Wednesday, August 31, 2005

An Aside

Taking a time out from recounting my trip. Been glued to the TV watching CNN coverage of Katrina aftermath. I am NOT one of those people who generally gets a kick out of disaster coverage, but this one is crazy.

New Orleans is a city I've been to a few times, as my sister went to school there, and I have a friend who grew up there and still lives (lived?) there - she and her family got out safely and are comfortable and dry in Florida, which is a great relief, especially considering she has a 2 year old and is currently 8+ months pregnant with twins. I watch and recognize streets and buildings on tv, and it's just nuts.

The photos and video, from NO and MS, are unreal. And the looting and assorted other stupidity - well, I wish I could honestly say I'm shocked by it. But I'm not.

Here's hoping the state, local and fed officials get their heads out of their asses relatively soon, and do everything possible to get things back on track ASAP. Though I'm sure you could all have figured this out on your own, you should, if so inclined, donate money to the Red Cross.

That's it for now.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Etc. Etc.

So, I've delayed posting about the rest of the trip. Partly due to a bank account- liver- and soul-crushing trip to Vegas, and partly because the Monkey exploits are over; the rest of the trip will likely prove boring by comparison. That's the end of the hooker stories. Or, at least of the stories where one of them actually ends up in my hotel room. Nevertheless, I made a promise to complete the saga of my trip. So, onward.

July 11, 2005

Having gotten back from Bangkok lateish, and still recovering from all that I had seen and heard while there, I slept in on Monday morning, while Monkey (eventually) went to work. I knew that the day of reckoning had come as far as going back to confront the ripoff artist who had conned me into buying the 2 suits. OK, so nobody conned me into anything, and it was my own sheer stupidity that got me screwed, but it kinda makes me feel better to turn it into a conspiracy. I was dreading going back, as I could still envision Master Dino and Bobby the motorbike-riding Korean tailor laughing at the Stupid American Infidel (me) over a pot of some sort of fancy tea. So, after watching the A-Team (maybe I COULD live abroad), I headed back for Chinatown. Furthering the procrastination, I grabbed lunch at what looked to be a decent "locals" Chinese place. It was pretty good, but already having a bad taste in my mouth from the ass-fucking I knew I was in for from the suit guy (metaphorical only, I hoped), the black pepper chicken probably wasn't the best choice.

Paid the check, and headed back to the shop. Once they realized I wasn't a moron coming in off the street to whom they could sell a bunch of burlap sacks for $2000, but rather a moron who had already paid $2000 for said sacks, I got the royal treatment. My finery was presented to me as though on a silver platter. Master Dino had me try on both suits and one shirt. And then he had me pose for pictures to be placed on his wall of fame. I explained that I was nobody of note, and saying "LiAps bought suits here" wouldn't get him much in the way of admiration. He mumbled something about my "body type" being spectacular. I fully expect to see my face on some Egyptian porn sites any day now.

I'm no expert on fabric, but I got a little nervous feeling the suits and the shirts. Everything actually fit pretty well, but I was still convinced it was made like shit and would fall apart after one dry cleaning - there were lots of loose threads hanging off the shirts (which Master Dino said would "come out in the wash"), etc. Now, part of the deal was that I would be able to choose 3 ties from Dino's extensive selection of cellophane wrapped neckwear. You know the kind of rack that's featured at every shitty corner souvenir store in NY - "Silk Ties $3; 4 for $10!" I made a showing of trying to match up ties with the shirts I had made. And Dino made a show of trying to help, expert that he was. And then, in flipping through the ties on the rack, I came across the item that truly summed up this whole suit-making fiasco. The tie featuring the Computer City logo print. Any shred of respectability and legitimacy that Master Dino had left to cling to in my eyes was gone. To the point where I actually said to him, "You know, if you want to be taken seriously, you should probably take this one off your rack." He smiled and nodded and pretended not to understand, or just ignored the comment very well. In the end, he threw in an extra tie, so really it all worked out.

