Travels of a Wee Man - New to Tumblr
Hi all, As I’m just new to Tumblr and have been using blogspot ( http://cragcarrick.blogspot.com/ ) for the last while my first post is pretty epic.
I decided to keep a blog as I travel the world with my new wife. We basically eloped from Scotland and plan to keep on moving for as long as we can afford and until we figure out where we want to be.
I want the general vibe of my writing to be a mix of facts and experience with a healthy dose of humour thrown in from the perspective of a 28 year old Glasgow guy experiencing all of this for the first time.
I’m currently in Thailand at the moment and below is the tales of my first month away from home. It’ll be a long read like this but give it a bash and updates in the future will be a lot more concise.
Please follow and comment if you like what you read.
When we got to Glasgow airport I realized that it was actually too hot even in there for my Scottish pallor to deal with and got a wee bit worried about the extreme heat that was to follow. I wasn’t really concerned about leaving Glasgow, my life, friends, home and family until I realized that I was missing ‘Three Ninjas : Kick Back’ on Channel 5 and then later Bad Boys 2 on ITV. That’s when it really sank in.
Transit was a nightmare though, not for any real reason, it just isn’t really the best way to spend your time. I actually really enjoyed the first part from Glasgow to Dubai because Holly slept and I watched chick flicks on the wee telly in my seat. I made pals with the Air Steward who looked like the kinda melted one from JLS and he was giving me 2 drinks for every one I asked for and giving me a wee wink. Gid Lad. Ended up in a pretty good mood as each wee bottle was 50ml and I got drinks almost 10 times. By the end of it I was doing the wee salute thing that Tom Cruise does when he takes off in Top Gun then laughing to myself when I realized “Ahm ekshully oan a plane!”. Happy Days.
Then, the inevitable happened. Every fucking time I get on a plane or go somewhere I meet someone I know, or in most cases don’t but they seem to know me. I clocked her on the way onto the plane sitting beside a tiny Chinese woman. “Hiya” as I feigned ignorance. 7 hours later and we’re leaving the plane and there she is waiting at the end of the terminal for us. Good job Holly was with me and she introduced herself or I wouldn’t have known her name. She is someone from the days when we’d be out trawling parties and always end up in the Halt or Arlington bar on a Sunday, she was always pretty nice but a bit too spaced out and ‘affected’ by whatever she had been up to before. And so it begins…9 hours of hanging around with this girl in Dubai airport through the night. You know what I’m like, and Holly too. We quite like to just sit and read when there’s nowt to do or talk about but this girl just couldnae handle it. She stated that she “hated reading, just couldn’t get into it” so progressed to sit there either staring into space or staring at you and then commenting almost just for the sake of it something terribly banal like ‘Did you hear someone got cured of aids?” – FUCK RIGHT OFF. At one point I made a very visual (and rude) point of putting in ear plugs while she was talking at me. It didn’t work by the way. Anyway, enough about that – I’m sure I’ll run into some dicks from school when I head to the beach later. Dubai was a struggle, nae sleep nae air, nae bevy, nae patter. Onwards to Singapore. (I will add one thing though, when you start descending into Dubai they play a video and a song to welcome you by Bryan Adams – QUALITAAAAAAY is all I’ll say)
Singapore was pretty easy going airport wise, nae bother getting our luggage and a cab – good price, good motor and good patter from a wee Chinese man that must have worked for universal Studios on the side. I must note that this was about the only value for money we experienced in all our time in Singapore. We got to our Hotel, the ultra Gucci ‘Fullerton Hotel’, pretty much the nicest bit I’ve ever been in. It used to be the Post Office for Singapore then they done it up into a 5 star hotel so you can see a good mix of the old and the new. We felt pretty out of place there and kept expecting to be directed to the nearest Korn concert but the staff were really, really nice and helpful. The room we got was awesome, it had a massive bathroom and balcony and a king size bed. They left us a nice wee note with a bottle of wine and a teddy with a sprig of Holly on it for Holly. Gallus.
We arrived pretty late so just went round the wee bay where we were at and found some pubs and eateries that looked like they would be on the cheap side (Best Kebab kinda vibe) and the first place we came across sold Strongbow, apparently on draught. Fuck it, lets get one of them to start us off. 28 Singapore Dollars! It wisnae draught either, I can tell these things – it was from glass 330ml bottles. (I will keep you updated on this blog with all the instances and occurrences of Strongbow and other ciders as I go along) That works out at about £15 for 2 drinks. OK, we thought. This is probably just because we’re drinking imported Strongbow eh? Naw son. We venture further down to get some food, Holly opted for the Stingray (mad cow) and I got a Green Curry. Was pretty good but we were expecting to pay about 4 bucks for each meal. £40 and about 9 minutes later we were unsatisfied. Again, OK we thought – we’re new to this, surely it’ll get better when we find our feet, let’s go get some beers and chill out in the hotel room.
The next day the weather was a bit of a shiter but we went out and got a wee boat tour round the river and the various quays. That Marina Bay Sands hotel is one of the maddest things I have ever seen! Its sheer size is really off putting, not of it but off ma dinner. It was like in Independence Day when that big Spaceship arrives and everyone goes out into their gardens to see it looming above their heads, really scary but really, really impressive. I have never seen anything as adventurous as that before, (google it, it has a ship on top of it bridging 3 bulidings!) truly impressive as were a lot of the other buildings. We walked up into Chinatown and that was my favourite part of Singapore, a bit more scummy and a lot more flavours going on. We got some food and cocktails at some nice wee places then walked around the city with some cold bottles with an eye as to where to go in the night. That night we went out to Clarke Quay as it looked really nice, and indeed it was – really well done, lit and some interesting entertainment and food. Again, it was just so expensive so we had a couple and a Mexican meal and decided to get some cans and sit by the river (which is what the locals all seemed to be doing) with a pack of cards. We don’t really know any card games so made up some new Monkey Face games with the Joker Cards, which strangely had a rabbit coming out of an egg on them. ‘Ultimate Hand Monkey Face’ and 21 with Simian Flushes were highlights of these games. Back to the hotel to get packed and ready to leave for Thailand in the morning.
Air Asia is pretty gallus by the way, £35 each for a flight from Singapore to Phuket and the plane was nice and clean. One of the stewardesses obviously learned how to speak English from the voice function on the mac, she sounded so like the female voice. Cannae hold it against them, they were the best of a bad bunch of all relatively unattractive Stewardesses on the trip thus far. We arrived in Phuket and it took an age to get through customs and the like. We had an hours cab ride to Patong where we were staying so the wee bammy Thai driver played us a CD of covers of popular songs including Right Here Waiting, I Swear and Hero which were all pretty strange but as you can imagine…I was in my element! The roads here are crazy, guys sitting on piles of sticks on top of jeeps, women with 4 babies on scooters and generally a vibe much like what you see when you look at semen through a microscope. We got to the hotel though and all was good. It was like a gay Fawlty Towers and actually pretty hilarious, a super queen guy from England on the front Desk with a Thai assistant in a pink shirt and Grey socks doing the Manuel bit and giving him that gay ‘past remarkable’ glance at every turn. Hilarious. The room was actually really nice though and pretty cheap.
In Phuket, the first thing that was on telly was actually fucking Bad Boys 2 in English with Thai subtitles – I took that as a sign that all would be well and no matter how much I miss the creature comforts of home there will always be shady films and music to get me by. A favourite past time of mine as a youngster was to walk around listening to music on my headphones and imagine that what was happening in my life at that moment was the music video to that song. It was kinda like those montage scenes you used to get in Baywatch where there would be some character called ‘Billy Warlock’ or some shit walking around and it would change to sepia tones and some 90’s power ballad was accompanying the scene. I think I’m gonna do that with ‘Cruisin Down the Streets Of Siam’ from the Kickboxer soundtrack today.
