Bangkok and Chiang Mai
I am sitting in, of all places, a darn shopping mall
I am not a mall person, but malls are air conditioned
and this one has an internet cafe. Both are important.
If there was one but not the other here, you would
still assume that I am in Turkey, because I would not be writing this.
I arrived here a few days ago after flying for what
seemed like a year in a metal tube with tiny meals.
The flight from San Francisco went for several months
until it arrived in Tokyo. The plane had been nearly
empty on it’s way to Tokyo and I was plenty liquored
up and it was not so bad. I hogged a whole row of
On the map, Japan and Thailand look real close to one
another, but the cartographers are playing a weetle
joke on ya. It’s another goddamned six hours from
Narita to BKK. I had just enough time to get my woozy
butt onto the connecting flight, Northwest flight one
that had originated in Minneapolis. Imagine how THEY
must have felt by the time they arrived in Japan. The
plane was crowded, but I had an aisle seat. Meals had
been loaded on in Japan and the food improved
When I deplaned in Bangkok, the moist air hit me in
the face like a large grouper. Inside the terminal it
(the building, not the grouper) was air conditioned. I
snagged my luggage, got some money out of the ATM
and cleared customs. I was out of there like a baht out
Former co-worker (and current ex-pat) pal was waiting
for me. We loaded my crap into his van and sped off to
his and his wife’s apartment in the lovely ex-pat
Friendly uniformed people greeted us when we got
home. Friendly uniformed people opened the car door for
us. Friendly uniformed people took my luggage up for
me. I am liking this uniformed people thang very much.
I nodded out after a welcome cocktail and slept as
though I had been run over by a steam roller during
The next morning, my friends were at work, and I
stayed around the apartment, looking out of the
window, but acting like a baby bird afraid to leave
the nest. I had never been to Southeast-Asia, only to
Western Asia, or Turkey.
So I stayed inside, looking out the smoggy city of
Bangkok, noting unfamiliar bird calls and big, white
butterflies all around below me from the balcony.
After such a short buffer time between Goreme in
Capadoccia, Turkey and a city filled with tuk-tuks and
lemon grass, I had a hard time adjusting to my new
reality. But, I am here.
After a day spent recovering from the 16 hour flight,
nightfall came, as it usually does, in the evening.
My buddy came home from work. His wife had a business
meal to attend to, she would not be joining us for
He made a couple of cocktails for each of us, Absolut
Mandarin, Schweppes Lime soda and Red Bull over ice.
Within minutes, I was feeling no pain, but was wide
We sauntered off to dinner, a Korean barbecue joint.
Soon, I was eating plenty of barbecued meat along with
some unidentifiable spicy, pickled things and then had
some more grilled meat for dessert. We drank several of
some sort of fire water in shot glasses and washed
that down with beer. Yee ha!
My friend was determined to make my first night in
Bangkok a memorable one, so we taxied over to the Soi
Cowboy, a street of bars filled with neon lights, loud
music and foreign tourist men of the Aussie and
Japanese businessman persuasion. And girls.
Lots of girls. Dozens of young Thai women sitting in
front of the bars, beckoning and grabbing passersby
into their bars. My pal knew which joints were the
best, whatever ‘best’ means in this instance, and he
took me into one.
We were seated by a lovely hostess, and immediately a
pretty young woman was sitting next to me. She was
sitting as close to me as is possible, and I am sure
that she would have sat on my lap if I still had one.
Now then: let us be clear. I am a red-blooded male and
all, and I don’t often have young Thai women holding
onto me and blowing into my ear, but I was not there
to rent new friends and the whole thing was really
There was a stage, and on that stage were four women
who had apparently forgotten their outer clothing, all
of it. They were demonstrating the use of rather ordinary
objects in a manner that those objects were certainly
not originally intended to be used. One woman, I
forgot her name, was smoking cigarettes four at a
time. Was she not worried about cancer? Well, at least
she would not be getting lung cancer, of that I am
sure. Off I went to the WC to take a leak, and inside
said room there was a woman in her birthday suit being
used as an artist’s canvas with dayglo paint. At that
point, I knew for sure that I was not in Kansas
At about 2:00am, we hailed a taxi and went home,
alone, leaving the women to figure out what bath soap
works best on body paint.