No Party Too Far
No Party Too Far -- Part 1
No Party Too Far -- Part 1
We met many great guys on this trip. I tried to mention as many nicks as I could, but I apologize in advance for missing a few. Each and every one made a contribution to a wonderful trip, but there were times I was overwhelmed by the number and the frequency of punters coming up to me and was simply not able to keep up.
If you find your nick in a report and would rather not be mentioned, just send an email through the forum and I'll change it.
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~ ~ ~
That's the signal we've been waiting for. "Let's go"
"Let's go, Let's Go, LET'S GO! Let's get off this plane. Listen dude, once we're off this plane it's elbows up. Every person we can pass means there's one less person we'll have to wait behind at Passport Control. I don't want to spend my time at the airport; we've got MikeM33607, Hammers11, and BigHairyPig waiting for us at the Nana Disco. We've got to hit the ground running!"
"What's the hurry; we'll get there..."
"Dude, you don't even know what you're missing... We need to get there now, not after the bars close."
At that moment, passengers began their slow shuffle down the aisles of the plane toward the exits. I grabbed my bag from the overhead storage and pressed forward. Yes, I was that rude passenger who if one were not quite ready would force my way past -- but with a polite "excuse me," of course.
Antman and I were seated on the starboard side of the plane. As we crossed in to the Business Class section of the plane, I noticed that the people exiting on the port side were leaving at the exit between Coach and Business Class. With a quick signal to Antman, I scooted to the empty port aisle and jogged all the way to the First Class exit. With a polite "kao toat Krap" and a gentle hand on her waist, I was able to get past the First Class stewardess blocking my way. A quick turn to the left, two steps, and I was out the door.
Hesitating just for a moment at the top of the stairs, I turned to Antman and asked, "Smell that?"
"Yeah, what is it?"
"It's Bangkok, dude. You're here!"
The buses were about to fill, so we ran down the boarding steps and made it to the first bus just before the doors closed.
We nailed one of our goals; we were on the first bus to Passport Control!
Reaching in to my pocket, I pulled out a little pillbox. Being careful not to spill any of the precious contents as the bus rocked down the tarmac, I skillfully extract one magic little blue pill. Handing it to Antman I said, "Take this, brother; may it serve you well. Bite the pill in half, take one half now, and store the other in a film can."
"What is it?"
"It's a vitamin. Take it! Have I ever done you wrong?"
With a shrug and a slightly worried look on his face, Antman bit the pill and swallowed half. "Jai, that stuff tastes terrible!"
"It's not supposed to taste like a Flintstone vitamin. But believe me, in about an hour you're going to be quite happy about the taste, and I expect the day after you take the second half you'll be at the pharmacy buying them by the dozen."
The bus pulled up to the entrance of Passport Control, and we were one of the first few off the bus and in the building.
Well, Antman took my advice to heart this time, and kept up with me as I dashed through airport. When we got to the stairs, it was two-at-a-time as we pushed the pace.
Just a short way to go and we'll be at the Passport Control checkpoint! We are sailing through the airport, driven by adrenaline and the promise of the delights Nana has waiting for us.
What's this? There are absolutely zero passengers in front of us as we jog up to the Passport Control desk. The officer smiles as he takes my passport and examines it. I don't know what he could find so enthralling; for the heaven's sake, it's only a passport. But after he has a look at the information page, he decides to commit to memory each and every stamp on every page in the book!
Damn, damn, damn. I've got one of those super-sized passports and have even had to add supplemental pages. This is going to take a while. I stop myself just short of drumming my fingers on the countertop thinking it will just distract him and slow him down. Looking over I see things are going no faster for Antman who is at the second desk.
Just then I hear a stamp, look down, and see the officer is closing my passport and handing it back to me. Sweet Jesus, Mary, and Joseph; I am in!
I scooted over to the stairs and was about to hop down two at a time, when I remembered Antman. It felt like forever, but was probably only a few more heartbeats until Antman was approved and received the coveted stamp.
Like a couple of school kids and with enormous grins, we were jumping down the stairs.
