Strange Guy In Paradise -- Part 9
Strange Guy In Paradise Ė Part 9
The one picture I regret not taking was the sight of Song sleeping as the first light of day entered the room. That would be the one to have today.
When I got out of the shower, I was greeted by Songís little tune again Ė itís very easy to get used to this.
Over breakfast, we talked a little about Bangkok. Song had worked in Bangkok for 5 years, but she never made it to any of the big temples like Wat Po, or Wat Arun. It never ceases to amaze me that girls living in Thailand for years never make it to the temples. They know and revere the temples, but they donít make it for a visit.
Iím running low on baht so I grabbed some travelersí checks and hopped a baht bus to the change place near Starbuckís. I signed two $100 checks and slid them into the drawer along with my passport. The man behind the window did a bunch of checking and stamping and said something to the girl sitting to his right who handed him a stack of baht which he slid into the drawer along with my receipt and passport for me pick up. He then moved off to another part of the counter and interested himself in something else.
I would like to say I always carefully count my money when I change it, but the truth is I could be more careful. Something just didnít feel right, so I stayed there at the window and counted my money. That ratbastard shorted me 1,000 baht! I politely tapped on the window with my fingertips, but they wouldnít look up. I tapped a little harder, but they didnít budge. I hate this crap; I know they heard the tapping and I was even in their field of vision. Hoping the glass was the thick bulletproof kind, I forcefully rapped on the window with my knuckles Ė that startled the poor girl at the desk. Without looking up from his newfound interest, the man said something to the woman who took a 1000 baht note out of her tray and slid it into my cash drawer thingie.
Song asked me what the problem was, and I said they tried to cheat me out of 1000 baht. Song got such an embarrassed look on her face; I wished I hadnít said anything at all. If there was a rock big enough for her to crawl under, I think she would have.
Next stop: Royal Garden Plaza. It looks just about like every other mall. On the third floor, Ripley's has a little entertainment complex with a Believe It Or Not Odditorium, Motion Theater, Laser Tag, and some other attractions. I notice that the attractions include English and Thai explanations, and think Song might enjoy the place.
I was wrong. There are a couple little displays here and there that get a little smile or laugh, but she is largely bored by the whole thing. The truth is that so am I. I was surprised to learn that Robert Ripley spend so much time in Thailand. But this Odditorium doesn't really offer much of anything new; seen one odditorium, seen them all.
Leaving the Odditorium, I noticed one of those places where you watch a movie like youíre in a roller coaster and the seat youíre sitting in is shakes you around so you feel like youíre really in the coaster Ė the Motion Theater. I had done it before so it was no big deal, but I thought Song might like it. Good move! It made up for boring her the last hour or so. It was great fun to watch her laughing so hard. She kept trying to reach over to me (so she could hold on, I guess), but she was too far away. After the ride was over, Song held on to me like she was dizzy and going to fall over; she was laughing the whole way out.
Heading towards Beach Road, we passed through the mallís food court. I noticed they had sticky rice with mango (which I wanted to try), but Song said the food was no good.
Walking past Starbuckís, she dragged me inside and said she wanted that drink she had a few days ago. Thatís weird; I didnít think she liked it. I told her to go up stairs and find a table while I ordered the drinks and a piece of cake to snack on.
It was a nice day in Pattaya; not too hot and there was a nice breeze coming in off the water. If felt good to be sitting on the roof with a pretty girl, sipping a cool drink, and enjoying the view. Song liked the cake, but would only eat tiny bites because she didnít want to be ďpom poey.Ē It really is something to watch the trees gently swaying in the breeze.
Damn! I just remembered I have to arrange my travel back to BKK for tomorrow. That thought was a real mood killer for me.
With Song in tow, I started up Beach Road to the travel shops I had seen earlier. I walked into the shop and asked about the AC bus to BKK. 350 baht was the answer. To hell with that, I only paid 250 baht to get here. There are more travel shops on Beach Road, so I split. At the next shop they say 400 baht. 400 baht?!?! ďAre you sure? I want the group AC bus to Bangkok. Iím not going to the moon!Ē With that the guy starts laughing, but says the price is 400 baht. This is nutz. Why should it cost me more to get back to Bangkok? Okay, stop number three only wants 300 baht. Fine, I donít think itís worth the trouble to get closer to 250 baht so I tell the guy to write me a ticket.
So there I am, sitting in the travel shop feeling very satisfied with myself that I didnít spend 400 baht for a bus ride back to Bangkok. I turn to face Song, who is standing behind me, and I am surprised to see that she is about to explode into tears. I sit looking at her for a moment and for the first time (I think) it occurs to me this is our last day together.
