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 They Started
As Strangers 

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

Epilogue

 

They Started As Strangers
-- Part 4

They Started As Strangers -- Part 4

Somewhere beyond the sea
Somewhere waiting for me
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailing

Somewhere beyond the sea
She's there watching for me
If I could fly like birds on high
Then straight to her arms I'd go sailing

It's far beyond a star
It's near beyond the moon
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon

We'll meet beyond the shore
We'll kiss just as before
Happy we'll be beyond the sea
And never again I'll go sailing

It's going to be a busy morning…  We have to eat breakfast, pack our stuff, check-out of the Nana Hotel, and get to the airport for our flight to Phuket.

After the late night last night, Rama and Reeb were concerned that they wouldn't be able to wake up so I agreed to call them and make sure they were conscious.  It was good to hear they were already up and getting ready, so it was one less thing to worry about.

We were able to snag the big table in the back again, and all settled in for a big breakfast.  While Antman was at the buffet filling his plate, Wifey took what appeared to be a blister pack of azithromycin out of her purse and popped one in her mouth.  When Antman joined us, she gave one to him and he washed it down with water.  Antman refused comment on the subject, so we can only speculate.  But it looks like Wifey may have given Antman a little more than just a welcoming hug upon arrival…

Some people will never learn…

Because there were seven of us, we had to take two limos to the airport.  Just to make things interesting we challenged the other car to a race.  Our car tore out of the Nana Hotel parking lot only to come to a dead stop in Soi Sii.  The other car was right on our bumper.

Stuck in traffic the way we were, the land speed records were safe that day.  But that didn't stop us from hurling insults at the other car, and urging our driver to go faster.  Reeb tried to bribe the driver to beat the other car, but it was beyond our driver's grasp of English.

Our car was first to make it to the expressway entrance, and we took off like a flash.  But our lead was short-lived because Antman's car soon passed us.  He had the benefit of Wifey as a translator, and our driver just didn't understand we were racing.  That is until we were passed; there was such an uproar from the backseat with shouts of "leow leow" the driver finally put two and two together, and put the pedal to the metal.

It took us a while to catch up to Antman's car, but we did just before the exit for the Domestic Terminal and triumphantly pulled up to the terminal.  We rewarded our driver for being the champion, grabbed our bags, and made our way inside.

We were looking for Thai Air's Orchid Class check-in.  We had been there a couple times before, but something just wasn't right this time.  Stumbling over an airport map, we discovered we were at the wrong terminal.  We all had a laugh over that, and made our way to the correct terminal.  It wasn't really that far away, and we found a few counters where we could change some money as a few of us were in danger of bottoming out.

Some of the guys were flying Coach, so we split up with a promise to meet up again at boarding time.

Orchid Class check-in was a breeze.  IMO it's worth a few extra baht just to be saved from the Coach cattle queues.  Orchid Class also has their own lounge where one can wait for boarding to begin, and on top of that Orchid Class passengers also enjoy their own special security line.

When we were all checked-in, we took turns watching each other's bags while those that had to changed money did.

I was in the process of changing money with Reeb standing patiently behind me, when a Japanese woman tried to squeeze in front of me while waving a fistful of dollars in front of the teller's face.  We had all waited politely until this point, and now was no time to change things.  Moving her aside and pointing to the back of the line worked wonders.  Reeb thanked and congratulated me for standing up for all the people waiting in line, but I was just doing my small part to spread civilization around the planet.

As First Class lounges go, the Orchid Class lounge in Don Muang's Domestic Terminal isn't the best in the world, but it's better than waiting at the gate.  There was no free booze that I could find, but they did offer juice and soft drinks, and a selection of small samiches, fresh fruit, and desserts.

When the boarding light for our flight started flashing, we grabbed our carry-ons and made our way through Orchid Class security and to the gate.  The hadn't actually started boarding our flight yet which meant Bubbles, Doozy, and Rama should have been at the gate but they weren't.  As time passed, we started to get a little more worried about them.  Antman thought someone should go looking for them but as usual, wouldn't volunteer.  Reeb and I ribbed him a little to go searching for the boys, but Antman refused to budge and just held Wifey tighter and tighter.