Phuket is a good bit though. Actually, it’s no, it’s a pure shiter. I’m gonna have to fly kick the next person that say’s ‘My Friend’, ‘Tuk Tuk’, ‘Jet Ski’ or even ‘Hello’. I know it’s the way of life here and all that but my patience is short at the best of times. The only solace I have is that Dan West isn’t here to speak to them all individually and debate the price of an Ed Hardy cap he’s never going to buy anyway.
The sweets and food are pretty different, not like in berlin where you got a fucking white twix and not in a pure upside down way like ‘Mango Tango’, well maybe a wee bit like that as I just saw Seaweed flavour Pringles – if that’s not upside doon then I don’t know what is.
To cut a long story short, it’s just too busy here and too full of cunts from Bolton, Germany, Russia and Glasgow. We managed to screw up our sleeping pattern last night so that we woke up at 2am, kicked about the shanty hoose for a bit then went to the beach at about 6.45am – there were still plenty of bars open and ladyboys lining the streets as the sun was coming up, well in folks. We spent the day on the beach before getting bored and finding a shop that sells premium spirits for hee haw – 380 BHT later we have a litre of gin. Gonna have a wee cuddle, a nap and a cold shower then hit some pubs and clubs tonight. There is one place that has a big sign saying ‘AC/DC + Metallica tribute’ that has a Predator statue looking hard outside it. I dare say we will be going there for a bit of patter.
Until then, I’ll blog again in a couple of days.
I’ve realized that I now have a lot of spare time on my hands so will mostly be keeping this long winded diary while Holly sleeps, forgive my warbling.
Patter we went for and patter we got…Sort of. We went up seedy street and checked out an enormous pool hall that seemed to have the DJ from Kushion belting oot the hits of the day in mash up form, pretty sure there was a mix of Rihanna and ‘If yooouuurre going to San Francisco, be sure to wear a flower in your haaaaaiiirrr’, whatever that song was? Not too bad actually, we ended up playing 10 games of pool for a few quid. Every time you finished a game they had wee guys that came and racked up the balls again for you, which was nice.
Our wee guy was called ‘Ice’ and was a bit of a legend. Holly was getting beat, as usual and he interjected with ‘I beat you one hand’. Fair enough, on you go son. He held the cue like a Javelin or like he was spear fishing and potted all the balls! I’d never really seen anything like it (apart from maybe Pool hero Kev The Cannonball while stocious drunk) in my life. Then I realized why he played like that, he was missing one of his index fingers! We got him a beer and I questioned whether I’d ever play pool again.
Ten games and several cocktails later we headed for Rock City (the rock club with the Predator as a bouncer) for some live music. We had missed the Metallica Tribute Act, which was a bit of a downer, but there was a house covers band playing next. The club was pretty mental, it had a real big stage with a giant Gorilla over it and the cocktails were strong as hell. The band were actually pretty gallus and they could all really play. They were doing a good bit of everything from Bon Jovi to The Clash. They got me up to sing some of that bloody Jet song, be my girl or whatever – was gid fun.
The thai lassies were giving it big licks up on the speakers at the side of the stage and Holly seemed to think this was a good idea for her in her drunken stupor. Fair enough, I just let her get on with it. I tried to join her but the bouncers ‘only let lady dance’ so I had to stay on the floor. Holly then thought it would be a good idea to try and get crunk with the junk in her trunk all over my crotch. She wasn’t really selling it well so I asked her to stop. Turns out you cannae really say that to lassies when they’re trying to be sexy! Time to get her home without mentioning the words, home, drunk or ‘shut yer face ya drunken boot’, which is a lot harder than it sounds. I made out like I was the one who was too drunk which she obviously agreed with and headed back to the gay barracks. Went into the shop to get some water and she spilled that all over herself much to the amusement of the wee thai shopkeeper. I got some cheese and ham toasties, which I was pretty surprised they had to be honest. Pretty good wee set up they have. A breville in the shop and a wee Tupperware box with all the sandwiches made up, I assume from that morning. They tasted cracking, whodathiunkit? Off to sleep with a James Bond movie.
Morning comes and Holly has no memory of last night, strange that considering she wasn’t drunk at all eh? We check out of the Lovelli hostel and some things become a little clearer. When we were checking in the owner made a point of asking how we had heard of the place and I didn’t really think much of it. On the morning of check out the Gay Fawlty Towers thing was still in full effect except this time Manuel had on a yellow shirt and grey socks. All of the other people in reception were obviously gay too, and from Germany I think so it was turbo gay and then came the cherry on the top. ‘Good morning Victoria’ cooed the owner and then this man/woman walked in with the actual face of the old one from ‘How Clean is Your House’ (the one with the crackin’ bun) and the body of my Da, but harder. I assume that this was in fact a gay hostel and we inadvertently ended up staying there on our hetero-honeymoon. No wonder the room was so nicely turned out! I forgot to mention that I had my first whitey of the trip before we checked out, I tried to take a multi-vitamin with some coca cola and ended up having a fizzy spew right back down the sink. We then had a cab ride in scorching heat and winding roads to Karon to deal with, I wisnae a happy bunny.
We rocked up to the Pineapple hostel about 12.30 and all seemed nice and chilled out, the guy wasn’t expecting me til the next day but we got a space in a dorm anyway. Not the nicest looking of places but it feels safe and hospitable. Getting out of Patong was the best move we’ve made so far, Karon is way nicer and a lot more relaxed. You still get a bit of hassle from street vendors (mostly tailors actually that all have the same patter and want to give you their business card, right slimy looking too the tailors for some reason?) but the difference here is that they only seem to be on one side of the street so you can avoid them. We headed for the beach and that was much, much nicer and a lot cleaner and quieter. Straight into the sea for a wee cool down. The sea here is amazing, clear waters and a nice temperature, you can just nip in for a swim then come out and the sun dries you off in minutes. We had a nice wee day of sun bathing and reading about decadent dandy’s and womanizing drunken writers.
After the sun bathing we went a wander and came across a nice restaurant on the beach that had an amazing view of the sunset. Holly got a steak and I went for a burger, as I was still feeling fragile. The burger came and it tasted of Coffee, pretty much the weirdest tasting thing ever. I fucking hate coffee aswell so that didn’t help, the staff were in the dark as to how this could be, what I was saying and probably what day it was. The view from here really was amazing though, seeing the sun fully set over the horizon of the sea and the pink sky was the nicest I’ve ever seen. I discovered my new favourite thing too, Fruit Shakes. Basically fruit and ice blitzed together, had 2 orange and one watermelon in about 20 mins, they are awesome.
Just sitting in the hostel now debating what to do, staying off the booze today and I never really want to eat anyway so might get some dvd’s from downstairs and have an early kip. Went for the worst shower in the world just there, when you turn on the tap the (cold) water sprays everywhere, out of the handle and the pipe and everything. The water sprayed all over my dry clothes and also into a crack in the wall, which set off about a thousand ants to out of a crack. At £4 a night I cannae really grumble I suppose.
I wanted to go see an Elvis tribute later but it was about £11 each to get in which is more than it’s costing us for a room for the night so it got vetoed by the Mrs.
A Thai Elvis would have been awesome though.
Uh huh huh
So the other day we got Karon tae fuck aswell, the ‘Pineapple’ was actually a pretty decent bit but we didn’t even bother to go out when we were there, the bars didn’t look very good. To be honest there has only really been one night that we have been out since we’ve been away. It’s just too hot most of the time so you get pretty tired and we keep screwing up our sleeping pattern then not being in the mood. It’s better for saving money anyway. On the subject of saving money, I have been drinking the cheap local brew! Aye, can you believe it? Crag is drinking beer! The boys will be freaking out.
