Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bangkokadoodle-doobie

So where were we? Oh yes we took a nap after we got back to our guesthouse and blogged about it that first day. We as in me. We me was very tired. We me is also losing the ability to speak proper english after so much cave talk with Thai cab drivers, waiters, and new friends.



Right now, I am in Chiang Mai with Vivan whom I met in New York back in 2005ish through my oldest bestie JenBaca, my newest bestie Veev, and this funny dude we know. She is currently lamenting the death of Max Fish on the L.E.S. while we are eating breakfast in this breathtakingly charming garden inside old city. She arrived by plane last night from Bangkok at 8pm which only took an hour, where as I arrived via overnight train with those two dudes I told you about in my last post which took 12 hours. Six of those were spent in deep convo so went by pretty quickly, but the other six were something close to overly airconditioned and cramped agony.

But I'm working backwards. Let's go back to where I left off in my last post because I totally haven't told you about what happened that night. I had set my alarm for 8:30 p.m. because I was supposed to call Po (pronounced 'pooh' not joking), a friend Kristy made in BP (an island in South Thailand), to figure out where we were meeting for drinks that night. Instead, I was awoken by what sounded like CANONS firing. It was probably practice fireworks for the insane celebrations happening all day the next day for the King's birthday. I got cleaned up and made a payphone call (which by the way when was the last time you used a payphone?) and learned I was to meet Po and Ryan on khao san road at Swasadee, I think, right before my 5 baht coin ran out. I made my way over to the bridge through a street fair that I thought at the time was pretty bustling. Little did I know that this was only an inkling of the madness to come.



I walked over the bridge through a crowd of Thais hanging out and waiting waiting waiting for what I only assumed would be that night's fireworks show. I thought it was crowded. Boy gee golly was I wrong about how crowded it could get! Anyway, somewhere along khao san I stopped for a banana chocolate crepe thing that you can watch being made on my YouTube channel.



Then, I had some beers, Thai whiskey, and family style pow with Po et al. One of his friends was this really pretty chic in super high heeled red pumps. She could not speak English so I tried to do some charades with her about how much I liked her outfit. The girls in Bangkok in general are stylish and devastatingly gorgeous. They all wear heels which blows my mind and also puts the western tourists to shame. Then again, my feet were swollen beyond recognition after just one day of pounding the pavement there and I was wearing flat sandals.



You can't see the sign above her head in this picture but it says "special favourous Pasta" which is a nice little snapshot of how much I love english transliterations in foreign countries. We had some trouble communicating as I was doing my whole charades things, but the charades is remarkably rewarding when everyone finally understands what you're trying to say. I had a huge endorphin rush (I might be exaggerating a bit) at the 7/11 earlier that day when I got the clerk to understand that I was looking for mosquito repellant lotion. Then, I had another spot of fun trying to describe charades with charades to Po. I dare you to describe charades the next time you play charades.

So, after drinks and dinner, Po took us to a RAVE.



There was a 3rd anniversary party for a club called CULTURE where the door check girls were wearing those little hats with fishnets and everyone was punk or emo or goth or a combination. I mean, it seemed to me like all the young people in Thailand are hipsters but maybe that's what people think if they just happen to visit New York and end up in Williamsburg for the night or something. Did you know that Bangkok is famous for its tattoo artists? This one guy I met who looks a lot like Aaron Lammer has the best tats I've seen so far. One leg is a fishnet stocking. One arm from wrist to elbow is a "gentleman" and the other arm from wrist to elbow is a florescent light tube that he colors in with marker so it glows under a blacklight. Long story short: I did not take ecstasy although everything about that party demanded it.



Okay so after the party we had some more beers somewhere else and some shitty ice cream (in case you are looking for the best ice cream in the world, do not go to Bangkok. Go to Argentina!). Although I did not do X, I did drink a bottle of this energy stuff called M150 (shout outs to Nikki Darling who loves Red Bull) which is like 4 loco but non-killy and kept us up far longer than I wanted to be. I'm functioning on 4 hours of sleep a night here, by the way.



On Day 3, I started my day on the boat down one stop down the chao phraya river so I could try to go to that siriraj museum. After disembarking, I discovered that I was sorely out of place as every single person was dressed in pink for the King's bday. He's been in power for 50 years and everyone loves him. Like, he's basically elvis. So I ventured down a side street where all these people were squatting on the sides of the road and a military dude stopped me and started yelling at me and gesturing for me to sit down. Everyone was watching me look all confused like guns were about to go off. Turns out I was just in time for the first procession which was the king in a gold luxury sedan followed and preceded by a bunch of other red luxury sedans and police cars. Everyone got very quiet while the cars drove past. No applause. No whispering. Total eery revered silence. It was over in minutes and everyone stood up and started eating again (because, as I mentioned in my last post, everyone in Thailand is eating constantly). I completed my short walk to the museum to discover it was closed which sucked but I did see this awesome Ronald McDonald doing the wai greeting.



