Trip Report April 2nd to April 16th – Thailand By Debtstar

 Part 2 – Pattaya Reunion

NOTE:  Yes, it is tedious and drags in some places.  I wrote it this way because A) I transcribed it from a semi-daily log, I didn’t “Hemingway” it,  2) I wrote it for the benefit of those who’ve never been here before and need a sort of “Completely Dumb Idiot’s Guide to Mongering in Thailand”, and III) I sometimes write these notes for myself in order to remember how to do things later on, and I need a “Completely Dumb Idiot’s Guide to Mongering in Thailand” because that’s the kind of guide I understand best.

April 8th (cont) – Checked out and dragged my ton-and-a-half of luggage up Soi 4, along Soi 6, and up all the damn staircases of the Nana BTS Station to catch the Skytrain to the Ekkamie Bus Station.  PROTIP: the only exit on the even-numbered side of Sukhumvit Rd (where the bus station is) is the farthest end from away from the bus station while still on the even-numbered side of the road.  The east end of the platform.  The west end only has an exit to the north side of the road.  Quite a let down when you are manually hauling a ton-and-a-half of luggage in hot, muggy weather (three guesses as to how I know this).

OK, so you’ve managed to drag your ass AND your ton-and-a-half of luggage to the front steps of the Ekkamie Bus Station.  The ticket window you want is to your right.  It has “Pattaya” in really big letters on the window.  Cost, as of the date of this log entry, is 108 Baht.  The trip takes between 2 and 3 hours, depending on traffic and stops.  The bus may make one or two stops to drop off passengers at their request, but for the most part it is on an express run.  Once you get your ticket, continue deeper into the station and out the back to the bus gates.  The Ekkamie-to-Pattaya bus is the first one you come to.  If you have luggage or large packages to check, you line up near the bus cargo hatch with the rest of the passengers.  The station crew puts a sticker on your stuff & gives you a receipt for it.  You then show your ticket at the bus passenger door to another staff member.  They take the ticket stub & you get on to look for your seat.  The seats have the numbers printed on the backs, facing the passenger behind you.  In order to find your seat, you may have to pass it and look in the row behind your seat.  Be careful of the cramped spaces, it’s easy to bang your head, get a cut on your arm, or get your carry-on gear hung up (I got all three).

Once in Pattaya proper, you get off, collect your luggage from the swarm of humanity at the cargo bays, and walk out ahead of the bus to where the baht buses are parked along the south-east corner of the station.  Fare is 50 Baht, and the driver will ask you for the name of the hotel you are going to.  They will also take you to a particular soi, but make sure of the corner or end of the soi you want.  In my case, I asked to go to Soi Diana Inn (thinking the driver might not know a smallish soi existed; Soi Diana was on the area map at the station, LK Metro wasn’t).  I ended up across the street from the BOTTOM of the soi, not the TOP where Soi LK Metro is located.  Next time, I will ask for LK Metro, or The Metropole Hotel (which occupies the space inside the block the two arms of Soi LK Metro form).  Ordered a Heineken at a bar on Soi 11, asked directions, and another baht bus later and I’m on LK Metro.

I round the corner and head straight for the Metro Bar and Apartments.  The rooms were advertised for 800 Baht a night, but I got the price knocked down to 750 on the basis of a Facebook message from the owner, who no longer considered it high-season.  So he told the girls to charge me low-season prices.  A 1000 Baht security deposit was refunded to me upon checkout later on.  The bar on the ground floor has an internet terminal and multiple flat screens with sports schedules chalked on a sign out front.  It serves booze until 3 AM, or later by popular demand, and has menus from 2 different bar and grills on the Soi (The Golf Club and The Windsor, the Golf Club is decent quality and price).  I got the standard room, Economy Class.  It is LIGHT YEARS AHEAD of anything you will find anywhere on Soi Nana in Bangkok for under 1000 Baht a night!  I’d say it is on a par with Woraburi Inn, but cheaper and much closer to the action.  Showered, took a nap, headed out around 9 PM.

Hit a pharmacy on Soi Buakhao to pick up some more Ciallis.  700 Baht for a full 4-pack of tablets (remember the Chinese Pharmacy that charged me 500 Baht for just one?!).  Then along to Subway and got a 6″ ham and chicken with all the trimmings for 89 Baht.  First bar I hit was The Rock House.  Small, no frills single-shophouse bar.  Girls nothing to brag about, but they did have an internet terminal that doubled as the sound system via Youtube downloads.  They also had at least one person in there 24 hours.  I ordered a drink or three and enjoyed making myself obnoxious to the ladies working there.

Next up was Champagne A-GoGo.  Girls were in bikinis and outfits for the most part.  Not sure, but I think the girls in the outfits were coyotes.  Checked out the prices: 800 Baht for a barfine, 3000 Baht for a short time.  Struck up a conversation with #123, Anni(?).  Didn’t mean to spend that much on a bogey, so left.  It suddenly occured to me that I didn’t check to see what amount my latest paycheck was (after pay raise and overtime).  Went to an ATM across from my hotel.

The verdict?  LOTS!  Went back to Rock House and did some onliney stuff, did some celebratory DJ’ing on the Youtube account (Kickstart My Heart, Whiplash, Fool For The City [1996 live version]), then back to Champagne.  Barfined, without needing to haggle, #96 – #123 from Champagne.  Didn’t even consider using the missile, just went to guns and engaged and serviced the target.  Fell asleep, then got her up and out around 5:30 AM, and was ready to call it a night when I remembered something…

The Metro has a little quirk in that the steel shutters are rolled down in front of the front doors when the bar is closed.  To get in or out, you have to use the side alley door in the back near the pool tables.  Poor #123 was wandering around wondering how to break out of her short time prison when I found and rescued her.  Went back to bed for a quick nap.  Got up early and dug my way through the chairs and outdoor furniture that had been put away for the night to reach the computer terminal.  Updated the LOLcats on the Caturday site I liked, emailed my old military buddy that SURPRISE, I’m in country, got some Phad Thai for an early lunch, and am now finishing up my notes.  Will continue over aspirin, French Toast, and beer.

April  10th – It’s now just after 12:30, and I’m at the Subway getting lunch.  Last night, after I met my buddy was a Kaleidoscopic whirl of alcohol, adrenaline, high-speed motorcy runs, and bar girl after bar girl in bar after bar that we roared through.