As they were opening the gate to board, Bubbles, Doozy, and Rama wandered up.  It seems they found a Burger King and couldn't pass it up.  Well, they're growing boys and need their nourishment.

It was a short flight and uneventful flight to Phuket.  Reeb spent the flight looking out the window, I tried to catch up on my trip report notes, and Antman and Wifey sat the entire trip nose-to-nose staring into each others eyes with idiotic grins on their faces.  I don't know how those two do it; I couldn't do something like that for that long even if my life depended on it.  Thank God, it doesn't…


Final approach to Phuket International Airport
Photo courtesy of Doozy


Photo courtesy of Doozy

Rama checked his luggage, and the guys waited with him as Reeb and I went to figure the best way to get to the hotel.  Our choices were either hire two limos, or one minibus.  The prices were pretty much the same so it really came down to whether or not we could stand to be in the same car with Antman and Wifey for the 30 or so minute drive to our hotel.  A big last-minute discount tipped the scales in favor of the minibus, and we figured if Antman and Wifey sat in the last row of the bus they wouldn't bother anyone.

As we were going through the paper work to hire the minibus, a middle-aged couple came up to the counter and started going through the same routine.  Since their hotel was only a block away from ours and there were a couple seats available in our minibus, I invited them to join us for the ride to Patong Beach.

The husband seemed relieved to not be at the mercy of the touts any more, but the wife was a little skeptical about it all.  She didn't know who we were; we could be mother stabbers, or father rapers!

As a couple, they were still undecided.  Sensing that, I pointed to where the bus would be leaving, said there was a seat for them, and left it at that.  I was happy to help, but I wasn't going to lose any sleep if they didn't join us.  Reeb is the nice guy of the group, and set about to address the wife's fears.  After a short chat, they agreed to come along.

Reeb would make a really good mother stabber, or father raper if he weren't such a nice guy.

The husband tried to give us money for the ride, but we told him to pay it forward.  The wife got a quizzical look on her face and asked what that meant.  We told her if someone does her a favor, instead of paying that person back she should pay it forward to someone else that could use a favor.  And if everyone did the same, the world would be a better place.

The 'Pay It Forward' theme would occur many times this trip.  Maybe it'll be some time before we see a change in the world, but we're doing our part.  If the idea interests you, have a look at http://www.payitforward.com

The minibus company tried to hurry us out to the bus, but I told them we had to wait for our friends.  I knew it would be a few degrees warmer outside, and wanted to stay in the airport instead of baking in the minibus.

The rest of the group finally joined us, and we went out to load up the minibus.  Luckily Antman and Wifey went straight to the backseat; we all breathed a big sigh of relief at that one.

As soon as the minibus hit the streets, Bubbles started saying that he was going to rent a scooter and go exploring on the island.  We gave Bubbles some good natured ribbing about the life expectancy statistics of scooter riders on Phuket, and the wife started looking a little scared again.  But Reeb did a good job of comforting her.  Just knowing us a few minutes, the couple wasn't really prepared for the madcap banter that took place on the way to Patong Beach, but after a while I think they began to enjoy it.


Photo courtesy of Rama


Photo courtesy of Rama

The wife actually got up the courage to ask about things to do on the island, and we told them of the trips we've taken in the past.  When she asked about what to do at night, I wasn't sure how much to tell her.  She really didn't look like the wild and crazy kind of girl, but you never know.  Looking for reactions from the husband didn't help much.  Since their hotel is just off Bangla Road, I'm sure they're going to find out about it sooner or later.


Photo courtesy of Rama

The traffic to Patong Beach was pretty light until we got to Buddha Hill.  My experience is that traffic is always bad there anyway because so many vehicles must slow to a crawl just to make it up the hill.  This day they were working on widening the road, and that made the traffic really bad.  But it should make getting to Patong Beach a little better in the future.


Photo courtesy of Doozy


Photo courtesy of Doozy


Photo courtesy of Doozy

I enjoyed the slower than usual ride entering town as it gave me a chance to see a lot of shops that I might not normally see.