Suits in hand, I grabbed a cab back to Monkey's place. I was still tired, and honestly felt like there wasn't that much left to see in Singapore. So I chilled out in the AC, and caught up on email and blogging (caught up being a relative term, I guess, since I'm first writing about that day a month and a half later). Met Monkey for dinner. We went to one of Singapore's (in)famous [that's like MORE than famous] outdoor food courts. Other than the fact that I spent a good portion of the meal dodging roaches, it was all good. When we got back to Monkey's he and I embarked on our planned "MP3 exchange," whereby we would each add songs from the other's music library to our respective computers. We stayed up until 3 am doing this (despite the fact that I was to leave for Kuala Lumpur on the 8:30 am train), and in the end, he took a ton of songs from me, I took none from him, and he managed to fuck up my computer in ways that I'm still trying to fix - every time he copied a song, it resulted in 2 and sometimes 3 extra copies of the song somehow ending up in my itunes library. Have I mentioned that Monkey works in IT??

Kuala Lumpur details to follow (the picture above being a mere teaser).

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Patience Is A Virtue

And you all have been patient. So here's the rest of the story from Bangkok. Keep in mind, there's still almost 2 weeks left on the LiAps World Tour, so don't stop visiting this blog just yet.

When I left you, I had just parted ways with Monkey, leaving him at the club while I headed back to the hotel. I should have known better than to follow in Monkey's footsteps at all, but I decided that I was kind of hungry, and I had the cab driver drop me off down the street, in front of Subway. Though Monkey had left Subway the night before with a new friend, I swear, I just wanted a sandwich. In case you hadn't figured this out yet, I'm not the kind of guy who picks up overweight unattractive Thai hookers at fast food joints. So I got my sandwich -- to go -- and set out to walk the one block to the hotel. And I almost made it. But I was "intercepted." By whom, you ask? Well, the football analogy should give you a clue. . .

That's right, I ran smack into Junior!! Not such a crazy coincidence, considering where Monkey had picked her up. Apparently, she worked at an outdoor late-night bar right on the sidewalk there between Subway and the hotel. So I was greeted by repeated choruses of "Where you friend? Where you friend?" I replied, quite truthfully, that I had no idea, and tried to juke my way around Junior (no mean feat) in an effort to get the rock (my 6-inch turkey on wheat) downfield and over the goal line (into the hotel lobby). But Junior, ever the vigilant defender, wasn't having it. Apparently, if she couldn't have Monkey, I would do. So she implored me to have "just one beer" with her at her bar. After protesting for a while, I gave in, sat down at a sidewalk table, told Junior I'd have a Chang (the last thing I needed was another overproof beer), and vowed to get out of there as quick as possible. She brought me my beer and sat down with me. The not insubstantial language barrier was a sort of saving grace for me, as our conversation consisted mostly of the now familiar "Where you friend?" When Junior got up to speak with one of her co-workers about some bar business, I saw my chance. Left some cash, including an overgenerous tip, grabbed my sandwich, and took off for the hotel.

Where I ate my sandwich (and, I think, the Snickers out of the minibar), and proceeded to pass out. Until the phone rang at around 3:30. "Monkey?" "No, he's not here." It was, of course, Junior. Give her credit for persistence (though one has to wonder about her sanity, having spent one night with Monkey and actually wanting to come back for more). She didn't seem to believe me when I said that he wasn't there. Though the phone had woken me from a dead sleep, believe me, Junior, I'd know if Monkey were in the room. So, convinced or not, I hung up and went back to sleep. Until 5. When the phone rang again. "Monkey?" "No - he's not here!!" Still true! And, this is when I start wondering about where on the Jennifer Wilbanks Psychosis Scale Junior falls. Let's recap - she's a fat, ugly Thai girl who knows my hotel room number and is apparently obsessed with the old friend of mine with whom I happen to be traveling. I think that's as far as I got before passing out again.