Started with a meet up in Rock House.  I hadn’t seen M****, my old military buddy, in about 13 years.  As soon as I saw him walk through the doors of The Rock House I jumped up and exclaimed a friendly and sincere greeting to my old Sergeant in the spirit of our former command we were a part of.

SURPRISE, MOTHERF*****!!

We caught up on old times, politics, and our latest medical difficulties over beers.  Then, being thoroughly and successfully drunk for old time’s sakes, we grabbed a couple of motorcys and roared down to Soi 6.  I learned two things after that.  One, how to pronounce motorcy.  Two, if you are wearing an old Big Mango Bar baseball hat, have a place to stow it while on a motorcy.  Gripping it between your front teeth doesn’t count.

We started at the top of the Soi and hit a corner bar with a HUGE mamasan working/managing the place.  She wasn’t too sure of my intentions, but I managed to convince her of my sincerity.  Her: “you sure you lub me?”  Me: “baby, my love for you is almost as big as you are.”

After showing off my cuddling/boob grabbing skills, to the horrified fascination of the onlookers (my buddy and former supervisor was used to that by then), we hit a few more places.  Coming out of one bar, we looked down the street to a bar with balloons on display.  The manager, we learned upon entering, was having a birthday party and had laid on a roast pork dinner with sammiches and carved up watermelon.  In the bar, a chubby, perky bar girl was drunk and hitting on me over snacks.  Or FOR snacks, not sure how well those Pattaya girls are compensated for services rendered.

After some jokes back and forth between my buddy and I about her being ‘right up my alley’ (to which I made a joke about ‘right up her back alley’), I took her upstairs and made her #97 – Emmai.  I had joked earlier about her back alley, but it turned out she was into that!  She got off that way harder than some girls I had done from the front door!  After I finished and we came back downstairs, my buddy and I left that bar and went to Halifax Bar further down the soi.

Got frisky with another bargirl named Noi, but what my buddy REALLY wanted to show me was the bar manager.  She was a hardened tomboy lezzie with a mohawk hairdo.  She would’ve made the ladies I work with in the States proud!  Or put them to shame, whatever.  In any event, Mohawk Momma was an expert fetishist.  When I started to pull a Jonas at the bar (bite me, I’m old and need my old-man naps!), she got a chance to demonstrate it.  She bent me over the couch in the front room, then she whacked me on the rear 3 times with what looked like a long, flexible, pvc conduit pipe.  It hurt just a little, but it was more loud and scary than painful.  And, of course, I was no longer falling asleep!  I got into the spirit and yelled, in my best boot camp voice, “Thank you for conditioning my mind and my body!  A mind and a body are a terrible thing to waste!  SIR!!”  That lady could make a fortune in Bar Bar up in Bangkok!

After bailing from Halifax, we grabbed another 60 Baht ride on motorcys and hustled back to LK Metro.  Went in The Cave and caught a live band (which, I later learned, is the one thing they are good at).  Mainly rock & metal covers, though without the English skills to actually sing them.  My buddy and I fooled around with a couple of the bargirls.  He got a slutty-looking one in a cocktail dress, I got the actual bartender, Oib, in a semi-uniform with a combination nervous/exasperated look on her face that made her look cute.  Can’t imagine why a lady would be nervous/exasperated from hanging off my arm while I bought her drinks.

Anyhow, I drunkenly bellowed and sang along with the band through the difficult lyrics that the lead singer didn’t know.  Shut down the band and the bar around 2-ish.  Went over and finished off the night at the Metro Bar.  After my buddy left, I ran out past the Subway to OzBurgers street cart, got a bacon-cheeseburger, and came back for a 4th-meal of beef, beer, bacon, and bread.  Only fell asleep once halfway through the burger, but it must not have been long because when I woke up to continue eating, the same rugby/soccer match was on the flat-screens and the bar was still full of drunken Aussies mumbling some strange, incomprehensible language.  Then again, that was the scene from the Friday I entered the hotel to the Tuesday when I checked out.

April 10th (cont) – Finished my sub, and almost done with latest stretch of jotting down my nocturnal miss-adventures.  Over to the Metro to check my latest emails, then off to another brilliant adventure.  Already extended my stay for another night, and am seriously thinking of staying Monday night as well.  Will probably hole up in Bangkok for Songkran and do my taxes (I brought my forms and supporting documents down with me to do when I got insomnia or something).  After that, it’s ‘back to the chorus line’ and back to the world.

I spent all of Sunday night hanging at The Cave drinking with and talking to Oib.  I had planned to head down to Soi 6 again (I deliberately avoided the Coconut Bar and Walking Street to cut expenses and cheating scams), but the band was doing a marathon of covers of Floyd and other British Supergroups, so I spent another night there.  I figured this was more enjoyable than getting ripped off by bargirls, so I passed on the later for the former.  I later get some fish & chips from a street cart at the Buakhao end of LK Metro.  I spent very early Monday morning inhaling fish, chips and a warm beer all while contemplating just how fortunate I was to be able to do this after spending the previous four years in the American rust belt pissing and moaning about my unfortunate fate.

April 11th – Monday night at Amethyst and there’s another balloon chaser’s special.  Buffet food (chicken wings, nuggets, and breaded shrimp) for free with purchase of drinks.  Got to draw a prize raffle ticket out of a hat.  Mine said “free hug”.  So I got up and walked over to the Mamasan.  She asked me which lady I wanted, and I pointed to her and said “C’mere and gimme a hug!”  Hugged up and copped a couple of feels.  The other girls thought that was hilarious and started applauding.

Afterwards, I headed over to Eden Club.  I had always wanted to hit the place on Soi 7/1 up on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok, but could never justify the expense at the time.  This time was different.

I followed the usual deal; girls lined up for you to pick two of to go with you up to the room.  Girls on one side of the yellow line don’t do anal, those across the line do.  There were a couple of start-up West Coast American hip-hop artists/playahs sitting at the bar trying to work up the nerve to do what I was doing (must’ve been 1st time at Eden, or in Thailand for that matter).  I decided to pass on a pro-tip to the boys and said loudly, “I’ll take that pro-anal chick on the far end, but she can pick whoever else she wants.  That way she gets someone she licks, and the whole thing will go smoothly for all concerned.”