Photo courtesy of Doozy

When the minibus stopped at the Thara Patong Beach Resort Hotel, we spilled out and started sorting the bags.  Because Reeb was being such a nice guy helping the strangers and all, I hid his bag under mine and started asking the others if they'd seen it.

"Well, when did you see it last?"

"I think I saw it at the airport."

"You think you saw it at the airport?  You don't sound very sure."

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure."

"Well, that's a long way back…"

About then, Reeb noticed the commotion and came over to see what was going on.

Feeling satisfied that the wheels were in motion, I grabbed both bags and left the confusion to go and check-in as Reeb frantically searched the empty minibus for his suitcase.

Oh, sure…  Some may say that was a dirty trick, but I did it in self-defense I say.  I've known Reeb long enough to know that if he's not playing a trick on me, he's planning one.

Check-in for some of us was painless, but for others it was a bit more confused.  It's hard to say what the problem was.  Maybe there were too many of us and the rooms weren't cleaned yet.  It's hard to say.  The Thara Patong has a nice travel desk, and I took the opportunity to pay it a visit.


Thara Patong Hotel grounds
Photo courtesy of Reeb

Slowly but surely the rest of the guys joined me at the travel desk, and we started discussing what we should do for the next couple days.  MikeM wanted to visit Phi Phi Islands, so we decided to wait until he joined us to go there.  And we would visit James Bond Island tomorrow.  The girl behind the counter wasn't happy about everyone (about 8 of us) wanting to pay for their own tickets individually, so one of us collected the cash and paid for all the tickets with their credit card.


Photo courtesy of Reeb

With the excursions ticketed, we split up with a promise to meet in the lobby for dinner.


Photo courtesy of Reeb

After dropping off the bags, Antman, Bubbles, and Wifey went to the go-kart track, Doozy and Rama went swimming in the Andaman Sea, and Reeb and I walked down Beach Road looking for a snack.

Bubbles had a lot of fun at the track.  He was able to pay a little extra and get a go-kart with a few extra horsepower.  Antman found a go-kart built for two, and he and Wifey hit the track.  That was prolly a lot of fun for her…

The lack of safety features thrilled Bubbles at the track until he was getting out of his go-kart and suffered a pretty nasty burn on his arm.

Reeb and I found an Irish Pub and had some decent food to eat.  It wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst I've ever had.  Still, it wasn't memorable enough to remember the name of the place.

After our snack, Reeb and I returned to our rooms for a 1-hour nap before we had to start getting ready for the night out.

A few days back, Bubbles and Reeb got haircuts at August Styling Salon and they weren't 100 percent satisfied.  Reeb got a haircut in LOS before so he was ready for anything, but Bubbles just told the girl to make him a handsome man and in my opinion she did her best.  I really don't know what Bubbles was complaining about; I think his haircut was a big improvement.  Reeb's on the other hand, was a little short.  A cowlick on the back of his head now made him look a little like Alfalfa from Spanky and Our Gang.

I'm not sure if it was out of sympathy or too little sleep and too much booze, but as I was getting ready for dinner that night I accidentally shaved off half my beard before I could stop myself.  I really do need a keeper…

We met in the lobby as promised and no one said a word about my newly styled beard, which I took as a very bad sign.

Reeb and I were really beat, so we ordered a couple iced coffees while we waited for the rest of the guys to join up.  The poor bartender acted like he never heard of iced coffee before, so we showed him how to make it.  He got the hang of it after the first one, and made them for us every time we waited in the lobby for the rest of our stay at the Thara Patong.

The rest of the guys showed up, and we walked down Beach Road looking for a place to eat.

A short walk from our hotel, I found a small stall selling paintings.  I liked one of the paintings and wanted to buy it, but I really didn't like the idea of carrying it with me as I hit the bars and I didn't want to ask everyone to wait as I took it back to the room.  The girl that worked in the stall was a deaf-mute, so we had to haggle using the calculator.  Some how we were able to work out that I would be back to buy the painting, but she wanted a deposit to hold it for me.  Fair enough…  I'm sure if she had a baht for ever person that told her that they would be back…  Anyway, the deposit was small, and I really wanted the painting.