My slumber was not to last long (nor will I ever sleep completely soundly again), for Monkey did eventually return at around 6. And, as you might have guessed, he was not alone. The whore du jour was significantly smaller than Junior. But no more attractive. Her name: Wingnut. Because that's what it sounded like she said when introducing herself to me several hours later. While I wish my memory could simply skip the intervening period, much like a time lapse maxi-pad commercial, it wouldn't be fair. To me; if I have to live with these images and sounds etched into my brain for eternity, you all should at least have an idea of what it was like. Burying my head under my pillow was not sufficient to block out the noises -- guttural and high-pitched; some recognizable as words, others that I couldn't spell even if I knew the Thai alphabet; none of which I ever ever ever wanted to associate with Monkey. And, of course, there's only so long one can bury his head under a pillow without coming up to breathe. So there were a few glimpses to go with the sounds. Having seen Monkey positioned behind Wingnut with one hand on her ass and the other on the back of her neck, I don't believe I will ever again be able to joke with my friends about "wanting to watch." Ever.

I was just waiting for a break in the action, as I knew I had to get out of there. And, thankfully, one came at around 7. So it had only been an hour since Monkey and Wingnut got back to the room. But it felt like 6 consecutive life sentences. I showered, said goodbye, and ran out of the room. At 7:30 on a Sunday morning. In Bangkok. Where the fuck did I think I was going?? I dunno, but it had to be better than where I came from. For lack of a better idea, and because I regretted my failure to purhase a duffel bag the day before, I headed back for the Chatuchak Market. Which would have been a much better idea had anyone else been there. Despite being advertised as opening at 8 am, it was fairly deserted. But, nevertheless, I wandered around the few open stalls. While I did buy a small duffel bag, I couldn't find the donut-on-a-stick lady again, so was SOL as far as the Green Tea donuts were concerned (at least for the time being).

I wandered around the market for a while, eating and drinking little things, then got myself a Coke in a glass bottle (I never get tired of that) and sat down in the park across from the market to enjoy it. After I got tired of the homeless people begging for money (all of whom I gave some cash) and the people trying to sell me crap (none of which I bought), I decided to get up and head back for the hotel. It was 10ish, and we had to check out of the room by noon anyway, so I figured if it was up to me to rouse (or interrupt) Monkey and Wingnut, I'd bite the bullet. On my way out of the park, I saw a bunch of dudes wearing military uniforms lying on blankets in the grass. And they were lying in such a way as to suggest that "Don't Ask Don't Tell" isn't the policy in Thailand. NTTAWWT! But it was a strange sight.

So, I arrived back at the hotel around 10:45. Killed some time checking email etc. in the hotel biz ctr (which charged about 10X the going rate for internet access, but not much else open Sunday am). Then, took a deep breath, and headed for the room. Monkey and Wingnut were still there, asleep. I wasn't particularly enamored of the idea of talking to either of them right at that moment, but we had to check out in an hour. I tried simply saying "Time to get up, dude" a couple of times, but that wasn't doing it. So I had to get loud. The happy couple finally started stirring. Monkey tried protesting that he needed to sleep more, but I (gently but firmly) explained that we had to check out of the fucking hotel in an hour. Wingnut was no more interested in getting up. Monkey said something about "extending checkout," but I wasn't having it (nor was the hotel, but that was secondary in my mind). I insisted that it was time to get up and get the hell out of the hotel. They dilly-dallied a bit more, but I got them semi-coherent. Wingnut and I even had a bit of a conversation, from which the only thing I took conclusively was that she thought I looked like SpiderMan. But even my superpowers weren't gonna turn back the clock, and 35 minutes short of noon, it was take no prisoners time. I did the unthinkable (in a world where bringing a filthy Thai hooker back to our hotel room was not only thinkable, but SOP). I opened the curtains, flooding the room with light. And was greeted with a howl like nothing I've ever heard before:


It was as though Wingnut were a vampire. As it turned out, she was just a hungover whore, tired from a morning of Monkey sex. Monkey had submitted, and hit the shower. With Wingnut, it was all about tough love, though. I held my ground through several rounds of "I no like you anymore SpiderMan!" and Wingnut got up, showered, and got her shit together too.

