Bangkok Retox

My first night back on Khaosan Road was poorly planned. Rather than find a hostel in advance with the benefit of online reviews I just grabbed the first cheap place I found, which was a private room upstairs from an Indian restaurant just off the strip. It had dorms so I figured it’d have something of a social scene – I reckoned the restaurant would double as a common room – but as you couldn’t bring outside beer into the restaurant and they charged more than one would expect, there were never more than a handful of folks hanging out there.

For the remainder of my time in the city – four nights – I booked a dorm bunk a few streets over at a great little place called Suneta. It’s rare that sixteen-bed dorm is decent but somehow they’ve managed – the beds are solid and completely contained by wood, so none of the typical creaks of top-bunk ladders and few of the snores and sleeptalking reaches your ears. The common room was small but cozy, Christmas decorations strewn about, a large TV with Netflix on the go, lots of cold, cheap beer in the fridge and most importantly plenty of people milling around.

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I whittled away the afternoon and early evening by strolling up and down Khaosan Road, grabbing drinks and the occasional bite, and shooting the shit with several people in the common room. By nine o’clock there’s a good crew of us drinking gin and playing cards – Sophie, a French girl who seemed to enjoy talking politics until she heard a few of my opinions, Miles, an exuberant Filipino-American from Seattle, Raphael, a Pole with a distinctly un-Polish name and working as an engineer in Germany, and Raphael’s quiet German friend whose name has slipped my mind. Late to the party was another German whose name I’ve also forgotten but is memorable for being the worst liar I’ve ever watched play cards, invariably showing a little grin and impishly shifting his eyes back and forth every time he wasn’t completely honest, bless his heart.

We’re polishing off our second bottle of gin and I’m a bit worried about going out – one of the bites I’d had earlier was some chicken that seemed to be off, I’d felt lousy since I ate it, like it was sitting just below my uvula and waiting to re-hatch. Sure enough I felt it coming, ran to the bathroom to stick my head in a toilet and missed it by a good five feet, vomiting plastering the wall of the stall and the outside of the toilet. Normally this’d be an unwelcome scene to find oneself in but I felt like a million bucks with the funky chicken out and a minute or two of hosing everything off with the Thai Bum Gun meant the place was better than new. Let’s go drink!

Khaosan Road is completely off the charts, packed with people far beyond anything I’d seen up to this point, it was like walking through a concert. In fact I saw three different guys crowd-surfing in the middle of the street. All had buckets of liquor in hand, appropriately. We sit down in some kid-sized plastic chairs next to a streetside liquor place and all get buckets of Red Bull and vodka, they’re cheap and strong and I know I’m going to be fucked up really soon because I’m practically chugging it. Chaos erupts about ten feet away from us, girls are screaming, people are pushing every which way, I get to my feet to figure out what the deal is and can see a guy collapsed on the pavement in the middle of the fray, at first I thought maybe he got knocked out but it looks like he’s having a seizure based on the way people are reacting to him. More girls are screaming, some people are pushing in for a better look, others are pushing them back. Sophie is a bit upset by the whole scene and wants to get out of the mess so we grab our buckets and head.

Sloppiness ensued at this point. Miles had been our de facto leader but he was bouncing off the walls and the Europeans were having a hard time keeping up with him; at one point Miles disappeared for a few minutes and the Euros kind of just stood around unsure of what to do so I led us to an upstairs balcony bar overlooking the strip. Sophie wisely called it quits to head home. I recall briefly wearing a Santa hat with flashing LEDs, I don’t know where it came from nor what I did with it later. On the balcony I gravitated away from the remaining Euros toward a fellow Canadian named Mike, hailed from BC. He was fucked up and talking like a madman, I liked him immediately and ditched my crew to go rustle up some trouble with him.

