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 The CHANG Gang 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Part 15

Part 16

Part 17

Part 18

Part 19

Epilogue

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The CHANG Gang -- Part 1

CHANG -- Part 1
November 2003

Standard Disclaimer
Names and places have been change to protect the innocent.

~               ~               ~               ~               ~

Tusker -- The word draws to my mind men of an earlier generation that would not be tamed; men like Ernest Hemmingway, John Houston, or Humphrey Bogart.   Maybe they would spend the afternoon on the hunt, posing with the catch of the day, or celebrating past exploits sipping whiskey with other tuskers in the clubroom under a slowing rotating ceiling fan.

We choose a name for each of our get togethers.  Maybe the name of our little gathering this time, the CHANG Gang, is particularly fitting for me because I'm getting a little long in the tooth.  Or tusk, as it were. 

Antman never shows up on time, or at least hardly ever.  The morning we left for the kingdom was no exception.  The driver and I waited outside the car for Antman’s arrival.  The truth is we were on minute 6 of our last five minutes of waiting for him.

Antman jumped out of his car with a big smile on his face as if he were there early.  He should be smiling; he’s on his way to Thailand!  As he handed his bag to the driver, Antman asked if there was Scotch in the car.  “Yes, sir.  The bar is fully stocked.”  It looks like even though we’re leaving a little late, the party will be starting early.

Our Frequent Flyer status enabled us to check-in at the First Class counter passing the throngs of people waiting in the other lines.  Ah, it’s the only way to fly…

We usually get to the airport early and spend the time waiting for the flight in the food court, but we were more thirsty than hungry today and decided to spend the time in the Red Carpet lounge slamming down their free drinks.

Since it was still well before noon, I thought I should top off all that Scotch we drank on the drive up with a few Bloody Marys.  The bartender was experienced enough to know that a real Bloody Mary should be made with horseradish.  He’s going to make a lot of tips today!  I told him if my glass is half empty to start on another round.  And that he did.  Often!

Consequently, I don’t remember much about the flight over as I passed out the moment I figured out how to recline my seat.

Our plan was to head over to the showers at the Narita airport, but when we got off the plane Antman said he had to find a restroom ASAP.  No problem.  I told him to leave his bag with me and I would watch it while he hits the head.

Antman was gone forever.  I was starting to wonder if I should go looking for him, or hand his bag to one of the gate agents and board the plane.  As it turned out, Antman found the showers while looking for the restroom and decided stopping in to freshen up was a great idea.  Unfortunately he burned up all the time, so I missed my opportunity to freshen up.  With friends like that…

No problem.  In just a few more hours we’ll be checking in at the Nana Hotel, and I’ll have time for a quick sh1t, shower, and shave before diving into NEP.

Miraculously, I fell asleep again as soon as I figured out how to recline this new seat.  I slept through the food service and everything else, only to awaken when our plane bounced down on the runway.

We managed to get on the first bus to Passport Control, and rushed through the airport in no time.  When we hit Passport Control there were people there waving us down to the far end where the lines were much shorter.  Even though the lines were much shorter, they were still 3 or 4 deep.

As I hesitated for a moment trying to gauge which line was moving faster, a man in a uniform came up behind me and said, "This way my friend."

Well, that took me by surprise.  I expected one of those "official" people like hang around in the Arrival Terminal trying to help travelers to one of their cars, but he was actually a Passport Control Officer ushering me to his yet to be opened counter.

He quickly looked at my papers and stamped my passport before I even had a chance to wonder how long he was going to take.  I gave him a sincere kop kuhn krap and a nod of the head as I collected my documents to leave.  Just as I passed his station I turned to Antman and told him I was going downstairs to look for Hammers, Gooner, and the gang at the luggage carousel.

Well, that didn't take long because I was about the only one down there.  Hammers, Gooner, and the gang were supposed to arrive around 25 minutes before us, but they thought they would take forever to get through the airport because they like to stop for drinks, cigarettes, change money, and do a little shopping.  Even so, they were nowhere to be found.

After giving up on the search for Hammers and gang, I looked up to see Antman bounding down the stairs with a smile a mile wide across his face.

