When I first arrived in Bangkok, coming from the overland boarder with Cambodia, the word best used to describe myself would have been lost, completely fucking lost with nothing more then a vague notion of where I needed to go. I’d crossed the boarder with Laura, a sweet British girl who, despite her penchant for biting people when drunk, as my scared shoulder could testify too, had been a good friend but was separated from me at the roadside “restaurant” just across the Thailand/ Cambodia boarder. If I use quotation marks around the word restaurant it’s only because it tended to lack some of the common amenities one would expect from back home in Canada, like walls. Whereas before we had been traveling in a large Greyhound type bus, which had of course been overbooked and was littered with people sitting on plastic chairs in the isles for 6 hours, we were now divided up into groups of 6 or 7 and taken away in mini vans towards the metropolis. She, having gone off in another van told me to meet her at Rainbow hostel, off of the infamous Khaosan Road.
My van dropped me off… somewhere and I walked into the nearest 711 to get what was essentially a Big Gulp of Ovaltine and some cash. Bangkok appeared to be so much more orderly and “civilized” then Phnom Penh or Siem Reap back in Cambodia, I wasn’t being swarmed by street kids looking to lift my watch or shoes and gas no longer consisted of tables by the roadside with empty liquor bottles filled with petrol. I flagged down the first Tuk Tuk I could spot, the driver pulled up on his bike dragging behind him yet another variation of the ever changing scooter wagon and I told him the name of the Hostel. He nodded, had me get in and sped off through the streets. He pulled up to a gang of Thai men by the roadside, he apparently failed to understand what I was saying and was trying to have his friends translate. After realizing these men spoke barely any more English then he did and had no idea where the hostel was, I asked to be taken back to where I was picked up.
When I got out he started hollering and demanding 100bach (3.15 USD) for the ride which had taken me from here to….. back here. I responded something to the degree of “Go fuck yourself” and turned to walk away. Within about 30 seconds I was flagged down by a cop who offered me two options, pay or accompany him to the small neighbourhood jail about 60 meters away, I paid, welcome to Bangkok motherfucker.
After making my way into an internet café, finding my bearings and subsequently my hostel, I sat down for a beer outside with Laura and some of her friend’s, one of whom I swear on my life had laugh that sounded exactly like a monkey. This has no real bearing on the story but seems worth mentioning because it was so fucked up and I mean really, it was exactly like a monkey.
That night passed along fairly normally, we hit up bar or two, played drinking games, it appeared to be a normal foreigner neighbourhood in South East Asia, no different then the one in Saigon or Vientiane. It wasn’t until the following night I started to get a feel for just how fucked up Bangkok and Khaosan Road in particular are. I had headed out on my own for the night and was on the lookout for a drinking buddy. Soon enough I found a tall, lanky Kiwi by the name of Caleb, he had plugged in his own mp3 player into a street vendor’s speakers and was dancing by himself to dubstep in the middle of the road.
This seems like a good man I thought, I struck up a conversation and within a few minutes it took a delightful/fucked up turn when he began offering a Thai vagrant 50 Bach (1.57 USD) to let him try out his new taser, which were sold, along with batman brass knuckles and ninja stars, just about everywhere in the neighbourhood. The vagrant, although interested, ultimately declined and I was about to ask Caleb if he wanted to head over to a ping pong show with me but before I could utter the words a Tuk Tuk driver snuck up behind us and began making that distinct cheek popping sound that could only signify he wanted to take us to see some fucked up shit
The show was just about to start when we walked in, the crowed were mostly foreigners, young western men and women as well as a cadre of Saddam Hussein lookalikes in the front row, who did not seem to appreciate the kitsch quality of the show and may have been taking it a little too seriously. As the first act came up we were mesmerized by the long silk cord the performer began pulling out of her pussy, a meter, then 5, then she began wrapping it around the five poles on stage, one at each corner and one in the middle, the cord was 20 meters long, then 30. A round of applause and an exchange of glances between me and Caleb conveyed the overwhelming feeling that things were about to get weird, although he seemed more preoccupied by the blond Dutch girl he was trying to pick up.