Watching her just one sniffle away from the floodgates opening, starts to get me a little sad too. Song was a pretty good companion, one of the best. Itís impossible to list all the things she did for me, and she asked for precious little in return. This is going to be sad. I knew this was going to be sad, but not this much.
I told the guy writing the tickets to wait a moment, and I grabbed Songís hand and led her out of the shop. Before my brain could catch up with what I was doing, I heard my mouth say, ďWould you like to go to Bangkok?Ē
Song looked down at her shoes and slowly whispered, ďUp to you.Ē
I shook her hand a little and said, ďNo, today up to you, tomorrow up to me. Okay?Ē
ďWould you like to go to Bangkok with me?Ē
She looks up from her shoes with tears welling in her eyes and says, ďYes.Ē Okay then, we go to Bangkok.
We go back into the shop; I have a seat, and tell the guy to make it two tickets to Bangkok. At about that time, Song decides to give me a hug. Because Iím sitting and sheís standing; itís a bit more like being put in a headlock, but her heart is in the right place.
With a flourish or two of the pen and a few baht exchanging hands, I have two tickets to Bangkok on the group AC bus.
We walked all the way back to the Hard Rock Hotel, and sat by the pool enjoying fruity tropical drinks and a snack of Spring Rolls while we listened to the live band. Of course Song couldnít sit in the sun so we got a crew of guys to rearrange the poolside umbrellas so I could sit in the sun and she could be well protected.
After the band finished, we hit the room for our afternoon nap.
Like clockwork, Song wakes me up just before the Monkey Boy soap opera starts and hands me the TV remote control and says, ďUp to you.Ē I hand it back to her and say, ďNo, today up to you Ė tomorrow up to me.Ē She has a big smile on her face as she searches channels for the Monkey Boy. ďWhere we go eat?Ē Song asks. I say, ďUp to youĒ and get a punch in the arm. Sheesh, these Korat girls like to punch me in the arm. If it happens again, somebodyís going to get a spanking.
ďToday up to you, tomorrow up to me.Ē I am fighting fire with fire!
We leave the back door of the hotel and walk towards the Beach Road gate. Song asks if itís okay if we take a taxi instead of the bus. What the hell; Iím living like a rich manís son, and 60 baht wonít break the bank. Song waves down a baht bus (instead of giving them the finger), tells me to get in the back, and runs up to the driver to yabber instructions. The conversation is pretty animated on both sides. A moment or two later, Song runs around to the back, climbs in, and weíre off.
I feel like Iím on Mr. Toadís Wild Ride through Pattaya! We go down Beach Road for a few blocks, turn left and cross Second Road. We are definitely off the beaten path this time, but after many bumps and turns the bus pulls up in front of a little restaurant; another restaurant with not a farang in sight. The place is tiny and dark. Song leads me to one of the 4 or 5 tables and we have a seat. 3 girls come over to take our order, but thereís no menu; Song rattles off a bunch of commands and the girls run off. She turns to me and smiles, and then starts singing along with a small radio they have playing in the back somewhere.
A short while later, two of the girls come back with water for Song and a Diet Coke for me. Cool. Iím on the other side of the planet; I donít really know exactly where Iím at or where Iím going, but I can still get a Diet Coke. It doesnít take long for the food to start coming out; soup, noodles, rice, and a couple of plates of fried vegetables with little pieces of meat. Oh, and one plate of stuff Iím not supposed to touch.
The food is fantastic. I am blown away by how good the food can be, and by how inexpensive it is. I even have a small taste of the Ďpet mak makí stuff and (although itís hot) itís pretty good too. That would be good if Iím starting to get used to the hot stuff.
I stuff myself and go for seconds on the soup; I think itís boiled pork with cilantro.
When we canít possibly eat any more, Song asks me to put two hundred baht on the table as she gets up to leave. Iím a little surprised as I expected all that food to be more expensive. When the girls see we are getting ready to go, they run over and stand behind the table. I gave them each a little tip, and receive a wai in return. Not expressing approval or upset, Song watched me out of the corner of her eye as I passed out the tips.
Unfortunately, there are no taxis waiting for us when we hit the street so we start to walk. It is a nice evening, not too hot or too humid. I donít mind the walk at all; itís nice to see another part of Pattaya up close and personal. There are smells of people cooking, sounds of people playing and talking, and not a bar in sight! Nor a bus. But we keep walking.