Wifey wanted seafood, Antman wanted rock lobster, and Bubbles was a vegetarian; other than that, we didn't care where we ate.  Before long we found a nice looking place, and the waitresses ran to prepare a big table for us.

As often happens with large orders, either a couple orders got screwed up or we couldn't identify what we were being served.  We tried to sort it out with the waitresses, but they weren't much help.  But the food was good and there was a lot of it, so we all left feeling stuffed.


Photo courtesy of Rama

After dinner we hit Bangla Road to introduce the newbies to some beer bars.  Bubbles, Doozy, and Rama were the youngest of the group, and the ladies just wouldn't leave them alone.  Rama was really into the swing of things, and Doozy was warming up to the nightlife, but Bubbles was still a BG virgin.


Photo courtesy of Rama

We settled into U2 Bar on Soi Gonzo, and started playing that game to see who can drive a nail all the way into a giant piece of wood in the fewest number of strikes.  There were only two girls working there and they did their best to keep us entertained, but they really had eyes for Bubbles.  They were pretty cute, and they were sisters…  The mind boggles…


Photo courtesy of Rama

There was a Finnish guy sitting at the bar who had brought his own CDs to play.  He thought it was great fun to hear the worst music ever recorded blaring from the bar's PA system.  I finally couldn't take it anymore, and told the mamasan if they didn't stop playing that music we would all leave.


Deciding on shotz
Photo courtesy of Rama

Of course the Finnish guy was pissed, but not half as pissed as I was having to listen to all that crap.  He wanted to argue that he should be able to hear whatever he wanted, and I said it was up to the mamasan; after all, it was her bar.


Photo courtesy of Rama

Thankfully she handed the CDs back to the guy, and she came over to thank me for complaining.  According to her, she really didn't like the music either but he was a customer and she didn't want to upset him.  Well, she might have had a few more customers if they weren't playing that crap in the first place.  Anyway, I bought the mamasan a drink and she bought me one.  All was okay now, and the bar was spinning in greased grooves.


Photo courtesy of Rama

But as bars do, after a while it began to get a bit routine for us.  There are a lot of bars on Bangla Road, and we owed it to ourselves to sample a few more.  As I checked bin I talked to Bubbles about the sisters.  He liked them, but was afraid to barfine them because they might be infected.  Poor guy. I don't know what it's going to take to shake him of that fear.

The gang moved on as I passed out tips to the staff.  When I came to the sisters, I asked if they liked Bubbles.  Of course they said they liked Bubbles too much.  So I BFed them both and said Bubbles was shy too much.  Sometimes Nature needs a little kick in the pants before it can take its course…

We made our way down the soi and stopped at another bar.  One of the girls was having a birthday party and had a few baht pinned around her neck, so I took a purple and gave it to her.  Before pinning it to her necklace she pat it all over her body to bring her good luck and more purples.

This bar had a table full of food, and the mamasan dragged me over to eat.  She said she made all the food herself.  Even though I was stuffed, I didn't want to insult her so I didn't have to be invited twice to try a few things.  The friend chicken was pretty good, and the sweet and spicy dipping sauce was delicious.  In addition to the fried chicken, they had spring rolls, meat from an unknown animal, and a few different dishes of cooked vegetables.

The bar had a couple girls that were more my style, but I was enjoying myself with the mamasan.  Bubbles was off in a corner playing Connect 4 with the sisters, and the rest of the guys were taking turns playing Connect 4, the dice game, the game with the blocks, and the nail game.  It was a good time.

Sometime around then, Antman and Wifey disappeared.  Something good must have been on TV.

The walls started to close in on us again, so it was time to move on.  I was tempted to BF the two nastiest girls in the bar but thought I might have a chance with the mamasan in a day or two if I played my cards right.

More bars and more games.  Bar after bar, and game after game.  Then the guys saw the disco.  I can't remember if it was Dragon Disco or Crocodile Disco, but it didn't matter to me as Thai discos don't impress me much.

