Walking around here and there in Thailand over a period of time, one sees many little things, not particularly significant in themselves, but one can extrapolate a small story from just seeing something for a few seconds.
Last night I was returning to my hotel, walking from the MRT station along Tanon PraRamSee, and on the footpath, right against an adjacent building's wall, was a motorcycle. There was a youngish guy standing next to the motorcycle with a confused look on his face [he was NOT wearing a motor-sai taxi vest], and sitting on the motorcycle seat was an attractive young woman who was dabbing at the blood on her knee with a tissue. Her knee had a serious gash covering approximately the area of her patella [knee-cap bone].
That scene told me a sad story.
One can find the sublime and the ridiculous within a few steps of one another.
On the MRT a few weeks ago, there was a young farang guy with bat-ears, and he was accompanied by a katuey. From their proximity to, and familiarity with, one another, they looked to be "attached". When they got out of their seats to alight at their stop, the lady-boy's hair swung around a bit, revealing that he, too, had prominent bat-ears. I had a flash of thought go through my mind: It's good that they can't have children who would get seriously heckled at school for their enormous ears...
Little bits of life, as I see and interpret it.
Again, on the MRT: a young guy - perhaps 25 - in the clutches of a well-worn old dragon, at least 10 years his senior. The little bit of conversation that floated my way told it all; there was mention of purchase of some item or other, he said that it was 400 Baht, she said that that was about 100 dollars, and that he could give the money to her, she would change it for him.
I was wandering the streets of Surin a few mornings ago [Christmas day], and I passed a building that was being demolished by two men with sledge hammers. One of these men was sitting astride a portion of wall while he swung his tool of choice at said wall below himself. I didn't hang around to see if he did a Humpty Dumpty, but I'm not convinced that he has a secure future in the demolition business. Across the road in a 7-eleven, a cute little girl sold me recharge credits for my phone and loaded them onto my phone for me. She was soooo sweet...
To me, a hotel is a place to rest my head at the end of the waking day; I'm not especially interested in having a sofa in my room that I might plant my butt on once or twice in a three-week stay, I don't want a mini-bar, an in-floor spa, or satellite/cable TV. Give me a room with a reasonably comfortable bed, air-con that's not too cold, A bathroom with hot water and clean towels every day, and that's all that's needed to keep me happy. So, it's not surprising that I stay in a 2-and-a-half- to 3-star hotel when in Bangkok. And of course, one can meet the most interesting of people in a place like that.
Not long after I checked in, a somewhat large group of tourists commenced their own check-in, and I had the pleasure of witnessing a lot of what happened. This group consisted of deaf mute gay males, sex tourists, all 27 of them, and yes, I did count them. The guy who was the group guide/leader was handling the check-in procedures for them all, and as he got one of the guys sorted out, he would turn to the rest of the group and sign for whoever was next to step up to the plate.
With all of the hand-signing and waving of many hands in the air, I thought that it must be something of a butterfly-collectors' meeting, and the striking feature of the scene was the silence that was only interrupted by the desk staff's questions or instructions.
I left Bangkok the next morning for a visit to Buri Ram, and when I returned to the hotel almost a week later, the butterfly collectors were all gone, however, I can't help wondering how they went about enjoying the night-life of Bangkok. I guess that I'll never know unless I start to go to the sort of places that they would have been visiting, and that's not likely to happen this century.
And talking about other guests in this hotel, there is a cluster of easy chairs in the lobby where I like to sit and wait for my sweetheart to arrive in the evening when she has finished work for the day. This cluster of chairs is also favoured by other guests who don't want to sit in the coffee-shop, and several nights ago, I found myself sitting amongst a number of gay gentlemen of the late middle-age persuasion, and taking part in a lively conversation.
In the course of the conversation, I mentioned that I was waiting for someone who would arrive there at an appointed time. There was a comment that Thais are notoriously unpunctual, and I replied that this one had a very good track record for time-keeping. As fate would have it, the lady arrived at almost exactly the agreed time, and walked directly over to the chairs where I had stood to meet her. When we embraced, there was stony silence from the guys in the chairs, and Tirak and I walked off towards the lift, arm-in-arm.
The following evening, I waited for her again, and these guys, who were there again, excluded me from their conversation. Could that be called "heterophobia", I wonder?
While the matter of sexual orientation has reared its head, I have to admit that I really don't give a tinker's cuss about the sexual desires of other people, on condition that they don't do anything [in public] that is overly offensive to me. One of the activities that I find offensive is smoking [I quit the habit over 20 years ago, and I'm probably the worst kind of anti-smoker that there is on the planet].
I was waiting for a rental car to be delivered to me at my hotel's parking lot, and there are some outdoor tables near the hotel's coffee shop. While ALL of the tables are supposed to be non-smoking, the anti-smoking police sometimes allow the ones nearest the car-park to be used by smokers.
This was about 9:15 AM, and one of the more blatant of the local professional catamites had apparently made a big score the night before and was either celebrating, or drowning his sorrows, I don't know which.
He planted his rear end on a seat at the table nearest the car-park, ordered a beer, and lit up a smoke. At the hotel coffee shop, there are three sizes of beer that a drinker can order other than bottled; there is the glass/tankard, probably about 10 fluid ounces, there is the jug, about 3 or 4 glasses worth, and there is the tower, which is about 6 inches in diameter and maybe 30 inches tall and has a tap at the base. This socially-defiant smoker had a tower in front of him very quickly, and I was a curious spectator. I noted that he was drinking Chang, which is about 6.9% alcohol content, and is a quick trip to catatonia if consumed too quickly.
My rental car arrived, and we went inside to complete the paperwork. About 10 minutes later, I walked out to get into the car, and I noted that the smoking drinker was no longer there; he hadn't been banished to the small wooden sala in the middle of the car-park that is reserved for the smokers, he had disappeared completely.
Another of life's mysteries that will never be solved.
Some people wonder how the description "Amazing Thailand" originated. All they need to do is walk around within the country with their eyes open, and after perhaps a week, they will know how and why the term came into being.
There are some events that will only happen in Thailand. Amazing!
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