Daily Archives: February 18, 2012

This and that from re Thai r ment. April 20, 2010

I am writing this from the overnight bus to Chiang Mai. I am heading back to my suburban paradise to pick up some of the things I left there when I moved to Jomtien Beach Paradise, which is located about a mile down the road from Pattaya, a city clearly on the outskirts of Hell.

Last night feeling a bit bored, I decided to travel the road to Hell for dinner and to look around. I dressed for my night out in freshly pressed pants and shirt only to discover that the Songkran festival was still going on and would continue through today. In any event, by the time I arrived at the outskirts to Hell I may as well have jumped fully clothed into the pool. I found a falafel shop and huddled near the spit to dry off, with little success. After eating, I walked around OOL (OUTSKIRTS OF HELL) . Although OOL was created out of a little Thai fishing village to provide RR for American service men during the Viet Nam War, it has developed a number of ethnic areas such as a Muslim section containing good food and water pipes to smoke and the new Russian tourist area that appears to specialize only in loud talking and giant white bodies.

Just about anything you could possibly want and a lot that you would not can be obtained in OOL for a price and it is all exhibited right there in front of you. The main street of OOL is called the Walking Street, it runs along the waterfront and all the establishments open on to the street so that, like the Plaka in Athens. You sit in front of the bars drinking your Retsina (in this case Beer) and watch the doings.

I strolled around for a while, stopped by a Go-Go bar called “Sharks” to visit a friend who used to work as a bartender in my bar in BKK and now is a featured dancer and then returned home.

This morning I awoke and realized that the suitcase I was going to bring with me to CM in which to pack my things was too small to carry everything I needed. Also after I left to go to the Bus station, I discovered that the Songkran festival was not only continuing but that this was to be the “big day.” As I set off to purchase an adequately sized suitcase and go to the bus station I found that the road was so jammed with partiers that it was impassable and no covered conveyance was available. So, I had to walked the mile or so distance to the turn from the beach road onto the street that would take me into Pattaya where I could buy some cheap luggage, do some banking and hopefully get to the bus station on time all the while praying that I could avoid getting too wet. I arrived at the junction depressed that my dry run of two days ago seemed a complete failure and pleased with the rationalization that probably without the dry run things could have been much worse. Although I avoided most of the water, I was drenched in sweat anyway. (Today’s photos show a bit of the madness).

Unfortunately, the intersection had the inflammatory situation of being the locus of a collection of gay, transgender and straight bars, hysteria and costumes and everything was…well, rampant. Also large water trucks, not the pickup trucks with barrels of water in the back, but real tankers were parked in the middle of the intersection with their operators gleefully spraying the overheated revelers with hoses.

Anyway, although I worked my way through the intersection mostly successfully, about 300 yards further along the road I came upon a particularly nasty knot of bleached white Caucasians and a few Thais gleefully wetting down anything that moved. I gingerly made my way through the crowd shouting “no water, no water.” The Thais complied. As I explained previously, when you signaled to a Thai that you did not want to be drenched they would desist or politely ask you to let them anoint you for the sake of the festival and if you agree they gently throw a few drops of water on you. Not so with the european contingent who seemed to determined to use the festival either as an occasion to practice for total war or an opportunity to demonstrate their racial dominance.

So just as I was about to pass beyond this particular group I was struck violently in the back by a jet of water from one of those plunger operated water cannons I described in my previous email. I turned and saw a rather large male with his faux penis erect and dripping and pointed directly at me. He stared at me in triumph looking a lot like a water buffalo in heat. I wagged my finger at him. He clearly interpreted it as a challenge and sprayed me again with his cannon this time drenching my front. Well, I immediately saw that this was going to become an epic challenge for leadership of the herd and so I strode back to him and pored much of the cola drink I was carrying over his head. He retaliated by spraying me again, so I threw the remainder of the drink into his face. That’s when I learned he was Australian because he could not say ‘fuck’ properly, pronouncing it something like ‘fawrk’ and he threw more water on me and that’s when I bitch slapped him up-side his head as they say (In a later post I will explain why a bitch slap is often better than a closed fist punch). Anyway that elicited a number of ‘fawrks’ from him and the others. Satisfied with my manly response to the challenge, I turned began to walk away fairly confident there would be minimal retaliation because men everywhere are usually dumb as stones when challenged. Suddenly a woman (the brighter and quicker of the sexes) yelled “Are you going to let him get away with that” and I was pelted on my rapidly receding but now heroic back with a few more bursts of water and a lot more ‘fawrks.’

Flushed with pleasure from the adrenaline high and happy with that pleasure generally experienced by the males of the species whenever they are able to beat their chests and roar over doing something stupid and worthless, I jumped on the next songtheuw, got even more thoroughly drenched, bought my cheap one trip luggage ($20), did my banking and purchased a change of clothes, a pair of pants too big in the waist and too short in leg and a polo shirt from a company appropriately named “Geek.”

