Strange Guy In Paradise
-- Part 10
Strange Guy In Paradise – Part 10
Back then long time ago when grass was green
Woke up in a daze
Arrived like strangers in the night
Caresses fleeced you in the morning light
Casualties at dawn
And we did it all….
We woke up a little later that we usually did,
prolly because we had some pretty important things to do this morning; I
had to pack my stuff, and Song had to go to her room to pack. We
made it just before they shut down the breakfast buffet, but there was
still enough time to eat our fill.
While brushing our teeth, Song said she wanted me to
go with her to her room. OK, the walk would be good. It
doesn’t take Song very long to grab some clothes and stuff them in a
backpack. Why does everyone pack better than me?
Walking back to the hotel, I see a flash of color
and hear some loud noises coming from the beach side of Beach Road.
There’s a break in the traffic so I run across Beach Road with Song just
a step or two behind.
I'll bet you can't guess what was running
through my head when I took this pic.
It looks like this is a stop on the Singha
International Rally. After a walk through the pit area, we head
towards the staging area. There are a lot of Asians fussing with the
cars, but I don’t notice many farangs. It’s interesting to
watch. A car pulls up to the starting line, and flags are draped
over the windshield. There is a band that sounds like what you might
hear at the Muay Thai boxing ring.
They play louder and louder and faster and faster
until a buzzer sounds and the flags are whipped off of the windshield.
All the while the driver is revving his engine, and pops the clutch one
the flags are out of his way. With a squeal of the tires he is off
and tearing down the driveway.
In a flash, he is at the end of the driveway and
turning on to Beach Road only to be stopped in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
What kind of race is this? I really had to laugh at the absurdity of
Back in the room I look at the time and see I
don’t have a lot of it. I need to pack in a hurry. Okay,
maybe I bought a few souvenirs, but all my stuff seems to have expanded
too. All my stuff except my suitcases.
On our way out of the hotel for the last time, I am
sure to say good-bye to John, Ringo, Paul, and George. I was
surprised to hear Song saying the names with me.
This is the mural we paid our respects to every time we passed.
It's hard to tell from this pic, but the mural is actually
about 10 feet tall and 60 feet wide.
Checking out of Hard Rock Hotel is painless.
The bill is already prepared, they ask me for my autograph, staple it all
together, and slide it across the counter to me. Bing, bang, boom.
Simple as pie, just the way I like it. As I’m filing away the
receipt in my carry-on bag, a bellman runs up and tells us that our car is
there. Perfect timing!
We walk out and stop at the entrance courtyard, but
I don’t see the mini-bus. The bellman walks over to a car parked
in front of the Hard Rock Convention Center and puts my bags in the trunk.
“What’s this?” I ask, but no one speaks English well enough to tell
me what the story is. My guess is that other passengers filled up
the mini-bus, so they sent a car for me. The driver motioned me to
sit in the front seat, but Song and I crammed ourselves into the tiny back
seat. Anyway, it’s only a short drive to the Pattaya terminal
where we’ll get on the group bus.
We’re going in basically the right direction, but
on streets I don’t recognize. I ask if we’re going to the bus
station, and Song and the driver both say, “Yes.” Well, we’re
not going to the bus station in Pattaya because we’re on the highway to
Bangkok now; that much I recognize. Oh well, maybe nobody but me
leaves Pattaya on a Friday. Now that I figure I’ll be in the car a
while, it’s time to get comfortable. I grab the bags in the back
and toss them on the seat next to the driver.
It’s a pretty comfortable drive, much more
comfortable than the bus. Song and the driver chat a little in Thai,
but are mostly quiet for the trip. The diver asks which hotel I’m
staying at in Bangkok, and I tell him the Nana. I think he told Song
that the Christy Hotel is a better hotel and that he could get us a good
price. Now he has an ally in Song and they both try to convince me
to stay at the Christy. I’ve never heard of it before and I’m
not really interested in trying something new. The rooms at the Nana
are adequate, the staff is good to me, and I like the breakfast.
Just to shut them up, I tell them I have a friend staying at the Nana.
