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 Strange Guy 
 In Paradise 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4 

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

 

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 it all.

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 Bangkok.

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 deal.

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 sticky rice.

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 meter.

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 their voices.

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 drinks.

A few drinks later and the world is spinning in greased grooves.

---------------------------------------------------

Ommmmmm

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