Thursday, 18 February 2010

Familial Unfamiliarity, Hat Yai bars and the clap.

Update

Four years ago, aged 32, I was on a night out in ‘The Toon’ with post-graduate friends from Newcastle University. We had been drinking in the Student Union bar when a few of them coerced me into joining them in one of the city’s happening nightspots. I remember suddenly becoming aware of my age in some shitty nightclub. I was in deep contemplation as a couple of teenagers were lasciviously snogging along the seat from me. The ‘famous’ Pakistani DJ from Leeds provided the perfect acoustic ambience for a tender embrace with some thumping house music that would’ve put an A380’s engine noise to shame. It was at this moment that I knew my nightclub days were over. The DJ laughed at my request for ‘a bit of Phil Collins’.


Three years ago Chinese Fen and I were enjoying romantic Andaman sunsets from the diminutive Ko Chang near Ranong in Southern Thailand. We enjoyed superb grilled barracuda every night as the sun made its lazy descent over the immaculate horizon. Regretfully, we had to leave this unspoilt paradise the next day as we were making our way, albeit slowly, to Cambodia.

Two years ago I was residing in the scummy Townhouse Guesthouse in the Baclaran area of Manila, Philippines. I had been in Manila for three weeks attempting to obtain a two month tourist visa for Taiwan in the hope I could transform it into a Permanent visa once back in Taiwan. I didn’t get the visa but I did get drunk constantly for three weeks (I’ll never forget Filipino beer – surely the cheapest in the World). I also met Don here, an ex-RN Scotsman, who I became very close friends with. Unfortunately, for reasons known only to him, he was to screw me for 8000pisos six months later.

One year ago I was in the Philippines again but this time in Olongapo near Angeles City. I was hanging out with Gemma eating food with our fingers and showering from a hose-pipe-shower in our room. Interestingly, after watching a movie called Valkyrie, Gemma went on to ask me:

“Steve, who was that little bloke with the moustache?”

“Ermmmm, that was Hitler sweetheart.”

Imagine not knowing of Hitler? Well, this is quite standard in South East Asia (SEA). South East Asians are not your most academically inclined people. I’m still waiting for the first SEA manned space flight. If something does not affect your life directly then it is of no interest whatsoever.

Today I’m in Trang in Southern Thailand. I have been here almost one year and will shortly have completed a whole school annual cycle. I am preparing final end-of-year tests for my students. This task is quite pleasant compared to the completing the registers nightmare. These registers have to be filled with a colossal amount of data. A Thai government school’s paperwork can make a communist country’s bureaucracy look fantastically simple. These bewildering documents are all in Thai and hold a statistician’s wet dream of pointless information. Anyway, after hours of work, I am 4 down 6 to go.

Hat Yai

Since the last post I’ve been up to my usual weekend adventures and capers. Most of these have involved meeting members of the opposite sex in the quest for a new gf. On Friday 8th January I headed down to Hat Yai to meet 27 year old JJ. She works as an IT Lecturer in a University there. We had a pleasant evening touring around Hat Yai’s huge night market before relaxing in a bar with many Malaysian tourists. The next morning I was sitting in The Swan having a Full English when I received a text from Russel (the Trang Farang). He asked what I was doing sitting there? I texted back ‘HTF do you know where I am – I’m not in Trang’. He said he’d just driven past me! I hooked up with him in Kiwi Don’s new business venture – Boo Bar. The bar was still being built so we all sat drinking beer from strategic positions within the rubble. Being in Hat Yai feels like being in London when you’re from Trang. Hat Yai has everything whereas Trang has nowt.

Witchienmatoo

This is not an ingredient for Mr Magoo’s breakfast. It is the name of one of the huge schools in Trang. They were thinking of starting up an English Program there and Matt, my cool mate from the US of A, asked me to come and take a look. It’s a huge school but the thing I remember most was the food. Delicious. Far superior to the fare at my school. Oh yeah – they had much younger and hotter female teachers too. My school feels like you’re walking around a Jurassic Park set.

