a glass into the punters face and stabbing into his body, with the girls sweeping up the glass and washing away the blood with buckets of water, other girls ushered the customer’s out the door including me
“ Ahh. and I was just about to right the bell “ I joke to Noi; she punches me in the arm and gives me a little laugh
“ Mic You go now, come back tomorrow please”.
I steep over the bloody man in the street and shout at him to pull his hands away from his face., I survey his face and neck.
He’s in shock; cuts to his ear and scalp which is the cause of all the blood.
“No arteries hit, you’ll be ok dickhead“
I’m confident I won’t even see a beer Chang here tonight. While my companions selected from the glass vending machine to be serviced in the fantasy rooms above, I was joined by a lovely hostess in the lounge who kept me company. She was dressed in a mini skirt with long lovely legs and heels.
She’s dreamy to look at, as she tells me where to find the big oysters that I consumed daily when in the south of Thailand.
Her tight miniskirt and perfect legs, voluptuous breast and curvy figure remind me of the cafe con piernas girls of Santiago. Cafe con Piernas (literally, Spanish for "coffee with legs") is where sexy girls serve espresso coffee and light your cigarettes. Some of the coffee shops are more risqué than others. All have sexily dress women in classy attire, or others in bikinis or racy lingerie. Some of the coffee shops will have a happy minute every hour where the hostess disrobe and continue serving coffee and lighting cigarettes.
Ahh. Thai Hostess and Cafe con piernas :. How I would love a happy minute right now
When my companions returned down stairs all clean and smelling of mouth wash and cologne. They asked why I hadn’t taken a girl.
I joke “I’m the kind of guys that loves a whorehouse where the room is lit with a 30 watt globe, you can put your cigarette out on the floor right next to the used condoms and the top price is 100 baht for a girl, preferably there is a spittoon in the corner. Here you’re just paying for smoke and mirrors.”
They laugh. “There’s a whorehouse around the corner from our Soi that caters to all the taxi drives, check it out some time.” In time, I do just that!!
There is some nice country up North Thailand. I hire a Honda 600 to ride the Mae Hong Song Loop. Before I set off, a fast lap around Samoeng loop was in order to test the bike before the longer 6 day trip. There are hidden dangers riding in the twisting curving road of Mae Sai valley. On this steamy morning just before the deluge of rain would make it impossible to keep riding due to slippery roads and zero visibility, I was having a blast riding fast, breaking hard into the corner and pushing the limits of the bike and my riding ability. With no traffic a head I came racing into a tight right hand corner, exiting through the apex accelerating, still leaning the bike over, both wheels lost traction as I slid through fresh elephant shit. My steel cap boot scrapped the bitumen as I slide across the road. Adrenalin pumping through my body, I prevent the bike from falling away just as traction is gained; my heart rate subsides to a more normal rate. As I slow and approach the next few sharp bends in the road, I come across a elephant with his hander walking right in the middle of my race track. If I had missed the elephant shit and kept riding hard there is no doubt that I would collide into 4 tonne of beast.
Along the May Hong Song loop I visited Doi Inthanon. Truly a beautiful to visit The day I arrived was cloud free, the lower mountain was covered in whips of early morning mist Towards the summit few can fail to be impressed by the lushness of the vegetation on top of the mountain, with the many gnarled trees completely covered with moss and ferns, bringing to mind the kind of forests depicted in illustrated tales of fantasy. Of the mountains I visited in South America, it was rare for more than 3 people to share the view from a summit at any one time. Alone on a mounting top, you feel very insignificant towards what lays before your eyes. Fortunately there were only a few Thai tourists to share the vista with me so early in the morning.
Another interesting stop along the loop was to the Kayan refugee camp/village on the Thai – Myumaya border. It’s the temporary home to the Long Neck Tribe. When I arrived on the bike there were 10 or more mini busses ferrying Thai tourist.
I paid some baht and entered wandering through the village. It felt a bit commercial for me, with so many people taking their photo with the ladies adorned in the brass rings. I stop at one of the stalls that sell drinks and snacks. Not fresh snacks as you would find in any town market, but what you would find in any 7-11 shops in a Thai city.
