Friday, January 22, 2010

Back to the Beginning

The following blog post may contain sexual references, adult themes and traces of nuts.

We arrived back in Bangkok on the train very early in the morning. After being woken up and changing into some fresh clothes behind our privacy curtain we made our way off the train into the train station that we’d left from 2 months earlier. We walked outside and looked for a Taxi and after not finding someone who knew the bridge we wanted to be dropped off at we decided to try a tuk-tuk. The tuk-tuk’s were a welcome relief after so long away and it was nice to negotiate a price again and be able to tell our driver the way we wanted to go to get there. In the end we got a driver who took us straight there (at break-neck speeds) and was kind enough drop us off out the front of the 7/11 just near the hotel.

We walked/stumbled into Lamphu Tree Hotel and presented ourselves at the desk, it was about 7am. It was such a relief the be back and to have made it in one piece. I was so tired that I ended up dropping my bag and lying on one of the couches while Drew completed the check in. Luckily no one was in our room the night before and they let us check in early so we grabbed our bags and the one refugee bag that we had stored all our winter stuff in at the hotel while we travelled, and headed upstairs. Our room wasn’t on the top floor, but after a night on a train and an early wake up we dropped our stuff and had a sleep for a few hours. We got up at about 9am again and went downstairs to have some breakfast. After breakfast we walked back down to the boat ramp and paid our 15 baht and jumped on the overcrowded boat and headed downtown towards MBK. We had decided to do our winter shopping for Europe on the first day.

We figured we could have done it any of the 2 and a half days we had back in Bangkok, but we figured if we couldn’t find anything we had another day to try to find something. We entered MBK after catching the Sky Rail at about 11am. After walking around for about 2 hours and not really finding anything we decided to go item by item. That meant that first we looked for jeans and after about 2 hours and heaps of ‘not have your size’ we both finally found some jeans. Our budget had taken a hit though and now we had to find a jacket for me and a pair of shoes for Drew. We ended up getting me a Abercrombie and Fitch jacket at about the same price as a real one and this one was just a copy. By now it was about 5pm and we were both over bartering and trying to get good prices.

We still had to get Drew a pair of shoes seeing as the only ones he had were his semi closed in Teva’s. In the end it took us another 3 hours to find Drew’s shoes and we ended up with HiTec hiking boots because there was almost no other option. We left feeling like MBK was a horrible blight on the city of Bangkok and we were so over shopping. As soon as we got outside we felt better as the humid night air rolled over us. We caught a tuk-tuk back to the hotel and headed straight to bed. It was only about 10:30 at night but we felt as though we’d been shopping for days.

We woke up and had breakfast at a leisurely pace the next morning. Seeing as we’d bought all the winter clothes we needed we headed to explore some parts of the city that we hadn’t seen before. We jumped in a tuk-tuk and headed for China Town. The tuk-tuk dropped us off on a random corner in downtown Bangkok and we picked a direction and started walking down the street. We crossed the road and made our way into the winding mass of market stalls.

China Town sold everything from toiletries and food to clothes and household items. The smells as you walked around were a lot more potent as we walked through the now closing market. We ended up buying some cheap and dodgy gloves that would tie us over until we could get some proper ones in the UK and then headed back out of the market.

Over the course of the last two months I again and again met people who said we had to go to the sex shows at Pat Pong in Bangkok. I had been so against it when we first arrived that I couldn’t believe that by the end I was convinced that I had to at least stick my head in and see some sort of show. We jumped in a tuk-tuk and headed to Pat Pong and I was so nervous and really didn’t want to be there. Drew on the other hand couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss was about.

We found ourselves at a bar watching the market in the middle of the street set up. Drew had been befriended by a local guy and we knew it was some kind of scam, but Drew was happy to just chat to him. I on the other hand watched girl after girl walk past going into sleazy venues that were just beginning to set up for the night.

