Arrival at BKK was a breeze. Money can be changed at almost the same rates as in town. I took the ARL (airport rail link) to Makkasan Station. The map was in my head. I should know by now that that’s not a good place to keep anything I might need to refer to again. So a ten minute walk turned into two hours. I missed the very 1st turn which plunged me into a labyrinth of dead ends and switch back corners. And it was hot. Fierce hot. I asked the incredibly helpful Thais in the street, none of whom had heard of the hotel, but all of whom knew, if it was them, where they would have built it. They directed me accordingly. Exhaustion eventually beat stubbornness and I hailed a passing motorcycle. 5 minutes later and at a cost of 10 baht (24p) I was at the hotel.
Soaked through with sweat I jumped in the shower, picked up a map, a paper one, not one for head storage and hit the street.
I found a bar. You could play pool with the waitresses and get a free drink if you won. Pay double if you lose. I watched the bar girl play expertly badly. Each time, depending on the opponent, she played just well enough to win. Having played all my life I could see she had a lot more in the tank.
Now, it is not normally difficult to tell the difference between a ray of sunshine, and a Scotsman with a grievance. Mr MacAngry, having lost twice was blaming bad luck for his dismal performance. As soon as they had had enough, five tiny Thai girls surrounded him. “You lost, you pay, you pay now, then go please. He lost the argument as well as the pool games. And he’d definitely lost the room. He paid. He went. We all laughed. I like this bar.
Two Japanese guys entered the bar and sat next to me ordering whisky. We did the tourist dance. Where you from? Where you stay? How long? The father, Yuto, gave his occupation as philosopher. Wha… ? You get paid for that in Japan! Yes. Yes you do. And judging by his enormous Rolex, very handsomely too. That’s it. Japan just made the bucket list. If I’m on holiday I might as well be paid for it. I can philosophise with the best of them. Especially after a bottle or so of Claret. I left my two new besties, by now on their 4th Scotch and wondered how they would fare in Bangkok full of whisky and wonder, and if Yuto would still have a Rolex at the end of his trip. I said a little prayer for them.
I could have turned left towards my hotel, instead I went right, and soon entered Nana Plaza the most notorious of the red light districts. I was accosted within seconds.
“Where you from? You want funtime?”
I had anticipated this exact scenario and I had a cunning plan.
“No thank you”, I said “I’m gay” (I’m not gay btw). Fool proof, or so I thought. Unfazed she whipped out a cell phone.
“I get brother for you, he many big muscles, just like you!”
Blimey. Hadn’t thought of that. Incidentally if he has got ‘muscles just like me’ then I’m surprised he makes any money on the game. My main muscle is my beerius bellious. It’s a one pack.
I extricated myself with many apologies. Clearly a new strategy was called for and one came to me. Not on the road to Damascus like Saint Paul, but right here, on the Sukhumvit Road. Within five minutes it was about to be put to the test.
A young (say 25yo) black girl grabbed my arm “Where you from? You want play with me?”.
“No thank you,” I said “HIV”
“No! No HIV! I very clean!” she said
‘Not you”. I said “Me. I’m HIV positive and I don’t want to infect anyone.”
Boy did that do the trick. She dropped my arm like it was a flaming pot of acid covered in poisonous spikes. She disappeared in seconds, hopefully to tell the girls to keep away from me. So if, like me, you don’t want to pay for sex with someone young enough to be your granddaughter, you now know what to do. Anyhow I’d seen Nana Plaza, time for home.
What struck me over the next few days was the clone like appearance of the middle aged western men and their young Thai companions. The men had made no effort at all with their appearance. Loud tee-shirts, baggy shorts and cheap sandals. Almost always fat and balding. Oh, and very touchy feely. The girls on the other hand, were slim, beautiful and stylish. They always laughed at Fat Walters’ jokes and looked interested in his banal life story. I don’t normally judge people, but this part of Thai culture I don’t care for.
To be continued…