Family

My two brothers, Mick and Bob arrived in Thailand on Wednesday 13th January. However, I never heard a thing from them until the evening of Saturday 16th. So I went to Phuket.

Phuket

I left Trang at 1600 on Friday 15th Jan and I was at the Phuket bridge by 1845. That’s not bad for a motorbike. The Phantom displayed its class with a blinding run where almost nothing overtook me. However, I got lost on the Island and spent another hour trying to reach Patong. I went there to meet a 25 year old girl called Yuri who works in a Hotel in Patong. We enjoyed a nice (but prohibitively expensive for a teacher) meal of seafood and papaya salad. I bade her farewell and went to Rawai to stay at Pussy Towers where I stayed before. The staff remembered me and I went off for a few solo beers. The next day I took some fruit to Yuri’s hotel as a present since I felt sorry that she had to work on a Saturday. However, she wasn’t there and none of the other staff had heard of her. I instantly realised she was playing me so I gave the fruit to the staff and deleted her number from my phone. The staff felt sorry for me and said she was probably a bargirl and that I should be very careful with Thai women. Advice I should have heeded later.

I headed up the famous Bangla Road and had a beer in a cheap bar that happened to be full of loud Southern English tossers selling tickets for those drink-all-you-can-for-3-hrs scams. Can you imagine these types of blokes? They tend to sell time-shares in Tenerife. Loud, brash and totally ignorant. One young cockney gob-shite was astonished that I’d taken the effort to learn Thai. “Wot u wanna doo dat 4?” His mind nearly exploded when I explained how I can read it too. After three years in Thailand he’s learnt nothing except that Thai’s put nouns before adjectives. However, he knows neither what a noun nor an adjective is! He thought I was a genius when I used these terms. Stupid eedjit ………. or is it Eedjit stupid?????

Anyway, these lads did point me in the direction of an afternoon gogo bar. I went in and watched the bikini-clad beauties gyrating for 100bt per beer. I nursed one beer while a sensual doll (I’ll call her Big Tits for authenticity) from Isaan (Thailand’s poorest area) came and engaged me in conversation. We covered topics as diverse as:

Astral-physics.
How history has shaped Asian culture and philosophy.
Marx’s contribution to communist ideology.
Conspiracies behind the global credit crunch.

However our most important and interesting discussions were:

Who paid for your gigantic breast implants?
How much for one evening together?

I later found myself sitting alone being neglected by the babes. They no longer lusted after me. What had I done to deserve this? I’d made one fatal error. What had I done? Well, I’d accidentally let some Thai lingo slip out during a conversation. When she mentioned her price I hysterically responded “Alina? Jingaw?” as a joke. This means “What? Really?”. Big Tit’s face dropped as she realised I wasn’t some dumb ass tourist to be fleeced. She immediately informed her colleagues not to bother with me because “He knows”. Meanwhile, I watched the girls emptying the pockets of other punters with a professional acumen I could only respect. These lasses truly are: the fastest money reducing agents known to man.

In the gogo toilets I received my first contact from my brothers – those same lads I hadn’t seen in almost four years. It turns out they had lost phones, ATM cards and all manner of other things in Bangkok. They were actually on Ko Lanta which is near Trang and I could’ve easily spent the weekend there with them. Pleased to finally hear from them I told Mick I would try and get there tomorrow for an hour or two.

Family on Ko Lanta

Hungover, I jumped on the bike and left Southern Phuket at 1100. I was at the Lanta ferry for 1500. I found the lad’s place a little later on Hat Klong Kong. This was the first time I’d seen any family in years and I was commensurately excited given my tiredness. We went for food, took some pics and relaxed in a Reggae bar during the evening. I ended up sleeping on their floor and getting up at 0500 to catch the first ferry back to the mainland and then getting back to Trang for work at 0815 Monday morning. I still hate Mondays even out here in Asia.

