Bangkok, Just gonna throw it out there.
Bangkok Travel Blog› entry 1 of 9 › view all entries
Preface. Last year I took three days of, the year before similiar and before that I went to Faliraki, for many that sounds awefull, but after growing up watching Tenerfie uncovered I had 'A filthy northern pikey lads holiday' on my list of things I wanted to do before dying and was overjoyed (two scars and my first lap dance experience later) to mark it off as complete. However now thats done, and now most of the people I know are middle class it is time I 'travelled'. Travelling it appears, is, component by component the same as going on holiday but often longer. As an added benefit traveling relative to going on holiday comes with moral high ground, nice. Travelling it is :-)
Bangkok; everyone seems to know a little about Bangkok, it is the Mecca for travellers, and rightly so, its exciting, wild, cheap, dirty, annoying, beautiful and mysterious. Having said that I would not want to have spent more than the two days there that I did.
In Bangkok the tour group first meets and oh my it is very much like first day of school, that is except for the skanks that cheat and either come with a partner or some friends. In general the people that come alone are the most fun but not so much in this case, our group, contained, well struggled to contain three blonde girls, Jane, Lindsay and Sara.
Lindsay has braided hair so was clearly a seasoned traveller, Sarah was unquestionably fit in her pink t-shirt (the wondrous impact of the pink t-shirt would become a conversation piece on a few occasions) and Jane, who was a massive character. As often happens when people stick together for a while like these girls have developed and share the same mannerisms and favourite phrases. There favourite phrase appeared to be 'I am just gonna throw it out there', today, as an introduction Jane offered to ‘throw out there’ a visit for the whole group to a Ping Pong show. Even now I remember thinking fuck me, these girls are wild, you could tell most people had an interest in seeing how acquiescing to the offer would impact how they were perceived by the other and as a result most people were cagey about the offer.
The group huddle was early in the afternoon, but earlier that day I met Jane, Alex and Tom. Jane and Alex were the glamorous couple of the group. Tom was my new room mate, what a star he already knew Jane and Alex from the previous day and introduced me to them. We were all set as buddies.
My recollection of the day of activities is sketchy, I remember seeing two temples. Two temples it appears is the required amount for me to become completely 'Templed out'; a term that refers to the fact that you will not feel the need to see another one for a long, long time. Peoples 'Temple out' tolerance tends to be in two camps, those with a low tolerance; the majority, and those with a high tolerance, those looking to discover themselves or widen there perspective. Why anyone, at any age would think they are going to ‘find themselves’ by peering at the artefacts of someone else's religion mystifies me.
Here's what I have learned about temples, they are attractive, there always appears to be a degree of climbing to the top involved, they are never as interesting as you allowed yourself to believe, they will be covered in westerners like a trail of ants and most importantly of all they are hard to get to, very hard.
From the top of each temple you can usually see the next temple, given the Bangkok pollution that means they are not far away. However the route from one temple to another goes via a couple of gem merchants, a department store, a suit makers, the drivers uncles cafe and other assorted 'shopping opportunities'. This is because a group of tourists are more valuable as a shopper than they are as a passengers, as a result every Tuk Tuk driver will be happy to ferry you around for a miniscule price as long as you agree to visit a load of stores on the way.
This is an annoying practice, it means it takes forever to get anywhere, you end up walking around stores your not interested in peering at goods pretending to be interested and eager to get on your way. When one of us had actually bought something the Tuk Tuk driver was no longer interested in the costs for the journey and wavered the fee.
Its miraculous but people learn at an astonishing rate how to deal with the games Thai people play, you have to, on your first day you will be harassed beyond belief and we were, we had only walked 50 metres from the hotel and were 'helped' by a friendly Thai person, indicating that the temples are free today because it is a national holiday. I have no reason to suspect that this is not true, what is alarming is the consistency of the message you will get from the helpful people you will meet. Of the several helpful people we met each of them repeated in excellent English verbatim the same message as if prescribed by the tourist board.
I am not sure if it is the jet lag, the sunshine, the temples or the shopping trips, it is more likely that it is a feature of the beer but a few Tuk Tuk rides later me, Tom, The Mouse (Jane, I will go into this), and the girls were in Khaosan road of Bangkok discussing an adventure to a Ping Pong venue.
The Khaosan road is pretty much where everyone goes in Bangkok, unlike many I feel there is no tragedy in the fact that western travellers all seem to travel through the same path. The Khason road is exciting and I recommend it. The bars to be found here are like western bars with a twist, from memory the girls that serve the drinks tend to have figures that most English girls will never have and can only dream of. It’s a nice sight and there is usually some elephant walking past as well. So the bars are same but different; better in other words.
The Ping Pong bars are in a place called Patpong which is a collective name for the sex district of Bangkok, much like Soho is to London, or the Reeperbahn to Hamburg. Its easily reached from the Khoasan road, in fact depending on your Tuk Tuk driver and your gender it is hard to avoid. As an area it is filthy, queuing outside it appears that the road is crawling with rats, it appears that way because it is that way! I guess, drunk, after dismissing the temples of one of the major religions and about to walk into a Ping Pong show to ogle at girls many times poorer than anyone I will ever know I am in no position to be snooty about the place or indeed the rats.
For me, and I suspect most people there is absolutely nothing erotic about Ping Pong shows, the appeal has much more in common with a Victorian freak show. Me and the Blondes exchanged excited hypothesis about how this or that girl managed to do some trick in a fashion you will see people watching a slight-of-hand card trick or magicians trick. A new girl, a new trick, sometimes, squeamish faces pasted on the already pasty faced audience and then back into the debate about how that was done.
To add to the hilarity Tom can be found at the back of the room blatantly being chatted up by a gay guy with no awareness of it at all. In front of him some white guy is catching flying pieces of banana in his mouth and all around the rest of the room their are local men having a drink not paying any attention whatsoever to the show.
I recommend everyone goes and sees a Ping Pong show. Its weird, disgusting, fascinating, fun's not the correct term but exhilarating seems appropriate.