The next thing you know, we were handing over our papers, and going through the Customs gauntlet.  I was astonished to hear Antman greet one of the female Customs Inspectors.  If I told him once, I told him a hundred times not to make eye contact with those people - that's how they get you.

No harm done - this time - and we were soon pushing our way through the crowd in the Arrival Terminal and standing in front of the taxi kiosk.

Not a bad start; the wheels touched down at exactly 11:15, and at 11:32 we were putting our bags in the back of a taxi. 

At about 11:35 I was forced to resign myself to the fact that we had drawn the slowest taxi driver in Bangkok.  Antman tried to be philosophical about it by saying "better late than never."  But I knew all too well the fun we were missing and thought it would be better to be there now or die trying.  Sitting in the backseat with my nose pressed against the window, I looked longingly at all the taxies passing us, wishing I could be in one of those taxis instead of this one.

At least our driver was considerate; he stayed in the very center of the middle lane so other drivers would have no problem passing us on either side.

Well into the ride, a clock at the side of the road read 11:40.  I mentioned to Antman that maybe things aren't so bad after all.  Maybe I’m just excited and that’s why I feel like everything is taking so long.  You know?  Everything’s relative…  Looking at his watch he replied like an old hand that one can't trust those damn clocks at the side of the road and his super-duper high-tech digital poser wrist watch said it was actually 11:58.  Way to go Antman, you really know how to stick a knife in my dream and twist it.

What our driver lacked in speed, he made up for in sheer determination and unwillingness to be bullied by other cars.  He expertly picked his way through the traffic on Soi Som forcing his way past the lesser-willed drivers.  And like the proverbial tortoise delivered us to the Nana Hotel.

Although I should have been grateful that we arrived safely and he didn't try to rip us off, I was disappointed the ride took so long.

Soi See was in full swing.  There were scores of girls in all manner of dress in search of a boyfriend for the night.  And big tall katoeys with skirts so short one had to wonder why a little something wasn’t dangling out.

But we were finally there.  Our eyes were full of girls and neon, our ears full of shouting girls, the buzzsaw of the tuk-tuks, and go-go music, our noses full of the smells coming from the food stalls, and stepping out of the taxi we felt like someone had wrapped a warm wet blanket around us.  We felt like we’re home again.

When all the checking-in paperwork was finished, a bellboy grabbed my bag and led the way to the elevators.  Waiting for a car to arrive on the lobby floor, I scanned the lobby bar and found Hammers, Gooner, PommieBruv, and MuayGuy having a drink.  After enjoying the honor of shaking their hands, I excused myself for a quick SSS, and a short tour of NEP.


It was good to see the fixtures were updated.

Our first stop is always Anglewitch.  The place was packed, but my friend the mamasan was determined to find seats for us.  We toasted each other for getting there in one piece and spent a few moments drinking our beer and enjoying the show, but as it was our first night in town, we didn’t want to spend too much time in any one bar - even if it was show time at Angelwitch.

We slammed the rest of our beer, checked bin, made sure to slip the mamasan a few baht, and got my ass squeezed on the way out.

There were a few new bars at NEP, and we threw caution to the wind and stopped in for a beer or two.  For the most part, they were all dead.  In fact, we were the only punters in the new bars.  That was hard to believe considering the aggressive behavior of the touts at the door.

The girls in these new bars were mostly plain.  Each bar had a girl that was a little above the rest, but she was usually kept busy trying to teach the other girls how to dance and wasn’t interested spending time with customers.

A server girl started flirting with me before I could sit down, so I bought her a drink when I ordered our round.  She was cute, but looked a little young so I knew I wouldn’t be barfining her anytime soon.  But she did keep me busy with all of her questions (What you name?  Where you from?).

When we walked in, one of the girls made a beeline for Antman.  While I was flirting with the server girl, Antman was nose-to-nose with his girl and getting acquainted.  When she got up to get the drink Antman had bought her, I figured it was time to ask a few questions.

“Hey Antman!  Are you going to barfine the first girl that sits with you as usual?”

“Well, it is getting late and she is pretty nice.”

“Yup.  She sure is attractive, but what are you going to do with her penis?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, what are you going to do with her penis?”

“She’s a katoey?  Damn, why do they always pick me out?”