Finally a baht bus sneaks up behind us and toots the horn. Usually I donít care for that on Beach Road, but any port in a storm. Jumping on, the bus makes its way to Second Road and starts the circuit. We press the buzzer and hop out at Pattayaland Soi 2 so we can pay bar. Song disappears to pay bar and fill out her timecard, while I order a Breezer and a Kloster. Hah stops by again to keep me company. The lottery girl sees me from the other side of the bar and makes a beeline for my table because she knows I always buy a ticket. We let Hah do the honors, and this time we are rewarded with a condom. Oh well, canít get the Grand Prize every day.
After a few rounds, Song says we go now. She is taking this ďtoday up to you, tomorrow up to meĒ to heart. Song wants to visit her friend that works at one of the beer bars on the north end of Second Road. You know, I think it would be fun to grab a couple beers and just keep riding the circuit in a baht bus. The weather is not too bad, and the sights and sounds are great; I get the biggest kick out of seeing all the girls in the short skirts and the tall shoes, and hearing the thump, thump, thump of every bar that we pass.
The buzzer is pressed just in time for the baht bus to stop in front of the beer bar complex. We wind our way through the bars and find Songís friends way in the back; just where we left them.
I order a Spy and a Kloster for us, and lady drinks for all the friends. I ask Song if her friends would prefer drinking Spy instead of lady drinks, but she vigorously shakes her head no. For some reason I donít believe it, but that was Songís answer. Out comes the Connect 4 and every girl in the bar proceeds to wax my behind.
Last year I visited Thailand with a good friend of mine who is a pretty good programmer. After a few days in Bangkok, we flew down to Phuket for some sea, sun, and fun. One afternoon we found ourselves in a beer bar, and one of the girls brought out Connect 4 for his first try at the game. It was a lot of fun to watch the girl teach him how to play. Then a funny thing happened after the fourth or fifth game; he won! The girl was absolutely shocked. It was like a farang had never beaten her before. Then he won again. And again! And Again!! Girls from other bars came to see this sight more rare than a white elephant; a farang beating a bargirl at Connect 4!!! Iím proud to say that I was there to see it, but I Ďm sorry to say the winning streak didnít last long. The girl figured out how to trump his strategy, and that was the end of his luck. I had to laugh at the looks on the bargirlsí faces as they brushed their hands of it and turned to walk away; everything was back as it should be, the bargirls were winning and the farangs were losing.
The girls took pity on me and brought out the building block game. That wasnít too bad, at least I could hold my own. A few rounds later and it was time for the dice game. I did pretty well at the dice game, and I couldnít figure out why the girls would choose the numbers to flip that they did. Did it have something to do with superstition, or did they know something I didnít. Beats me, but it was my game that night. And itís a fun game to play too. A few girls gathered around us and everyone would cheer when the good numbers would come up. Sometimes there would be a heated discussion about which number was the right one to flip Ė little bargirl arms would shoot into the playing area to flip over one number or another, and another little arm would shoot right in to flip everything back. It was great fun to be a part of it all.
During one of the games, a Thai man walked over with what looked like a broomstick over his shoulder and large baskets filled with plates of food hanging from either end. That got the girls quite excited; they picked out plates of mangoes, grapes, fried baby cuttle fish, mangosteen, durian, and what ever else tickled their fancy. After the choosing was over, they scampered off to find their purses. I asked Song how much it was and was surprised again it was all so cheap; I think only 10 or 20 baht per plate. I took out some baht and gave it to the salesman and became the hero of the bar. With lady drinks and plates of food all around, it was time for the party to begin!
I felt sorry for the other customers at the bar; they only had each other to keep company as all the bar girls were in the party zone.
Little children would run up to us selling cigarettes or gum. I donít smoke or chew gum, but I can wiggle my ears. The word spread through the beer bar complex like wild fire. Children wanting to see the Miracle of the Ears besieged me. Of course that didnít stop them from trying to sell, but they really wanted to see the dancing ears. One cute little girl and I got in a battle of peek-a-boo; I would wiggle my ears and she would hide behind her hands, only to slowly look out between spreading fingers. Another wiggle and she would be hiding again.
I wonder what all the mothers thought when they noticed the children didnít sell as much as usual. Were they entertained with the childrenís stories of the dancing ears? 1:30AM rolled around and it was time for us to hit the long lonely winding ribbon of highway. Actually, we just jumped on a passing baht bus.
As the baht bus darts through the traffic on Beach Road, I sat in the back and watched the moon trying to hide behind the palm trees that lined the shore. For a moment, just for an instant, a thought sneaks into my head of the real world. Luckily I have Song there to squeeze my hand and chase it away.
This page was last updated on 03 March, 2005
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