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Ping Pong. Played With One Paddle, One Ball and...

THAILAND | Wednesday, 1 April 2009 | Views [667] | Comments [2]

Before I dive into the sport of paddles and balls, I have to touch briefly on my new appreciation for Bangkok. I spent the first six days of my travels in Bangkok and couldn't wait for my exit. I still can't figure out why I was so excited to return to Bangkok. Maybe it was my luxurious hostel accommodations at Lub D, the people, the convenience of grocery stores and incredibly cheap street food...whatever it was, I felt like I was returning home.

I awoke at 5.10am after an exhausting bus ride from Krabi. I don't remember much of the ride, except stopping at a local market in the middle of nowhere around 1am. I must have been sleepwalking through the rows and rows of sweets, dried fruits and baked items. Our bus, along with 15 other tour buses, took their routine pit stop here. Next thing I remember, I was waking up under my two fleece blankets (garfield and some other Disney character) to some obnoxious Thai screaming, "Bangkok, Bangkok...Bangkok, Bangkok." I think that was my que to grab my belongs and hop off the bus.

I left Hannah and Molly and jumped in a cab back to my beloved Lub D hostel 20 minutes down the road. Although I was groggy from the sudden wake up, I was a little suspicious of the route my cab driver was taking me. I knew my way around Bangkok good enough to know that he was taking me on a mini detour in order to increase the cab fair. Eighty-three baht later, I arrived at Lub D, craving the long awaited free internet, clean showers and cheap laundry service.

Since I had less than 24 hours left in Bangkok, I didn't want to waste a single minute dilly-dallying around. I met Pamela, another backpacker (from Burbank) and we boarded the skytrain. Destination: Weekend Market.

We had only been on the skytrian for a few minutes before I had yet another random encounter with a friend from the past. I was gazing out the windows of the train and noticed a bob of blond, curly hair. Could this be my friend Kristen from High School? I knew she was going to be in Bangkok...but what would the chances be of running into her? I wasn't going to waste my timing pondering the odds, so I screamed her name, 5 or 6 times, from the train...with locals looking at me like I was crazy. Like I really cared what they thought...I wanted to see my friend!

Sure enough, it was Kristen. She boarded the train and we were both babbling to each other, a million miles a minute. Great minds think alike...she was also heading to the Weekend Market with her husband. It was one of the most memorable train rides.

I was very fortunate to return to Bangkok on a Saturday because this market was incredible. Each vendor occupied a closet-like space where they jammed in as much merchandise as they could into every corner and cranny of their space. It was a maze of over 8,000 shops. House wear, souvenirs, food, pets, clothing (both new and used). I only lasted about 30 seconds in the "used" clothing section due to the overwhelming stench of rotten fabric. The only ventilation in this section was a fan that hardly moved the air. I often found myself around the perimeter of the market to escape the crowds. It was a common occurrence for me to find myself nudged between a vendor and a moving beverage cart in which the vendour was yelling "beep beep, beep beep." It was always funny to me to hear the human voice double as a car horn. I may have to borrow their technique when I head back to the states...only on my bike, of course.

The sun began to fade and I hurried back to the hostel to shower up for an evening of intrigue. Molly, Hannah, the Mikes...and whoever else we could round up, had planned one last reunion for the evening. The main goal of the evening: Ping Pong.

We all congregated under a bright blue billboard at the entrance of Pat Pong, the hop'n night spot, which was home to a bustling night market surrounded by sleazy bars and clubs. This row of nightlife activity is world famous due to it's unique form of entertainment. Young Thai men and women would stand outside of their perspective clubs, trying to grab every passer-bye. Many times, they would hold out a faded laminated menus...not of food or beverages...but of objects...often ping pong balls topping their list.

Our mob of nine knew what we were getting into, so we settled on a no-name venue and stumbled up a flight of stairs towards the back of the strip. One by one, each of us took a seat on the black pleather booth that faced the stage. We ordered our 100 baht ($3) drinks of coke and a drop or two of rum, and waited for the show. The bar was empty. This clearly wasn't one of the popular establishments. It was dark and there were 4 semi-plump girls with minimal clothing standing in front of us. One of the girls was sporting black and white socks as her only piece of clothing. Bizarre. No, this wasn't as strip show. The girls don't dance. They don't remove their clothing (they don't wear anything to begin with) and they don't collect dollar bills. This was a Ping Pong show. It's what put Thailand on the map for adult entertainment. Where all the action happens above the knees and below the belt. One paddle, one ball...one girl. Since this is adult subject matter, I will dispose more of my stories from the evening upon your private email request.

Ping Pong...anybody?



def. my fave entry thus far. You write incredibly! I have learned something new about you, all these yrs. later. I hope you stole a ping pong ball.

Viva la vida.

  Laris Apr 2, 2009 4:08 AM


Did you really do this or is it an april fool's joke?

  H Apr 2, 2009 4:45 AM

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