For those of you not acquainted with my distaste for beer…it has been the absolute bane of my existence for the last 10 years. Almost every day I will get offered free beer, or be asked if I fancy a beer or the special offer is only on beer so I’d have to spend a fortune otherwise. I just always hated the taste of it so much that it forced me to vomit (turns out most things these days make me vomit anyway) every time. In Thailand the local beer is Chang and it’s generally 50 Baht a go. I can stomach it if it’s ice cold and luckily for me, most of the beer etc… is always ice cold so I’m getting there and managing to stomach it daily now. On the beach this morning I even found myself half enjoying it. This is what most people do when they’re 16, they hate the taste but force themselves to get into it for the sake of bravado and masculinity, I guess I’m just a big poofy late bloomer. I was at the bar the other day and some old guy was telling me that I should stay away from the Chang devil as I would have the shakes within 6 months. Apparently the Chang here is ‘unregulated’, so it can be anything from 6.4% (which it says on the bottle) to 16% and is rumoured to contain Formaldehyde. Holly said she saw ‘my wee eyes light up’! Here wi, Here wi, Here wi fuckin go!!
So, back on track. Walloper Steve (but not in the good way) provided a taxi service to the next bit we were going to, Ya Nui, a relatively quiet bit apparently that has a very small beach. We were going to check into some resort that was pretty cheap online until Steve informed us that ‘he knew Elton’, I was like ‘cool…I know Boy George’ until he informed us that Elton was actually the owner of the resort and that he knew him. He rang up the Rocket Man and it turned out that the place was fully booked. We got a lift down anyway just to chance it at other guesthouses along the way and at the very last stop when we were about to do a U-Turn we spotted a sign saying 50 Baht bevvy and 400 Baht rooms so got out and gave that a wee swatch. The owner wasn’t there but there was a Scouser sunbathing naked by the empty pool who looked a hell of a lot like the head that used to be in art attack except with skin of leather, the scars of a Wildman and a twitch that only 10 years as a sun kissed sex tourist can give you. He was real helpful though and assured us that it was a good joint and the owner would do us a wee deal. Turned out we got the option of staying for a week for 300 baht a night, £6! So we booked that and it’s been really good. The staff here and the other residents are all really cool. The folk all around this bit are all much older and either live here full time or stay in places like the one we are in for 6 months at a time. It’s a real ex-pat community and it feels really safe as everyone knows each other so it’s pretty laid back. You don’t get offered a fucking suit, a tuk tuk or a massage every 2 seconds which sweetens the pot for me. It’s a strange thing though with these guys who are basically here to cruise the ‘girly bars’, on one hand you can’t really blame them because the girls here are choking for a foreigner with money to give them a better standard of life and that is generally what they get but on the other hand I suppose it’s all a bit sad to look at, the girls sitting there dutifully not saying a word while the guys sit and chain-drink all day and night long. God knows what goes on behind closed doors but I assume it’s all just as subservient in the bedroom. I’m kinda just rolling with the former and letting them get on with it, there are some nice people here. On another note, I don’t know how these Sex Tourists do it, it’s far too hot here to even get a twinkle of a twinkle, never mind pumping ladyboys and the like every night! Hats off to you boys.
One of my favourite things so far with the older Ex-Pat guys here was the other night when a big burly American guy called Jack rides in on a Harley Davidson with a dug sitting up on the front of the bike with it’s paws on the handlebars. He brought it into the bar and the dug pops up on the stool beside him and planks its paws on the bar as if to order a beer. It was like something out of that old picture of the dugs playing cards. It turns out that it wasn’t even his dug, he had been at another bar and the wee guy was sniffing about his bike and the Thai barkeep said that the dug wanted a ride on his bike. He dutifully agreed and was taken aback when the dug assumed the driving position with the paws on the throttle. So Jack takes him round a few more bars on the bike and he gets up at the bar in each one. When he took him to the bar we were in the lass behind the bar was doing her nails and the dug kept looking at her so she painted its nails too! We were cracking up when the lass brings out a pink marker pen and gives the dug eyebrows and rosy cheeks! The thing looked mental but it seemed quite content. The Yank was just sitting patting his back saying ‘Who’s a good looking boy then?’ in his southern drawl. Apparently he’s just calling him ‘Darling’ now, which kinda suits him I guess.
Ya Nui, as I’ve said is waaay more up our street than anywhere else we have been. We have a tiny beach at the end of the road that doesn’t really get too busy and there are no towts selling anything round the sun loungers. We got ridiculously sun burnt the other day though, we were fully greased up in sun cream and everything but somehow got toasted. My wee fat nose is so red that I look like a the fucking guy from the Operation game when you screw up the operation. So, today I am staying in the shade as much as I can. I took the opportunity to listen to some music and catch up on Glasgow radio shows and podcasts. It’s been the first time I’ve listened to music since I have been away, to be honest it has been quite nice not having to listen to music for work and just for my own pleasure. I also went out and took some photos and video footage so Hol could send them to her family at home and I would have something to do. I am getting quite used to relaxing, I thought it would be a lot harder to switch off and that I would be bored oot ma chuff after a week. Turns out that I have been sleeping a lot more, at home I was generally about 5-6 hours a night and here I’m going for 8-9 and even having naps. The strangest thing is though, I’ve stopped dreaming! Well, I’ve probably not stopped dreaming but I was always one who would remember his dreams every night and really enjoy remembering the wild patter that happened in my head. I’m hoping this won’t last and my first one back will be a big sexy wet one!
Another day off the booze, went to a party last night then around a few of the bars but still had an early night, There are only so many questionable Thai ‘lassies’ that you can see dancing around a bar trying to tempt in Italian boy racers riding Japanese hardons that you can see every night. The party was pretty bizarre, it was for an English guy that lives in Majorca (another word for the 80’s) and they had a live band. 2 guys, a bass, a guitar, a mic and a laptop. They just loaded up the laptop karaoke style and somehow knew how to play about 2000 songs. Strangely, they did pretty well on things like Santana but failed miserably at Bon Jovi, time to leave after nicking a wee bit of the birthday boys buffet.
Right, this has been a long one and I’m suffering from ‘Bug Paranoia’, I have just tried to flick the cursor off of my screen so it’s time to go get myself some dinner and try and not let any of my red raw lobster limbs physically touch a single object or person for the next day or so.
Late Jan 2011
Today’s blog will be a bit more sporadic as I’ve been writing it in bouts of boredom between activities and have realized that not only is my computer set on American spelling but I really do want to remember everything that’s went on here. It gets a bit muddled when you don’t really have much to do with yourself and your senses are being attacked by a completely new way of life, doing this keeps the voice in my head a bit closer to home and I can see the funny side of all of this like I would have a few years ago. Hearing the patter of the ex-pats here I can really tell that you just lose all yer banter pretty quickly and no-one really talks about anything they haven’t talked about before and it gets a bit Sweetie Wifey with all the gossiping. It’s nice to come across something that I know one of my friends would find funny and be able to write about it on this. It’s also handy so no-one has to ask what we’ve been up to, which is always a pretty hard question ‘awww no much likes’, just taking it easy…or if I was at home, ‘hee haw, just working ken?’. ;-)
So, forgive my rambling…
I was really hoping that when I got here they would be really behind on music and Lisa Loeb or someone like that would be number 1 in the charts but it turns out that they are actually quite up to date. In the ‘girly bars’ though they only seem to have 2 songs, Lady GaGa – Poker Face and that one about being ‘Fly like a G6’ and ‘drinkin like a blizzard’, whoever that is?? I’ve found myself, after years of not being arsed about picking up a guitar in my free time to really wanting a wee acoustic or something to mess around on, it’s funny what free-time does to you.
It rained here the other day and it was pretty spectacular, it wasn’t like the constant rain we get at home. It was like proper Gene Hackman rain, what I mean by that is that every film Gene Hackman is in he is usually some kind of general and it’s always really fucking pouring with rain, really pouring. It came on all of a sudden and only lasted about 5 minutes, Monsooned oot it’s banger likes.