It was his last night in town, he had to head out to the airport by four or five a.m. at the latest, but he wasn’t traveling alone. He pulled out his phone to show me some text messages and explained that he’d come here with a girl from back home who was just a friend but that he’d been drinking and chasing tail so much that she hated his guts now. The messages were savage, completely eviscerating him for being an irresponsible asshole. He loved it and I loved that he loved it and he loved that I loved that he loved it, we were wasted and laughing our asses off at all this horrible shit this girl was saying to him, like “You’re not a work in progress, you’re a disaster of a person” and “Real friends wouldn’t blah blah blah…” Given that he and I were both laughing our asses off at this she’s probably right and her verdict likely applies to me as well.

Mike’s stoked to be hanging out with a dude, free to bro it up he demonstrates some Thai phrases to hit on girls, but he doesn’t really explain their meanings. One really pretty girl is standing next to him and he says something as she’s preparing to light her cigarette… Instead of lighting it, she throws it in his face and storms off. “Hooooo!!! Swing and a miss Mike!” He still wouldn’t tell me what he said, but I’ll bet it was classy as fuck.

From the corner of my eye I see a cute-looking white chick walk beside me and Mike comments, more to himself than anything else, “Hey she’s cute.” She overhears and goes completely ballistic – jumping toward our table she screams “WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU SAY TO ME??” Ooo, this is ugly. I jump up next to her and assure her in a calm voice, “Hey, he didn’t say anything derogatory, he just said you’re cute, that’s all.” She looks at me skeptically. “I swear, that’s all he said.” I ask her what her name is and where she’s from and she calms down a bit, then puts her hand on my arm. “You’re cute, I like you and the way you stuck up for your friend. You’re a nice guy and you’ve got game*.”, she smiles. “But your friend is a fucking ASSHOLE AND THE ANTI-GAME!!!” Back to shrieking as she turns to face him. She glances back at me, smiles, and walks away.

* Neither of these statements are factual, this chick is clearly fucking nuts.

Mike insists that I try out a few lines so he teaches me some Thai phrases but again doesn’t tell me what they mean, only that I should say them to a girl. The girl who threw a cigarette in his face earlier is sitting beside me now for some reason and I figure she’s as good as any, so I pivot and repeat what I’d practiced. She rolls her eyes and sighs, saying in perfect English, “What do you want?” Ah shit, I feel like a douche. “Sorry, I have no idea what I said to you, I’m just playing along with what my buddy’s been saying.” She smiles and kisses me. Was not expecting that. She kisses me again. Hmmm. I’m thinking I probably should stop this now for a few reasons, not the least of which is that I’m not sure she doesn’t have a penis. I apologize again and get up to leave with Mike, it’s time for him to catch his flight.

As we rolled out into the street Mike was still stirring the pot with people, particularly some ladies of the night, but I had to walk away, I was wiped and hungry and wished him good luck at making it to his flight. I walked past a Burger King and even though I’d puked BK chicken all over a washroom earlier that night I decide I should give it another chance. The staff was lifting the chairs onto the tables but they took my order before shutting down the tills. There was only one other person in the place, a big guy covered in tats who looked like an MMA fighter and also looked hammered, and as I got my paper bag full of grease this guy flips a chair up next to him and says in an accent I can’t quite place, “HEY BRO. COME SIT HERE WITH ME.” Ignoring my better judgement I do so.

He starts talking about how many chicks he’s banged during his time in Bangkok, over 20 in slightly over a week, “It’s so easy here bro.” This is pretty much what I expected from a Khaosan Road BK rando at five in the morning but he digresses and starts talking about what love really means. Whaaa.

“You can’t confuse this kind of chaos for love”

“Some guys come here and they try to fuck their way to love but that will never work, love is more pure than that.”

“Guys want a girl they can fuck and who will do their laundry, that’s not love”

“Love is when you can’t be without a girl, when you want to be around everything she does, even her shit smells good to you, you know bro??”

I’m cracking up at that last one but I confirm that I know what he means, and he’s getting deep and sappy and starts talking about a girl he knows back in his native Denmark. He finishes his meal, gives me a massive high five that nearly rips my arm off and departs. Such is life in the Khaosan Road Burger King at 5:30 in the morning.

Back at the ranch Raphael and his German buddy are still up drinking beers, I join them for some nightcaps (morningcaps?) but soon we’re surrounded by people eating breakfast. Alright, I’m done

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