With the other guys at the bar going “sheeeeeeeiit” or something like that, we all three headed up to the room with #98 and #99 – Josie and Luk.  We took turns doing alternate orals, but what I most enjoyed was how the girls demonstrated the use of the strap-on on each other.  Pulled a “Sam Kenison” (“came on her back, stole 40 bucks outta her purse, and jumped out the bedroom window”, only without the stealing or window jumping part).

Went back downstairs and chatted with the manager, a Thai-American fellow.  Talked about how rumours of the industry going away weren’t just rumours: he’d seen business at his place and around the sois drop off for the past two years straight.  Very informative and educational conversation.  Then it was off to The Cave again for more drunken headbanging.

Must’ve been my lucky balloon chaser night because a newbie that was even drunker and more head bangy than I was ordered three boxes of pizza from a nearby place.  Got a free slice of Canadian Bacon and pineapple pizza.  Great for drunk munchies!  Had to change rooms earlier that day because my room had been reserved for someone else that night.  New room was only up one flight of steps, which is a great improvement for an old guy like me with drunk legs.  Turned in “early” at 1:45 AM.

April 12th – check out day.  Migrate back to Bangkok, then brace for Songkran.  Got my laundry back Ya Laundry, 285 Baht for a bag of laundry (prices itemized by clothing item, not by weight).  Place is run by an old Aussie.  Talked with him for a few about status of the night entertainment industry around Pattaya.  His take was that business was definitely slowing or had fallen off the past few years, and wasn’t sure what it would take to bring it back.

Anyway, I grab my ton-and-a-half of luggage and walk over to Soi Buakhao.  A succession of baht buses and motorcys slow in front of me trying to get custom.  I keep waving them away in search of an actual taxi.  At first, the only taxis I see are taken.  Then, a minivan taxi across the street slows and beeps at me.  I jump up and down and wave my arms frantically in a hilarious (to some) imitation of an old Warner Brothers cartoon character.

Amazingly, taxi stops and waits for me across the road.  I load my bags and myself inside and get ready for more painful price gouging and/or hard bargaining.  To my surprise, a cab is available at high noon in Pattaya on a weekday, the driver has a meter, the meter is activated, and the driver in question is a cheerful, pretty girl who speaks a little English.  JACKPOT!  Her name was Em-Orn, and I got her business card and hand-phone number for my next trip down to Pattaya (number available upon request).  Nothing like door-to-door service in a air con-equipped taxi for 35 Bhat driven by a pretty lady to start and finish a Pattaya adventure.  Now back at Bangkok for the remainder of my nights at the Metal B&B and ready to head for Cactus Bar for the big Tuesday Night feed as soon as I finish this chapter of my trip log.

To be concluded…

 

“Europe – Love it or Hate it!” by Lomeo

This time last year I got to spend a few weeks on the continent – Had it really been a year? Let’s take a walk down memory lane and see what I can remember.

It all started with a drunken romantic gesture on Valentines Day to take Juliet to Paris – here’s the tip boys, not a good idea to book flights when one of you needs a visa to travel.

But I’ve never been one to play things safe, just not in my DNA. Luckily we have an excellent visa agent (can’t stress how this can really help you – some things are not worth doing yourself, even if you can – read that again!).

After a few trips to Bangkok (we were living in Hua Hin at the time), and about a month

later Juliet had a 14 day Schengen visa in her passport and we were ready to head to the City of Light.

Flew with Air France because I wanted a direct flight and the premium economy seats were a treat – I’d done some research and some loved them while others hated them (PE seats).

They are those ‘shell’ types which recline within their own enclosure – much better than having some asshole recline their seat in front of you for 10 hours or so. Good food, plenty of booze and a handful of films later we were in CDG. Wow, huge changes since I had been there last, and for the better. It had been 9 years since I was last in Europe.

He’s a summary of the trip in a love/hate perspective; feel free to add your thoughts:

Paris:

Stayed at a hotel in the 19th. Rooms were very small, but it did have a balcony. I remember eating a Subway sandwich on the balcony sucking back a big Belgian tinnie watching the sun’s rays pierce through the clouds onto Sacre Coeur. Almost divine intervention. One of those images where a photo just wouldn’t do it justice.

sacre-coeur-morning

Loved:

Seeing the Eiffel Tower, the French cafes and bistros, the food (think baguettes not 5 star restaurants) ,French women (especially the African ones oh la la !), Notre Dame cathedral. Actually, just being back in Paris. One of my favourite cities.

Hated:

The Louvre (too many people), the metro (too many stairs), the hotel room (too small)

After a few days we were at the Gare du Nord and jumping on a train bound for Amsterdam. I remember a bunch of lads on a stag do who all had matching shirts made for the occasion. I’m sure they had a great weekend ahead of them.

Amsterdam:

Loved sitting in a canal-side cafe drinking draft Heineken watching the bartender run the whole show. Sent Juliet off shopping and just sat there soaking up the atmosphere. Heieneken tastes great in Holland, not so good anywhere else anymore IMO.

Stocked up on beer at the local supermarket. Being able to by Belgian beers for the price of Leo is a rare treat. A six pack of Hoegaarden and one of Duvel thanks mate!

Hated:

Not being able to spend longer there, and the cost of the hotels. We couldn’t find anything cheap (under EUR 200) around the town centre and had to go out near the arena, so a 20 minute train trip from the action. We must have hit the town on the wrong weekend (happens a lot in Europe, if there is an event on).

Next stop Sweden via air.

Sweden:

Loved that we knew someone there, a guy called Lars that we had met in Hua Hin. He has a place in Malmo and organised a few nights for us in his condo complex. He showed us around, we had a great bbq and he took us on a kick ass pub crawl into Denmark.

Pub crawls by their very nature are cool, but when they span countries that’s taking it to the next level.

We met Lars at the Malmo train station and had a pint at the local Sports Bar then jumped on the train to Copenhagen, which is only about 30 minutes away. We hit about 3 different bars in Copenhagen, can’t remember their names, but they were all quite different from each other (and unlike anything you’ll find in Thailand).

Craft beers, good food, and for good measure Lars said it was traditional that we stuff a hotdog down our throats before jumping on the train back home (given we were still standing at the hotdog stand 4 minutes before the last train of the night left, stuffing is not an exaggeration). We finished the night at one of the bars in Malmo with a few beers before stumbling back to the hotel in the cold of light.