I still think about that sometimes, what would have happened if he had actually managed to steal her away. They could begin traveling together, he could move to Europe, get married, have kids and one day while sitting around a dinner table, sipping wine he would tell the story about how he met his beautiful wife one night in Bangkok during a ping pong show. Maybe talk about how he noticed her green eyes right around the time the second act came on stage and started launching ping pong balls out of her vagina and towards the audience. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.
This was like a magic show; the following act kicked it up a notch by yet again pulling a cord out her Vajayjay yet this time with a twist. Tied into the cord was a razor blade, actually many razor blades, the first of which was used to slice up a piece of paper to prove they weren’t dull. After watching several meters of razor laden wire be yanked out of her bearded clam, like she was starting a lawn mower, I wasn’t sure exactly how to feel but it definitely wasn’t turned on, the Saddam Husseins however seemed to be disagreeing with me.
By the way, during the writing process of whatever this is it has now become a challenge to see how many euphemisms I can use to describe vaginas, I’m hoping to reach at least 9. When the next act made her way up on stage, she simply opened a Pepsi bottle… with her catcher’s mitt (That’s # 4 by the way). Then she drank the Pepsi, again using her honey pot and in a somewhat less impressive feat, crossed the stage and emptied it back into the bottle. I picked up the bottle cap, it now sits at home on my mantle with a little sign that reads “caution do not touch”, you would not believe how well this works in provoking people to touch it.
Pushing a dildo out of her beaver, clear across stage in and arc and kicking her feet off one of the poles while lying on her back, to launch herself across stage and catch the skyrocket in flight was the next performer’s specialty. My favorite act however would have had to be the warrior woman who stepped up next, equipped with a blow dart tube, her pink taco launched dart after dart at passing balloons in what was to date my favorite ground to air assault. The following act however was most likely my least favorite, it yet again involved the innocent silk cord but this time it was tossed to me by the performer and I was now expected to extract it from her snatch. This would have been fine, if a little odd, if not for the fact that she approached me afterword and began harassing me for a tip. Arguing that I had performed a gynecological procedure and should be the one getting paid did not seem to convince her I was in the right, in her defense however the word gynecological may have been a bit much and she stormed off. The show wrapped up with live sex, which oddly enough offended a large group of white girls causing them to walk out. Admittedly it wasn’t especially pleasant to watch but compared to the razor wire it seemed pretty enjoyable and all the Saddam’s for once seemed to be in agreement.
We made our way outside and walked for a few blocks to distance ourselves from the Tuk Tuk drivers charging obscene prices. Upon our arrival back in Khaosan we crossed paths with a gang of shirtless, peacock Albertans looking to get there dicks pierced. For those of you who don’t know, Alberta is a province in Canada populated by secret Americans from Texas. They have rodeos, assholes and to date are the only people I know of in the world who routinely toss change at strippers, who apparently catch the loonies and toonies (Canadian for animal covered money) with funnels, where these funnels are aiming I will leave to the readers’ imagination. Cowboys also tend to heat up the coins with lighters before hand because…. well they’re cowboys and that’s about the closest thing to an answer I’ve come up with. In any event my opinions on Alberta are somewhat skewed being that I’m from Ontario/ Quebec, for this reason I have always maintained the notion that we should trade Alberta to the US for Alaska, a seemingly senseless move but at least then the American map would resemble a hand giving the middle finger and thus, make a lot more sense.
