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Bird watching in the Bangkok zoo.

THAILAND | Tuesday, 12 October 2010 | Views [2355]

Crickets, scorpians, grubs and other goodies to satisfy the homo-sapien exhibit

Crickets, scorpians, grubs and other goodies to satisfy the homo-sapien exhibit

My solo adventure started ominously enough with my 630am pick up for the ferry showing up at 725am. The receptionist was more worried than I was and called the company three times to ensure I hadn't been forgotten. I must still be on Broome time as I had complete faith someone would pick me up before the week was out. Sure enough they did, and arriving just in time to board meant my wait had been in an air conditioned hotel reception instead of a smelly, humid pier.

The catamaran carved through the glassy seas like an axe through a marshmallow. Upon reaching terra-firma, I looked back out to sea and saw the boat had been racing ahead of the mother of all storms. I looked around for someone to high five after that stroke of luck, but I was left hanging and instead pretended to be waving at someone in the distance. Good fortune continued as I scored a seat to myself on the Rydges on wheels that was our luxury liner of a bus. As comfortable as it was, I had some sort of structural support to stare at instead of a window, and 'Prince of Persia' was the in house movie. Other than the movie being less interesting to look at than Walt Disney's mummified balls, I had chosen to watch it on the flight from Sydney to KL.

7 hours later I was in Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit, or Krung Thep to the locals. Just so we could make endless sexual innuendos, we in the West call the city Bangkok. A place with people of every pedigree, persuasion and perversion. It's the sensory equivalent of taking a bag of crack to Disneyland after 10 coffee's and forgetting to take your bi-polar medicine for a week. Sitting in Khao San Road is like bird watching as you can tick off each sub-species as they walk past. Some of the locals are absolutely stunning, but I was not prepared to do more than window shop in case of any downstairs mix up they may be sporting.

The strip itself is like a 5 storey shopping complex crammed onto a one lane roadside. Vendors spill out onto the road, even though it is illegal for the 10 seconds before and after a cop walks past. I reckon I could ask for a nuclear bomb and it would take about half an hour to appear, perhaps an hour if I actually wanted it to work. Peddlers at makeshift bars wave signs advertising the strongest possible cocktails and their disregard for ID. I wish I had a 10 year old son with me to see if he could buy me a few buckets of Mae Hong whiskey. That is possibly the first time I have ever wished for a child, and my dubious reasons for doing so means I am doing society a favour by ending my lineage with me.

Touts are so insistent that 5 separate tailors have your exact measurements before you've walked more than 50 metres. Politeness will only get you so far, so you try stern no's for awhile then finally, you just have to completely ignore all of them. I have an added advantage though. My appearance belies my friendly personality and people often think I am one request for a tuk-tuk ride away from dolling out some obligation free head-butts.

My black leg contributes somewhat to this misunderstanding, and I guess I am not surprised by the degree of attention it gets. Most people are probably thinking 'what the fuck?' or 'why the fuck?', and the bold few try to stop me to ask questions about it. No matter what answer I give, it leads to a sales pitch of some description. “Oh, so you've been to India huh? Our tailor is Indian, would you like to buy a suit? Here's my business card, when you buy, you buy from me, promise?”

Unfortunately, my lungs will probably end up a similar colour to my leg if I stay too long. Bangkok has a pollution problem that makes everyday living like snorkelling with a muffler. Part of the appeal of coming to Asia was to give my lungs a rest from living more like a Rastafarian than a Buddhist. Against Simon's admonitions,one night in Ko Samui was given a herbal make-over but I've felt far better off for abstaining.

The main reason why I was in Bangkok was to obtain a Vietnam visa. I tried to book one on-line, as well as a flight to Hanoi, only to discover I had brought an expired credit card away with me. Minor events too numerous to mention snowballed from there and I was left grinning moronically while twitching and trying to figure out how to find a positive in it all. Suffering the consequences of a lack of organisation is an all too familiar feeling that I thought I would have gotten used to by now. My desire to throw all my toys out of my cot shows that I'm still an infant in the face of adversity. Fortunately the flight could be booked with a debit card but I had to go to the Vietnamese embassy myself. I requested a 3 month visa just to give myself some leeway with my no-plan plans. I paid the price for something similar and received a one month visa instead. I would have sternly protested with the now cashed-up consulate but he looked like the sort of guy who had a history of interrogating G.I.'s with extreme prejudice.

Formalities completed I turned my attention to designing the next tattoo. Ideas in my head were not translating into discernible images, so more ink has been postponed till the end of the trip, money permitting. And with that, it is time to start the trip in earnest as I finally head off to visit a new Asian mistress; Vietnam.

Tags: on the road, people

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