Family in Trang

The following Wednesday Mick, Bob and Scouse Colin made it to Trang. I took them to my local bar and then onto Nat’s little junkyard karaoke dive. We got totally drunk and I had my largest ever bar bill of 2000THB. Mick ended up sleeping in my room and we slept late. I was off sick the next day and I took Mick to the mountain jungle cafĂ©, Sairung waterfall and Yantakhao where I showed him some aspects of rural Thai life. Bob and Colin went to Hat Yao in Swedish Eric’s car. We finished the day off with a more sedate night in Pri’s bar. The following morning the three lads went to Ao Nang near Krabi and I met JJ who’d come up to Trang from Hat Yai.

I acted the tour guide again and took JJ to Pri’s and Nat’s. With a hangover (courtesy of Irish Tom) I took her to Pak Meng beach the next day before she headed back home to Hat Yai. I went to the Trang bars for a change. On Sunday I took Tom on a tour of the seedier side of Trang. Kiwi Don and I call Trang: The pussy desert of Thailand. Even on our trip to the karaoke and massage joints that cater exclusively to Thais, we saw nothing to change our view. I did meet 22 year old Pok though, a cute lass from Kalasin up North. I took her for dinner at the market the following day where she spoke continuously into her cell phone thereby totally ignoring me. I deleted her number.

Quotes

My favourite quotes recently both come from English Stefan. Stefan knows something about everything. I think of him as a flawed Oracle.

Straight in at number one this week is: “Thai birds go with rape”

This gem resulted from a conversation where he queried whether or not I’d been intimate with JJ since she’d slept in my room one night. I explained how I’d behaved as a perfect gentlemen and Stefan mocked my restraint insisting I should’ve pushed things. His reasoning was that she’d already agreed to sleep in my room, therefore she’d already given a green light. However, she wasn’t ‘up for it’ at all so I let it go. We slept holding hands and I believe I did the right thing.

In at number two is : “Wood pigeons are as big as pheasants”. YOU DECIDE:

Work

I submitted a leave request form three weeks in advance requesting a one week holiday because of my brother’s visit. I was going to leave on Friday but my school wouldn’t tell me if I had been granted leave or not. I went back to work on Monday and submitted a further form requesting the remaining four days of the week. This was also ignored. I went to work Tuesday and physically took the form to the Director myself as I was tempted to walk out of this job by this point. I was very pissed off. Finally at 1600 Tuesday I was granted 3 days holiday to see my family I hadn’t seen in years and who’d spent vast sums of money to get here. I submitted the original form weeks in advance and it was ignored. This is typical Thailand. They didn’t want to deal with it so they ignored it. You have to learn to deal with gross incompetence in many aspects of your life here.

Ao Nang

On Tuesday I finished work and jumped on the bike for the two hour trip to Krabi. I met USA Joe in town and enjoyed a few beer with him and his expat mates. I ended up drinking a little too much with Joe and the Krabi lads. I declined Joe’s offer of a night on his sofa and headed to Ao Nang around midnight. I missed a left turn and almost lost my balance on a dodgy patch of gravel just past the turn. I escaped with only a mangled big left toe. I made it to Mick’s guesthouse and proceeded to drink a load more beer until sunrise with my bros.

This is where Ao Nang starts to get ridiculous. On Wednesday morning I met two Polish lads, Ariel and Jacko, drinking cheap beer at the tables outside my regular shop. I joined them and ended up in a heap as I crawled around the girly bars of Soi Sunset and Centrepoint. The following day we did the same except there was myself, Mick, Colin, Jacko and Ariel contributing to the empty can tower. We must’ve had well over 100 empty cans stacked up in columns resembling Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers. I had no recollection of anything after 9pm. Apparently Mick took me back to our room around 10pm. This is where I quit the booze. My brothers, in perpetual holiday party mode, carried on but I knew I had done myself damage. Early Friday evening I was still a shaking wreck as the lads downed their beer like it was going out of fashion.

On Saturday I hung out with Nong and Ni, two lasses in their late 20’s who’d just arrived from Bangkok. I met them on a sober Friday night and arranged to show them some local sites. I took them to Fossil Beach after spending a highly memorable afternoon with them.