After growing disinterested with my countrymen, Caleb and I made our way down Khaosan and as he mentioned his disappointment over having yet to use his taser a moment of sheer serendipity followed. “WHO WANTS TO GET TASED!!!” I yelled out, hoping someone would be drunk enough to answer and sure enough upped stepped a South African who could double for Lemmy from Motorhead. After surviving his shocking ordeal (I apologize but I just couldn’t help myself) a gang of foreigners began to form around us and what I can only describe as a tasing orgy ensued, all in all about 30 people were tased and I’m pretty sure a fight broke out. Admittedly I was a bit distracted at the time chatting up a girl from my hometown. While a few Punjab men were taking their tasing with laughter, they began yelling out “Punjabi!!!”, to which I responded, “Fuck its like Brampton (my hometown) around here”, the girl caught this and responded with dismay, only for the two of us to begin exchanging our credentials. “Do you know about the time that guy was beaten to death in Brampton Towers with the baseball bat?”, “Are you kidding me, I was there.” Unfortunately despite the great story this would be for how I met my soul mate, yet again it was not meant to be.
The night moved on and soon I found myself in a guitar circle beside a McDonald’s, tossing down beers, singing and meeting people. It may have been my favorite moment in Thailand but as per usual in Bangkok the cops showed up and acted like assholes, they rode by in their trucks and ordered us off the street so for a while anyway the party moved into the restaurant. As the night wound down Caleb left but I was lucky enough to meet Marto and Mojo, two Aussies and some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Although at the time I thought Mojo was a bit of a douche since I had spotted him earlier burning an American 100$ bill in the road, this opinion came to change while I was smoking a joint with Marto at her Hostel. She mentioned the cash happened to be fake but since that carried, along with heroin and crank, the death penalty in Thailand, that info was to be kept on the down low. This fact became especially funny when Mojo took to burning bills in the club, within minutes he had Thai men and women offering him drinks to try and drug him and steal his cash, little did they know he didn’t have any.
I finished the night of by smoking and chatting with Marto out on the balcony, she happened to mention that she too had been to a ping pong show and that when she had gone the girl on stage had a live bird fly out her axe wound (That’s # 9 by the way, I’m a little disappointed I had to resort to “axe wound” but I was out of pleasant sounding names). Marto was a veteran of Bangkok and had spent a few months there getting dental surgery she would not have been able to afford back in Byron. When she grabbed her dope from her room she mentioned that she kept it behind a poster on her wall. “You don’t fuck around here mate, the cops will come into your room and tear the place up to try and bust you” She wasn’t kidding, Thailand had started playing the world cup in their prisons for all the foreigners who’d been snagged of the streets for what any reasonable country would consider minor offenses. Part of these policies could be attributable to the nation’s huge problem with crank and a poorly paid police force but its more then just that. The city lives in state of police impunity and there’s a constant feeling that every one of the locals is looking to put their hand in your pocket and compared to the rest of the nations on my trip (China, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia) they were by far the best at it.
Everyday on the street there was always a helpful Thai man with a word in you ear about how to avoid being scammed, they would warn you about being drugged on buses by the staff and robbed, having your camera yanked by a monkey only to have it returned upon paying its handler etc… They would tell you these stories right before trying to scam you; it was really an art. The best way to avoid being scammed when a Thai person tells you something; like its rainy season down south and you should book your trips through an “official government registered organization” since rooms will be hard to come by. Is to start by observing your surroundings, ask yourself why this highly reputable travel agency, recommended by that kind Monk you met, has a sing out front that makes it look like a pawn shop. Math helps, for instance your going to want to break down what the maximum travel expense could be for transportation and subtract them immediately from the total price, then divide the remainder by the days you’ll be staying. This should give you the amount the package deal would charge you for every hotel stay during your trip. When it comes out to 30$ a night for the cheapest rooms available and you’d had a 3USD a night room across the boarder with 2 beds, Wi-Fi, washroom and a fan, common sense should prevail. Subsequently you may want to ask a Thai friend or foreign person whose been living there for a while and you’ll start to see what I’m talking about. The real price by the way for a private bungalow on the beach down south is 7USD and it was not rainy season. Even the temples were in on the trend, you could pay a dollar for these small birds kept in a horrendously undersized cage in order to march them up the temple mount and release them. What they don’t tell you is that the birds fly back.
