still not much but a little

Bangkok, Thailand

Tue, 11 Dec 2001 12:13:02 +0000 (GMT)

Hello all. My adventures in the east are still not that adventurous. I spent the first night out of my nice hotel in a 10x6ft cell. Luckily I was drunk so I didn't notice it too much. I got drunk with Darren a Bermwegian weirdo that my weirdo magnetism managed to attract quite quickly on my first day in backpacker land. He was plastered when I met him, having only discovered that day (after 8 years of travelling to turkey) that you get as much free booze on a plane as you can manage to squeeze down your annoying neck!

Still, the night's drinking did lead to me finding out about a place that had air con, towels, own shower and a double bed for 7 quid a night, so I've been there since, living the good life. I also got to see the wonderful Volk Bar, a Volkswagon wokka-wokka van converted into a mobile cocktail bar. Pretty damn cool! Didn't have my camera unfortunately, but I'll get a snap some other time.

I've taken enough of a dislike to Bangkok that I'm flying to Laos tomorrow instead of in the new year, asuming the agency don't botch my visa. So it may be a while before I send emails. I think Laos is about as backwards as it gets round these parts. Like about 50% of the countries, the Americans bombed the shit out of it. That was about 30 years ago and today, it still has the most unexploded ordinance of any country in the world, so I'll be leaving my pogo stick behind!

I've only been ripped off twice since I got here, once by a tuk-tuk driver (3 wheel taxi thing). I asked him to bring me to the Thai air office and the bastard brought me to the back of it and told me it was closed. I knew something was up but I couldn't quite figure out what. It was only as we were a few streets away, on the way to a nearby temple that I realised what had happened. It wasn't too far to walk. I'm still not sure what he gained by pissing me off except some sense of superiority over a foreigner. I presume he has a small penis or something.

The other one was a Buddhist monk and he didn't exactly rip me off. I went on the tour of Wat Pho (a famous temple) where I saw the grave of Rama the 1st, 2nd etc, including to dude from Anna and the King of Siam. I also got some ovaltine (they don't tell you about drinking ovaltine in a a buddhist temples in the guidebooks!) Along the way, I was introduced to this monk and he gave me a shitty amulet and a bit of string and I gave a way bigger donation than I should have. It's not every day you get a bit of orange string from a bloke wearing a curtain, so you can imagine how my emotions took over.

After that I got a traditional Thai massage in the massage school in the temple (all above board!). I can't say it did me any good but it didn't do me any lasting damage either. It's not a particularly relaxing form of massage, more a mixture of poking, stretching and some wrestling moves that usually lead to a submission and a couple of weeks in a wheel chair. I might go back for another one but not until I know how to say "please don't burst my kidney".

Bangkok fact 1 - there are over 40,000 stray dogs in Bangkok and they are left to just wander around. This is because Buddhists believe that everything should be left to do their it's thing and not harmed because everything has a soul (except it seems tourists, who are just there to be harassed and conned.) The amazing thing is that I haven't seem a single bit of dogshit anywhere. Considering there are about 100 dogs along the 100m lane from my hostel to the main road this is pretty odd. I thought my luck was about to change today when I saw a dog squatting, but no, it huffed and it puffed but it didn't get anywhere.

Bangkok fact 2 - We all look the same to them, or at least I do. The same guys try to string me the same line of shite over and over, every time we meet. I think I must look either very rich or very stupid. That's not a question by the way, so there's no need to mail me and tell which one you think it is.

Bangkok fact 3 - no matter how much you bargain, you still end up paying way more than you should. I went to a market today that didn't have very many tourists in it. It had all the same stuff that was in the other markets I've seen but the prices here start where the other ones stop. The Osama Bin Laden T-shirt that I haggled hard to pay 160 bahts for had a starting price of 159!

Bangkok seems to have it's own special kind of dirt. Within about 2 hours of having a shower there's about a weeks wort of mud under my nails. I think I'm going to have to start flossing!

Oh! Some dudes just walked past the door singing really dodgy karaoke into a portable karaoke machine! Cool!

Finally, today I seemed to shift up a gear and my weirdo-magnetic powers really outdid themselves. While waiting for a boat, this Dutch guy started talking to me. He then sat beside me on the boat, talked shite and made "funny" noises. Then he decided that this would be a good time to see if the really loud, noisy things he bought at the temple actually worked. They turned out to be a souped up version of those party blower things and we all know how annoying they can be (don't we Ronan Healy?) Luckily none of his bag of 10 worked! Then he started handing them out to the other people on the boat and I did my best to look like I wasn't with him. I thought he was going to follow me to my hostel . You know the way it is when someone is walking too close to you and you keep bumping your arms together and no matter how much you move away they follow... he also pointed out how nice it was that Thai men walk down the road hand in hand (according to the book, it's not a gay thing) for one horrible moment he was going to ask me to hold his hand as we walked! Luckily he didn't and we reached the road for his hostel before he could do anything else weird. His name was Jeremy Sphincter or something Dutch that sounds quite like that.

If things keep up like this, I'll be hanging around with Hannibal Lechter in a few weeks!

That's more than enough from me, in fact I'd be surprised if anyone is still reading at this stage. I'm about to fall asleep in a minute, but then I've been up since 4am for no good reason.

Since no one is still reading, this is the perfect time to ask for everyone's address so that I can send you a postcard from somewhere exotic (if you want one).

Right gonna go before I dose off. Talk to yiz in a while,

Fergal