Now, were Monkey a regular human being, he would have sent Wingnut on her way, and he and I would have figured out what we wanted to do to kill the afternoon before heading to the airport for our 7:30 flight. But he's Monkey. So, what actually happened was that he decided that he would rather go with Wingnut to her place, to "sleep and fuck" for a few hours, and meet up with me later. So, we all went and checked out, I left my luggage with the bellman, bid Wingnut a fond farewell, and agreed to meet Monkey in the hotel lobby at 4:00.

I was exhausted and incredulous, and didn't really have a whole lot of ideas for how to kill the afternoon. So I decided on my default activity - wandering around camera in hand. I headed for the Chinatown area. If you recall my post from the first day in Bangkok, I noted the travel book's warnings about con men who insist that whatever sight you're headed for is "closed," and try to entice you with an alternative itinerary. As soon as I hit Chinatown, a whole bunch of tuk tuk drivers tried to get me to visit Temple X or Temple Y or let them take me to some mall or other. I declined, saying I was simply "walking." I was a little confused when they kept saying things were "closed." I wasn't looking to go to a museum or anything, just to wander. Lo and behold, they were telling the truth. 95% of Chinatown was covered in roll-down metal gates and the streets were largely deserted. Chinatown was closed.

This didn't stop me from wandering a bit more, but it was hot, I was tired, and I was ready to leave Bangkok. I headed back toward the general direction of the hotel, wandered the main street for a little while (taking the picture above, among others) and stopped in to an Irish Pub for lunch and a beer. After that, it was almost 3. I had an hour to kill before I had to meet up with Monkey. I had stopped in at a bookstore and bought a couple of cheap paperbacks, as I was almost finished with the book I had been reading. So I sat in the hotel lobby, reading one of the books, and waiting for Monkey.

He arrived 15 minutes late, looking as dissheveled as ever. He hadn't eaten (there must not have been time what with the sleeping and the fucking), so I sat with him while he ate something that I wouldn't have gone anywhere near in a dirty "American style" restaurant. We then went back to the hotel. I got my bags, successfully argued with the front desk that nobody took an Evian or a Mars bar from the minibar (after conferring with Monkey to confirm that neither he, Junior, nor Wingnut had done so), and we hopped in a cab for the airport. Things we discussed included primarily "She wasn't that bad, right?" I tried to be diplomatic while also pointing out to Monkey that, in some photographs Wingnut had with her in the hotel room, she was wearing a number. I.e., she was (unlike Junior) a confirmed whore. But, on the bright side, Monkey insists he didn't have to pay her!

We got to the airport way early - very little traffic for a Sunday evening. This left Monkey time to give his phone number to one of the employees of the Duty Free shop, and for us to fill out a tourism survey conducted by college students from Macau. Finally, we got on the plane, and said goodbye to Bangkok.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Jesus, Is He Still In Bangkok?

Well, while I am obviously not, my story still is. And I think I'm ready to continue. For those of you who migt be curious, from here on out, my travels will be recounted glasses-free, as I have (so far) survived the LASIK surgery performed on my eyes yesterday afternoon. Pretty cool. OK, I left you all in:

July 9, 2005

Having survived the monsoon and placed in the 34th Annual Heidi Fleiss Billiards Tournament, Monkey and I headed back to the hotel to shower and hit the town. We first returned to Soi Cowboy, to see what it was like when it was alive, rather than what it was like in the afternoon. Though we tried to sneak by the bar where we played pool (because we had promised the ladies we would "come back later"), they did, in fact, spot us. So we chatted for a few minutes, never crossing the physical threshhold of the place (for fear that, like in a horror movie, gates and doors would, seemingly of their own volition, slam behind us, deadbolts would turn without being touched, and one of our hookers would say something to the effect of "No Farang escapes this bar without paying to fuck me. Bwahahahahahah!"), and, once again, said we would return later, after checking out a few of the other bars.

