Saturday, June 28, 2008

Eye Candy and Lung Poison

I woke up my first morning in Thailand, and got my world rearranged. On a stroll outside my suburban guest house I was immediately accosted by stray dogs and barefoot children. Rickety shacks stood side by side with oppulent upper middle class mansions, and the sidewalk was littered with trash and nasty/gorgeous food stalls. It was 7:30 in the morning but I was already sweaty as hell and the streets were crowded and I was constantly dodging suicidal scooters, dare devil 3 wheeler "tuk-tuks" and trucks that wanted me dead.

I wasn't in the tourist section of Bangkok, I was rocking the suburbs and I was the only white guy around. The purpose of my morning excursion was to get some excercise. In fact the mission of my entire Asian journey is to LOSE SOME WEIGHT. I know I say I want adventure, and to experience a new culture, and do research for my show about China, but seriously, I'm hear to get fit. I'm sick of sitting behind a desk, and then sitting at a computer, then sitting on a couch, enough sitting already. I'm sick of eating pizza every frickin day because I'm too busy and lazy to eat better.

I quickly realized that going for a jog was impossible, it's too crowded and the exhaust was killing me, within an hour my lungs felt like they had smoked three packs of unfiltered cigarettes. I got off the road and found an upscale shopping center complete with a fancy exclusive sports club.

They asked for my identification and room number and I waved them off with a "do you know who I am" air of confidence. I got in no problemo, the old 'act like you own the place' works in S.E. Asia too. So I played basketball for an hour in the killer Thai sun. A little work out a day, I'm gonna stick to it! Then too cool off, I went into Starbucks to wait for the air con to dry my shirt. I didn't buy a damn thing though, screw you Howard Shultz, you'll never get my money!

I figured out the transit situation and headed downtown. Bangkok was much more beautiful than I had imagined. I had the image of a really gritty city that was far more nasty than facinating. But it really is gorgeous, the architecture of the temples is amazing, and there's almost always something interesting to look at, even the dirtiest of alley have ornate doorways.

I took the river taxi to Khao San, which is the Backpacker Baccinalia of SE Asia. I was looking for a place to stay that had a pool. It's a hundred degrees! In my searches I made friends with a couple American girls who were teachers in Taiwan, who were vacationing in Thailand. We shopped for a bit and then hit the happy hour. BEER is 30 Cents a glass!!! This isn't going to help my weight loss plans. My new friends, Sonja and Stephanie were on their last days in Bangkok and wanted to live it up a bit. They said it was time for thai massages, and I looked at my watch, and they were right, it was indeed massage time! I didn't do the acrobatic and dangerous looking Thai massage, opting instead for the western friendly oil massage, which my new friends said was the best. It was one of the greatest hours in the history of my life. It cost $7 dollars. DAMN!!!

There was more drinking and shopping and eating, the food is great, but nothing has made me re-examine my faith in god yet. At the end of the night, I bid my new friends adieu and headed home. Just then a young woman, who looked pretty normal really, came up to me and asked:

"Hey where are you going?"

"Just catching the bus," I said.

She switched from friendly girl on the street to the incredible hulk in a second flat, grabbed me by the arm with both hands and shouted, "You come with me!"

I had to pull my arm away and run! That was way more agressive than I had anticipated, I know Bangkok is famous for it's sex tourism but I hadn't seen any of it up until that point, and it surprised the shit out of me.

Day 2 in Bangkok was much like the first, without any clutching hooker incidents to report. However I did tempt fate by taking a scooter ride to my new place by the river. My scooter driver was a bit of fatty with a limp, so I should have said no, especially when the helmet didn't fit. We weaved in and out of traffic and since my scooter driver was so huge I had a hard time fitting my arms around him, but his weight offset the huge backpack I had on. Since his frame was so damn wide, my knees jut way off to the side and as he squeezed between the cars I nearly got my knee caps taken off by side mirrors. It cost 200 Thai Bhat, which was kind of a rip off, but still Best ROLLERCOASTER ride Ever!

I played a little frisbee with Sonja at the giant Lumpini Park and watched a lot of hilarious dance routines, I guess in Thailand, you don't have to pay for rehearsal space when you're a choreographer, everyone just practices in the park. I visited the apotheosis of all relining Buddhas, pictured above, and thought of Erika and Emmy who had visited the same spot not too long ago. I miss my friends back home, but Bangkok is a blast, I think I'll stay for a few more days. After that, uh, I don't know, I just need to get to China eventually.

8 comments:

Andrea said...

Wow it sounds so amazing Mark, I'm so glad you're having such an adventure already... massage, and frisbee, and a scooter roller coaster?!! I can't wait to see more pictures! I can't believe you actually went in to a Starbucks though! Even IF you didn't buy anything. Good job escaping the hooker Mark, I'm proud of you! We miss you here, it was strange to perform at Re-Bar with no Siano!! Can't wait to hear more! big hug, Andrea

Abigail (abby-gale) said...

Every time I grab your arm, you run away. Huh.

Em said...

i'm glad you got to experience the reclining buddhas! keep us posted and have a marevelous adventure.

Jeanne Lee said...

Two thoughts....

*Number one....pepper spray. Go. Now. Get thee to the Asian equivalent of Fred Meyer or a sporting goods store and buy a big canister and loop it on your belt...because next time agressive hooker might have agressive pimp as back up.

Running is good, too.

*Number two....30 cents a beer! Oh, my good lord, I can hear "Mr. Liver" doing a silent scream three oceans away! (I'm not judging....I swear....) But, if you hear some soft whimpering that you can not explain, try switching to a non-alcholic beverage.

Just a thought.

Fun to read your adventures, Marco....

Jeanne

Old Baby said...

So, you saw the Bangkok equivalent of the Freedom Dancers practicing outdoors!? I hope you picked up some moves.

Sounds pretty amazing. Don't worry, it's only 80 degrees here, with a gentle breeze.

Love ya!

Rydo said...

Bangkok push up party! We're gonna arm wrestle in August, and the winner buys gas on the way to Radiohead. Get to work.

Mara said...

From now on we're practicing outside, no more rehearsal space rentals... FREEEEDOM!

Rachel said...

Glad to see the adventures are back. Travel well, Marko.