My second brush with the Popo in the police state of Bangkok came a few nights later. I had been drinking in some bar and had wandered into the nearest Mc Donald’s to use their facilities. I had developed a somewhat bad habit from having lived in Seoul, South Korea for a year which was to smash anything made of glass when I was drunk. This had become common since Korean police are essentially taxi drivers for drunk people and since we could break things and simply scream out “Miguk Saram!!!” roughly translated to, AMERICAN!!!! Seeing as how Americans under the Bush years took to sewing Canadian flags on their bags to not be treated like assholes, this seemed like a fair trade. Maybe not but in any event the Mc Donald’s did not actually have a washroom inside, you had to go out into an alley, pay a security guard a dollar and head down to the basement. On the wall were three long florescent tube light bulbs and I thought I could simply remove one, smash it, finish pissing and head back to the bar. However when I pulled it down the two other lights it was connected to flew of and smashed over my head, Karma no doubt. I made my way upstairs with no real appreciation for the amount of blood pouring out of my forehead and covering my face. The security guard began to push me around and throw in a few whacks with his night stick, I made some week excuse about tripping and hitting the lights with my head but as soon as he let go to grab the cops I took off running.
There are a number of surreal moments that have come and gone in my life; running away from the police with a blood covered face through the streets and alleys of Bangkok was most definitely one of them. I washed up in the washroom of some sketchy bar, covered in concrete and indiscriminate stains, it was truly a fight club moment. I made my way back to my hostel, woke up Laura to brag about what my drunken, dumb ass thought was a daring escape and crashed.
Waking up I had resolved to watch my behaviour for the rest of the short time I would be spending in the city, fuck jail. There was however a familiar problem I had to deal with, I hadn’t smoked weed since leaving Cambodia. I usually took my weed over land border crossings but Thailand being Thailand I was warned against it. The warning turned out to be bullshit and now I was out and bored. There was no asking Tuk Tuk drivers, they’ll sell it to you and just as quickly tip off the cops for pay and when they pick you up, they squeeze you for every penny. When you get snagged in Bangkok, the cops will look for a bribe, the “officials” at the station will look for a bribe, you may find yourself out thousands of dollars and after all that you’ll still end up in front of a judge who may very well be in the wrong mood and give you two years of jail time for a few grams. The general going rate for a fine seems to be 50 000 Bach (1 578$ USD), along with deportation and a ban on entering the country but this is only for the lucky ones. Of course none of this entered into the internal debate in my head, it went more like, weed is good, fuck the cops.
So I met up with Marto and headed out around town. She had bought weed a time or two from Harley Bar off of Kosan and we began wandering alleys in search of it. We essentially covered every inch of ground in the neighborhood with the exception of one alley in particular where Marto had gotten her tattoo done the previous night. She assured me the bar wasn’t down that way… it was. The process was simple enough we sat down in the alley bar, ordered a few drinks, chatted and waited for the offer. In the meantime the bartender wrapped our wrists with good luck bracelets she had gotten from the temple earlier that day, I still have mine. Soon enough she offered to sell us a few grams and I obliged her. Upon handing it over she quickly cautioned me to put it in my ass crack and Marto was quick to back up the policy. We continued having our drinks until a young couple asked us for directions. “Well I have no idea where the hell that is but why don’t you join us for a drink” was more or less my response.
They sat down and as the conversation went on the small baggie lodged between my ass crack began getting irritating. I eventually had enough and made my way to the washroom where I took the lens of my DSLR camera and shoved the weed inside. To this day this remains the smartest thing I’ve ever done. After finishing our drinks Marto and I took off down the alley and within minutes were waved down by two semi-drunken cops riding with an open case of beer on the back of their scooter. They searched Marto with what appeared to be pretty reasonable means but felt it necessary to check my ball sack, ass crack, pockets, shoes and every inch of my camera bag. Luckily my camera was in hand and despite the nuclear meltdown going on in my head I managed to remain calm on the surface. They told us to walk along and I felt like the winner of the lottery. Marto and I made our way over to Mojo at a nearby rooftop pool, smoked our victory and I got the fuck out of Bangkok within the hour.