There was one purported country-themed bar which promised live music, and an Asian dude with serious long hair was obviously tuning up on stage and getting ready to jam. I would have loved to stick around long enough to be able to, in the middle of his set, yell drunkenly, "Pray some Skynyld man! Fleebild!!!!" But, as the guy was not naked and wearing a number, Monkey wasn't interested in staying too long. So we moved on to a bunch of go-go bars. My notes aren't great, but some things you never forget:

At one of the go-go bars, there was a dancer who reminded me quite a bit of an ex-girlfriend of mine. Now, you're all correct - I've never dated any kind of Asian chick, let alone a Thai girl. But she had a similar body, and there was something about her eyes too. There was also the dyed blonde hair. I was, apparently, expending an inordinate amount of visual energy on this girl -- let's call her, oh, I don't know, #25, because that's the number she was wearing the only place there was room for it, on her boot -- because one of the other employees motioned to her, and next thing I knew, 25 had come to sit down next to me. We "talked" and smiled and I bought her and several of her friends a few Lady Drinks. I wasn't gonna be rude and ask her to leave. But I also wasn't gonna do anything to lead her to believe that she should go pack up her stuff and follow me to my hotel. As it turns out, that wouldn't even have been necessary, because one of the "mama sans," the women who run the ho rental franchises in the go-go bars, came over and inquired as to whether I would like to take 25 "upstairs."

This place wasn't just your average go-go bar, but a full on whorehouse. All I could think of were saloons in old westerns where they have rooms upstairs for the gunslingers to drag a hoop-skirted girl by the arm, calling her "little missy" all the way, and telling her how purty she is. But, of course that's how it worked - I was in Soi Cowboy! I declined, politely and repeatedly, again blaming my imaginary "girlfriend at home," and we eventually left that bar.

To move on to a similar place. This one was a kind of ("it's OK, it's a") hybrid. A go-go bar with a live band. I must say, the band wasn't bad. Nor were the girls. I again made the mistake of focusing on one in particular. We'll call her "Doc," because -- crazy story -- she was actually working at this place to put herself through med school. See, in Thailand, there's not a whole bunch of other ways for an attractive young girl who comes from a poor family to make decent cash, and she had her heart set on becoming a pediatrician so she could go back to her small village in Northern Thailand and provide much-needed medical care for the impoverished children.

Wait, did you really believe that? Moron. We're calling her "Doc" because she was #16. So, Doc came and sat down next to me, and was really friendly. She was really cute, and smiled a lot, and was nice even before I bought her and a few of her friends some Lady Drinks. She actually seemed kind of shy, to the extent that a girl who keeps putting her hand on your crotch in an effort to get you to agree to pay her for sex can accurately be described that way. She left a few times to go back on stage and dance, but always came right back to me when she was done. Monkey told me that I should have been particularly flattered that she went to the bathroom to "freshen up" after dancing before coming to sit by my side again. And, in some perverse way, I was kind of flattered. She sat with me for quite a while, arms around mine, touching my hand. It was like we were at the movies. Except instead of watching Tom Cruise try to drive the alien invaders to surrender by preaching to them about the horrors of antidepressants and hearing Dakota Fanning shrieking like the evil being from hell that she is, we were listening to some Thai dudes playing a passable version of that Santana song, and watching a bunch of Doc's colleagues shake their tits and rub up against some chrome poles.

Doc was cute and sweet and all that. And I started to legitimately feel bad that she was expending so much effort on me when I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she wasn't gonna get what she wanted. I said so, explicitly, several times, giving her an opportunity to take her leave graciously. I certainly would not have been offended; I know her objective is to sell the VIP package, hot wax and all, and I wasn't interested in any more than the exterior wash. I sure wasn't gonna let her rub down my tires with Armor-All. But she hung out with me, no doubt because, on some level, she realized that I was infinitely more pleasant company than any nasty old dude who would actually go for the works. Or because she was trying to snag my wallet out of my pocket without me noticing.

But after spending more time with Doc than I have with women on most first dates, it happened. She kissed me. It was soft and gentle and she's cute and she smells good and OH MY GOD SHE'S A FUCKING HOOKER. A HOOKER JUST KISSED ME!!!!!