My skin is peeling off my forehead and I feel like Brundle-Fly, no matter how much I moisturize it, it is still determined to peel. It really feels disgusting. The rest of the burnt bits are turning to quite a nice wee tan though. Holly’s sunburn turned nice a day or so ago, wee cow.
We went cruising round the girly bars with Pete the Head last night and it was pretty fun. I got beat, or beat myself at pool off some Thai lassies. They are pretty good at pool by the way; I guess hey should be if they hang around bars playing pool all night. We got a bit more of an insight into how it all works with the girls over here too. Apparently they ‘choose’ whether or not to go with you (“so it’s not prostitution!”) and the bar that you have picked them up in get 200 Baht for allowing them to dance around the bar then it’s generally about 1000 Baht for a night of their time. This is pretty much the set up. A guy sitting beside me last night was a bit of a strange one, he had 2 of the girls giving him a massage and bringing him drinks but he refused to talk to them at all, it was all a bit serial killer-ish for my liking. Maybe that’s just because he was German though. It’s still a wee bit unnerving to witness but it is just the way of life here I suppose, the girls seem to have a great time! Holly and I may go halfers on a sexy wan! One of the guys got a wee bit merry and the wheels pretty much fell off and he let rip about his experiences with the ole’ Lady Boys. He assured us that if you made sure they kept the pants on and you focused on the top half you would have a whale of a time. That wasn’t his favourite thing though, his modus operandi seemed to be to pump old women!! Apparently they are cheaper, have better banter and will ride you like the wind. Maybe he’s got a point. Big shout out to Linda Thompson and Karen the Goth! Kiddin’ oan. ;-)
I went on a cider hunt yesterday and I was successful!! I found Magners, Gaymers and one I’ve never heard of called ‘Tropical nuclear Cider’ which was cheaper than the other two and of course, a bit stronger, a wee bit too sweet though. Still no sign of the elusive specter that is Strongbow, I’ll keep you informed. I am probably willing to pay a tenner for a can, god I am missing it! The beer is going down a lot easier but my tummy isn’t too used to it. Fruit shakes are the absolute business over here so I’m defo getting my 5 a day.
We figured out a budget to live on each day of 1000 Baht each. It’s pretty depressing but it’s the only way we’re gonna be able to keep on going. I found a good shop the other day which sold me 4 beers, a bottle of San Song (thai rum), 3 bottles of red bull, 2 packs of noodles and a can of salted peanuts for 300 Baht (£6) so I think I’ll be OK. The days that we don’t drink we hardly spend anything so I’ll no doubt have change left over at the end of the week so I can blow a tenner on a can of Strongbow.
We’ve also formulated some plans about where we want to go next and what’s in store in the long term. After Ya Nui we’re thinking of doing a bit of Island hopping. Everyone says that Phi Phi Isalnd isn’t what it used to be but is defo something that you have to do while you are here (the beach and all that), so we’ll probably just have a night or two there and then check out Krabi and all that before hitting the main land where we will have to descend to Malaysia to get a renewed Visa so we can stay in Thailand a bit longer. A major thought for us is buying a bike with a sidecar so we can make our own way, keep our bags in the sidecar and see parts of the country we normally wouldn’t get to see otherwise…it’ll probably be a hell of a lot cheaper for us too. Not sure on it all yet but it seems like a good idea and experience and we can always sell the bike when we are done with it or trade it for our lives when we get taken into a treetop prison by jungle savages.
Today I went to the ‘Brekkie Party’ which was a birthday party for a guy who’s just turned 66. He’s called Bertie Bassett and is pretty much the epitome of Blackpool Pleasure Beach. He rolled up on a scooter, which, due to his size looked like he was riding one of those Postman Pat or aero plane machines you get outside shops like Superdrug to keep the kids amused bobbing back and forth for 20 pence a go. He was also wearing a crayzeee Glastonbury hat and what I assume to be a XXXL bright yellow T-Shirt proclaiming ‘Don’t worry be happy!’. He had the same kinda vibe as Roy Chubby Brown or Bernard Manning and had pretty much the same repertoire of jokes too. Apparently he hasn’t had a drink in 12 years and had to go into rehab for being an alcy, he professed to drinking 15 litres of White Lightning a day! That’s some mean feat even by my standards, White Lightning aswell! It’s no the best, everyone knows that Frosty Jacks is the champagne of white ciders. Anyway, he goes on to crack every joke my Dad has ever heard, told or is likely to hear in his lifetime. He told us that he got kicked out of Rehab for being too happy, people coming in ‘clucking’ (cold turkey) off heroin withdrawal would take the nip with him telling them it was a pure laugh in here and that they should look on the bright side of life etc… His birthday treat was liver and onions with mashed potato and the Thai equivalent of Jaffa cakes – in other words…a pure laugh and definitely the bright side of life. I cannot imagine what this cunt would be like with a drink in him! At 66 I have to envy him for being so chipper though, he must know something we don’t, wither that or he pissed in all our beers. So I spent a few hours there and met some new people including a Scottish couple who live in Saudi Arabia and come here on their holidays. It turned out that the woman was from Clydebank (where I’m from) and the guy was from Eaglesham or something. To be honest, it was pretty comforting meeting a woman called ‘Jackie’, reminded me of home and the fact that Clydebank is such a dive that you will find it’s citizens spread across the globe to escape a lifetime of bams and renting videos from the shop at the Hardgate. A good time was had by all, they gave us free wine so I mixed up some red wine and coca cola and drank for free before following my nose in a Monterey Jack from the Rescue Rangers (remember or google it) style drift towards my elusive life partner…cider.
Aye, this time I sniffed out some Blackthorn. I normally don’t like the stuff but over here the imported version is a bit nicer. We’re on a budget now so I was limited to just one can and a read of photocopied News of the World. The barman tickled my fancies by tempting me with a pie (a rarity here as you can imagine), which I sadly had to decline for financial reasons.
I do know that it is out there, The Big Dirty, The Sly, Sleekit, Timorous Beastie that is my nemesis, my Everest…my beloved Strongbow. I just have to clear my mind, get all Zen and meditate on its essence and I’m sure I’ll find it. Or, I could ask a local temple boy ‘Here pal, ah ken yer a monk an aw that but gonnae ask thon Buddha laddie fur a wee Morrisons deal on Strongbow tinnies’. I’m sure I’ve nae chance but if I have to take my gutties aff and don a wee orange towel for some Strongbow then it’s just what has to be done.
Enough for now, I think it’s gonna rain again so I’m planning running about in it with my clothes off with my new pals…the dugs, who go daft for a wee run aboot in the rain.
Early Feb 2011 - Laos
Ahoy all, it’s been a while since I’ve had my computer so this will either be a very long one or two separate ones. Knowing me however, it will be two very long ones. I’m getting into the swing of not doing much so these blogs are getting to be quite the chore as I’m sure you can sympathise. ;-)
So, we left our base in Phuket with a few of the other folk we have met while staying in Ya Nui, a handsome couple called Mike and Natalie who are part owners of the place we’re staying at, Giles, their good friend and business partner from England here ona brief holiday and a diamond of a chap called Mark who is the resident hippie type around here while not working as a best boy on movies in England. All in all, a good bunch to be heading off with on our wee holiday within a holiday.
We booked a flight to Udon Thani in the North of Thailand with the aim being to cross the border at Friendship Bridge into Laos where we could go to the Thai Embassy and apply for a double-entry visa for Thailand which would give us 4-6 months stay instead of the 30 days you get each time you come into the country. Through some good fortune it turned out that Giles (or Bertie, as he was usually referred to) lived and worked in Thailand and Laos for 10 years so knew his way around somewhat and kept us right along the way. In the end he proved himself to be pretty indispensable in keeping us all in order, entertained and most of all ticking all the boxes for the experiences we should be having at each destination. I salute you sir.
