“Hey Mister,” yells out a young Thai office worker. He points at the noodle stand under a walkway. “You forget your bag.”
I catch a taxi from Victory Monument to Bunglumpoo.
I’m in a forgetful mood and leave my camera in the back seat of the taxi. I’m intoxicated with travel and assaulted by the heat.
It’s only 8 am in the morning and I’m dripping in sweat. I’m sure I’ve arrived on planet Venus.
The whoop whoop of the fan stirred the stifling heat in my room. I didn’t care. It was just a bed to rest my head while my waking hours absorbed as much as I could.
Buddy Beer Café was my local. It had an air conditioned restaurant and it was here I drank endless coffee and fruit drinks while goggling at the waitresses and watching the latest blockbusters on a television attached to a VCR player. They sold good western food like spaghetti and club sandwiches.
The Mask was getting a lot of airplay back then. The Beach would be in another four years, in 2000. It was currently 1996 and this was my first trip to Thailand. Khao San Road with cash in my pocket was a pleasant place to be. I didn’t walk any further than a block away on the first week. Every backpacker comes here to decompress. I wasn’t any different in that way.
“What you reading,” said an English guy, wearing a tie and a dress shirt. I showed him an autobiography I was reading on Charlie Chaplin.” Crap,” he said and pulled out a copy of Autobiography of Yoga and that’s how our friendship began. Stew was the same age as me, and could speak fluent Thai and had a strong desire to live life to it’s fullest.
I needed to venture out of the ghetto said Stew. “There’s only so much you can learn from books, isn’t it time for you start being adventurous?” He was one of those guys you instantly fell for his boyish charm. We were playing pool and kicking back some Singh beers. I knew what he was angling at. I was no prude and would get pissed on cheap whiskey in the evenings. “All you do is drink coffee all day and goggle at the waitresses at Buddy’s.”
“What have you got planned Stewy?” He didn’t need to preach to the converted.
Bangkok’s fabled nightlife was just one tuk tuk away. “Be open minded about it,” said Stew. “This may put big a dent in your savings.”
Stew worked between sixty and eighty hours a week so that he could afford to pay for his pussy addiction. “Most nights I’d be at the go bars, and fuck at least two or three different girls. I’d be home by 5 am. A few hours later, I’d be back at work repeating the debauchery cycle again.”
He said couldn’t complete this arduous schedule without some help from chemicals. He pulled out a pink and white diet pill. “Made in Japan,” he said, as he washed down two diet pills with his beer.
“You’ll be in a party mood soon, if you aren’t already,” he said, as he handed me two pink and whites. The night was about to begin.
The sex tourists fluttered around the flashing neon – Pussy Galore, Penthouse Girls – while tourists looking for bargains swarmed around the stalls. It was a rapacious kind of place where everyone was looking for the best bargain. It was a bizarre kind of place. “You want Rolex Mister.” A few steps later. “Cheap drink Mister, and good fuck inside. ”
It was an adult fantasy land of two parallel streets full of rip off merchants, go go bars, blow job bars and massage parlors. It was drooling and stuttering material for a novice like me.
“What you fucking think?” asked Stew who was at this stage getting very enthusiastic. He had done this 100s of times, but the novelty seemed far from wearing off. Before I had a chance to answer, he was dragging me a 7-11 to get tanked up before we entered the go go bars. “Fuck if I’m going to pay high beer prices.” He said the secret was to sit on a beer as long as possible and then move onto the next bar, if nothing interested you. “Only buy another beer if you fancy a bird.”
He walked with our beer, and he gave me a tour. “There’s more to this place than Patpong, it’s a warren of carnal delights. He stopped at the chemist. “Here’s where I get my valium and cough medicine.” He emphasized that with a put on cough and quickly made his transaction.
“I want to take you to Pussy Galore, it’s a real laugh. “
Inside, the air con hit us hard. Wan, a sexy girl from the north east, brown skin and white teeth, went up to Steve. “Hello honey, buy me drink.” She sat with Steve for a moment. He was biting his nails. What’s up I asked?
“I’m scared Dow will come up to me.” She was on the stage and dancing. She had the moves. “And I’m afraid of Lek and Pim coming up to me also.” He was a regular here. “I’ve bar fined at least ten girls here.” He said lets move on, he wanted to find fresh meat before a cat fight broke out.
Now I could see why he was teaching seven days a week. He handed out a valium. “This will relax you.” And he mixed the cough medicine in a bottle of Singh. “Soon you’ll be talking to the angels,” he said, as I took a swig on his beer.
“This is the butcher’s den,” he said, as we walked upstairs to a dimly lit club that was belting out 90’s music. “Take your choice mate,” he said. ” They are all freelance hookers.”
Stew preferred the illusion of the chase and didn’t waste time checking out the Thai smorgasbord. He was of the firm belief that you paid the whores to leave.
I also got lost among the tempting flesh and the angels were telling me to go home.