Hated that Jonas was in Sweden at the same time but it was too hard to organise a meet-up, some lame excuse about having to spend time with his family. Priorities man!

Next stop Munich via air.

Munich

Hated:

Two words: Lost Luggage. Here’s the tip – don’t fly low cost carriers with a connecting flight.

Recipe for travel angst right there. We spent the bulk of our time tracking down our luggage which luckily found us. Airlines are little help in this scenario. A real pain in the ass. Killed the one day we had for sightseeing. Only upside was weather was lousy, which would have restricted our options anyway.

When housekeeping cleaned the room they couldn’t see any bags so thought we had ‘checked out’ (Never mind checking with the front desk). Stole or binned anything we had left in the room (luckily nothing of value – maps. postcards, phone charger and some coins). Mad me really fucking mad – of course, the hotel is not responsible. As they did not take a copy of my passport, nor am I for the broken toilet!

Loved:

German beers, especially Wheat beers. Drank about 10 to wash down a Pork Knuckle/Potato/Sauerkraut feast on our last night there.

I was happy to be leaving Munich, and after two nights I was sitting at the HauptBahnhof (main train station) drinking beer at 8 in the morning waiting for the train to Venice. Two good things – (1) no-one bats an eyelid at drinking beer in Germany at any hour, and (2) the train trip from Munich to Venice is , IMO, one of the most scenic in Europe. Bonus: Juliet got to see snow for the first time.

Venice

Loved the wine tour we did upon arrival in Venice. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. It was a bit of a scramble to get there – the meeting point was the Basillica de Friari, and we had about 15 minutes to get there after the train pulled into Santa Lucia station. We made it and then spent the next 3 hours exploring hidden bars that you would not likely find on your own – the group is limited to 6-8 people and everything was great – the wine, food and information provided by our guide. Highly recommended if you are in Venice. (about EUR 50 per person)

6840300371_e8d772f982_b

The next day we explored by ourselves, trying to find some of the bars from the day before. We found one and discovered a new one. That’s one thing I’ve learned about Venice, it can be really hard to find places on subsequent visit s (without GPS) – the nature of the city being so labyrinthine.

Hated – sorry, can’t think of a thing. Really enjoyed Venice this time round, much more than my first time.

Next stop France. Boat to the airport (can’t say that too often), followed by a flight to the

‘EuroAirport’ (Basel/Mulhouse/Freiburg).

 Strasbourg

 With a view to breaking up the trip back to Paris we planned a stop in Strasbourg. I made a bad decision by not getting a bus straight there from the airport, instead opting for a bus/train combination which ended up taking 2 hours longer after we got stuck at the St-Louis train station.

Then I had some trouble finding the hotel, walking around for an hour when it turned out I was one street away. Part of the fun of travel. Luckily the time of year we were traveling the sunset was quite late so we still had time to dump our bags and make it to the cathedral for a few beers before dinner. As cathedrals go, it’s one of the better ones – stunning really.

Next morning we trekked back the train station for the TGV back to Paris.

Paris .. again

We had 3 more days in Paris before heading home. This time we stayed in the 13th not far from Place d’Italie. A much better hotel and location that the first choice. Turned out this was the ‘asian’ area of Paris and we had little trouble locating Thai restaurants (which I refused to eat at ..mon dieu!) in the area. More shopping, drinking and eating and then it was time to jump in a taxi to head back to CDG for the flight home. Two weeks had gone by in a flash.

2015-11-19-1447968585-1661590-6672156239_89c77d53d8_o

 Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to see in Europe. As it was Juliet’s first time there I tried to come up with an itinerary that took in the places she really wanted to see. When you only have limited time, travel between stops takes a big chunk out of both your calendar and wallet. Next time, I would adopt more of a ‘slow travel’ mind-set and focus on one country. Eastern Europe also appeals, as I have never been.

Would also look at an ‘Open Jaw’ air ticket. Flying in and out of the same airport doesn’t always make the best sense in Europe.

Travellers cheques – I’m probably the last person to have had some on the planet. Luckily I was able to cash them at the Munich airport. They can be a real hassle to cash in some parts of the world now  – leave home without them (sorry Karl!).

The Dateful Eight… – By Debtstar

(NOTE: the exchange rate hovered around 35 Baht to the Dollar for the duration of my trip)

April 1st – After seven weeks mandatory overtime at work on a project I absolutely detested, I was stressed out, burned out, tapped out and fapped out.  I needed a vacation, so I decided to give myself one by quitting my job.

This time out, I wanted to do something a little different.  I wasn’t merely taking some time off.  This time, I was a man on a mission.  A long time ago, I had sat down and tallied up my “kills” during my career (much like a fighter pilot).  I reckoned that, by March 2016, I had been with 92 different women during my travels abroad.  If I could get 8 more, I could enter the Century Club.  I would become a triple-digit-midget.  If I was in the Luftwaffe, I could’ve earned the ‘Nights Cross’ of the Iron Cross.  I would have an award ceremony like that medal scene at the end of Star Wars.  I!  Would!  Be!  A!  Somebody!

And so I researched airfares online (hipmunk.com has a handy feature that lets you look at a monthly calendar overlaid with airfares color coded by price), checked out all the usual websites (Mango, Stickman, Bangkok Eyes, Thai Anxiety, Soldier of Fortune), and got ready to go.

The tale of how I tried to apply for time off is worth a write-up itself.  I applied for personal time off three weeks in advance, but the company deliberately delayed denying me the time off until a week before my flight left.  Not enough time to tender the usual two weeks notice of resignation, and the tickets were heavily discounted.  Meaning that I couldn’t change or refund them without a steep penalty for doing so.  My last day was April Fools day, which gave me a unique opportunity for pranking my co-workers.

I was going around saying my goodbyes and notifying my team leader what my password to my network account was, so she could go into my account inbox and fix all the service requests that were going to be rejected for being routed to the wrong department at the client (which wouldn’t be a problem if she and the project manager hadn’t been such bitches about miss-leading us during our training phase).  The last thing I said to the project members, huddled in their cubicles staring up at me, was “Before I go, raise your hands if you’ve ever seen the TV show, Undercover Boss”.  A bunch of my co-workers raised their hands.  “Well”, I began in a much deeper voice while taking off my glasses, “I have a special announcement to make…”

Everyone leaned forward with hope and baited breath.