In the end Drew got me up and we followed ‘Mr Bang’ to an Australian bar! My god, they were everywhere! We went in and had a few boring drinks while Drew had an animated discussion with Mr Bang about his time in the Thailand Army. After about half an hour Mr Bang led us to a club and we were ushered inside and given seat and bought some drinks. We waited and sat around. In the end I ended up having to go to the toilet and sharing it with half naked women putting on layers and layers of makeup.

I made my way back to Drew and sat down asking if we could just leave. It was as we were thinking that might be a good idea as there were even more girls sitting around where we were kneeling up looking in the mirrors behind the chairs putting on makeup too. There was a matronly woman who was not performing sitting with her daughter and doing the paperwork. It felt like we’d got there way too early.

In the end the girls started performing, they all walked up on stage, their hands together bowing to each of the girls on stage and the picture of the King. They spent about 5 mins naked doing a man dance, moving back and forwards, around before the first girl started performing. All the girls were quite old by Thai standard, which means that they look about 25 instead of 15. There were girls that pulled strings out of their private areas that had sharp needles attached every inch or so and the string turned out to be about 5 metres long.

Not to be toped, girls followed with, smoking cigarettes, shooting bananas out onto the stage, bursting balloons with darts from about 4 metres distance, removing ribbon about 10 metres long and so on. In the end it was like going to the circus. Everyone was right about that, you don’t watch the girls in a stripper way, you watch them perform amazing feats and just have to clap at the end. We decided we’d watched enough and got ready to pay and leave.

This is when the girls and the matronly women descended. They tried to charge up more than we’d agreed for the drinks and then even though it shouldn’t have they tried to charge us for seeing the show and for ladies drinks which someone had brought over earlier and we’d sent back because we didn’t want them. Thankfully we’d been in Vietnam and Drew was able to cut through the scam that Mr Bang had laughingly walked us into. Drew grabbed the pen that they’d used to write the bill and cross out some of the things and change the prices on the drinks.

Thankfully Drew can be rather intimidating and in the end they let us go with what we thought we should have paid. It was the craziest thing I’d done while on holidays and I was impressed that I did it. Mr Bang gave Drew his card… Maybe just in case he wanted to be scammed again or attempted to be scammed. We headed back to Khaosan Rd and relaxed in the place that we once thought was the sleaziest place we’d ever been. It was now a haven and Drew went to have a relaxing beer and I went to grab what would be my last $5 for 1 hour proper Thai massage. We headed back to the hotel and slept our last night in Bangkok.

The last day in Bangkok we slept in and had a late breakfast and skyped our parents to say a last hello before we headed off to the UK. We wandered down Khaosan Rd and posted most of our summer clothes home and walked around and did some last minute shopping for some T-shirts and other miscellaneous items. We had some lunch and watched new backpackers wander down the street with wide eyes and it made us smile knowingly.

We headed back to the hotel for a last swim and as we had a free 4pm late check out we went back to our room, had a shower and got the last of our clothes organised, then took them downstairs and put them in the store again. We headed back down Khaosan Rd one last time and grabbed some dinner and then came back and changed into our winter clothes., sweating in the tropical heat We jumped into our Taxi and headed out the very busy road to the airport. It ended up taking ages because of the abnormally busy roads but thankfully the taxi had aircon for comfort in our winter gear.

We got into the airport which is an amazing new building of glass and steel. We walked to our checkin desk and lined up. When we got to the front we found out that we had been separated for the flight. It’s times like these that the two years of acting I studied really kicks in. I immediately started telling the guy that I was terrified of flying and I was meant to have an isle seat and my husband was meant to be sitting next to me. The guy tried to give me the usual spiel and I abruptly started to get teary eyed and guilt him into fixing it. He called his manager and in the end we got the middle aisle and the seat next to it and no one was seated next to Drew in the middle so we had three seats to spread across.

The flight was sadly not the best, the hostesses were so put out if you asked for some water that you felt you were interrupting them. The flight was really dry and as soon as we sat down they walked down the aisle spraying a spray that was meant to kill any germs as was required by the UK. We winged our way into London, the temperature dropping from a balmy 35 C plunging down to a -2C. We had made it.