Saturday, December 24, 2005

Arrived Alive

Here I type from an old and dirty computer terminal in the front lobby of my Cozy Hostel. A few computers down is the long haired Thai man with high cheekbones reminiscent of MJ who checked us in. We're paying 35$ each total for three nights here; a little more than we intended to spend but we have locks on our doors and showers.

The flight here went without a hitch. I woke up earlier than necessary at 5:45 yesterday and we jumped on the airport bound Suji bus at 7:00. Arrived at the airport at 8:30 or so, bought a re-entry visa for thirty bucks, and checked in. The flight was fine with not so fine airplane food - I was expecting Thai Airways to have delicious extravagant food, who was I kidding? There was kimchi and seaweed as per usual. At the three and a half hour point we stopped in Hong Kong, deplaned, walked through a security check, up some stairs, around a loop, and back on the exact same plane again. Silly. But I was in Hong Kong.

Another few hours later and we landed on Thai soil at about 5:00 Thai time. It is two hours behind South Korea so now it's twelve hours ahead of you folks at home. Exactly the other side of time.

We took a taxi from the airport to Kho Saun road for 400 Baht. We bought our Baht at the exchange rate of 40BHT to 1USD, for the curious. So Kho Saun (sp??) road is this traffic-less one teeming with tourists from all over the world. Much different from Itaewon in Seoul because it's all travellers instead of military types. I prefer it, with the casual dress of the backpackers and the useless souvenirs to buy everywhere. I guess in that respect it's the same as Itaewon. I'm a sucker for useless souvenirs. There are also street vendors every step you take and I'm hungry just thinking about the steaming noodles and spring rolls and sticky rice with mango. I had a pineapple dish last night that was pretty good but I'm expecting better.

Oh, we also found this hotel randomly with no problems and the woman knocked the price down from 750 Baht a room a night to 700 if we booked for all three nights in a row and paid. Wow, what a deal! that's a savings of 150 Baht for two rooms! 150 and fifty Baht is worth something like four dollars. Or less.

So what did we do on our first night? By the way, I'm traveling with D'Arcy, Sara, and Barbara, my friends and coworkers. We went to a ping pong show. The illustrious sex show of Patpong road. And it made us sick. This is what it was:

On stage about six or seven bikini clad women stood around with no expression on their faces and very little enthusiasm. One by one they would perform various 'tricks'. The first woman pulled a string of pins out of herself. The next blew a horn, the next used chopsticks (!!) to pick up rings and drop them around the neck of a bottle. It went on and we saw women do things with eggs and ping pong balls that we never thought possible. We left early before the candles and darts.

I spent most of my time trying to figure out where to look. Not at their eyes, that's for sure. At the trick area itself? I'm not so comfortable with that. At their bodies, some for better wear than others? I chose to look more at my friends than the ladies. One particular performer looked particularly sad and caused three of us to give her sympathetic smiles. She returned with a look of 'hey, don't worry about it.'

So I felt really bad about the entire scene. There was prostitution going on under our noses and some men's behaviour was quite sickening. I would never go back and wouldn't recommend it to anyone, even just for the 'show'.

We headed back to the hotel, shocked and dismayed, and fearing for our lives as our cab driver zipped between tuk tuk's and other cars at a frightening clip.

It's now 9:00 and this internet cafe is smelling and reminding me of my travels through Israel and Egypt. The same sounds of traffic, the same smell of heat. The same hunger in my belly, somehow. Something about that makes me slightly sad. It's Christmas today, so merry xmas to those who celebrate it.

Time to get going. Up for today? Muay Thai boxing, temples, and markets, I hope I hope.


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