Part of me wanted to run to the Men's room and wash my mouth out with the urinal cake. But that would have been rude. So I smiled, patted her on the arm, apologized to her, and told Monkey that it was definitely time to go. To Doc's credit, she hung on until the bitter end, not giving up. I finished my beer (making sure to swish a few gulps of it around in my mouth in hopes the alcohol would do a little disinfecting on the way down), we paid, I touched Doc's shoulder and said goodnight. And she followed us out of the bar, a look on her face like I had just strangled her puppy. I felt horrible. Like I had let her down. How ridiculous is that?? Very. Very ridiculous. Once outside, I gave her a hug, and a kiss on the cheek, and said goodnight. I felt like I had just ended a 3 year relationship. Doc, it's not you, it's me.

So, after an experience like that, there was only one thing to do. Hit a few more go-go bars. Including one that had a schoolgirl theme. Which is hot. But I made damn sure to spread my visual attention around evenly, and managed to escape the places without a rebound girl to help me get over Doc.

We went on to another overpriced velvet rope club. At which I stayed for approximately 15 minutes. Enough to get and drink half of my first "included in the price of admission" drink, pee, and say adios to Monkey, who had, in the same amount of time, attempted (unsuccessfully) to talk to 4 women, at least. I handed him the ticket for my other "free" drink, as I knew he'd put it to good use, and headed back to the hotel, circa 1 am.

Yeah, you can wait for what happened next.

Friday, August 05, 2005

One (More) Night In Bangkok

OK, since there's no way I'm gonna fall asleep anytime soon, having just seen in my bedroom (and killed) the scariest looking bug ever (I hit my wall so hard with a shoe that the paint cracked; I shit you not), let's go on with the story of Bangkok.

July 9, 2005
Still Bangkok. Still with Monkey (who is most assuredly NOT simply an alter ego of mine, KtP).

After breakfast, at an overpriced (but still cheap as hell) American place, Monkey and I headed for the Chatuchak Weekend Market. I have to say, this was the sight I was most looking forward to seeing in Bangkok (with the exception of all the hookers, of course). I'm a big fan of markets generally, and this one was supposed to be huge and have everything from pirated DVDs to live chickens. We took the SkyTrain out, and the place was, in fact, huge, and packed. I think I wandered around the perimeter for a good 25 minutes before I realized that there were actually interior aisles as well. It was hot as hell, and I kept downing waters and iced teas. They were like a quarter each. Crazy. Part of the problem with the place being so big was that it was also a bit confusing. I walked past some of the same things 4 times, but know I missed whole sectors (inclding that containing the live chickens, much to my chagrin). But it was still awesome. I bought some crap souvenirs, as well as some (crap) ties and two (crap) pairs of shorts, which I "tried on" by stretching the elastic waist around my neck, at the suggestion of some Asian dude who, it turns out, was just shopping himself. (There are signs all over prohibiting people from truly trying things on; I guess when you pay $2.17 for a [insert currently fashionable designer] dress, they're entitled to expect the customer to take some risk). Monkey bought some stuff too, including a hat and a backpack. I must say, though, my favorite purchase of the day: mini donuts on a stick. They were out of the one flavor I really wanted to try (Green Tea), but I sucked it up and had the coffee flavored ones. Man, those were good.

When we had had enough marketing (after eating the cheapest lunch ever), we decided to wander back to the general vicinity of our hotel. For a change of pace, we took the subway rather than the SkyTrain (Monkey figured there would be a different group of chicks, one of whom he tried totally unsuccessfully -- comically so, in fact -- to talk to while waiting for the train). When we got off the subway, we were not far from the famous "Soi Cowboy," an area of bars, at least a couple of which are Western themed, which is even funnier in Bangkok than it is in NY. We walked up and down the street, but the bars were kind of dead, as it was still mid-afternoon. We decided to stop in at a "regular" (read: shitty and not featuring naked women) bar which had a couple of pool tables to have a few beers and possibly play some pool. We ended up staying there for several hours, drinking lots of beers, and playing lots of pool, as a torrential downpour came out of nowhere. The place was pretty much empty, except for the women who worked there. And by that I mean bartenders/whores. Because I, for some ridiculous reason, feel bad calling every woman in Bangkok a whore (even the actual whores), and in keeping with the corporate trend toward title inflation, lets call them Vice Presidents of Refreshment and Copulation (VPRC). These VPRCs were actually very friendly and not overly pushy. They played pool with us for a good 1/2 hour or so before coming right out and asking if we wanted to take them home. One of them took a particular liking to me, and I was friendly in return. To a point. The "you no like me?"s got a little tiresome, but, again, we were all just chillin'. Truth be told (and this sounds ridiculous), but I actually was more "interested" in one of the other VPRCs. Less conventionally attractive, I think, than the one who was hanging on me, but, in BizarroWorld, she could have been a LiAps Special. She was cute and sweet and all the things you look for in a girl.