Just three paces before we get to Customs, the largest herd of Japanese tourists I have ever seen, materializes out of nowhere and steps in front of us to the Customs Desk. And to make it worse, their papers are not in order.
This can't be! It wasn't supposed to end like this. Antman and I are royally screwed. There is no way we can work through this crowd.
We'll need another strategy. I look around and wonder why there's only one Customs desk open. To hell with these guys, I walked around to the second desk where no one was standing. After a few Excuse Me's, I sidled around to the side of the desk. What the hell, maybe I can just walk by. Just about then, someone showed up to "help" me. No problem; I handed him the paper, flashed a smile, and was out of there with Antman just a step behind.
We had nothing to Declare so passed through the Green Lane and out to the Arrival Lobby. As usual it was full of people. Antman was only grabbed once by a tout, but I told him not to talk to anyone else and to stick with me. After that he was on my heels every step of the way to the taxi kiosk.
I had been training him for weeks so with a proud smile on his face he told the girl in the taxi kiosk that he wanted a taxi to "Nana Hotel, Sukhumvit Soi See, krap."
We were shown to a taxi and rolling towards Nana in a flash.
~ ~ ~
This has been a long year.
Last November I had planned to make at least one trip to the kingdom every quarter, but pressures at home made that impossible.
About six months out, I decided to hell with the problems and I bought my ticket.
MikeM33607, who I had met on my last trip at the Thanksgiving dinner in Bangkok, and I kept in touch over the year. Unfortunately, he got a new job and emailed me that he wouldn't be able to make it this year.
A colleague that has traveled with me a few times before and heard many a Bangkok tale, volunteered to join me for the trip. Although also a world traveler, this would be Antman's first trip to Bangkok.
Because I wanted to show Antman some of the high points, we settled on an itinerary that included a week or so in Bangkok, a short stay on Phuket, and about a week at the Hard Rock Hotel in Pattaya. A little bit of culture, a little bit of sun, a little bit of fun; this could be a good trip!
A month or two before I left, I bothered to look at the ticket. It seems I'm scheduled to arrive in Bangkok at 11:25 PM.
Considering how long it took to collect my baggage last trip, my chances of hitting the bars and having some Big Time Fun my first night were not great.
I've been living out of my suitcase since 1988, and take great pride in traveling heavy. Traveling heavy is great! Just pack what ever the hell you think you might want, and pay someone else to carry it. But because of my concern about missing the first night's fun, Antman and I decided to join the ranks of the buttheads that carry on their baggage and screw up things for everyone else on the plane. What else could we do?
We performed a little research on adventure accoutrement, and purchased our selections. Going all the way with my commitment, I purchased a complete wardrobe of Exofficio Amphi clothes ( http://www.exofficio.com/ ). I had a few articles of Exofficio Amphi clothing that I had worn on previous trips, and decided that their light weight and compactability were exactly what were needed for this trip.
Usually I finish packing just moments before a trip. This time I'm packed *weeks* before the trip.
As each day passes, the anticipation of going back to the kingdom snowballs.
"You've got mail!" advises my little silicon friend. Hmmm... It's from MikeM33607... It seems his new company needs someone to attend a convention for a day or two in Bangkok, and they asked him if he would be willing to go! Sounds like a hardship. Coincidently, the convention is going to be held right when we were planning to be in town. What are the odds of that happening? As if that weren't enough, MikeM33607's company was flying him First Class to Bangkok! Mike, please let me know when your company has any openings! The convention should only last a few days, but MikeM33607 cashed in some well earned vacation days and will join us for the whole trip. MikeM33607 is a good guy and a pleasant traveling companion, so I'm looking forward to having him along again.
I was a little concerned about traveling with a bag that doesn't lock instead of my bulletproof suitcase. I heard about something called a PacSafe that well heeled backpackers don't leave home without. It's like a steel mesh bag that one puts their pack into, and then they can lock it up. The PacSafe also includes a stranded steel cable that can be used to lock the back and PacSafe to something that can't be moved.