“…I’ve never had a chance to catch more than a few episodes, and now that I have some time on my hands I’m looking forward to catching up on the past couple of seasons of the show.  Thanks for everything guys, you’ve been a great bunch of people to work with.”  And with that, I headed out the door and left the company to its fate.

Off to my local watering hole to order a celebratory Martini or three.  Dinner, ironically enough, was a Thai Chicken Salad – cheap at only $11 plus gratuity.  I got home and had enough beers to make me do the Jonas at my computer desk.  The next thing I know, it’s 1:30 AM.  I can now pack, prep and shower for a 3:30 AM cab for a 4:00 AM showtime at the local airport for a 6:00 AM flight.  36 hours after that and I’ll be a dimwit on easy street.  The cab fare was $35.  Expensive, but it was a friend of the bottom-floor neighbor and could be depended on to actually show up (unlike Yellow Cab; they take 15 minutes to an hour to respond and the driver may or may not speak English).

Getting into security this time was a breeze.  Getting into the seats on the next two flights was something else.  I swear the seats and aisles fit tighter than they ever have in my life.  I know I’m not any fatter than I’ve ever been, so it must be the planes.  Did they shrink them in the four years since I last flew?

Boarding the leg from Newark to Tokyo, I ran into a little hiccup.  I had seat 37D, middle seat on the left.  The other seats had a Japanese family in them.  And who should be in my seat but granny, with a ticket for seat 33D.  The steward, who ended up straightening the situation out for us, said there is no seat 33D.  The travel agent had sold them a bogus ticket.  No worries, I got a window seat a couple rows back that a little old lady was giving up so she could be with HER family.  Having successfully played ‘Rubiks rows’, I settled in for the day and a half ride in a seat marginally bigger than a high chair for infants.

Thank whoever may be up there for the in-seat entertainment screen on the international flights.  They kept me from going more insane than I already am, while letting me catch up on the movies I was too cheap to see in the theatres back home.  All for the price of a round-tripper to the far side of the world.

I had connecting flights at Newark Liberty International, New Jersey and Narita International, Tokyo.  Newark smelled like sulphur and stale beer.  Narita smelled like some of the girls I used to go down on in Korea.  I’m pretty sure this means something, but not exactly what.

I boarded the flight for the Tokyo to Bangkok leg of the trip.  I shared a three-holer with a hot blonde from the US.  She had finished up her semester in college, and was going backpacking in Thailand for the next two months to ‘discover herself’.  I was a good boy; I didn’t laugh or snicker even once.  I did, however, ensure that there were people waiting at Swan Boom Airport for her to give her a lift to wherever she was going.  I’m kind of a gentleman that way you know (snicker).

We were taxiing up to the terminal on the ground in Bangkok, when the co-pilot got on the horn to announce that it was 11:15 PM on April 2nd.  Then a few minutes later, he hastily got on the PA to correct himself and announce that it was actually April 3rd.  As one person, the entire group of passengers started cursing and crossing out the wrong date they had all entered on their customs forms in order to enter the correct date.

After clearing customs and collecting my bag, I headed toward the front of the terminal to get a cab.  I remember reading on this blog about how Graham had gamed the taxi system by going upstairs to departures and getting a cheap meter taxi dropping off a fare going TO the terminal.  I thought to myself, “self (hic), time to take advantage of another’s experience!”  I wandered around the front of the building, looking for a cab in the incubator heat and humidity (it was still April in New York, and as cold and clammy like Hilary’s love for Bill).

Finally, I spotted some cabs across the lane divider in the far right group of lanes.  None of them said ‘meter’ on them, but I figured I could dicker with the drivers and barter down the fare.  I stick my head in a minivan taxi and ask the guy how much it would be.  The guy shows me a laminated plastic fare menu and points to the first price on the list – 900 Baht.  A little steep, but less than what I paid for the ride to my airport back home.

We’re about halfway to Sukhumvit Road when he asks about toll money.  I say something like, “for 900 Baht, you ought to have plenty to pay tolls.”  He says, “no, 1500 Baht!”  He whips out the piece of plastic and points to the price on the other side of the row.  The side with a little picture of a minivan next to the price.  The 900 Baht fare I thought I would pay had a little picture of a car taxi next to it.  It’s too late to ask him to stop, and anyways we’re on an 8-lane express way somewhere in deepest darkest Bangkok.  No turning back or getting off now, even if I had to.  I chalk it up to a learning experience (Graham’s tip about departure terminal cab availability was probably meant for the time HE would land, not when I would land) and eat the cost.

He drops me off on Soi Nana in front of some ladyboys just before the turn to Soi 6.  He and the ‘boys have great fun watching me pay waaay too much.  After getting rid of him, I grab my bags and head up to the Swan Dive to get a room.  I head back behind the stairs to where the front desk is in back.  The elderly Somchai manning the desk says, “all full, no vacsee no vacsee” or something like that.  SHIT!  Was counting on staying there for the best mix of cheap rates and proximity to the action.

I turn around and head back to Soi Mango.  There were multiple short time hotels and hostels last time I checked on Moogle or Gashquest or whatever I used.  I had stayed several months at the old DI Mansion once upon a time, so I stopped in to see what they had to offer.  980 Baht a night.  I paid for two nights and trudged over to the stairs to go up to my room… until I saw the new elevator that had installed.  Well, THAT’S new.  I rode up to my floor and tried the electronic key card.  Doesn’t work.  I try it several times.  Doesn’t work.  Grumbling, I go back down to get the desk clerk to fix the problem.  After frantically typing on his keyboard (probably to activate the damn card in the first place), he leads me up to the room and unlocks the door with a single swipe while lecturing me about how to use the card key.  I shut the door in his face while he is halfway through his monologue.  As the lights come on, I pull up short.

The room is WAY better quality than what I remember: black tile interior, big flat screen TV, air con that actually works this time, tiled bathroom with separate shower with glass door.  Worth the 980 Baht after all.  I get cleaned up, change clothes, and get ready to hit the streets.

April 4th – First stop was a little outdoorsy bar like Cheap Charlies, only cheaper and Charlier.  It was called No Name Bar.  After discovering they served Beer Lao, I promptly ordered up and got busy drinking.  This place would be one of my two ‘home bars’ during my stay in the “City of Skankgels”.  Rung the ‘Gory Bell’, although at that time of night there wasn’t that many to drink from my wallet, farang or girls.  Around 2:00 AM I paid up and headed out to Soi Nana to see what there was to see.

