Arriving into Bangkok was the nearest thing to arriving home we have experienced in six months. It is the only place on our itinerary that we have been to before and we were going to meet up with people we knew. The first time I was here was with my younger brother Emmet and two friends, Alan Smith and Owen O’Doherty, aka Dam Dam, (Black Black in Thai). That first trip was about sixteen years ago. I have since been here on my honeymoon and on a business trip with Lisa. On my honeymoon with Lisa we vistited a place called Na Na Plaza which is basically a small square with a load of go go bars around it, the girls were more interested in Lisa than me which was pretty disconcerting, I got over it eventually. We had also been here with Axel when he was about two and a half years old, so that was about five years ago. Not a lot has changed, the traffic is still awful, the overhead metro is finally finished and the bars are still go-going, closing a little earlier than before but still plying their trade
It was so good to be somewhere where the food lives up to your expectations. Thai food has to be either the original or one of the original fast foods. When we are in Bangkok we eat in a place called Foodland. Foodland is a chain of supermarkets with great reviews far and wide , all with a restaruant facing you when you get through the check-outs and boy is it fresh. The one we go to is on Soi 5 off Sukhamvit Road and is staffed by seven or eight cooks and floor staff all with the same rather grumpy demeanour, they eventually warm up after the first visit, especially with our trump card, someone even more grumpy and unfriendly than they are, Elka. The food is cooked in front of you and if you spend a few visits there you start to see the way the food is put together even with the speed they cook at .
We met up with a friend of ours Mark Fitzsimons who is living in Singapore but was in Bangkok visiting his daughter, I know I have this wrong, Anastia? and her mother . We spent a pleasant afternoon at his hotel with the kids in the pool and the rest of us enjoying a few beers. I had arranged to go out on a night out with Mark and was looking forward to it, having a few beers, looking at the world go-go by and talking shit. It had been a while.
Our evening started out in Foodland in Soi 5 which suited us fine, it would be quick, fresh and over before it started if we wanted it to, we lingered over a couple of beers, watching the ladies do their magic with their fresh ingredients, a mountain of rice and some red hot chillies. We paid up and said our ‘La Kon’s’.
Our first stop was a trip down memory lane which was only a couple of streets down from Foodland and across the road, Na Na Plaza. We walked in to our favorite bar of old, Playskool. Like all the rest, a go-go bar. The go-go goes on inside and outside they have a rectangular bar with seating all around. Mark started off on a variant of vodka and Red Bull except instead of Red Bull they use an energy drink called Shark, vodka and shark, big mistake on my part. The place was looking a lot more jaded and tired that I remembered it, so were the go-go dancers inside. You had to walk passed the girls on the dance podium to get to the toilets out the back. Outside we got the eye of sorts from a couple of the girls making drinks at the bar, this amounted to them catching my eye, and holding their left hand up and pointing at their ring finger, indicating they knew I was married, whether this mattered to them or not I never found out. We got out of there pretty quick and headed up to the new kid on the block in terms of go go, Soi Cowboy.
Once we got to Soi Cowboy we found ourselves a table at a bar which didn’t promise to be a ladyboy bar or anything else we couldn’t have handled and ordered drinks from one of the bar staff. By Thai standards this must have been the ugly bar on the street, certainly by the standards of the staff working outside. It was a different story inside, I know this as once again the toilets were located at the back past the go go podium. There is logic in this. You drink, you have to go to the toilet, you have to go past the other stuff that’s on offer, the go-go girls.
The three ladies working ouside of the bar looked hungry in a foody sort of way so I bought them something to eat from a stall holder out front, they were delighted in a foody type of way, which was ok. They were very attentive to us in a drinky type of way for the rest of the night, which suited us.
We drank a lot of vodka and shark and talked like only two people starved of suitable drinking conpanionship can, me on my world trip and him living the expatriate life in Singapore. I must admit I was really enjoying myself and would have gone on to the death except for Mark noticing something sticky and dark under the table, a pool of blood, my blood. I hadn’t noticed anything but apparently I had stood on the bottom of a broken bottle which went up into my foot just behind my big toe. This part of my foot sticks out over my flip flop’s and the glass went right up into my foot and into the bone, didn’t feel a thing. The anesthetic properties of vodka and shark are no to be underestimated., but should never be mixed with flip flop’s in a city. I dont’ think drunks go into shock either, which is good.
So our night of merriement ended up in a Bangkok hospital where I received tetanus shots and 4 stitches to my left foot. The stitches were the neatest I have ever received and I’ve had a good few. They bandaged me up, tried to give their eight point list of instructions for looking after the wound to Mark , he declined saying he was as drunk as me, so they gave them to me and I was on my way. I think we spent about an hour in the A&E, thankfully it didn’t happen at home, I’d still be on a trolly catching MRSA.
So a tuk tuk ride back to our hotel, the Manhatten Hotel on soi 16 , knock on the door and straight into bed, goggled eyed past a bleary eyed Lisa.
Thanks Mark, bloody good night my man.