Anyway, our wee trip ended up being 3 flights, which would see us spending 2 nights in Laos, 1 in Udon Thani and 1 in Bangkok. The flights with Air Asia are a very good deal, always cheap and the planes are modern, clean and you’re well looked after – kinda like that Gucci Megabus they tried for a while. We got to Udon Thani in a relatively painless fashion just in time for the sun setting, although it was 30 degrees it seemed a lot cooler and the light brought a nice wee calm over me.
To get into Laos you have to get in a rickety bus and go over something called Friendship Bridge and go through kinda shady borders that look a bit like that shite subway station at Kelvinhall. The side of the road that you drive on changes as you cross the bridge too which was pretty weird, you don’t realize that you notice these things until they are different. The sky was pure pink and orange as we were crossing as the sun was going down and mixing with the smog over the Mekong River, quality.
Laos is really nice, we were only in Vientiane, which is the capital (if you could call it that) but was still really chilled out. I’d heard people comment that Laos is like Thailand 20 years ago before it got all tourist friendly and westernized and I’d imagine they are right. The main difference is the attitude of the people, you don’t get people chasing you down the road determined to deck you out in a Juicy Couture jogging suit or the like. Instead they leave you to it, if you want to buy you can , they’re nae arsed but do like a good haggle. They seem to set up another world as soon as the sun sets. Pavements disappear and restaurants, bars and shops all appear as if from nowhere, it’s quite impressive really how people adapt any way they can to make a living. The electricity poles on the streets are the scariest bit, it looks like everyone just taps into the supply from the poles in the street and they emit a strange crackling buzz that makes you fear the rain like Reekie fears a Sandyford text. There is a much bigger language divide in Laos than there is in Thailand, most people don’t have even a basic grasp of English which on reflection I kinda liked. I don’t have a basic grasp of Lao so fair is fair. Their money is a bit mental though, it’s really very cheap in Laos but it doesn’t seem it as for £1 you get 13000 Kip so buying a 5 grand mars bar gets a bit confusing.
The first morning in Laos we had to go to the Thai Embassy to apply for our Visa’s…words, guidebooks and hand gestures could not communicate this to our Tuk Tuk driver but luckily someone at the hotel desk wrote it down for us in Lao to show the driver. At this point (even though we weren’t in Thailand) I felt the most like I was ‘Cruisin’ down the streets of Siam’ like at the start of Kickboxer with Van Damme, it was like I was actually in the film and actually in the 80’s so I did what anyone would…hiked up my chinos, slipped on a tight black singlet with buckles, had a wee dance then avenged the crippling of my brother in an ancient underground temple. Once that was out of the way I went to the Embassy.
Outside the embassy are lots of wee men with school tables and forms and the idea is that they fill out the forms for you for a pound, that way it all gets done correctly and they provide an address for you to say you’re staying at etc… You also have to get a ‘passport’ picture done, this was the funniest bit, we had to sit on a plastic garden chair under a sheet of tarpaulin in the street with a white blanket behind you as they took a snap of you on a wee digital camera then they printed the pics off on a wee printer. It was a pretty impressive wee racket although it did feel like we were buying acid or something, I tried licking the photograph but unfortunately the walls never melted and the sky never turned to lizards. After all this we took a number and queued at the embassy and had to give our passports up for the night and pick them up (hopefully) with our visas the next day. Throughout this whole process we were drinking a carry out, no one seemed to mind, no one complained (about the drinking or the waiting) and all went smoothly. I figure if we employed a bar in queues or at least allowed people to take a bevvy when they’re doing things that no one really likes to do then there would be a lot less hassle, fights and complaints in the world. They have it sussed over here likes, you can buy a beer from practically anyone in this part of the world, shops, fishermen, children and even dugs!
The rest of that day we tried to take in a bit more of Laos, went to some museums (which were full of what looked like extra large Blue Peter Thunder Birds Island papier mache models) and monuments before settling on the banks of the Mekong for a bit of a taps af(f)ternoon. We caught sight of some kids heading down to a pool of water for a wee swim so got some beers and headed down for a wee splash too. The girls got right into it and had a good water fight with the weans while Mike and I skulked a bit in the shallows with our cameras ($$$). At this point some guy came along in an army outfit with what, in the sunlight looked like a gun but turned out to be a spear! He seemed to be keeping an eye on the kids in some kind of official capacity, from their school or something maybe, but then another guy appeared in some completely new capacity, Readers Wives Monthly maybe? The girls were in their underwear in the water and Jimmy Paparazzi couldn’t get enough of it, he just kept taking more and more pictures to the point where we had to leave. I hope he got a good chug out of it. Gid lad. It wasn’t until after we had left the Mekong that the fear of parasites, beasties and diseases struck us so we headed straight for a shower and an early night while the elder statesmen showed us how it is done as they did every night.
The next day we took in a bit more of Laos, speculated on how we would definitely be back to see more of the country. Laos is pretty massive and borders about 6 countries, a lot of it is really rural and it has a lot of natural beautiful mountains and waterfalls. Apparently one of the best ways to see the country is to get a wee vehicle and sort out some home-stays with people in the jungle and the like. It sounds like it could be a laugh and surely an experience so we have vowed to return. The Visa’s came back without any problems and we met up with the rest of the group and went for cocktails and dinner while watching the sunset over the river, the colour of the sky was pretty amazing.
Next blog up when I get the motivation will be Chinese New Year in Udon Thani, utter madness in Bangkok and our return to Phuket.
Early Feb 2011
A’richt loons, I figure that the last blog was a bit boring so I’ll try and save on some of the actual details of where we were and what we were doing and focus on the more interesting stuff. This blog takes in Bangkok so I’m sure it won’t be hard.
We drove across the border back to Udon Thani after watching the sun go down with the intention of just coming across a place to stay for the night. It turned out that there were a lot of celebrations going on for Chinese New Year and there was a massive street party going on. The street was cordoned off for about 3 or 4 blocks and had stalls up and down each side of the street selling food, clothes and blessings, tables all the way up the middle filled with people eating and a massive stage at the bottom end with a big screen and a light show. There were lots of areas where monks would give you blessings and you could give your offerings to the Buddha’s and the like, the locals were all going daft for that. One of the strangest things I saw was an apparent ‘race’ between 3 pigs who were just spread out on the ground with flashing, colourful bows on their heads hardly moving. People were standing behind them with back scratchers and what looked like betting slips encouraging them to move forward, hence why I thought it was a race. I don’t know if the pigs were drugged or not but they did look pretty zonked. When I saw them later there was what looked like 3 whole bins of scrap food were emptied out in front of them and they hadn’t budged an inch. The stage at the end of the street was actually pretty impressive, when we arrived there was what looked like a Thai teenage version of Girls Aloud (nae bad) doing a fully mimed and choreographed show. Later on there were different versions of this, both male and female groups as well as solo old men crooning out the old Thai hits. The teenagers were all decked out like they were at the disco in Terminator when he goes to batter Sarah Connor, it was called Tech Noir or something, one of those places that conveys the future or the 80’s if you know what I mean? It turned out that it was a talent show for the town and it seemed to be being filmed for TV. We trekked on past all this to find a hotel that we had heard was a good deal. We found it and it seemed like something out of your worst nightmares, totally run down but not in a charming way. The girls went in to use the toilet only to be met with a dog that was close to death chained up inside a dark wardrobe and an ex-pat with the social skills of a cannibal. The cannibal gave us some directions and shouted at the people in Thai and we eventually found a hotel that had space. The place was enormous, pretty nice and very cheap. It must have been the place to stay in the 70’s as there was a device at the side of the bed that apparently played tapes, I half expected Charles Bronson to be in the bathroom advertising Brut but sadly he wasn’t…probably cos’ there was nae hot water!