I sure don’t know why, but they always do.  If there’s one katoey in the bar, she’s usually in Antman’s lap before we even order our first round.  That’s just the way it is.

Needless to say, Antman spent a little less time nose-to-nose with his girl when she got back with her drink.  When my beer was gone, I checked bin, and with a promise to come back to see my new girlfriend again, grabbed Antman by the shoulder and led him out of the bar.

Hammers’ plan was to hit the Nana Disco after a drink or two in the lobby bar.  With the bars closing soon, we headed off to the disco so we could hook up with Hammers and the gang.

The Nana Disco was packed as usual, but it didn’t take long to find them.  Hammers, Gooner, PommieBruv, and MuayGuy were all there, and they all looked like they were having the time of their lives.  Gooner’s steady girl was there looking as beautiful as ever.  How he’s able to keep himself from making an honest woman of her, I’ll never know.  One smile from her and I would give her anything she wanted.

It wasn’t long after they brought us our first beers at the disco that they were kicking us out.  It was decided to rest up in the lobby bar before the long walk to Grace.  All the boys were quite eager to visit Grace, HappyFace (Gooner’s girl) said a girl got stabbed at Grace, and it had been shut down.  Hammer’s and I hadn’t read anything about it on the forums we visit, so we were a bit surprised to hear the story and wanted to check out Grace just to be sure.  But HappyFace was adamant enough (and we were tired enough) that we wouldn’t be doing it that night.

The week’s festivities included a Muay Thai exhibition between MuayGuy and one of the Lumpini champions.  MuayGuy looked like he could take care of himself, but one never knows.  The heat and humidity of Bangkok can take a lot out of a guy (not to mention a week or so of balls out drinking and carousing).

MuayGuy had spent months preparing for the exhibition at a Muay training gym in his home town, and I had received an email from Hammers a few days before we left saying MuayGuy was in the shape of his life.  Unfortunately, a couple nights before they left, they were out drinking and MuayGuy noticed a guy that owed him some money.  Words were exchanged and MuayGuy ended up throwing a punch that ended up squarely on the guy’s cheek instead of his jaw, fracturing a small bone in his hand.  MuayGuy went back to the gym and tried hitting the heavy bag, but it was just too painful.

We joked about the whole story over beers, but it was easy to see that MuayGuy was genuinely disappointed about canceling the exhibition, and was looking forward to having a go the next time he was in town.

That’s right, the “next time.”  This was MuayGuy’s first trip to Thailand, but after only a few hours in Bangkok, he said he was hooked big time.

Antman, PommieBruv, and I were still single for the night, but there were so many girls around there were no worries.  A cute girl (who I was pretty sure was not a katoey) was keeping her distance from us, but making eyes at Antman.  Antman noticed it too, but he said he was too pissed to go off after her.

PommieBruv got a girl with a magnificent chest to join us, but for some reason he didn’t pay much attention to her once she sat down.  I wondered if he was playing hard to get.  My plan was to keep an eye on the situation, and if PommieBruv didn’t go for it I would.  I was eager to take those jutters for a spin.

So the six of us surrounded by a half-dozen or so girls were having a great time in the lobby bar.  Management must have thought we were having too much fun, and told us we must go to the coffee shop if we wanted to drink more.  We came up with ideas like we could buy the beers over there and bring them to the lobby bar, but they wanted us out.  No problem.  I was beginning to feel a little peckish anyway and could go for a bite to eat.

So we all picked up and moved to the coffee shop.  One of Hammers’ ex-girlfriends showed up, and he quickly handed her off to Antman.

On the way over, PommieBruv ignored Nueng (the girl with the magnificent chest) so I introduced myself to her.  There’s no sense letting a pair like those go to waste.

If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have done it.  PommieBruv was never quite the same after that; he would barely say more than hello to me.

As the sun came up over Bangkok, it was time for me to head up to my room.  I said my good-byes and promised to meet everyone around noon at GBB.

I hate to admit it, but I sleazed PommieBruv's girl just minutes after shaking his hand.  And I felt just horrible about it.  Just horrible I tell you - right up until the moment I got my hands on her mams.

They were magnificent.

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Ommmmmm

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