I went to see the lads in their room and this was last time I saw Bobby. If I want to listen to incomprehensible, angry, unshaven, smelly, dishevelled constantly pissed up alcoholics – I’ll watch a Rab C Nesbit DVD. The elegance of his prose blew me away at times. I was pleased to see the back of him. I met Colin and Mick in Centrepoint later but they were pretty smashed by then and I doubt if they’ll remember. They were heading to Bangkok the next day and they must have had very baggy heads during the 12hr bus journey North.

As my brothers were contemplating their 12hr Sunday bus journey to Bangkok, I was waiting for the arrival of my students who were having day trip to Fossil Beach, Ao Nang beach, Tiger Temple and the Emerald Pool deep in the jungle. Unbelievably, I’d been to all these places previously so I was a little disappointed we didn’t choose a different destination like Satun province. I met the two chartered school buses at 1000 at Fossil Beach (where I’d taken Nong and Ni the day before). I followed them to Ao Nang where we played frisbee and swam in the beautiful sea. Next off to Tiger Temple, set in a huge limestone karst mountain just outside Krabi Town. I walked to a tranquil cave where strange rock formations hang over the monk’s huts and their drying orange robes. It is difficult to describe the peace and harmony one feels in a place like this. I battled my way through the monkeys and returned to the main temple. I met the students again and hung out with them before they boarded the bus for their next destination – the Emerald pool. I gave this a miss as I’d been before and it’s an extra 60km. Instead I went to Sikao and ate some Somtam, checked on the lad’s progress (they were very tired, hungover and thirsty) and headed back to Trang.

Trang

It was great to see people from home but it was also great to be back home myself. Unfortunately, on my first night back I had another motorbike mishap. As I was riding to Tesco Lawtaat to get some toothpaste, a big new car rammed into the side of me. It was attempting a ridiculous U-turn in a very busy area of town. Despite the wave of traffic still passing it, it was still slowly pulling out. I was forced to swerve into incoming traffic and the car still hit me. Luckily, only a foot panel fell off the bike and my left leg was slightly crushed but everything else was OK. I hope the front of the car was wrecked. I was shaken but I didn’t hang around waiting for the police. I have been told that even though an accident is blatantly not your fault (as in this case), as a Farang you will be held responsible for everything as is the way the racist corrupt police work here. It would likely cost a fortune too. So, bollicks to that, I was OK, the bike was OK and I was off. The driving here is atrocious and you have to drive assuming all other drivers are idiots.

I had a normal week back at work. The following weekend I finally got my laptop repaired so I can watch movies again. I also helped Matt interview students all day Saturday at the Tammarin Tana Hotel. It was an extra day’s work (that I normally refuse) but we were rewarded with a posh hotel meal and 1500baht cash. Sunday night was a BBQ at Monkey’s new gaff – loads of great scran and beer to top off the weekend.

Close encounters of the fourth kind

On Monday Na came to see me from Phuket. She is 22 originally from Si Saket. I took her to the nice Balconey restaurant on Monday. We went to Pak Meng beach on Tuesday to watch the sunset and laugh at the monkeys. We giggled as one monkey did a number two, grabbed it and threw it at his monkey mate – extraordinary behaviour! Na ended up staying three nights and we had a nice time together. I dropped her at Trang’s brand spanking new bus station on the edge of town on Thursday afternoon. It’s crap having visitors when you have to go to work!

Interview

Last Friday I knocked off early and went for an interview here after a sweaty 2 hour bike ride. I met the Director who actually knows Mr Eric Hepple, one of my colleagues from my current job. I seemed to perform satisfactorily and it looked like I was going to be offered a position teaching University students Shakespearean Geordie in very glamorous surroundings (the office looked like something from the USS Enterprise). However, just before I was due to compose an essay; I was afforded the opportunity to pitch some queries of my own. After the usual class size, contact hours, salary questions I probed the critical holiday issue. I was shocked to learn that if you work at Hat Yai University you will receive a whopping 2 weeks off per year – F£CK TH$T! For only slightly more money than I get now. Good luck to them on their recruitment quest.