All was good the next morning, we had an early flight to Bangkok so got 2 tuk tuk’s to have a race with 3 of us each in them, we lost. The two older guys Mark and Giles had went out in Udon Thani the night before and got pretty drunk and don’t remember coming in, well Giles didn’t. Apparently Giles had came in, stripped naked and jumped into bed with Mark (the long haired one) while he was sleeping. I suppose there nothing wrong with two grown men lying naked together and having a wee cuddle is there? It was funny nonetheless. The flight to Bangkok was cool and we had booked a nicer hotel than we were used to in the city. It was only £37 for the night and the place was massive, a full on studio apartment with a king size bed, balcony, kitchen, bath, telly, sound system and a private swimming pool with a bar at the side. We took a well needed and longed for bubble bath before meeting up with the others for a spot of Indian food. Holly wasn’t feeling too well at this point so I went for a bit then found a Pharmacy to get her all the medicine she needed.
That night she was feeling a bit better so came out on the town with the rest of us but stayed off the booze. We hailed a tuk tuk and talked the guy into taking all 6 of us on his tiny tuk tuk, a couple of us tried to hang off the back but that wasn’t allowed. We managed to squeeze us all in somehow, Christ knows how as there was easily 65-70 stone crammed in there. It was one of those things you have to do while in Bangkok I suppose…among others. We went to the seedier bar area with me clutching on to my wife and my wallet for dear life. We sat at a bar and ordered a beer while Mike and I went asked where the gents were.
We were directed through some beaded curtains into a room that was teeming with naked Thai women all dancing on a big stage in the middle of the room to a DJ blasting out Enter Sandman and other rock favourites. When we walked into the room there was a deafening ‘WOOOOOOO’ for the whole distance of the room to the toilets as they caught sight of two extremely handsome Farangs choking for a pee. The pee turned out to be quite an experience too, I opted for the urinal and I think Mark opted to hold it in as there was a girl in a bikini standing by the sink then as I relieved myself what can only be described as ‘Wee Jimmy Crankie’ (An old woman, about 4ft tall, wearing a baseball cap tilted to one, a body warmer covered in badges and big Reebok Pumps looking like she was totally ready to go Rollerblading with the Tiger Club on her Butlins holiday) sidled up beside me and bought 3 packets of condoms out of the machine by the urinals. This was one of the weirdest things that has happened to me but nobody batted an eyelid, I had a chuckle and a wee shake then joined the others at their prime viewing position for the stage. All the girls were numbered and I think the craic is that you tell Wee Jimmy the number and pay her a set fee and you get the company of the lady for the night. The girls were mostly good looking (obviously there were a few fatties and pensioners for the deviants) but only a couple of them could actually dance or at least look like they wanted to be there. Two of the girls, who were the obvious moshers took a wee shine to me and gave it big licks whenever Guns N Roses or the like came on. At this point Holly noticed a sign on the wall advertising ‘5 ping pong 100 baht’ or ‘50 ping pong 500 baht’. With this being a ‘Ping Pong Show’ Holly and I figured you would chuck the lassie a ping pong ball, she would inhale it up her *insert colloquialism*and then ping it back at you. So we bought 5, thinking that we would be here all night if we bought 50! I don’t consider myself naïve but this was really one of my blonder expectations. Holly is asking “what do we do?” and I assume we just throw it at the best looking one so she does. The girls kinda scramble to catch it and I’m thinking, Yaldi, here we fucking go! But alas, naw. The girl simply handed Wee Jimmy the ball and showed her the number pinned to her G-String. It was at this point that I realized that this wasn’t a ping pong show as I had adolescently imagined but actually a tipping system so that the girls got extra money at the end of the night by how many balls they accrued. Sigh. If it hadn’t been for the fact they played Def Leppard I would have fucked the bit.
We left this place to another destination that we happened to just stumble across, or so I thought. Earlier in the day Giles had mentioned a place that had a glass ceiling above you filled with girls dressed in Japanese Schoolgirl outfits dancing around sans panties but had reasoned that it might be a bit too much for the girls and certainly not the kind of place I would want to attend with my wife. So, as I’m sure you can gather, the place we stumbled upon turned out to be the place with the glass ceiling. As everyone in the group looked upon our destination in a mixture of awe, disgust and in Marks case…excitement, I gave Giles a sly wink and a silent high five of approval of his duplicitous but cunning ruse. The place was exactly as it was described, the lower floor had a stage with about 15 girls on it just like in the last establishment but above them were a further 15 or so girls dancing in miniskirts and white shirts. At this point all the gear was firmly on but after 5 minutes or so, the scants were aff and one girl even dropped the curtains (ahem) as she got down and dirty with her ass to the glass for some R&B number. Although there were a lot of naked and very attractive girls gien’ it laldy the whole thing was still very un-sexy. It seemed a bit more novelty, like a circus show or something.
If the last stop was novelty and circus like then the next destination was a full on Freak Show! Giles went up an alley for a few minutes then came back and urged us to follow him for a ‘real’ ping pong show. We were led up a very dirty, seedy looking close with broken fuse boxes hanging from the walls to a place called the ‘Queens Club’ that looked suspiciously like a shitey youth club in Clydebank I was forced to go to as a boy where we were greeted by a 5 ft tall Eskimo woman. When I say Eskimo I don’t mean that she was Inuit but you don’t see many short, fat, completely naked Thai women carrying what was either a flute or a dart blowgun trying to give you a hug…if she was hairier I would have almost certainly have credited her in the story as an Ewok.
At this point we order some drinks and the real insanity ensues. There was a square stage in the middle of the room with light up tiles like in the Thriller video; one of the tiles was on the blink, which made the whole thing a lot funnier. Anyway, another equally unattractive Thai lady comes out brandishing a candlestick like that French dick from Beauty and the Beast, sets it down on the ground and lights the candles. “This is romantic,” I thought, until she blew the candles out with one puff of her chuff! Oh aye, this was definitely more what I had in mind when thinking about a Ping Pong Show in Bangkok. Throughout the next 40 mins or so various women came out and performed some truly impressive tricks that all involved their vagina. If the women were attractive it might have sent me over the edge but luckily, each one that came out was just as ugly, if not worse than the last. One amazingly opened two bottles and pinged the caps at us using only her bits. Another smoked a fag with it, one popped some balloons with a blow dart gun, one pinged a banana at the girls, one blew a whistle while another pulled a 10 foot long flower garland out of herself. The Piècede résistance however was the last girl sticking a marker pen up herself and squatting down to a piece of paper on the floor and writing ‘Thank You and Goodnight’ on it, then for added flare she asked Mike his name and changed it to ‘Thank You and Goodnight Mr. Mike’ on it before handing it to him as a shocking reminder of that one night in Bangkok.
By this point it was all getting a bit too much as I realized that Natalie and I were holding ping pong paddles and batting balls back at the girl who was spitting them out of herself at us. I felt like Forrest Gump, not only was I a dab hand at ping pong but I had the overwhelming compulsion to run, and keep running. Holly decided, quite fairly I suppose, to give one of the girls a tip. This on reflection was a bad move for it was at this point to the sadness of the whole situation came to the surface as all the girls came running up with their hands out desperate for money like dogs begging for a treat, pretty heartbreaking but I guess it’s just a different world our here.
We called it a night after that, a sleepless one, as Holly took very ill and spent the whole night ejecting the contents of her body through every orifice like the ping pong show that she is. She was too ill to make it to the airport the next morning so we had to stay at the hotel an extra night, book new flights for the next day and try maybe even get her a doctor as we were scared that she might have gotten some kind of parasite from her wee splash in the filthy Mekong River. As the day went on she gradually got a bit better but decided to get some bed rest so we could fly the next day. The only upside to this very uncomfortable (for Holly) and expensive (for me) bout of illness was that my good friend Kenny and his girlfriend Emma were in Bangkok for one day after a month around Vietnam and Cambodia and I’d get to see them. We arranged to meet up via the internet and the plan was to check out the Muay Thai kickboxing at the Bangkok Stadium that evening. I was pretty down with this as I was certain that it was the stadium that Van Damme’s brother got a kicking at in the movie Kickboxer.