My first impression of Soi Nana after all these years was that, even though the low season may have started, there where a helluva lot of bars, eateries, and outside sidewalk bars in full swing.  The customer numbers may have been thin to farang who stay there full time, but to me it looked like the place was exploding with festivities.  Of course, being in the rust belt for four years surrounded by dour, grim bible-thumper would color my perceptions of the night entertainment venues at the time.

Another thing I noted was that, in spite of it being past 2:00 AM, there were still several places pumping.  The Hilary Bars were rocking, one with a live band.  The side alleys had several small bars and side-walk bars pumping along as well.  I passed them and headed out to Sukhumvit Road to check out the overall scene there.

Here, I finally started seeing the draw-down that Stickman and others had referred to before.  There were the usual half-dozen side-walk bars there, but only about one or two customers per.  Most of them looked Asian, possibly Chinese by the sounds of their talking.

I grabbed a seat at the largest one and started ordering the usual Sangsom Cokes.  No music, so I couldn’t listen to anything other than the morning rush hour traffic.  As I talked to the girls that worked there, they told me that I looked familiar.  Turned out that they were former bargirls from Morning and Night, one of my old haunts back in the day.  We all had fun drinking rounds from my bank account while I played grab-ass with a couple of the girls there.  Before I new it, it was 5:00 AM and I was starting to get tired.  Decided to head back up Nana and check things out again before going to bed.

Most of the bars were closed by now, but some of the side alley side-walk bars still had the lights on, including No Name Bar.  Had a couple of Beer Lao nightcaps and headed off to nap for a bit.

April 4th (continued)- Up at 12, out at 1 PM.  After wandering around and checking out some old haunts, ghosted my way back to the DI Mansion.  The Big Mango Bar is now a hostel and short time hotel called Metal B&B, 300 Baht short time, 500 for an overnight.  There were several other hotels in the alley with similar prices.  The hostel at the far end of the alley had an internet terminal that the desk clerk let me use once for the price of a Chang Beer.  Some of the hotels have coin-operated laundry machines that let you do your wash self serve (must use 10 Baht coins, you supply the detergent and dryer sheets).

After picking up some Ciallis at the Chinese Pharmacy near Bullies (1,000 for 2 measly pills!), I stayed in all day to rest up. Later after a quick snack at the Family Mart, I came back to barfine #93 – Tik.  Plain-Jane girl, but with a nice body.  We had been drinking together the earlier on the 4th.  The Ciallis had trouble working, which I figured was due to having bought pirated, counterfeit medication.  That, and all the booze I’ve consumed over the years to stay moderately sane.  But there is something about having a woman after a long, dry spell.  Kept at it and scored anyways.  Afterwards, stayed in room and watched movies on Cinemax.  Didn’t sleep, still jet-lagged.

April 5th – Up and packed.  Had breakfast at The Tavern, which became my other ‘home bar’ during my stay in Bangkok.  Went up to Internet Cafe across from Swan Dive to catch up on my email and such.  STILL no sleep, I would continue to cat-nap and experience sleeplessness at night for the whole two weeks I was in-country (and am still to this date).

Moved out of DI Mansion and into Metal B&B for 2 nights.  Room exactly 1 bed wide by 2 beds long.  No TV, but the air con works just fine, and that’s fine enough for me.  2:45 PM and now back in Tavern updating these notes and considering my next moves.  Still on a mission, but need to husband my cash.  Tired and worn out, so I spent most of the day in my room with the air con running full blast and a Dale Brown book for company.  Went out late around midnight to hang at the No Name Bar.

I checked out Nana Plaza.  Quite frankly, with the makeover that happened in the center with the roll-around bars and the increasing frequency of ladyboys, the Plaza just doesn’t do it for me.  I liked the old style better.  It may have been grungy, but it didn’t have the mass-produced institutional feel that the Plaza has today.  Or maybe I’m just getting old?

April 6th – Scouting missions to Rajah Hotel parking lot, Patpong 2 bars, and odd-numbered side of Sukhumvit Road.  Notice LOTS of taxis with ‘meter’ light bar off on Sukhumvit Road wanting to barter for higher fare.  Got in and right out of one.  Finally got a meter taxi to Patpong.  Driver wouldn’t even give me change from 60 Baht for a 53 Baht fare.  First up, Black Pagoda.  Ordered an Asahi.  Mostly empty when I went in, plenty of very nice ladies.  Fooled around with Nani.  Wanted to meet “glasses girl”, but she got off the stage and went to changing room before I got to talk to her.  A few Hi-So, heavy-set Thai Males sitting around and watching me while drinking.  Not saying their Mafia, but…

Next, The Strip.  Stickman mentioned something about a bottle of beer free if you go in before 9 PM.  Asked about it, but got a blank look and many fingers pointing at a menu of beers.  Ordered another Asahi and watched the show.  Music at Strip was 80s classic rock DJ mix, a nice change from the bubble-gum pop that passes for music back in The World nowadays. Talked with Am, a really nice 18-something with big, natural ones and a butt I liked (not too big, but not skinny).  One beer and off to Electric Blue.

Stickman had mentioned something about a bottle of beer free if you go in before 9 PM.  I asked about it, but got a blank look and many fingers pointing at a menu of beers.  Mamasan asked me which girl I wanted to buy a drink for.  I asked the mamasan if she was married or had a boyfriend.  She was a married grandmother, so I deflected her demands for more spending by making conversation about her grand kids.

Saw dancer #39 on stage, best looking one.  The others were average at best that night.  Or maybe the heat and humidity were affecting me, I don’t know.  As I wrote earlier, I’m getting old.  Globe trotting isn’t as easy as it used to be.

Walked around both Patpongs for awhile, checked out Soi Katoy (lots of Hi-So, trendy Tapas-style and Cabaret establishments), then hopped on BTS to go back to Nana Station.  I next stopped in at CheckInn 99.  In spite of practically living in Thailand long ago, and having visited many times since, this would be the very first time I had ever been in this place.

Good vibes! The customer, band and staff interactions were a lot like the old days that I remembered.  Wish I had explored this place a bit more when I had the chance long ago!