The little white lie does the trick, and they don’t bring it up for the
rest of the ride.
My expectation was that the driver was taking us to
the bus terminal in Bangkok, and a mini-bus would take us to the Nana.
But the driver flew right past the terminal. I guess he’s taking
us all the way in. As we get start to enter the city, the driver
speeds up weaving in and out of traffic. Is this Buster
Bloodvessel’s son? The highway is pretty uneven, and Song and I
are bounced to the roof of the taxi 3 or 4 times. As I search for my
seat belts, I tell the driver to slow down. He says the traffic is
bad in Bangkok so he must hurry. How does that make sense?
This is Thailand indeed.
But we do make it to the Nana in one piece, and head
to the Registration Desk as a bellman unloads the car. I’m filling
out the registration card, and one of the staff hands me my room key along
with a message from Ricoman1. We had been emailing for months and
promised to meet in Pattaya or Bangkok. I had been having so much
fun I almost forgot about Ricoman1. I write a message back telling
Ricoman1 my room number. Song and I are walking to the elevator when
another bellman runs over with our complimentary fruit basket. He
gives it to me using both hands and a little bow, and I turn to Song and
hand it to her the same way. I think she is surprised to get a
little gift just for checking in.
I think this is about the fifth time I’ve stayed
at the Nana, and the third time I’ve stayed in room 555.
View from the infamous room 555
It’s not refurbished yet, but I still like room
555. Even though it’s charged at the Superior room rate, it’s
actually a suite. There are two leather couches, a coffee table, TV,
and writing desk in the living room; a refrigerator, and table with two
chairs in a nook; and a large bed with mirrors all around and a TV in the
bedroom. When Song sees the bedroom with all the mirrors, she calls
it the Sexy Lady room.
Turning on CNN there is a Breaking News alert:
According to CNN, George Harrison passed away just a few hours ago.
If that is true; he was breathing his last as Song and I were saying
good-bye to the Abbey Road mural at the Hard Rock Hotel. Weird.
Sitting on the bed I watch the reports, and Song
sits next to me as a montage of George’s life starts. I tell Song
that George has died. She looks at me like she doesn’t understand,
so I say, “George is with Buddha.” That she understands.
The montage ends with the closing strains “The
love you take is equal to the love you make” and a pull away shot of the
Abbey Road album cover. When Song sees the album cover, she points
at the TV and says, “George.” Very weird indeed. I pat
Song on the leg and say, “Tomorrow we go to the temple.”
Last night when we got back to the hotel, I looked
at the pictures taken that day and found one really nice shot of Song
sitting at the Hard Rock Hotel. I thought that would make a nice
present for her and decided to find a shop to print it out when I got to
Across the street from the Nana Hotel is a Kodak
store. They have some nice frames, but they can’t print a picture
from my camera’s memory card. I recall reading something on the
forum about a shop at Siam Center or MBK that can print from memory cards,
so we’re off. We walk down to the Nana Skytrain station and I buy
Song a multi-use card. She’ll only be in Bangkok a few days, but I
like using the Skytrain and I hate messing with coins. As we step
into one of the trains, I notice Song’s eyes are a big as saucers.
No luck at Siam Center, so we cross the street to
MBK. MBK is huge!! This is going to be like finding a needle
in a haystack! I quickly conceded defeat and started asking people
for help finding camera shops. People were quite nice and pointed me
in the right direction. But the camera shops couldn’t help me and
they didn’t know if there was a shop at MBK that could. It was
time to cut my losses. We left by a side entrance, jumped in a taxi,
and headed off to Pantip. The traffic was pretty bad; in fact, the
worst I have ever seen in Bangkok. The only saving grace was that we
were sitting in air conditioning.
In Pantip, I went to the HP printer shop who
suggested I go to the Kodak shop who suggested I go to Louis’ on the
fourth floor. Louis’ is the place to go. They will transfer
pictures from your camera’s memory to CD, or print them out for you.
