Sawatdee, everyone. We’re back in the US- obviously we didn’t do too well on the ‘blogging-while-traveling’ thing, but we’re hoping to make up for it with some fantastic recaps of our epic journey.
Beginning in Thailand. We’d heard a lot of sordid stories about Bangkok, specifically the Khao San Rd area. Add some rioting red shirts and you’ve got a recipe for a less than ideal starting point to our trip. Because of the political unrest, we didn’t get to see a whole lot of Bangkok, but what we saw, we liked. Granted, Khao San isn’t exactly a taste of the ‘real’ Thailand- dominated by shirtless farang, pushy salespeople and enough tuk tuks to accommodate ten thousand tourists. Despite (or maybe because of) this we found ourselves in our element. Let’s face it, the mean streets of Khao San ain’t got nothing on ajummas and Korean kindergartners (see Uber Urban). We loved the food (Pad Thai for a dollar- hell yeah), the notoriously friendly people, and even the salespeople. Mostly.
In our four days, we ate well, drank well, and bartered for tacky t-shirts. But one night in particular stands out when remembering our time in Bangkok.
It began with a Thai massage- three dollars each for a half hour massage on reclining chairs on the street. My masseuse went for a fairly basic, gentle approach; a bit of a shoulder rub, a head massage, some light pummeling. Ahi’s, however, took a different tack. More than once I glanced over to see him gritting his teeth, leg parallel to torso, masseuse demanding ‘ARE YOU RELAXED?’. The finale: masseuse positioned Ahi on his side and sat on his hip sending pulses of crazy down his nerves. At this point, she sighed. ‘I have no power.’
During post-massage drinks, we were approached by a number of flower sellers- all young, ridiculously cute and amazingly determined, each with a gimmick. One almost beat Ahi in a tense game of thumb war, one put up a good fight in ‘paper, rock, scissors’. But the real star came last. In a fit of originally, we dubbed her ‘Flower Girl’. Her gimmick: plain old persistence, closely followed by shame. After a number of polite refusals, Flower Girl pulled out her ultimate attack and deemed Ahi ‘Ladyboy!’ Ahi, pretty merry at this point, responded with his best ladyboy impression (eyelashes batting, hip jutting out). Flower Girl was unimpressed. ‘Not like that, like this!’ she admonished, one hand on head, one on hip, smiling seductively. She passed us several times that night, and always greeted us with her best ladyboy impersonation. Needless to say, we always responded with ours.
The last chapter of ‘One Night in Bangkok’ takes place on our way back to our room, after a redbull-vodka bucket or two. Being Khao San, even at 2am the salespeople were out in force- one offered a flyer for a ping pong show, something we’d been (half) joking about since we arrived. In response, I (naturally) smacked my lips. As soon as the ‘thwack’ eft my lips, an eager Thai man rushed to us. ‘Ping pong show, you want ping pong show?’ … And with that, we realized that exactly what we didn’t want was to see the show. Escaping our tout friend took some doing, but later nights we had fun making popping sounds and watching for the suddenly materializing touts.
If we needed further confirmation for our decision, a few days later we were heading to Cambodia. An English backpacker regaled us with tales of his visit. We’ll spare the lurid details, but his quote of “We were laughing until the bird came out,” will stay with us forever. And that, my friends, is the Bangkok we saw: dirty, nasty, lurid, cheap, dodgy, and entirely endearing.