I arrived there about 6pm to find Kenny and Emma on the steps with some beers being harassed by ticket touts who seemed to be the only people that seemed to speak perfect English in Bangkok. Kenny was determined that we would be on the cheap seats as they were the best despite warnings that we would be behind a cage, in a cage and in a box with no air and recommendations that we could get good ringside for ‘cheap cheap’ seats because Emma was ‘very sexy lady’. We opted for a wee catch up on the grass outside the stadium then bought the cheap seats. It turned out that the place was massive and we were in fact behind a big fence on the top tier of the stadium with about 5 other people who must have also been daft enough to buy the cheap seats. There was a wee stall outside that was selling cheap cans of beer but you couldn’t take them into the stadium so Kenny went and got one in a plastic cup and put two more down his shorts so he could smuggle them in. When he got to the ticket man and turnstile the cans fell out of the bottom of his shorts and he spilled the one in the plastic cup all over himself trying to catch them. The guys were so amused by this that they just slagged him off in Thai and let him in with the cans. This was stage one in Kenny making the transformation into Jelly Minogue, his alter ego that has the power to accelerate while simultaneously destroy whatever situation you are in. Gid lad. We spent the rest of the boxing mostly talking, drinking and catching up and not really paying much attention to the fights that seemed to range from children to adults of different weights repeating pretty much the same fight every time. The only moderately exciting one was surprisingly the one where 2 westerners were fighting, they gave a bit more it seemed. By this point we had all had a few too many beers and Emma decided to climb the fence that we were behind, she got up about 5 feet while Jelly screamed at her to climb higher, she comlied and the whole crowd of Thai men that were on the other side of the fence turned round and gave her a massive cheer and round of applause. She came down and not much was said. Then Jelly decided to give it a go and we get assigned our own security guards to make sure that no men climb the fence. They spent the rest of the night sitting beside us keeping an eye on us, if we even inched forward they would warn us to stay back from the fence. This is just asking for Jelly to bam you up though so he takes it upon himself to try and swap trainers with the security guards and as you can imagine they weren’t too keen on that. We did a bolt from the stadium and paid Holly a wee visit at our hotel where Jelly and I tanned a bottle of Sang Som and he pulled over our marble table spilling beer all over the place. I stayed in with Holy while they went out for a ping pong show. I would have loved to have seen how they ended up as I’ve been out with him in that state many times and it always ends in good stories, letting him loose in Bangkok will surely amplify that tenfold.
All in all, Bangkok wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I had it in my head that it was gonna be constant hassle like in Patong, dangerous and seedy. It really wasn’t that bad at all. Although it was a shame that my wife was ill the silver lining was definitely getting to see Kenny and some much needed patter that Thailand sadly lacks at times.
Mid Feb 2011
I am now on the Island of Phi Phi and in many ways the game has completely changed.
After we left Bangkok we returned to Phuket and found that the lovely chaps at the Last Paradise Guest House had organized a room for us even though they didn’t know when we would be back or if indeed we were still alive. I am very thankful for that and even more thankful that the taxi driver who took us from the airport managed to stay awake. Holly and I could see his eyes in the rear view mirror and he kept falling asleep, at one point he had to stop and pour a bottle of cold water over his face. We sat in complete silence gripping each other’s hands until the ordeal was over. It reminded me of the first time I ever properly drove a car when I was in LA a few years back. We had had a fairly wild night out somewhere and my American friends’ Mother came to pick us up in her frankly massive SUV that was made all the more worrying by the fact that they had put on oversize wheels so the speedometer didn’t give you the right reading. I had tried to learn the basics watching Chris drive it earlier in the day and he let me drive it round the block with his help and I was pretty pleased with that. So, I was telling their mother this when she came to the bar to pick us up and she offered to let me have a shot of driving the car home, it was an automatic and she would be sitting right beside me so thought it would be fine. What she didn’t know however was that I was just sick all over a toilet cubicle, Robbie B and my own shoes following a day long alcohol binge and a particularly nasty shot of something or other. The rest of the boys, of which I think there were at least 6 of (that’s how big this fucking car was!) didn’t really catch on to what was happening until we got into the car and realized that I was the one who was backing the car up and heading off down the street. From this point I have never heard a group of Banff Boys (Scotland and California divisions, respectively) at the end of a night out so completely silent. Because it was their Mother in the front seat telling them it would be OK they pretty much had to deal with it. The look of utter fear in their eyes as we crossed a bridge was only trounced by the look on my face when a Police car began to follow us as we were coming off the bridge. I was told to ‘stay cool’ and to my surprise the following car exited down a side street after a minute or so. The warm breath from the sighs of relief completely negated the cars air-con and made the whole other business of parking all the more sweatier. Although I in no way condone or promote such dalliances with the law and the safety of my friends, and myself it will always be a fond memory…for me at least!
And now, back to the present. We stayed at the Last Paradise for a few more days so we could sort out the particulars of our new plan to explore South East Asia. The plan was to buy a second hand Motorbike and get a custom built sidecar made (they are everywhere here, people carry their whole families on them) with a lock box and a seat on it so we could both travel around the country with our bags in tow. We had pretty much got it all sorted for a pretty good price and had planned a basic route around the country and I was very excited about the freedom doing it this way would provide us. Then I did what I always do…I ‘googled the banter’. This is a surefire way to freak yourself out, if you get bitten by a bug then suddenly you read on forums and websites that there is a chance it could be a fucking killer ninja spider and you would turn black and die within 3 days or your ears will fall off. Anyway, I got to reading about all the Thai laws and the regulations of the roads and access to countries like Vietnam and Cambodia and freaked myself out. If you are in Thailand in on a tourist visa then you cannot get the right papers. The vehicle comes with something called a ‘green book’, which outlines the vehicles history, and must correlate to a ‘blue book’ that is attached to a Thai property and name. Without these things you cannot get road tax or insurance for the vehicle. If you go through all the websites on bikes, ex-pats and the forums from people who have done it all before then you get a 50/50 split between ‘you can bribe anyone here and get away with it’ or ‘I’ve not had any paperwork or a licence and have been here 20 years’ and ‘if you get caught you are fucked’. The resounding thought that I had was that I wouldn’t even consider doing anything like this in my own country or America or even most of Europe so why would I show such little respect as to break the law here. Common sense prevailed and disappointingly we figured it wasn’t worth the risk. God forbid any kind of accident would happen but if it did we would be seriously shafted, so now we’re gonna do it by bus and I imagine it will make the Glasgow to London for a Tenner trip seem like flying Concorde. Pfft.
At the start when I said that everything has changed now we are on Phi Phi I am not kidding. We got the ferry out here and immediately there was a breath of fresh air. The ferry itself was filled with younger people (and even a guy who was the spitting image of old Leo DiCaprio, Holly sneaked a photo) who seemed to have a little lighter step and a more optimistic view on the world. After about 10 mins on the boat we bought some beers and got chatting to a lovely young Aussie couple on their holidays and an Irish guy with some good patter who had been teaching in Taiwan for 8 months. We had been staying in Yanui and hanging out with much older people for the last couple of weeks and apart from Natalie and Mike (who is 42 but acts 22) we hadn’t really hung out with anyone our own age so this was quite surprisingly, to me at least, really nice. It turned out that the Aussie guy, Mike and I had a ton in common and he was very much not your stereotypical ‘Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy, Oi, Oi, Oi’ kinda guy and his girlfriend Natalie was the same age as Holly so they hit it off no problem. I also got a much needed dose of patter from James, the Irish guy who would hold his own without a hitch with any of my friends at home.