I printed out the 8x10 for 200 baht. I was pretty happy with the
Back at Nana, I went to the Kodak shop to buy a
frame for the picture. That’s when I found out that the picture
was a little bigger than the 8x10 frame. But no problem, the girl
behind the counter expertly cropped the photo, cleaned it of fingerprints,
cleaned the frame, mounted the picture in the frame, and all for only 200
baht. I was a little embarrassed she did such a good job for so
little money. As we were preparing to leave, I gave the girl a
little tip and was rewarded with a wai.
When we got back to the room, Song took the framed
picture out of the bag and set it on the coffee table in the living room.
I think she was very proud of the picture.
We relaxed in the room until I started getting the
growlies. I called Ricoman1’s room, but there was still no answer.
Old Siam is a restaurant I stumbled past one drunken evening while trying
to find my way back to the hotel from Soi Cowboy. I liked the way it
looked so it was on my list of places to try. Tonight’s the night.
Walking down to Sukhumvit from the Nana Hotel, we
see the traffic is horrible. No problem; it’s only a short walk to
the Nana Skytrain station, and before we know it we’re leaving the Asoke
station. That Skytrain sure is nice. And the multi-use tickets
just make it better.
A short walk down Soi 23 and we’re there.
The menus at the Old Siam are in English and Thai. Song studies the
menu and orders for us. Old Siam is a very comfortable restaurant.
Patrons have the choice of eating at a Thai table with pillows to sit on,
or a Western style table with chairs. There is music playing in the
background, but it strikes me more of Indonesian Gamelan than Thai music
I’ve heard. Still, it’s okay.
The only other people in the restaurant were an
Australian couple that spent more time talking on their cell phones than
to each other. Sad.
Song has done another fine job choosing our dinner,
and it’s yet another night I’m too stuffed to try the mango with
We’re lucky enough to step right from the front
door of the hotel and into a taxi. “Nana Hotel, Sukhumvit Soi See
Krap.” The driver nods, but turns the wrong way down Sukhumvit.
No problem, that right turn looked like a bitch. But……..
He’s not turning around. He’s had opportunities to turn into a
driveway or make a u-turn, but he’s not taking them. I remind him
Sukhumvit Soi See, but he just nods. I notice Skytrain stations fly
by and wonder how far the Skytrain goes. I hate this crap. My
patience wears out at the same time we stop for a red light; coincidently,
just a few steps away from a Skytrain station. Luckily for me, the
meter is on a nice round number so I don’t have to worry about giving a
tip or trying to get all of my change back. He’s lucky he got the
One speedy Skytrain ride later, and we going down
the steps of the Nana station. As I pass the World Coffee Shop, I
remember the massage shop upstairs and ask Song if she would like a
massage. “Up to you.” Of course it’s up to me.
[Smacking my forehead.] Why hadn’t I thought of that before!
In we go to the front desk, and I order two
massages. We’re taken upstairs and given little cotton pajama like
things to wear. Okay, I can get into the pants, but there’s no way
the top is going to fit over my shoulders. The massage girl says
“no problem” and leads me to the table. This massage shop is one
of those places where the tables are separated by curtains. As it
turns out, Song is on the table next to mine. It’s only a short
while later that the curtain between the two tables slides open and
we’re having a massage party. The girls are having great fun
yakking it up, and I’m just drifting away listening to the music of
The girls start to play a little game; my masseuse
gropes me, and the other two watch to see what my reaction will be.
I don’t know what they were expecting, but I knew what would happen and
I wasn’t going to complain.
Everyone was all smiles and laughter as we left, but
as soon as we hit the sidewalk Song started complaining about the massage.
“Massage no good; she hurt me, we no go back.” Yeah well, some
times are good, some times are bad. It’s all a part of life.
Rounding the corner to Soi See, I decide I’m not
ready to go back to the room yet. One of the items on my list of
things to do was try the bugs. As we passed the bug cart I asked
Song if she wanted some, but she just wrinkled up her nose. What’s
up with that? I thought they liked bugs! Hell, I really wanted
a beer anyway. We take a seat in the Big Dog bar and order some
A few drinks later and the world is spinning in