According to the label in my carry-on, the bag will hold 3,200 cubic inches. That sounds like a lot, but it really isn't; at least not for someone used to traveling heavy. I picked up a small PacSafe which should secure a bag up to 3,400 cubic inches. Well, something is off somewhere because there's no way my 3,200 cubic inch bag is going to fit into that 3,400 PacSafe. And it's the night before I leave, and now the store is closed so I can't exchange it for a larger one.
Again I'm screwed! I try to console myself that I've never had anything stolen from my bags; but then again, I've always had good cases that locked.
Finally finished with all the last minute stuff I have to do (not quite, but close enough), I hit the sheets after requesting a 5:30 AM wake-up call.
5:30 comes way too fast. The few hours sleep didn't do much good, and I feel like cr@p. With any luck, I can cop a few zzzzz's on the plane.
I sat in the front room watching the leaves fall from the trees, and it hits me. I can arrange someone to exchange the PacSafe, and bring it to me at the airport. A phone call later, and it's all set up. Jeeves will do the dirty work.
As I hang up the phone, the limo glides like a shark to the front door. And as I hand the driver my pack, I can see he's relieved he doesn't have to wrestle the usual 70 pound bag.
And so it begins.
Sitting in the back of the car I can decompress. It doesn't matter what I didn't do; it will have to wait. It doesn't matter what I forgot, I'll just get it when I land.
With the windows of the limo rolled up, the leaves blow noiselessly down the street. And with me safely locked in the belly on the way to meet Antman, the long cool shark cuts through the schools of yellow taxi fishes .
Antman was late only once; he says he was tempted by Cheese pie (what ever that is), and will never live it down. I warned him clearly and distinctly that the car would leave at 9 AM sharp, if he wanted to go. The car pulled up 15 minutes early, and it was good to see that Antman was locked and loaded, and ready to roll!
Antman climbed in as the driver put his bag in the trunk. At once, the long cool quiet shark was transformed into the partymobile! It didn't take Antman long to find the Scotch!
Laughing all the way, the 45 mile trip to the airport went quickly. Before we knew it we were dropped in front of the International Terminal with only our carry-ons.
Stepping inside we see the terminal is a madhouse. People are herded through Coach queues like cattle, and treated with as much regard. After watching some of the Coach counter help one must wonder why they don't also use cattle prods. I'm sure it would move things along quicker.
A supervisor sees me hesitate for a moment and rushes over to "help" me. Remembering one of the perks I asked, "Where is the Gold Check In for Tokyo?"
"Check in for all premium products is at Aisle 1." It struck me that it was a strange way to answer my question, but off to Aisle 1 we went.
Turning the corner we saw there was absolutely positively no line where we would be checking in. Fantastic!
We were guided to the First Class Counter and handed over our tickets and Passports. The Chinese ticket agent had a good laugh at Antman's passport photo. "It not like you," he laughed. "Don't worry, dude, " I said. "It's an old Passport and you'll get a new one with a new photo soon.
That's when the ticket agent tossed my Passport on the counter and said it was "crose." Crose!!! What the hell does that mean? Is he trying to say it's closed? Did it expire? I can feel my blood pressure rising and I'm sure I'm about to have a heart attack as I rack my brain trying to figure out how to resolve this. Even if they let me on the plane, I'm pretty sure there's no way I could make it through Thai Passport Control.
That's when I hear Antman saying "It's close, it's close!" It's close? That really doesn't make much more sense to me. As it turns out, they were trying to say my Passport will expire in a few months. Phew... I dodged a bullet that time.
We grab our Boarding Passes and head over to the food court for a snack.
Jeeves calls me on the cell when he's in front of the terminal with my PacSafe. I don't bother to check if it fits because it doesn't matter; if it works that's great, if it doesn't there's nothing I can do now
Now as ready as I'll ever be for the trip, we go though Security and board the plane.
~ ~ ~
When we pull up in front of the Nana Hotel, I asked Antman to note the time.
Land: 11:00 PM
Not bad at all. 35 minutes from touch down to Nana Hotel arrival; I don't know how it could be done any quicker. We landed 25 minutes early, so I'm pretty happy about arriving at the Nana Hotel just 10 minutes after our scheduled arrival time.