I was curious about the rumours that Bangkok MILFS would have older woman dancing and available for barfines, so I went over to Nana Plaza and checked out Bangkok Bunnies.  Dancer #39, Noh, took off her top and threw it at me, and I caught it perfectly in one hand.  A good omen for this trip.  However, she quoted me some outrageous barfine and short time price, so I pinky-shaked my way out of the bar.

After the plaza, wandered up Sukhumvit to corner of Soi 11.  There, sitting on the steps, sat #94 – Im.  Another wide-body, this girl was BIG!  As soon as we made eye contact, I knew she was gonna be mine.  At least for as long as it took to come.  She was spunky with a crazy sense of humor, massive tits, and a few of her own teeth left in her mouth!  After the usual haggling, we walked until we were able to hail a Tuk-Tuk.  We then went on the Tuk-Tuk Kamikaze Ride from Hell!  We were stuck in a big line of traffic westbound, so the driver got in the right lane to make up time.  We ended up charging head on at a taxi.  Im was laughing crazily, I screamed a rebel yell, and our Tuk-Tuk driver was angrily waving the taxi driver to move aside as we careened up Soi 11 towards our doom!  Ducked diagonally into an open spot in the left lane just as the oncoming taxi arrived at the same space in the road.  Missed us by inches!  We made it to a “cloaked motel” (tarps blocking the front of the walled off parking spot in front of the room).  Got into it after cleaning up, and experienced another missile performance malfunction.  I said it before, and I’ll say it again; it sucks getting old!  Took the other Ciallis, and relaxed and fooled around with Im until things started working again.  Score.  We had the room for 3 hours total, so spent 2 1/2 hours just lying in the air con.  Big difference for a fat hooker used to sitting on a dirty sidewalk all night!  Woke her up from her nap and we walked over to Soi 3.  From the corner of Soi 3 and Sukhumvit we went our seperate ways.

April 7th – Patrol to Soi Cowboy.  I remember reading about how Cactus Bar used to have free pig roasts to piss off The Arab and bring in the customers.  Figured I would check the place out and see if I could score a free meal balloon chasers style.  Was also on the lookout for my next score.

I started with a beer in Sam’s 2000.  I used to hang out with Sam and her husband back in the day, then hung with her at her new Sports Bar on Sukhumvit during my visits in later years.  Sam was nowhere to be found this time out, and the service at Sam’s 2000 showed.  The girls had their little kids running around in and out of the bar, getting underfoot.  The bar was cluttered, and the fans were all aimed at the bargirl’s table.  The girls themselves were devoted to their smart phones and worked hard to ignore me and blow off anything resembling customer service.  Finished my drink, paid up with exact change, and left vowing never to return.

Checked up Soi 23 a ways to see what was there for getting a bite to eat, then turned around and headed back to The Flying Dutchman (or whatever it’s called) (The Old Dutch – ed.) for a quick salad and an ice coffee to wake me up.  Thus refreshed, went to Crazy House on Soi 23.

I will say this for Crazy House – if you have the cash to swing it, it WOULD be a fun place.  The dancers are hot and dance fully naked.  In fact, there are so many naked girls on stage there was barely room for them all at one point.  There is also good hands-on interaction with the girls in the seating area.  The downside is that, once you tell them that your not paying their prices, they drop you faster than a drop tank off a fighter jet.  Had a couple of drinks, picked out a couple of future probables, then headed out.

Next up, my aforementioned attempt at a free meal at Cactus Bar.  Cactus John had a 7-course grilled steak dinner on tap for 600 Baht.  No free roast pigs anymore, apparently.  Was OK, because both Cactus and Crazy House had 100% nude dancers.  Crazy House had over a dozen on stage at once.  Very expensive to tangle with them though.  Was quoted a 700 Baht barfine and 3000 Baht for short time.  Girls not as enthused about being there, either.  Cactus girls also naked, but more fun loving and perky.  Between the drinks and the lady drinks used to pump info from the girls, spent over 2000 Baht in one night with no score.  No way for me to run a rail-road!  Did have a chat with Cactus John about life and everything in Bangkok nowadays.  From what I gathered, no long high season plus scared-away tourists equals no free lunch anymore.  BTS’ed it down to Check Inn 99 and hung out with Jenny, one of the wait staff there.  She remembered me from the previous evening, and she told me stories about the late Mama Noi, the manager who did so much to make Check Inn 99 one of the special places to be for old Thai hands.  No barfining, but enjoyed the ability to just relax and talk with someone with a head on their shoulders.  Headed back to Metal B&B and turned in “early”.

April 8th – After a dawn patrol on odd-numbered Sukhumvit (no bogeys or bandits), was thirsty as hell so grabbed a BOGO free Pocori Sweat and closed down No Name Bar with a couple of sports drinks.  Decided to see how Naree Massage was getting along lately, so headed further in up the Soi.  Got cleaned up and dressed, then headed up the street for #95 – May.  45 year old front desk girl working the reception area (nearly as old as I am!).  Old, plain looking, but really nice masseuse and a big fan of American Cowboy culture (movies, outfits).  She even played spaghetti western theme songs during our session.  Our suite was a big room with full bed, rock garden, full bath big enough not to run the shower on the toilet, and a separate, open-air room for a bathtub with a trellis covering the exposed top of the room.  There were bamboo cane decorations and aromatherapy candles on all rooms.  Would make a nice place to take a bath with a girl under a full moon.  Could’ve passed for a full fledged spa resort room back in the States, and for far greater entertainment at far less of a price!

Did the usual handy-to-boob-to-oral.  She really appreciated the fact that I gave oral to her as good as she gave to me.  Shot a load of ‘shrapnel’ on her boobies. May was SUPER sweet about everything.  She also tried to look out for me by giving me tips about ladyboy pickpockets and knock-out drops from bargirls during short times.  She so impressed me that, if we had met earlier in life, could she have been a potential ex-Mrs Debtstar?

Now finishing this part of the log at The Tavern over a Full American breakfast.  And all before 10 AM!  To paraphrase Den from the cartoon movie Heavy Metal, “4 years of nothing, and now three girls in three days.  What a place!”

Will head down to Pattaya this afternoon and check out Soi LK Metro.  I’m going to hook up with an old buddy of mine I knew from my days in the military.  5 more scores to go.  To paraphrase Red Leader from Star Wars, “Almost there!”