(As an aside I must mention one of Joe’s rules: “Doing something incredibly stupid and getting away with it can make your whole week.” So Joe’s advice is do something stupid at least once a week, it’s better than Prozac)

I arrived at the bus station in plenty of time to change. I got on the bus and am ready to sleep, pleased in the knowledge that had I been a little smarter and had a little more foresight, I would have missed the events of the day and had no story to tell. G’night.

Ciao

Categories: April 2010 through June 2010 | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment. April 17, 2010

Yesterday afternoon the Monsoon finally arrived with the suddenness appropriate to its name. The sun was shining and then abruptly it became dark and the rains came down in a torrent, knocking out the lights and more significantly the internet connections. It stopped just as suddenly but the clouds remained and it rained on and off throughout the night. There was a strange-sounding thunder, more like someone threw some pot and pans down a flight of steps. Several times I awoke thinking there had been a car accident outside my window. This morning the sky remained cloudy.

Contrary to what one may expect the monsoon rains do not bring relief from the heat. Yes, the temperature is lowered a bit for a while but the humidity prevents that from providing any comfort. What the rains do however, is wash the particulate matter from the air relieving some allergies and the like.

Often when I am spending some time in a place I am not to familiar with and need to do something fairly complex like finding the various bus stations and other transportation venues and make reservations, I make a dry run a few days earlier when I don’t care what happens and can avoid the anxiety of being some place at a particular time. I did so today. Pattaya has multiple bus stations and other transportation venues placed around the city, each owned by a different company and specializing in taking passengers to a different part of Thailand. I planned to take the overnight bus to Chiang Mai tomorrow to pick up some of my things. I am glad that I did my dry run because it was more difficult to get to than I thought and there were no spaces available on tomorrow’s busses. So I plan to leave on Monday and hope I can find a way back from CM since the return busses are all filled throughout the week.

On my return, it rained hard for a while and I was thoroughly drenched while changing the taxi-bus, a modified pick up truck called a Baht-bus or songtaew in Thai. The worst part of the trip back which takes a different route then the trip out is that the route back is along Beach Road in Pattaya, the main nightclub and bar area in the city and the Songkran festival was still in full swing despite the coming of the monsoon and I was drenched again by the revelers as I transferred from one songtaew to another. I found a songtaew that was covered and not open like most and it sheltered me from the worst of the excesses.

The weapon of choice was a three and a half-foot long tube with a plunger at one end. One fills the tube by inserting the business end into a barrel of water and pulling out the plunger. When the tube was aimed and the plunger depressed in could propel a copious amount of water across a sizable street and knock the unwary to the ground. This weapon was wielded most often by young male western tourists (Farangs). While the Thai children and young adults were happy just throwing the water from a pan or bucket in my general direction or could be dissuaded from doing so with a stern look, the farang delinquents seemed to find great pleasure in hunting you down. At one point I was about ready to jump from the vehicle grab the dripping phallus and shoving it where…you know the rest. If I sound like an irascible dyspeptic old codger, well I am. Also my prescription happy pills have run out and cannot be reordered until the festival is over, I am slipping into withdrawal which always makes me happily annoyed at everything.

When the Baht-bus arrived at the Jomtien Beach Road, we found that the road was flooded much like, for those of you who have been there, Soi 11 in front of Ava Pub during the rainy season except that this flood extended for about a mile and lacked the rats, snakes and stinking offal pouring from Bangkok’s sewers and canals that assured a long slow death to anyone foolish to let their unprotected skin touch the water.

Anyway when I got off at my stop, I found the long driveway flooded knee-deep and had to wade the 50 or so yards to my building.

And if I did not enjoy the whole thing, I would not have spent the time writing about it.
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DIARY EXERPTS PRIOR TO POST:

WEDNESDAY APRIL 14 2010 11 PM

As usual cannot sleep. Will try Valium tonight. I seem to be getting back into a daily rhythm again that allows me more time to work on my writing. Today joined Daily Kos diarist. Suddenly all my contemporary political commentary rattling around in my mind that often kept me awake at night has vanished. I need to calm myself and perhaps review my emails for material.

FRIDAY APRIL 16 2010 2PM

Well the monsoon season just began. A few minutes ago a torrid rainfall began and knocked out the lights in the condo. The internet is down also.

Today I will probably not take my nap. Instead I intend to work on some of my much delayed writing projects and prepare for my trip to CM on Sunday.

The Cafe Le Mar is closed for vacation beginning tomorrow and continuing at lest until Tuesday so now is probably time to go.