I order a Tiger Beer. The young girl who serves me has only 5 rings around her next. She is very pretty in traditional dress. She speaks impressive English. The standard questions and answers are given. She shows me around her small community. There isn’t much to see. Wooden buildings with corrugated and thatched roofs, some of the older women are doing weavings and selling items to the visitors. There are satellite dishes for TV perched on a few of the buildings. A few of the women I see are talking on their mobile phones. I ask this girl who they talking with. She tells me there are other long neck village closes by. My young guide is very proud to show me the new Christian church that has just been built alongside the finished school also built by the Catholics.
I ask if she is happy here.
“ My life is much better here, I don’t have to work in the hot field, Its safe here in Thailand “.
“Do you think one day you might leave the village, go to Bangkok or even university maybe?”
“Why go anywhere else. We have schools here and other villages, My life is here with my family and our people”
“Other place can be interesting to visit. I stood on the top of Thailand highest mountain yesterday and it was very pretty and beautiful with so many different birds”
“ Many pretty birds here too”
I can still see more satellite dishes.
“Did you hear America make war in Iraq?”
“Yes, I know, but we have war in Burma many time”
She’s a smart kid, my guide. She’d be 25 years old now.
Hopefully with the spread of technology and internet, her education would have changed her life in a positive way.
Unfortunately being a stateless person, freedoms are limited.
I arrive in Pai after a long day riding from Mae Hong Song. Pai, a quaint little town that will one day be ruined by the influx of tourists if it hasn’t happened already. I order my favourite chicken and basil from a cart and find a quite place for a beer. Not much is happing in the sleepy town. I can hear Bob Marley tunes drifting from some distance establishment. Bob Marley is not what I want to listen to in a rural town in Thailand. I down my second beer and wander back to the guest house run by a French lady. I pass some Thai guys on their scooters.
“You want Lady?“
“Mi Aow Krup”.
“No “shaking my head
“What you want?”
“Si chom poo chang, Benny Hill ”. I say loudly. The hustlers look at each other
“You want beer chang?”
“Mi Pen aria’’ Amateurs I thought, they had nothing on their brothers in South America.
I was looking for this cinema in Trujillo, a city on the coast in northern Peru. I can’t be bothered walking around in squares, I see a man selling Joss sticks on a corner street.
“Excuse me, can you help me please? I’m looking for the cinema” I ask in my polite Spanish.
“Yes, Yes; Only one more street then turn left towards Plaza del Arms. “
“Da nada! Donde ests su paies?”
“Soy de Australia” the 4 weeks of Spanish lessons in La Paz is paying off. I’m good for a 20 minutes conversation, as longs as it revolves around food, travel, work, drinking and girls.
“G’day Mate, Put another shrimp on the barbie” the man bubbled with joy
I crack up laughing with his almost perfect copy of a old travel commercial for Australian tourism.
My Amigo has Basic English, maybe a bit better than my Spanish.
The standard universal questions play out. Although I’m now reluctant to tell people how long I say in a city or country, mostly I lie. This guy selling Joss stick is quite funny, cheerful and is from Chile. He’s travelled with his wife and young child of 4 years from Santiago to Brazil across to Colombia and was heading back home..
“Joss stick business must be good”. I say.
He grins bigger than his natural smile. He then looks left, and then right, he motions for me to come closer
“You want cinema, I get you cinema, you want girl, I get you girl”
I smile back at him, he becomes more animated, and he raises one eye brow.
“If you want boy, I get you boy”. he then leans in very close to me and whispers.
“If you want coca, I get you coca.”
He gives a couple sniffs through his nose and gives me a wink
“ And if you want” he steps back a few paces and waves his hands like a magician on a stage
“If you want a pink elephant, I get you a pink elephant”.he then starts trumpeting the Benny Hill them song through his lips and doing a funny little jig. Then theatrical waves his wand of joss sticks through the air, landing just under my nose. I’m laughing along.
“Buy one, get one free. Sorry, I don’t take America express I left home without it. Cash only please”
I sniff his incense sticks and inhale deeply. This guys is funny, we talk some more and negotiate a price. 50 Sol, ( about us$10.oo ) I hand him over the cash, he gives me the bunch of joss sticks and says he will be back in 10 minutes. I’m left standing on the corner with a bunch of incense in my hands, Maybe he’ll done a runner, I don’t really care. He was a funny guy. If he was busking in Australia with his Benny hill impressions and dance I’d throw a few coins. If he doesn’t come back, at least I have some nice smelling Joss sticks.
