Jan 21

Bangkok 3

by in Drawing & Writing

For all the restaurant misses, once in a while there’s a big ol’ stinkin home run.

I’d been looking for an adaptor the day before and found a place called “Ethos”. The name, if anything, was a turn off, but the inside had floor pillows and cross-legged eating. Had the food been bad it would have still been a huge improvement on the day before. The food was delicious. Peter was working, so the “Ethos” owner gave us instructions to “Siam Square”, a place Peter had recommended. It required a walk, a canal boat, and some more walking, and we were two-for-three when we stepped off the boat.

We were on a bridge and under a skytrain at that point, and, with the heat and the noise of the cars, things got confusing and pretty stressful. A western couple was walking to the right, and so we followed. “They’re probably going to the same place,” we reasoned. When they stopped and pulled out a map, though, I approached them.

“Any chance you’re going to Siam Square?”

“Excuse me?

They were European, or maybe Russian, and not friendly. “Siam Square?”

“No,” the guy said, consulting the map. “We are going to Khaosan road.”

I wanted to tell him that he was off – that he was way, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay off – that their entire day, and maybe week, and maybe relationship, would be ruined if they tried walking to Khaosan road in that heat, with that noise, and with their packs on.

But at that moment a Thai man walked up, smiling. “Where you going?”

“Siam Square.”

“Aaaaaah!” he smiled bigger. “Siam Square. I just there! This way,” he pointed happily. “Is closed!”

We asked again what he meant. “The queen,” he said. “She go to Siam Square. Closed, 1 o’clock.”

“It’s closed now?” I asked. Inga’s watch said noon.

“1 o’clock, closed. Queen at Siam Square.”

“So it’s open now? Or it opens at 1 o’clock?”

“1 o’clock,” he smiled. “Closed. Queen of Thailand.”

It was pidgin time. “Close now? Or open no, open to 1 o’clock?”

“Where you want to go?” he smiled. “Shopping clothes?”

Suddenly everything clicked, the oldest trick in the book. “Point A is closed, so come with me, I take you point B.” Duh. Thailand’s not as bad as other places, but still, I should’ve known. No thanks, buddy.

We turned away, this time in the right direction. The European couple were gone.

We found Siam Tower, and Siam Discovery, but no “Siam Square.” We asked a few people, and everyone pointed vaguely to an outdoor area that looked pretty crappy. Instead of going there we walked in Siam Discovery, ate some Häagen Dazs, and asked again. Indeed, the crappy-looking area was Siam Square, but once there it turned out to be filled with boutique – and often cheap – Thai clothing.

Back on Khaosan road we drank fruit juice and watched four guys – I think Australian – walk down the street with their shirts off. It was amazingly inappropriate, it drew the attention of the whole street, especially since one of the things had muscles so huge it looked like his skin would rip. At that we went for Thai massages.

Inga and Antje had women; I had a guy; he hurt me.

I kept telling myself, “This is good for you, it’s a good pain.” And maybe it was. But the massage felt like it was from a professional carpet installer. Some of these masseuses, Peter had warned, aren’t trained. He was not trained.

We showered and headed to Peter’s place, and from his 25th-floor apartment saw the beginnings of our first Bangkok sunset. The smog turned it pink, letting you stare right at it, perfectly fitting my stereotype of a Bangkok sunset. We drank wine beside the building’s pool, ate street food, and caught a cab to the place we’d been told, quite mysteriously, to dress nicely for.

I haven’t seen Hangover 2, but if you’ve seen it, you’ll know this building. It’s called the State Building, and has a Skybar on the 65th floor, and there’s a prominent scene with Bradley Cooper where he’s sitting on the steps. Stepping outside gives immediate vertigo that can only be countered with a drink.

Antje was somewhat freaked, and asked the same question I’d asked Peter in his 25th-floor apartment.

“Does Thailand have earthquakes?”

The answer is no, there really aren’t. But I think any scientist worth his salt would say that Antje and I still have some residual freaky-deakies from Christchurch going on.

The drinks were Peter’s wedding present to us, he said – a Martini for me, a Margarita for Antje, and a “Hangovertini” for Inga – and though I’m not much of a Martini judge, it was the best of my life, and the best drink + view of my life, and the kind of experience that makes you feel like the possessor of an entire city, someone of old world privilege and new world power, and the owner of your life. Peter and I had gotten separated from Antje and Inga, and by then a group of American had douchebags gotten between us. They were behind me, and had backwards hats and kept comparing everything to Vegas. One of them, a 40-year-old with a beer belly, announced loudly to his younger friends – right next to us – that he was gonna pick up “those girls” at the bar. “Those girls” were Antje and Inga.

And so he walked up to the bar, got close to Inga and Antje, and froze.

Presumably he heard them speaking German, his non-native language, and, working out his next move, instead did nothing.

At this point Peter explained to me what was happening and I turned around.

The guy’s friends were watching him, and yet still he stood there, gathering up his courage, sipping at his drink, doing nothing.

Every guy’s been there at some point, so there might be some sympathy pangs. But for Peter and me, this was a very beautiful thing to watch. Knowing the outcome beforehand we leaned back against the rail and watched what was bound to fail. It was a miserably stalled attempt, a FAIL of FAILs, but for us was the purest of pleasures..

Eventually the guy turned away, having never spoken a word, and went back to his friends, who didn’t comment.


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One Response to “Bangkok 3”

  1. From Esther:

    hehe, would’ve loved to hear inga’s and antje’s answers :)

    Posted on January 22, 2012 at 15:22 #