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Monday, February 13, 2006

You can call me Madam Marie...

The shiny, sleepless city of Bangkok has become my second home. I think it’s fair to say that it’s the second home of most Asia-bound travelers, as all (direct) flights originate in Bangkok. So, after Cambodia, back to Bangkok I went. Upon re-entry into Thailand, I had to switch gears, yet again, acclimating back to the fast, furious pace of city life after the rural poverty of Cambodia. I feel as if I almost subconsciously rebelled against all I saw in Cambodia, setting up shop in a nice hotel, making manicure, pedicure, and massage appointments on arrival. When I realized what I was doing, there was a guilty understanding of it, just how easy it was for me to revert back to the material world, but at the same time, I’m not offering false apologies for it.

Bangkok, this time, would be filled with familiarity. First, Carrie and Mark Pastolove were headed to Thailand on vacation, then my travel “mate” (as he says) Adam was meeting back up before concluding his trip and returning to Melbourne. So, whereas, I was a tourist trying desperately to hit all the Bangkok sights in two days time last trip, I was now merely Marie in Bangkok, making dinner plans and having drinks with friends. Kinda fun…strangely familiar. And, for those who know him, BANGKOK with Mark Pastolove??? Who passes THAT up? Well, I had no idea of the kind of night it was going to be. Hilarious is an understatement.

Mark was VERY EAGER to hit the sex clubs of Patpong. I guess, as a guy, it’s a right of passage to experience those kinds of Bangkok nights. So, to Super Pussy we headed: Mark and his two ladies, out on the town. Immediately we’re accosted by a Thai guy sporting a “menu” of the pingpong show acts that read something like this (there were about 3xs the acts listed on the real “menu”, mind you…):

Pussy use chopsticks
Pussy smoke cigarette
Pussy drink soda
Pussy sewing needles
Pussy razor blades
Pussy paper flowers
Pussy open bottle
Pussy ping pong balls

You get the point.

These little laminated 3x5 cards all with the same Pussy Tricks listed. So, we follow Sex Club Thai Guy into Super Pussy, where he tells us that it’s 100 Baht ($2.50 with a beer included) for the show. Ok, cool. We make our way through a black-lit bar with go-go poles on a raised stage in the middle, our teeth and eyeballs glowing fluorescent like a freshman in the cool-guy-with-the-black-lit-room-in-the-dorms (Hey Cohen, 3rd floor, second from corner room, next to Peter’s…sound familiar…?). On the stage are about 10 stretch-marked, NASTY, fat, Thai women in baby-blue and white striped bikinis that are pulled various ways to expose their body parts – a breast here, a pussy there, an ass cheek there. We’re got a bird’s eye view, front row. We’re Pastoloves! These women are slowly making their way around the bar before the show starts massaging the clients, with staccato motions of NO therapeutic measure. Then, as if they’re really worked a sore muscle in any redeeming way, asking “tip, tip?” Relentlessly. I had a woman tell me “You’re so beautiful…..can I have a tip?” I’m like – for SAYING THAT??? Carrie could mindlessly tell me the same thing, should I truly crave the compliment. I mean – it’s amazing how shameless these women are (besides the obvious professional career choice shamelessness). Anyway, as the massages finish, Carrie pulls out her anti-bacterial gel to clean us all off (…as if the AIR wasn’t laced with disease already….), and we proceed to misinterpret that the massages are just frivolous, nothing to do with the show, and give each of our “therapists” 100 Baht. Schmucks. Right there, all the eyes that were watching us branded us tourist assholes (as if the anti-bacterial didn’t give it away), and from that moment on, we were doomed. The show begins, all the stretch-marked miseries on stage pulling razor strings out of the vags, opening bottle caps (YES, I KID YOU NOT….beer bottles popping right off in the clutches of the Thai nether regions!) with their vags, smoking cigarettes with their vags (is there a such thing as catching “pussy cancer” from smoking with yours? Easily the question on everyone’s minds...) At which point, Mark, disgusted beyond belief at the show, gets told that we have to pay 300 Baht. Remember, we’re the schmucks who gave 100 Baht to the masseuses … and now, we get swindled for 300 Baht each. Mark is protesting. The dirty, nasty, bartender is screaming at us, the bouncers (if you will - they are just beefy pock-marked menacing looking women) behind us barring exit. And Mark is FUMING. Just wild with anger that we’re getting taken advantage of and there are no rules here, etc..etc… In theory, I 100% support him, but you’re in SE Asia, everyone gets taken advantage of a little bit here, no? Yes.

We leave and head to grab a beer. Mark is seething, ranting, giving everyone in his sight the finger. As we walk, we’re seeing stray dogs and silhouettes of rats in the shadows, lady boys with their lady boy lovers strolling down the alleys, street elephants being exploited for cash on the roadways, more ping pong promoters doing their ping pong promoting, and all the while, Mark is bemoaning the state of corruption in Bangkok – ]
“I don’t do well with being taken advantage of."
"Oh my fucking god, I just need to go back to my nice hotel, where they say “How are you Mr. Pastolove? Good evening, Mr. Pastolove. Now!!"
"If I were with my friends, it might be different, but I’m with you ladies.”
Carrie and I were peeing in our pants all the while, at Mark’s rile, Mark’s fury, quiet in the knowledge, that we “ladies” had a better Bangkok stomach than our protective man. ;) A night, as I predicted, I will NEVER forget.

After leaving Mark and Carrie to the tamer Chiang Mai, I spent a day running to the sights that I didn’t get to see last time around, and of course, hitting Ko San Road for a little more eye-candy and street vendor pad thai. Getting back to my hotel, ready for a relaxing night, I get online only to realize that relaxing is just not in my Bangkok future. Someone stole my debit card #s and was running around NYC (of all places?!?!?!) hell bent on buying sporting equipment. Modells, Sports Authority, eating (likely picking up the tab, given the bill size…) at a place called Jimmy Jazz (Anyone know it? What’s it like?). Therein, I spent my night on the phone with Chase, tracking all the charges, reissuing a new card to my sister to send to my friend Matt in India (my next stop), canceling accounts that draw from the old #s. I mean…..never a dull moment for me. Even in Asia. NEVER.

Then, since I’m seemingly the madam of Bangkok, Adam arrived, sheepishly wanting to go to the strip clubs, as he hadn’t been on his past visit here, so….back I went. I should charge for my strip club tour services. This time, we found a more legit (ha) place than Super Pussy, lasted the whole show, didn’t get ripped off, and spent the night without incident. Thought, if I never see another Pussy Ping Pong Show again in my life, I’ll be JUST FINE. Promise.

I am now on Koh Tao, the northernmost of the Thai islands located in the Gulf of Thailand. It’s absolutely beautiful here, I finished a book, and am processing all I’ve seen/done in the last 5 weeks, been diving a few times, and feel great. Unluckily, we seem to have caught a monsoon’s wrath for the past two days, rendering me pretty useless being that the island is very primitive, 90% of it lacking 24-hour electricity and hot water. I’m pretty much stuck in my beachfront cottage, listening to the sound of rain beat on my roof while I write and read the hours away.

Am I REALLY complaining? Yeah….not so much.

More soon.


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