Okay, there's more about the king's birthday I want to tell you about but I'm running low on battery and am getting pressure to go get massages now. Kop Kuhn Kow.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kiss, Kiss, Bangkok or Say Wat!

You know what's on the menu tonight? moi! at least for all the mosquitoes in my room chowing down on my sticky sweet flesh.



Otherwise, no complaints for once. I arrived at this awesome guest house (Baan Num) last night around 1 a.m. Bangkok time (that's 12 hours behind New York) after a very long series of errands (post office), train riding (the A train to the AirTrain), flights (JFK to Hong Kong: 15 hours, 11 minutes + Hong Kong to BKK: 3 hours), and a terrifying cab ride (because the driver didn't speak English and clearly had no idea where I needed him to take me even though I gave him a map). The place is run by a lez couple who were very friendly, offered to pick me up at the airport via email (which I should have accepted), and left me in this house all by my lonesome (while only charging me 350 baht/night). I woke up at 4 a.m. to the pleasant rumblings of foreign creatures and the occasional moto (this is truly the city that never sleeps) and made my way outside around 5 a.m. to see a barefoot monk cross my path and a bustling food stall next to my front door.



Throughout this post I will detail how I entertained my mouth on my first day in Thailand and give you prices because I know many of you care about that sort of thing. One USD equals about 30 baht.




For breakfast, I chose my favorite snack sticky rice in a banana leaf and a bag of what I thought was fruit because they looked like kumquats but ended up being deliciously sweet yam balls (12 baht total). I walked over to the river and had coffee in a filthy cup for 5 baht. Then, I climbed the steps to the overpass and walked on the bridge sidewalk into the neighborhood most visitors stay called Khaosan Road. I strolled through a market and chose an exotic snack of what tasted like an odd combination of coconut milk and fried eggs but looked like a chocolateless mallowmar (10 baht). I tried to find my way over to The Grand Palace but bungled the directions a bit and by the time I got there I had entirely lost interest. I was 15 minutes early, anyway, so they wouldn't let me in until they opened to non-Thai at 8:30 a.m. plus I was wearing three-quarter length pants which are disrespectful and forbidden (rightly so). Instead, I spent a long time at Wat Pho, mostly because I arrived much earlier than the other tourists and had a nice and quiet experience. After looking at the incredible reclining Buddha, I indulged in an hour long thai massage (360 baht) at the famous massage school (that I just learned about today).




Little did I know how weird my day was about to get. I made my way back over to the river thinking I might take one of the boats down to Ancient City or at least check out more food stalls. I ended up in this nook by the Chang pier and decided on fried broad noodles with pork for lunch. And, then a Singha. And a cigarette. While trying to enjoy the peace of nothingness (yes, I watched Eat, Pray, Love on the flight so sue me), a dude from a nearby table came to sit with me. I was friendly as I am to most strangers, especially ones who are struggling with English. He could say a few choice words, like "I'm police" and "I'm friend" and "phone number" that really got the idea across. He insisted I sit and drink another beer that he bought me and laughed when I told him I was going to walk to Chinatown. He wanted to take me there instead of me venturing out on my own like the poor helpless hapless damsel in distress I must seem to so many men like this one and proceeded to grab my arm and yank me down the street past a few waiting tuk tuks and taxis. I was very confused because I thought he was suggesting we take a tuk tuk (pedicab) but then he pushed me into the Wat Pho grounds and tried to get me to take my shoes off to go back into the temple. I indicated that I had already been in there and that I had to get going to meet Kristy's friend up at chatumchak market but the only thing that seemed to make sense to him was when I was walking away. Then he grabbed a cab and kept saying "I pay" and "cost a lot" which is all relative really. The fare ended up at about 50 baht to Chinatown, but I was only interested in getting out of the car as he kept grabbing my hand and leaning all over me in the backseat while not being able to carry a conversation due to our language barrier. He tried to get me to sing along to the song on the radio, which might have been the worst part (kidding).




Long story short: he kept rubbing his stomach to say he wanted to stop and eat (although we had both just had huge meals only minutes earlier) and I was able to make a break for it. These Thais constantly eat. Constantly. It's amazing. I fit in really well.

I found a subway station and headed up to the market and found a payphone to call Kristy's friend Po. He came out to get me and took me back to his stall. He and his Australian friend Ryan (who very much resembles another Ryan I was OBSESSED with in college except with a bigger beard and even less ambition) are going to escort me on an overnight train/bus up to Chiang Mai to meet Kristy on Monday. We shot the shit until about 4 p.m. and then I took the SkyTrain down to Saphan Tak and transferred to an express boat to come back up to my guest house where I am now pounding out this blog post before my battery dies. More to report, obviously, as I am meeting them back in town at 9 p.m. for maybe some live music (by the way, I am always a little skeptical when someone tells me a town has great live music and then adds that Bangkok loves Reggae) and definitely dinner.