SATURDAY APRIL 17 2010 2 AM

Cannot sleep again. Took two Tylenol but they haven’t worked. Took a small portion of Valium and am now waiting to see if it works. Do not know why I have been having such trouble sleeping recently. Whenever I think of Hayden my mind becomes so agitated sleep becomes impossible. Usually I solve this by thinking of something less emotionally stressful like the 49rs draft prospects this year. Even that does not work when my agitation it accompanied by itchy skin. I am not too sure what has been causing that condition. I think there are fleas in the apartment. On the other hand my bedding feels scratchy and uncomfortable. When I go to CM for the rest of my things I will try to take some sheets and pillow cases with me. I am sure they have a higher thread count than those that I currently sleep on.

Speaking of CM, my plan is to go to the bus station tomorrow and check the schedule and make a reservation if necessary. I will also check to see if my SS payment has been deposited yet.

I hope to arrive in CM early in the AM and get my work done at the house before the maid can call N. in Italy. Then I will go visit Choti and Jerry and the missionaries to say goodbye before meeting with Cordt and then returning to Pattaya on the night bus.

Categories: April 2010 through June 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment. April 14, 2010

Some of you have written me asking why is it that the government doesn’t unleash the army to end the red shirted protestors occupation of Bangkok’s main shopping district and governmental buildings, after all Thailand has had a military coup every decade since the constitutional monarchy was established 80 or so years ago. The answer is ‘Watermelons’. As one army general put it,”the troops may have green fatigues on the outside but on the insides they are red, watermelons”.

Despite the political unrest, the Songkran festival goes on unabated. In the northern latitudes such as in Europe, the turning of the sun from its decline in midwinter was cause for celebrations such as Christmas and the like. In southern and south-eastern Asia, it is the coming of the monsoon bringing rain after the long drought that gives rise to the celebrations and sympathetic magic represented by drenching everyone with water. I have not ventured further that the cafe at the base of my condo since the festival has begun, thus avoiding any non-voluntary baptism by the revelers. I shudder when in the lobby of the condo, I see western (farang) tourists in their bathing suits, water machine guns slung over their backs like guerillas returning from a raid. Maybe I envy them also.

Since Songkran represents a turning to hopefully a more a more fruitful time, I would like to remind those of you depressed from the long dark days of winter, pain and illness or perceived lack of accomplishment of the immortal words of America’s two greatest philosophers, who I have mentioned here before, but should be recalled again:

Rosanna Rosanna Dana, who sagely exclaimed “It’s always somethin” and;
Scarlett O’Hara who, standing at the door of her fabled mansion ‘Tara’ watching the manly back of Rhett Butler recede through the burnt and blackened cotton fields that would never again resound to the voices of happy negroes singing spirituals in the green cotton fields, was heard to say, “Tomorrow is another day”.

Today’s photo is of my condo building.

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EXCERPTS FROM DIARY PRIOR TO POST:

TUESDAY APRIL 13, 2010 2:30 PM

Songkran began yesterday and continues through the 20th of April so I have been told by the maid. At breakfast this morning I saw the pick-up trucks loaded with barrels and celebrants patrolling the beach road, but only saw one person drenched with water. Maybe this section of Jomtein beach is not at the center of festivities.

Yesterday Nikki called and put Hayden on the phone. He said he missed me and asked me why I do not come there for him. SW’AC called back demanding that I pay the maid for my time in CM and the electric bill. I said I would go up there and look into it in a few days. Wrote email to Nikki requesting his share. SW’AC said Hayden will be staying for a month or so is a city near Venice while she returns to Thailand.

Categories: April 2010 through June 2010 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment. April 12, 2010

Two emails in two days, I must be getting bored.

Anyway, the demographics around the pool at the condo appears to be changing from obese Russians to overweight Asians with many, many children.

I am writing this from my usual table at the Cafe Le Mar located by the beach. I decided to put off my trip to Chiang Mai for another few days because if I leave before Saturday I will find myself in the middle of Song-la, the Thai new year festival that is celebrated by dousing with water ( often containing dye) anyone and everyone who ventures out in public. People line the streets with buckets of water, water machine guns and the like while pickup trucks carrying barrels of water and delinquents patrol the streets to drench any passerby that may escape or not the sidewalk ambushes. While this may seem like fun for about 15 minutes, the festival lasts three days or more until exhaustion or drought drives the celebrants back home.

For those who may be interested in news of Hayden, I received a call from him yesterday from Nikki’s house in Milan. It seems that his mother will be leaving him with an Italian family (not Nikki’s) living in a city north of Venice for a month or so while she returns to Thailand to resume her trolling. What happens next for the child, I cannot guess.

Damm, I just noticed an excess of pick-up trucks containing water barrels and delinquents cruising the road in front of the cafe. Could Song-la be starting already?

Today’s photo is of Jomtien Beach in front of the cafe.

Categories: April 2010 through June 2010 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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