More of On Nutter and his famous Top 10 Lists…
THE LANDMARK LEPER:
As the economy slides, aided and abetted by the tragi-comedy of Thai politics, begging is one of Bangkok’s few growth industries. Beggars are everywhere and may soon outnumber tourists. Compassion fatigue is inevitable when confronted with a procession of amputees, down-and-outs, alcoholics and homeless mothers – and it gets even worse when you step outside the Big Mango Bar. Only two beggars receive my largesse – the cross-eyed man who sits outside my condo and the apparent leper who plies his trade near the Landmark Hotel. The latter, pictured here, is extremely vocal and would shame even Bangkok Bad Boy into putting his hand into his pocket. I hand over my hard-earned because I am scared of him. Look at his pitiless eyes – he resembles a former Klong Toey hitman down on his luck. I gave him 100 baht in return for this picture. He didn’t smile. He never does.
NANA PIG DOG’S TATTOOED CLONE:
Here is perhaps the only picture of the Nana Pig Dog in motion. I captured him as he perambulated down Soi 4 in a midday search for more protein, his porcine snout sniffing out abandoned street food. As imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Pig Dog might be pleased to hear that he has a doppelganger not far away at the stairway to Nana Skytrain station. This dog is about as fat as Pig Dog and even less keen on exercise (I have yet to see him move). Bizarrely, he has Thai writing tattooed on his mangy coat, so perhaps some cunning linguist can shed light on what it says.
ROBOCOP PARKING ATTENDANTS:
Is there any other country where so many whistles are blown and hands waved to so little effect? Look at the parking attendant here – police-style motorcycle helmet, bib, white gloves, walkie-talkie and military boots. He looks as though he should be quelling a riot at Government House instead of whistling at motorists who ignore him anyway.
MY LAUNDRY BILL:
After two years in Bangkok’s eastern suburbs, I recently made possibly the biggest mistake of my life by moving to Sukhumvit Soi 4. My reasoning was that I would save a lot of money on taxis to and from the nightlife areas. While that has proved correct, those savings have been wiped out and more by my slide into alcoholism and the extra expenses of living in a tourist area. Out in the sticks, a massage was 100 baht an hour and a haircut was 60 baht; in Fantasyland you can treble those figures and more. The biggest shock, though, has been laundry. After paying about 200 baht a month to get everything washed and ironed out in the wilds, I am now stumping up about 1,000, even though I have found a relatively cheap place that will do it for 80 baht a kilogram. The first laundry I visited tried to scam me by charging for individual items, meaning that I would have been paying 200 baht more than the outrageous 100-baht-per-kilo rate that they advertised in their window. It’s easy to lose your shirt in Soi 4.
Perhaps the reason for the high laundry prices is that your clothes are returned in plastic packaging. I have no idea why. As anyone who has visited a 7-Eleven or supermarket will know, the purchase of 10 items means that your items will be placed in five plastic carrier bags. It is a similar deal with laundry. As my picture shows, my last load was returned in seven plastic packages. There is something strange going on here that we farangs don’t understand, perhaps involving financial links between the laundries and Thailand’s thriving polymer industry.
THE ZOMBIE SKYTRAIN DESCENT:
Thais don’t like to walk – that’s why there are so many motorbike taxis – and when they do reluctantly break into a stride, they have only two speeds: slow and dead slow. It is a fair bet that Thailand’s sprint team will never be found sobbing with pride as they listen to their national anthem on an Olympic podium. This national reluctance to move at an acceptable pace is never more frustrating than when one is attempting to leave a Skytrain station. If you are behind 30 Thais descending a staircase, you might as well sit down and have a packed lunch because you are going nowhere in a hurry. I was recently quite severely disabled through gout (see descent into alcoholism mentioned above) and could only hobble in extreme pain. Even so, I was not able to walk slowly enough to keep in synch with the throng of Thai zombies at Skytrain stations. I have seen milk turn faster.
THE BEER GARDEN:
It is not fair to say that I hate this Soi 7 institution; I just hate what happens to me there. Unlike beer bars and gogo bars, where girls come and go quite regularly, the Beer Garden has had the same old faces since I was a fresh-faced newbie 10 years ago. They never forget you or the fact that you bought them a drink in 1999. They still want to ‒take care” of you even though you really want to be talking to the 21-year-old cutie sitting alone at the far end of the bar. The Beer Garden is the black hole of Bangkok nightlife – enter once and you can never escape.
FARANGS DRIVING TUK-TUKS:
It is bad enough dodging the Thai maniacs who drive these motorised lawnmowers without having to deal with a pissed-up farang doing so for a bet after bunging the driver a few red notes. Besides, they don’t know which massage parlours or Indian tailors to take you to.
KHAO SAN ROAD:
Have you been in daytime recently? The harassment level has gone off the scale, from dozens of persistent tuk-tuk drivers to misguided Indian tailors and even the turbaned ‒Lucky Man” fortune-tellers previously only seen in lower Sukhumvit. You have to question the intelligence of tailors who thought it was a good idea to set up stall in a street where vests and fisherman’s trousers are the height of fashion. Can you really see a backpacker buying a cashmere suit? Then there are the food vendors. Nearly every one specialises in Pad Thai, the noodle dish so beloved of budget-conscious travellers who want to experience ‒the real Thailand” while staying in a theme park. Ugh.
THE BROLLY BRIGADE:
Unlike normal people, Thais don’t use umbrellas when it is raining. They use them to fend off the sun’s evil rays, which seems a bit pointless in a country of dark-skinned people where it is sunny nearly every day. Given their lack of spatial awareness and sloth-like walking, Thais holding umbrellas represent a potentially fatal danger to pedestrians trying to pass them. Be careful out there.