Benny Hill returns 5 minutes later and as I pass the joss stick back to him he shakes my hand slipping into mine a very small plastic bag.
We part ways after he tell me where I can find him on the chance I would ever need a pink elephant. I find the cinema’s bathroom; load up my nose with quality cocaine in time to catch the start of "Lucía y el sexo"
The ride from Pai back to Chiang Mai is uneventful. I decide to do another lap around Samoeng loop this time at a leisurely pace before I return the bike.
I’m not one for sitting drinking in bars during the day time, I don’t do it at home, so what would I do it in another country ?. What to do during the day after you have visited the most impressive temples, museums, check out national parks wondered through markets soaking up the atmosphere of a country. Cinema!
I’ve been staying at the 666 Mc abode for the last 2 months. The locals around my area recognise me and say hello when in the 7-11 or along the open air restaurants where I eat at times. One afternoon I cross over the mote to catch a taxi to the shopping complex. A tuk tuk’s vacant facing the direction I need to travel. We buzz around the mote to Central Shopping plaza. I pay the drive 50 baht and enter the cool air-conditioning. It’s a huge complex, so I find the directory to see where I have to go. I find the cinema, there’s a 3 pm session of Matrix Reloaded that takes my fancy. It’s just after 2pm, plenty of time to find something to eat.
I head back down to the food courts for some tucker. I’ve been in the bustling complex for over 20 minutes, when this Thai man runs towards me with a huge smile. I don’t recognise him at first. It’s my Tuk Tuk driver. I have that uncomfortable empty feeling in my stomach when He hands me my MasterCard. I’ve mixed emotion all at once, sick to the stomach that I had lost my card, and happy and very grateful that its now appearing before me. The card had slipped out of my back pocket when in the his Tuk Tuk. My driver had been searching for me in this labyrinth of a complex for the last 20 or so minutes.
“Kop Khun krup Mak Mak” I repeated twice.
I reached into my pocket and offered him my last 200 baht. He refused to take it. I then slipped it into his top shirt pocket. The driver wais me. I wai him with my hands held high. He smiles, I smile more.
I order a plate of Laab Moo, chicken and basil and a bowl of tom yum filling they empty feeling at the bottom of my stomach. I wash it down with a Heineken pondering the hassles it would have been to access cash had I lost my card. After the movie I check my pocket to be sure my card is secure and in place, taxied back to the compound just before 6pm.
There’s no one around except Eve, the Thai lady who launders and irons my clothes. She’s relaxing in the comfortable lounges of the TV area. Eve, is always dressed neatly, mostly in a pair of jeans that are comfortable, not too tight on her slim body and her crisp blouse is always buttoned just below the point where her ample cleavage begins She wears her raven hair like many Thai women. Black, straight flowing neatly halfway down her back. I sit down next to her as the cool breeze from the fan washes over us. She offers me a toke on her joint. I decline, saying it make me sleepy. We watch HBO and chat about banal stuff.
“ Mic, you want come with me, see live band tonight? The others meet us later”
“Nar, I’m not in the mood or have the energy to go out tonight “
Eve reaches into her bag and hands me one tablet.
“This might help you.”
“What is it?”
“It make you feel powerful, strong, no sleepy, good for boom boom” Eve grins.
“Speed tablets, yes? You want me to have sex with you?
Eve laughs and throws her head back shaking from side to side.
“It's yaba Mic.“
I inspect the red pill, a letter R stamped on it.
“Its awfully small, will it be enough for me? Are they strong?”
Another little red pill appears before me.
“Just take one and see how you feel after a couple of hours, no feel, take another one”
“How much Baht?”
“Today free for you “
“Really? Thanks, I think you want to Boom Boom me “
“You're crazy, I go have shower, we go in 40 minutes.”
I look at the 2 red pills; maybe Eve makes money selling yaba.
Do I take the Red pill or the Blue pill?
I have a sneaky suspicion, Eve wants a roll in the hay, I figure she never did answer my question if she wanted sex with me not.
Might be a fun night!
I take the two red yaba pills.
Let’s see how deep this rabbit hole travels.
To be continued.