 

To be continued…

Last Weekend with the Rats

It’s pretty rare that 6 of the Rats are all in town at the same time these days.  So when last weekend came around and we were all in the hood.. we decided a little meet was in order!

The plan was to meet for breakfast in Hanrahans at 10am.      So it was no surprise when I received a photo of a bottle of beer at 08:45 from Jonas, saying he’d already started.

The night before, I arrived from Dubai and had Miss Tim meet me at the hotel.   Last time I stayed at the Dynasty Inn which is a great location, but a little crusty.  This time, I stayed next door at the Banket and Bean.

Very small little hotel which costs 1300bht per night.  The staff are really, really friendly.  Not sure if I’d want to stay there if I were spending more than 1 or two nights, but for the short time/term… it’s not a bad hotel at all.

10am.. Jonas, Lomeo, Miss Tim and another buddy were in Hanrahans ordering breakfast.    We’ve spoken many times before about where does the best breakfast.  Sadly, Hanrahans doesn’t come close (for me).   As it stands, my fave is still the Queen Vic.

After breakfast we headed to Hooters. It was  11:30, which was just about the right time to order a bottle of Grey Goose Vodka.

It wasn’t long before RainMan arrived.  Good to see the old goat.  It’s been a while. The absence seems to have done him good and he looks days younger than he used to.

Following RainMan was Gamblin Man.  It was a full Rat pack.

RainMan, Gamblin Man, Lomeo, PRP, Big Gary, Jonas and myself.   Not a bad showing at all.

We like Hooters. The girls are nice and friendly and the bar is nice and clean.  However,  they don’t have all the drinks on the menu as we discovered to our cost.    Also, does anyone know the discount card policy?

Last time we were there, we spent over 9k bht – and were given 3 discount cards.     The time after we spent 5k – and using our discount card and were issued another Hooters discount card.

This time, when presented with a 6k bill we handed over our 20% discount card and were not offered another discount card.  We asked why?

Apparently, had we not have used our existing discount card, we would have been given a new one.  And we could have applied our discount with that.

It made no sense.   Even with the discount applied, we still qualified for a new card.

A 10% discount card is just not worth the space in your wallet, but a 20% is.  Had they have given us a new card, what would have guaranteed a new customer would make Hooters a regular stop off when out drinking.

Some people just don’t get it.

With the bottle of GG done – we headed off for some mid-afternoon drinking.   Where to go?

A safe daytime drinking hole,  fully airconned and no bright lights… Soi 12 The Den.   Large sofa areas, plenty of service girls and no loud music.   It was here we all had a good catch up and made fun of each other.

We drank hard.   It was only when one of the service people said there was concern about our bill as it was nearing 12k and did we have enough money to pay it?

We had plenty of cash.  But as they assumed we were English Teachers we decided we’d order another round but this time not buy any of the girls a drink.  Fook em!

We were getting hungry.   The Den has food – but I am sure it’s just deep friend skin and bones.  Not really what we wanted.

Big Gary suggested the Clubhouse on Soi 23.   So we walked for what seemed like 4 days.

Never been to the Clubhouse.  It was packed. Service was pretty good and a good extensive menu.  We ate and drank.    When it came time for the bill – the girl produced 7 bills.   Amazing how they kept us all separate. I wonder how they do it? Do they list us on their pad?   Short guy with bald head,  Tall guy with bright white teeth,  short guy wearing Singha vest and ‘drunk guy sleeping at the bar’.

After the Clubhouse we headed to Soi 23.    This is where is gets hazy.   We stopped off in what has to be one of the grottiest bars in the area. Siamese Twins.  Not sure why we went in there?  Pure grot.  If there was such thing as Health and Hygiene standards – this place would never meet them.

Onwards into Cowboy.   It just wasn’t the same.  The bars have a generic feel to them now.     A few of us drifted off.  Some went home and some headed to Bangkok Beat.

The time was around midnight and we were all pretty much as drunk as we could get over the period of the last 14 hours.   Time to head home.

Miss Tim and our driver were waiting for me at the Blanket and Bean – which I staggered upto at 1am.

Into the cab to pass out and snore all the way back to Hua Hin.

A good day out with the Rats.   Not sure we’ll ever get the chance to repeat it?

Jonas is the one sleeping
Can you spot Jonas?

Almost there.

Since last century,  I have been working on rotation.   This means I work for 4 weeks and then have 4  weeks off.   For me, this has been perfect.  Work 6 months of the year and have 6 months off.

In the early days I would take a holiday somewhere – visiting all sorts of places.  I tended to spend a lot of time living out of hotels, but they all had room service, so it’s not like it was unpleasant.

In 2005 I was invited to Thailand –which is when my love for the place started.  I stayed there for a few weeks, then went back to work for the month.  On my next month off I returned to Thailand.  That was pretty much me for the following 10 years.  1 month at work, 1 month in Thailand.

After the Mango Bar was gone and I moved to Hua Hin, I found I liked just sitting by the poolside and relaxing with Miss Tim.

However, little things were starting to piss me off with Thailand.  All the ignorance which Thai people show on the roads,  getting things done and the level of service I was seeing.

So, when an opportunity came my way – to go and work in an Engineering Design House in Dubai, working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, I thought it was the right time for a change.

And a change it was!

When I first arrived in Dubai I was impressed.  I loved it.   I had a great apartment, good salary, fantastic cars and a good circle of friends.   Work was good and the social scene never seemed to stop.

That was a year and half ago.   The novelty has worn off.  – I am sick of it now!

So,  as luck would have it,  I get presented with another opportunity to return to working on rotation of 1 month on, one month off.  Great!   I am ready to return to Thailand!

First thing was to source a new house.   It wasn’t long before we found one.  A fantasic new house with large pool.

This weekend I went to see the house that Miss Tim had found.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The couple that were staying in the house are moving out next week.  They’re Swedish and had taken in 2 little kittens rescued from the street.   The kittens have been ‘doctored’ and were playful little things.   A deal was struck and now we have 2 little kittens.  I am such a softie.

So once again, I am excited about moving back to Thailand.

But will I get bored?  Sitting around for a month not doing anything?  Well,  I could take some Thai lessons, or join some kind of club?  Go exploring?   Hmmm.. hang on.. isn’t there a road around here that has a load of bars?   Surely one of them must be for sale?…………