On the other hand, there's that whole DIRTY HOOKER thing.

So, once the rain stopped, Monkey and I headed back to the hotel to shower and get ready for the big Bangkok finale!

Which I'll tell you about soon.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Monkey Goes Down In The Backfield

So I, like a good boy, went to bed around 1:30. Monkey stumbled in around 4. Mumbling something (you must understand - even when sober, Monkey mumbles; he's impossible to comprehend) about having met a girl at Subway. Yes, Subway. There was one right down the block from our hotel. He stopped for a late night sandwich and met a girl. I said "uh huh." Then he said, "Yeah. I gave her our hotel room number, so she might call later."

OK. 1. It's 4 am. When is later? 2. YOU GAVE THE GIRL, A STRANGER YOU MET AT SUBWAY IN BANGKOK, OUR ROOM NUMBER? Traveling with Monkey - you can't beat it. My first question was answered not too long after, as the phone rang at 6:30: "Monkey?" "No. Hold on." And that's when he invited the Subway girl up to our room. At 6:30 am.

Now, our hotel room had 2 single beds. Single, not double. They were approximately 8 inches apart. I knew that I had to do my best freshman roommate impersonation, pretending to be asleep. This was exceedingly difficult, in light of the noises coming from the bed right next to me. RIGHT next to me. I hid my head under my pillow for several hours. But around 9:30, I knew I wasn't gonna sleep anymore (at least not without horrifying nightmares), and knew I had to get out of there soon. So I got up, and said good morning to Monkey and his new friend. They awoke too. And I got a good look at Monkey's prize. I don't mean to be unduly harsh here. But, from the moment I saw this girl, it was decided that she would forever be known as "Junior." Because, if you were to ask me what she looked like, the best way I could describe it to you would be to say she looked pretty much . . . exactly . . . like . . . wait for it. . . Junior Seau (and, just to be clear, that's the one on the left in that picture).

I believe Monkey got a good look at Junior as well (perhaps his first), because once I said I was gonna shower and get going, he said "yeah, me too," and got ready to go right quick (as opposed to what happened the next morning). So, the 3 of us walked out together, Junior making some comment about how Monkey should buy her a papaya salad for breakfast (after all, unlike the girl in Singapore, Junior got no cheese omelette). But her suggestion came to naught, as we parted ways, Monkey and I to have breakfast, and Junior to do God knows what, because how do you follow a night with Monkey?

Over breakfast, Monkey told me that he did not have sex with Junior, as he didn't have a condom. I was very proud of Monkey. Of course, even if I found myself on the Trojan factory floor, putting any part of my body into any part of Junior's body would not have crossed my mind. To his credit, he also acknowledged that Junior was not particularly attractive, "but I was wasted." All's well that ends well, I guess.

For my part, I was OK once I managed to dismiss the unfounded idea that Junior might have used my toothbrush while in the hotel bathroom.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Bangkok, Take 1

OK. You've waited long enough. Let the beginning of the end begin:

Friday, July 8

Where were we? After sweating through the Grand Palace and staring inappropriately at the 18 and 20-year-old girls on the boat, had bad pad thai and went to chill at the hotel. Around 8, Monkey arrived. In typical Monkey fashion. By which I mean drunk, and babbling something about having lost his passport in the cab on the way from the airport to the hotel. He obviously had it when he cleared immigration, but didn't have it when the front desk asked for it. So, he was potentially fucked. Except that, in totally not typical Monkey fashion, he had somehow managed to retain that little piece of paper they give you which tells you the number of the cab you rode in. And, in a move totally out of proportion to the quality of our hotel, he had apparently asked the concierge to "take care of" tracking down the driver and retrieving his passport. After all, we shouldn't lose any valuable drinking and whoring time on account of such a mishap.

