31/1/02 - Pat Pong Ping Pong Balls
Caught the bus back to Bangkok where we decided to head north to the Golden Triangle and Chang Mai. So off to the travel agents we trotted, well it was only across the road actually so it was more of a very short stroll. Actually felt like seasoned travelers this time round as we where able to go directly back to the warm varnished carved wood, smell of incense creating an exotic Asian feel backpackers and settle in like natives (cause, you know, we'd been travelling like, about 9 days by this stage). Thought we may as well plan ahead so we organised a visa to go to Vietnam while we where there. Apparently these take a while to come through so how organised were we.
I have to mention at this stage that I had also wanted to go to Laos but had been well and truly put off by our Kanchanaburi nurse friend and her partner. Apparently they had a bad experience trying to cross the border from Chang Mai (known to be within the Golden Triangle* )and were quite vehement about us not going there if we didn't want to have to hand over all our cash to the border guard. So, not being the seasoned travelers we actually believed ourselves to be, we totally listened to them and missed out on the opportunity to visit that beautiful place.
*The Golden Triangle is known for being one of the two major opium producing areas in Asia the second apparently being Afghanistan in the Golden Crescent. Not sure why these areas are referred to as being “Golden shapes”perhaps one feels golden after imbibing the product or maybe a side effect of the pastime is that one develops a love of geometry!
Hindsight, and conversations with other travelers further down the line confirmed the regrets that I felt for listening to them and not being my own woman*
*Like Eleanor Roosevelt - Learn by Living circa 1960
Anyway, once again I digress, So, travel plans organised we took an evening stroll down Kao San Road came across a “Boots”. For the uninitiated, Boots is an iconic pharmacy in the U.K. that will supply all your pharmaceutical and toiletry needs. When travelling abroad the familiar sight of such an icon makes you feel relaxed, safe in the knowledge that all is right with the world. Spent a fortune (mostly on items from nurse friend's list!) before realising that we would have to carry all this crap. Live and learn.
1/ 2 /02 – Today found us jaunting round the city centre of Bangkok. Came across a shrine where authentic Thai dancers boogied on down to help the prayers of the Bangkok citizens reach whichever deity they chose to pray to. I like this concept. I wonder what form of dance the late great JC (Jesus Christ) would have appreciated*?
• I'd go with the other late great JC and Burning Ring of Fire (circa 1963) as it seems to fit the christian doctrine admirably
Went to a shopping centre, (I know, but in my defence, I had been travelling less than a fortnight and still had western consumer tendencies) and purchased some toe rings (cause it's hot, I'm in flip flops and they will go well with the tie dye outfits...as soon as I slim down enough to fit into them). They were a steal at around £2 each but I suspect they might have been pinky rings! Here we go again, westerners...big shoes, big feet, big toes.
Sampled some street market food* and headed back.
*Deep fried something balls...not a cockroach in sight thankfully
We met some more really cool people who we proceeded to get to know over several beers at the backpackers. There were a couple of English guys (teaching English abroad) a dutch dude and a couple of Israelis, quite the cosmopolitan group. Unfortunately the English couldn't handles the pace and were in slumberland by 9pm (pansies) so it was left to the stalwart drinkers to carry on into the Thai night to see what unfolded.
I don't know whose idea it was...but we all went along for the ride...seemed like a good idea at the time...almost ended up as Thai tourist meatballs...here's what happened!
Let's go check out Pat Pong they said, can't go to Bangkok and not go to Pat Pong they said. So off we went to Pat Pong, otherwise know as the Red Light District, to see what all the fuss was about.
Found a bar, was told our entry fee gave us a free drink, went in and were entertained by a bunch of very bored* Thai females opening bottles, smoking ciggies and dispensing ping pong balls from there nether regions**while being watched by big fat sweaty European men...and our little party.
*When I say bored I suspect stoned on any number of illegal substances was probably nearer the truth.
**Dispensing with an alarming amount of accuracy I might add, damn near got a ping pong ball in the eye!
I mean, impressive and all that but when is a skill that like ever going to come in useful in polite society. Can't see it going down well during your average family Christmas night charades session.
Anyway, once again I digress. Remember the free drink we were supposed to get? Well we didn't. This upset my travelling companion's(TC) Celtic sensibilities, considering we had already been fleeced for the entrance fee, who had to be physically restrained from introducing the small scary Thai gentleman to a "Scotch Kiss"*
*A movement that involves the forehead of the annoyed person connecting with the bridge of the nose of the person doing the annoying. Also referred to as "throwin the heid in".
This was very disconcerting as the aforementioned small Thai gentleman was quite probably a champion Thai boxer and definitely had a "don't mess with me" look about him. So after convincing him that TC would not make a good substitute for the ping pong dispensing lady already on the stage, we made a sharp exit stage right sans free drink. All was not lost as the dutch dude very kindly offered TC a pacifying shag later on that evening*.
*Once again, is offering to become violent what one needs to do to find someone to get jiggy with you? I am all astonishment in manner of Elisabeth Bennet (Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice circa 1813)
We finished off the evening in a quiet little bar further down the street,congratulating ourselves on our lucky escape. Bumped into Declan, a 60 something Belfast man who kept apologising for the fact that he was keeping company with a young Thai lady who was requesting 2000 baht to sleep with him*
* A bargain I would have thought, considering it would have been shagging an old bean bag with half the stuffing missing!
Eventful evening all round I would say.
N.B. So how did these chain of events change my life as I knew it?
I have learnt to do my own research and not to take other people's word as gospel or follow them blindly! Oh, and don't even think about head butting a Thai kick boxing bouncer...looks can be deceiving!