An enjoyable afternoon was spent hanging around an educational establishment that makes my own School resemble something akin to the Flintstones. Notwithstanding the hot student lasses who wear the sexiest uniforms imaginable. It would be impossible to formulate a single coherent thought with all that sexily clad oestrogen floating around.

Boo Bar opening Hat Yai

I then went to eat some noodles with some old biddies in an unknown area of Thailand’s 3rd most populous city. After that I booked a room for two nights in the Cathay Guesthouse – Hat Yai’s number one scummy backpacker hangout. For 200bt/night you get a room with a tap that falls apart in your hand. You get a squat toilet next to a broken pipe that will leave your left leg soaking. And these are the good points. You do get cheap beer and a place to lay your unconscious head for the night. I wasn’t there long before I headed out in search of Kiwi Don’s bar. Last time I was there we were drinking beer among rubble. This time I walked into a warehouse sized trendy city bar – I predict Trang will never have anything like this.

About ten friends were also down from Trang to wish Kiwi Don well in his venture. It was weird to see all those familiar faces in a non-Trang setting. I think I went to bed at 4am. Next morning I met JJ and Tom for a full English breakfast at The Swan Pub (again something you can’t get in Trang). All the Trang boys went home but I persevered and stayed another night. I think I got home at about 10pm although, again, I couldn’t say for sure.

Back home

I was leaving Hat Yai when I filled up with petrol. As I went to pay I realised I only had 20bt with which to pay the 360bt bill. SH1T! How embarrassing? I’d spent all my money over the weekend. I had to leave my bike at the station and walk 20 minutes to an ATM. I made it home at around 2pm. I also noticed I had still had possession of my guesthouse room key when I got home – oops!

I then met 25yr old Koy who works as an accountant at a Rubber Factory in between Trang and Pak Mang. We had a drink and then I went off to get a haircut. I wanted an oil massage but all the masseurs were on a Chinese New Year break so I settled for a trim. A car hit Koy on her little Fino scooter last night and she has broken an arm and a leg!

After work on Tuesday, I zipped through to Pak Meng beach to meet 22 year old Noona at Rajamangala University of Technology. We ate fried chicken as the sunset. She is an agricultural student and she looked hot in her uniform. However, she speaks no English and we had to rely on my basic Thai to communicate. I haven’t deleted her number as I want to see her again.

Purulent

Some things are best kept to oneself and the following is probably one of them. Yesterday I learnt some new medical terminology:

Purulent: Containing, discharging, or causing the production of pus.

I felt some discomfort ‘downstairs’ when I woke. I was experiencing leakage. I got to the office and entered my symptoms into an online doctor. I had diagnosed myself within minutes and knew a wealth of information about symptoms, diagnosis and treatments. However, I wanted confirmation. Since my office doesn’t have any urethral swabs or microscopes to check for the presence of Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria, I had to bite the bullet and go to the hospital. Here, they confirmed I had gonococcal urethritis, more commonly known as the clap, cockrot or gonorrhoea.


Ouch

The cure was an intramuscular injection of 250mg of ceftriaxone. Confused? Let me clear that up for you. The cure was a 2inch needle shoved deep into my arse and a load of antibiotics squirted into my right buttock muscle. What a nice way to spend a Wednesday morning. I squared a 900baht bill and limped out of the hospital clutching my right arse cheek.

Then I did the maths. Last night was Tuesday (when the symptoms manifested themselves). I dropped Na off at the bus station last Thursday afternoon. It usually takes two to five days from infection to symptoms. From Thursday afternoon until Tuesday night = 5 days. BINGO. Gotcha. During my close encounter of the 4th kind with Na, she had decided to leave me a little going away present. Aren’t I the lucky one? Som nam na as the Thais would say.

I hope not too many people I know will be reading this!

Some final thoughts about the fairer sex:

When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her.

Here's all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.

What passes for woman's intuition is often nothing more than man's transparency.

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