So out we went. Now, when the idea of Monkey meeting me in Bangkok for the weekend was first floated, he, as a Bangkok veteran, gave me a preliminary rundown on the nightlife: "There are really 3 kinds of bars. There's the hooker bars, the go-go bars, and the regular bars and clubs. We'll go to all 3." And so we did. By "hooker bar," Monkey apparently meant a bar that, while not necessarily advertised as such (prostitution being illegal and all), is full of hookers. We went to one of these that was just around the corner from the hotel. And, to nobody's surprise, no sooner had we ordered a beer and taken a seat by the place where the window would have been if the bar had windows than two young ladies sat down next to us and started talking to us. These two were friendly, but not overly aggressive. We smiled and talked. I'm pretty sure Monkey pulled the routine that would get very old by the end of the weekend, pointing at me and saying "No like lady, he like ladyBOY!" There were some other hos lingering in the background, in case we should indicate that, while the two who had gotten to us first were not particularly to our tastes, we'd truly like nothing more than to pay strangers for sex. But after a beer or 2, Monkey was impatient to move on to the second category of bar.

We did not have to go far. Here's a Bangkok go-go bar in a nutshell: it's like a strip club, with lots of girls (and I'm using "girls" instead of "women" quite deliberately) dancing on stage and wandering around the bar. Each of them wears a number. According to Monkey, who I trust implicitly on such matters, the numbers serve a practical purpose. That of avoiding undue confusion when ordering one of the girls from your server. For instance, "I'll take a Heineken and that girl who was rubbing her pussy on the third pole from the left a couple of minutes ago when they were playing 'Pour Some Sugar On Me,' you know, the Asian one," is a lot tougher for someone who speaks very little English than "I'll take a Heineken and number 52." Monkey tells me (and I'm sure he read this somewhere) that once you decide on your lucky number for the night, you have to pay the bar a sort of rental fee, which entitles you to negotiate with the girl herself. It's a hell of a system. We went to a few of these bars (including one featuring exclusively ladyboys; the novelty could not make up for the aggressive groping - Monkey and I didn't even finish our beers. I've been to Lucky Cheng's before, but this was ridiculous), and while neither Monkey nor I took home a girl, we did chat with some, and buy them some drinks. "Lady Drinks" are significantly more expensive than regular drinks (though still a bargain by NY standards) - even if they just want a Coke, it costs between 1.5 and 2x what a beer costs when you buy one for yourself. As explained in the Book of Monkey, Chapter 3, Verse 16: "Yea, though the whores drinketh only soft drinks, verily will the white man be charged twice the going rate, as for each vessel of liquid purchased in the name of a harlot, said harlot shall receive a percentage of the proceeds theretofore designated by the management."

So, I had seen some go-go bars in Bangkok, managed to -- politely -- decline all offers to take home a hooker, and was off to the third kind of bar. Which turned out to be a club. Now, we know I'm not a club person. But I did it in Singapore, and figured this trip was all about doing things I don't usually do. So, once again, I paid a steep (by Thai standards) cover, passed through a velvet rope (though there was no wait at this club), and set out to enjoy the "UH-UH-UH" bass thump. Other than the fact that the crowd was 90-something percent Asian, it was just like a club in NY. Monkey spent a fair amount of time chatting up (among other women), the ladies' room attendant - shoot for the stars, Monk!. She didn't seem that into him, which was strange, since, as he'll tell you if you ask, he's smooth. Monkey ran into some girl he knew (read: had slept with on a prior occasion), and we talked to her for a while. There came a point when I had had enough to drink (well, OK, that point came several hours before) and the smoke in the place was really getting to me. So, content with my evening, I headed back to the hotel around 1 or 1:30.

Waiting for me was a flashing light on the hotel phone. I retrieved the message - Mr. Monkey should contact the Duty Manager to retrieve his passport. He did not deserve to be so lucky, especially considering the events to follow . . .

Which is where I'll leave you all for now.