We got onto the Island and to our surprise the place we had booked to stay at (the night before) had arranged for a longtail boat to come and pick us up from the pier. We didn’t realize that there are pretty much not cars or motorbikes on this island and the only way to get about it by boat, walking through jungle, swimming or customizing a kids bike or BMX into a Hello Kitty themed fanny magnet. If you’ve been anywhere else in Thailand you’ll appreciate how refreshing this is, although the boats are pretty expensive. We had booked to stay at a place called Phi Phi Hill for 700 Baht a night, for that we got our own spacious Bungalow with a sea view, a toilet, shower, deck with chairs and a solitary fan which was a pretty good deal. The place was right at the end of Long Beach which was a hell of a lot quieter than the other beaches but still had a few bars, restaurants and a couple of dive centres. As it was so secluded and chilled out it was the premier spot for going topless, which, excuse the pun has it’s perks! With the bungalow, the clue was in the name…it was indeed on a hill, a very steep one so you have to ascend steps that are themselves like a hill. Imagine each step is like a ramp so you’re constantly leaning back as you walk up them, which totally kills you! Luckily they had a pulley system like you would see in a coal mine to take our heavy bags up to the top of the steps but after that we had to go to the other side of the hill (a cliff) to get to the bungalow.
That afternoon we went and met the guys we had hung out with on the Ferry trip and drank some buckets, played some pool and had some laughs. We had heard that there was a bar that had a boxing ring in it and let tourists get up and have a go at Muay Thai Kickboxing so thought we would give that a peek. We were all pretty blootered by this point so the others convinced me to get up and fight. I thought fuck it, When in Rome and all that and gave it a bash…you also got a free bucket for fighting whether you win or lose.
Luckily we had arrived quite early and I hadn’t seen any of the other fights, some of which were very scary indeed with big guys from all over the world who had come here to train in the many Muay Thai gyms. I got pretty lucky as I was fighting an Irish guy about the same size as me who didn’t have a Genghis Khan complex. They provide you with gloves and headgear and you go at it for 3 rounds. I spoke to the Irish guy beforehand and we decided we would take it easy, then the bell rang and he came out like a fucking hurricane pelting me with punches! I was quite taken aback but managed to give as good as I got swearing to myself that he was getting a hiding in the next round. Unfortunately, he threw in the towel after the first round and that was that. I won the match but it didn’t really feel like it as we’d only had one round. The next night Mike from Oz and another Mike from England signed up to fight but for them it was a very different story. Mike from Oz had done a lot of Martial Arts in his time and was still pretty limber with the kicking etc… he was to fight a French guy who looked like a more handsome Ashley Cole with a dazzling smile. Surely he was a lover, not a fighter so we thought Mike would have it in the bag. When it came time to fight he had his shirt off and revealed a build not too dissimilar to Bruce Lee’s! He also said that he’d never fought before but when the bell rang he knew exactly what he was doing, Mike held his own and it was probably the most even fight I had seen all night but in the end the ref awarded Ashley Cole the victory. Now, mike from England, a very handy looking, tall, well built Cockney Geezer was up next and his opponent was friend of the last guy, also French but this guy was around 6’2, black as 2 in the morning and built like a brick shithouse. This guy knew exactly what he was doing and Cockney Mike got a leathering. Most of the other fighters moved their heads, ducked and dived but this guy just stared ahead like Shadow from the Gladiators not moving his head once while he relentlessly pummeled poor Mike. I saw him a couple of days later sheepishly wearing his sunglasses at night to cover his black eye. A wee shame.
Phi Phi Island is definitely the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life, I’m not even exaggerating when I say that, I was actually taken aback by how amazing it looks when we arrived. There isn’t really much to it, some parts are busier than others and that suits us because you can choose to go to the bit with all the bars and people or juts hang out on the quieter beaches.. I think the thing that makes it look so good is the water, it is crystal clear and because most of the area is shallow you get a kind of emerald green, turquoise glow coming from it and you can see right to the bottom with all the fish and even sharks in between. The view all around you is off steep cliff faces with green trees all over the top and vines hanging down. The horizon is nothing but sea and the smaller island, Phi Phi Ley which has no-one living on it but you can get tours around it, which is what most people actually come here for. This is the place that they filmed the movie the Beach, so if you’ve seen that then you’ll get an idea as to how beautiful it is. I could go into more poetic descriptions of the beauty here but I always feel that kinda ruins it for me with things I read, you know when people can’t talk about harmonies without them being ‘transcendental’ or the heat ‘searing’ or the pain ‘exquisite’! Quite simply this place is ‘pure braw’, enough said. I’ll set aside some time to go and take pictures so you can see for yourself.
We done the tour of the smaller island with the Aussie couple via a long tail boat driven by a charming wee man called Mustapha who looked a treat in pink. We swam in the famous lagoon and at Maya Bay and also went to Monkey Bay. Monkey Bay was pretty dirty with a lot of rubbish lying all over the beach and the apes were sifting through it looking for food. I thought this pretty bad at first until I realized the reason for it. Holly was feeding them water from a bottle, this all seemed fine and was infact pretty amazing seeing all these wee monkeys grabbing onto the end of the bottle and drinking from it, one of them even had some of my beer! All was going well until an older monkey came up and jumped up on Holly and tried to bite her face. I stepped in and another couple jumped up and hung off my arm scratching me. We had to hot foot it into the sea before they really hurt us, wee bastards. So, that’s how it gets so messy, people come and give them food then attack them and they have to run away before they can pick up the rubbish. Again, wee bastards but they were pretty cool to see. Later that day we all came to the beach that Holly and I are staying at and got to kicking a ball around with a couple of the diving instructors that were hanging out on the beach as there were no customers that day. Later on one of them, Jay, a guy from Puerto Rico came and joined us for a chat and a drink. Now, this guy is pretty much the sexiest man I have ever seen in real life! He is 37 but looks younger than me, has a perfect surfer body, dreadlocks to his ass, Spanish skin and accent, perfectly straight and dazzlingly white teeth and even fucking blue eyes, which you don’t often see on Central Americans. I asked him if he wanted a beer and he said no, I asked what he drank and he said in his smooth, slow Spanish accent ‘I driiiinnnkkk wiiiinnnne’. Holly just about slid off her seat! Despite all this he is actually an extremely nice man that has been travelling the world surfing and teaching Scuba Diving and decided to settle here in Thailand for a while. That night we met up with him for a drink in the bar on the beach and we all had a really good time. We ended up limbo dancing under burning poles and doing that fire stick malarkey that everyone seems to do at night around here. There are twins at the beach bar closest to us who look the absolute double of Cedric and Omar from The Mars Volta, afros and everything and they are amazing at the fire stuff. We got to talking with some of the other dive instructors (including a cracking lad from Wales) and they explained how easy it is to get your Dive Master certification and get work all over the world in beautiful places. Holly has always loved the sea and has dived in Australia before so this idea planted itself firmly in her head. She got hopelessly drunk that night, fell off the path back to our Bungalow and doesn’t remember swimming in the sea at 1 in the morning so I said we could discuss it over the next day or so. It seems like a good idea and she really wants to do it so I agreed to stay here for as long as her course takes and fork out the money for her to do it. Maybe one day I’ll be a kept man as she teaches diving but for now I’m gonna have to amuse myself while she is learning to dive with the sexiest man on the Island. Bastards, aw ae them!
Holly has started her course and we have moved to a much more basic bungalow, a hut really that at home would be classed as a sauna but only costs us 400 baht a night. I have just spent the morning gaffa taping up all the holes in the walls so that insects can’t get in and devour us in the night. As I said, it’s really basic but it’s all we need really. I just wish it wasn’t so fucking hot! There is a communal shower and Asian style toilets (a pure whitey by the way) and we even have our own crusty Berlin punk as a our neighbour who sits outside drinking Chang Beer all day with his bleached blonde double Mohawk. A real classy joint I’m sure you’ll agree.
So now my days will consist of drinking copious amounts of fruit shakes in the morning, avoiding the intense sun in the afternoon and proclaiming ‘Fuck it, Geez a Bucket!’ at night.
It could be worse.