The gang all went to the disco, and I was left to wander Bangla on my own.  No problem; I will survive...  As I walked down Bangla Road, I wondered if I should stop into Rock Hard Ago-go. I  had a lot of fun in that place and had a couple friends that worked there, but that's also the bar where Sip used to work.  If I stopped in, word might get back to Sip on the BG grapevine.  Or worse yet, she might be working there again.

I didn't know if Sip was back in Phuket or up in Korat where she said she wanted to be, and I really didn't want to find out.  Maybe I tempted fate just a bit by walking past the Rock Hard, but I didn't stop and nothing happened.

Rounding the block, I walked for a while but nothing stuck my fancy so I turned around and set course for Bangla Road again.  When I got to the Tiger Bar Complex, I turned in and looked for a girl I met last trip.  The odds were low, but I enjoyed talking with her last trip and felt it was worth a shot.

Of course she wasn't there, so I found a bar that wasn't too crowded about halfway down the complex, and made myself comfortable on a stool.  I sipped my beer and scanned the other bars; some had more punters than stools, some bars were empty, and it was impossible to figure out why.  They all played the same music supplied by the Tiger Complex DJ, and all had a reasonable mix of girls.

An attractive girl waved at me from the other side of the bar, so I waved her over and bought her a drink.  Yin was a little older and wiser, and had a wonderful nasty aura about her that I enjoy; my kind of girl indeed.

As I sipped my Singha and Yin drank her Spy, she wasn't shy to show me how much she wanted to close the deal.  Throwing caution to the wind, I told Yin I would BF her and she ran off to get her stuff.  Yin wanted to go the moment she got back, but I didn't; I wanted to sit there enjoying another beer or three, and watching the world go by.

Yin downed a few more Spys, and started acting a little weird.  Perhaps she was just a little drunk and off her good behavior, but I started wondering if I had secured the valuables in my room well enough before I left.  Maybe I was just paranoid; still, I was starting to question if it was such a good idea to bring Yin back to my room.

I asked her if she knew of any hotels in the area, and Yin said I could stay with her since I did not have a room.  Yin grabbed my hand and tried to pull me off the stool to her apartment, and I pulled her back saying we had to check bin.  Yin giggled at the thought of leaving before paying, and waited patiently as the bin was settled.  The mamasan made change and smiled goodbye to Yin as we turned to leave.

Yin took me by the hand and led me to the back of the beerbar complex.  Along the way, she would stop to say hello to a friend here or there, including a topless ladyboy with surprisingly large and natural looking jutters.

When we reached the end of the complex, we turned and walked into a small soi with a few street stalls selling food.  It was only a few yards off Bangla Road, but it seemed to be a place few farangs ventured.  Most of the people eating at the stalls ignored us, but a few turned to watch us make our way down the soi.  I always waved, which usually got them interested in their noodles again.  Then we made our way through a parking lot of scooters.  It was quite a maze, but Yin expertly picked her way through the sea of scooters.  Another darkened soi, bending down to pass through a hole is a cyclone fence, and we were in the courtyard (for lack of a better word) of her apartment building.

It was a no-frills building made of poured concrete that looked like it never had a coat of paint.  The building was three or four stories high, and the external iron spiral-staircase looked like it had been tacked on to the building as an afterthought when the residents of the upper floors realized they couldn't get in to their apartments.

Yin lived on the top floor, and I was a little concerned that the rickety staircase wouldn't hold our weight as we made our way up but it did.  It seemed to my drunken senses that it swayed a little, but it held.

She waited for me at the top, and then took my hand as she led me down the hallway to her apartment.  The apartments we passed had their doors open, and I could see Thais sitting in chairs and on the floor, drinking whiskey, and listening to loud Thai music.  A few were curious why this farang was there, but not enough to say anything.

Yin unlocked the door to her apartment and led me inside.  Her apartment was small; my guess is that it was much less than 4 by 4 meters.  Above is a simple drawing of Yin's apartment.  Going counter-clockwise from the bed, Yin had a small table with a fishbowl on it, a dresser, the entrance, a clothes rack, and the bathroom.

She said she paid 4,000 THB rent, and I wondered how much more it would cost to put an air conditioner in.