We barely set foot in the Nana Hotel lobby, and MikeM33607 called out to us. That was pretty nice of him to be waiting in the lobby for us.
It only took a moment or two to register, and then it was up to the room for the worlds fastest sh1t, shower, shave. Antman and I decided that money would be no object for the trip, so we reserved a couple of Superior rooms at the Nana. Below are a few pics.
I shoved my carry-on into the PacSafe (hey, it worked!), and ran out to join the guys
I had a little baht from last trip, but not enough to fuel a first night's fun. With a wad of Travelers Checks in our fists, we marched up to the Nana Cashier. We were pretty surprised to learn that the Nana cashier stops cashing Travelers Checks at 10 PM. I sure don't remember that from last trip. My recollection is that we pretty much cashed checks around the clock. Luckily, MikeM33607 was there to lend us a few thousand baht. Khop kuhn maa krap.
Wearing my signature hat for the trip, we looked for Hammers and BigHairyPig in Angels but couldn't find them.
Next stop: Angelwitch, NEP. Angelwitch looks like a happening bar in full swing. We sat down and ordered a round. A few sips into the drink, I suggested we move on; Antman should see more of what NEP has to offer.
We walked into another bar, and I noticed Antman's eyes were about to pop out of his head. A cute girl walked by, so I grabbed her and introduced her to Antman. With a look of terror on his face he asked, "What do I do now?"
"Buy her a lady drink!"
Antman whispered the offer in her ear, and she gave him a wai and ran off to get her drink.
"Hey, this place is pretty neat!"
"You think you know, but you haven't seen anything yet. Many wonderful things await you in the Big Mango."
After a while making small talk and after the lady drink was finished, Antman asked the question again, "What do I do now?"
"Up to you! We can leave, if you like her you can buy her another drink, or if you really like her you can ask if she'll go with you."
"Just like that?"
"Just like that."
"Just like that?"
"Dude, just... like... that!"
"I can't believe it's that easy! What if she turns me down?"
"It could happen, but I don't think it will. Not this bar, not this girl..."
And that's the story of Antman's first barfine.
MikeM33607 and I walked Antman and his date back to the Nana where we parted, with MikeM33607 and I stopping at the Nana Coffee House before heading to the Grace.
I forgot to order my food "mai pet" but still the dishes I ordered shouldn't have been that hot -- but they were. A couple bottles of water later, and we were ready to head over to the Grace.
As MikeM33607's foot hit the sidewalk in front of the Nana Hotel, a freelancer pounced on him.
"Hansam man, I go wit you?"
When he said no, she turned to go and lean up against the barrier again.
"Hey! What about me? Me hansam man," I said.
Nueng spun around and said, "You hansom man too mut, I go wit you! Where you go?"
This was my first trip to the Grace. After reading some of the posts, I figured I'd be able to give a little more attention to "situational awareness" if I didn't go in empty handed. With my Tom Cruise good looks I didn't want to have my hands full of beautiful women all vying for my attention, when I'm trying to keep my eyes on all the heavy lidded Arabs in the place.
If the Grace Coffee Shop used to be a hangout for Arabs, it sure wasn't that night.
There was a lot of talent in the Shop. For a moment or two I regretted grabbing the freelancer, but "you pay your nickel and takes your chances." Nueng was turning out to be a good companion; she was taking care of my needs, teaching me a little Thai, and would ask for help with her Engrish (which I was happy to provide). Nueng tried to hook up MikeM33607 with a friend of hers, but he wanted to do his own hunting. There was a dragon lady at the bar that looked like she would be a good choice because she had the years behind her and would be so grateful for being chosen, but not for MikeM33607 this night.
The rest of the night is a blur, but I do remember thinking in the elevator ride to my floor that it's been a pretty good day; I made it to Bangkok in one piece, got Antman taken care of, have a full belly, and a girl under my arm.
Ain't this the life?
This page was last updated on 19 August, 2004
Copyrightę 2005 by JaiGuru