The fishbowl was homemade out of a 2-gallon water bottle.  It looks like she laid it on its side, cut the top out, and then filled it with water and some colorful rocks.  She didn't have a lot, but it seemed nice that she had a couple pets to care for.

Yin motioned for me to sit on the bed, took off her top, and then knelt to remove my shoes.  She asked me if I wanted a shower, and pulled me up from the bed to disrobe.  As I was taking off my shirt, I found out just how low the ceiling fan was; I'm 6'1, and the blades of the fan flew by just over my head.

The bathroom was pretty small.  There was a sink, a toilet with no seat, and a hose leaking into a big bucket.  Yin took a pot filled with water out of the bucket and poured it over me as we stood in the small bathroom.  Phuket was hot, but the water in the bucket was not.  Even though the cold water sent a shock through my system, that coupled with the slowly revolving fan made the small stuffy apartment bearable.

Then it was off to the bed.

The apartment was small, the bathroom was small, and it was no surprise that the bed was also small.  It was hard to lay on it without my head hitting the wall, and my feet hitting the wall to the bathroom at the same time.

Somehow, I managed to enjoy myself…

After the dust had settled, Yin decided I should have a massage and began to give me one.  It wasn't the best massage I ever got, but Yin gets a gold star for effort.

I felt pretty good.  Pretty good, indeed.  Right up to the moment that someone started pounding on the door.  It turns out that Yin has a chubby little roommate, and she was now home from whatever chubby little roommates do for the evening.  Yin hopped up to open the door and as soon as she was in the room, her roommate went right for my wedding tackle and didn't want to take no for an answer.

I told her I had no power but it didn't make a difference to her; she was going to use every trick in the book to get me fired up.  But I really was spent, and finally got her off me.

The roommate went into the hong nam to do whatever chubby little roommates do in there, so I saw that as my chance to escape.  I threw some baht on the pillow, and asked Yin for her phone number.  What the hell…  It might be nice to have a return engagement with a little more room to play…

Before Yin's roommate was out of the hong nam using her lips to put another death grip on my johnson, I was out of there.  Yin hurriedly dressed behind me, but I was gone by the time she finished.

Shutting the door to Yin's apartment behind me, I made my way down the dark hallway.  The other apartment doors were still open, and the occupants all looked like they were stupefied in the same position; they had nothing to do, nowhere to go, and were in no hurry to get there.

I carefully made my way down the spiral staircase, holding on to the railings as tightly as I could.  As I walked through the courtyard, I could hear Yin running down the stairs.  She caught up to me as I passed through the hole in the cyclone fence.  Yin wanted to go back in the direction of her bar, but I was headed to the light and blaring music of the distant beerbars.

Things began to liven up as I neared; girls noticed a customer in their vicinity and began their calls and invitations.  "Welcome, please.  Hello handsome man."  I had enough to drink for an evening, and I wasn't interested in any more companionship for the evening so it was easy to pass all the girls with a spring in my step.

I made it to Beach Road and turned right toward my hotel.  A girl at the last beerbar figured she could drag me in, and ran out to do so.

"Come to my bar, please."

"I don't want to."

"Why not?  Hab beer!"

"I'm finished for tonight.  No more power."

"No pomplem for me.  I gib you more power."

I stopped for a moment and wondered if this lovely girl really could give me more power.  What the hell…  The BF was only a couple hundred baht, and she looked like she could be fun…

"You give massage?"

"Yeah, sure.  I give massage good!"

"Okay, pay bar."

I gave her a purple, and she hugged me before running off to pay bar and get her stuff.  Yang ran back and gave me the change asking, "Where you hotel?"

"The Thara Patong; right next door."

Before we started the trip, there was another rumor going around that the Thara Patong was charging joiner fees.  There was a guard sitting in a chair by the Beach Road entrance when we got there, and as he sprung to his feet to give me a salute, I handed him 100 THB ensuring many future salutes complete with heel-clicks.  And never a hint of a joiner fee.

Yang was a lovely girl; just the way I like them, a little older and wiser.  And she wasn't kidding about her ability to give me more power.

All things considered, not a bad way to end the day.

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Ommmmmm

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This page was last updated on 04 March, 2005
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