Saw wat dee krap my friends. I trust you are all well on this glorious day. When Saturday comes, I decide to write another update as to my progress on these foreign lands, enjoy.
So, another week haspretty much flown by, a few brief but busy days of school until Wednesday already seem a lifetime ago, minly due to my little adventure to Malaysia and back, for Visa reasons primarily, but also owing to a Bank holiday here in Thailand on the Friday, a cheeky little night in one of the most insane places I have ever visited, Sadao.
On the 9th December my multiple entry non-B visa needed renewing. For reasons only known to the Thai government this means despite having the visa for twelve months, every 90 days I have to visit a border to exit the country and re-enter with a fresh 90 day stamp. (I actually cant believe I have been here for 3 month already, its a sign of how much I am loving life I suppose that it has gone this fast!)
Anyway, with a long weekend ahead I set off via mini-bus to Hat Yai,a masive city near the Malaysian border where I caught yet another mini-bus to Sadao, a "border town" where I was to exit Thailand, spen about 2 minutes in Malaysia and head back over the border with a fresh stamp good until March next year. having successfully negotiated the Thai beaurocracy and a moddy border guard I set about finding a cheap hovel to lay my things before exploring the nightlife in Sadao. This was pretty straightforward given the sheer amount of people pestering me to stay at their hotel and offering cheap deals to do so. I settled on a place that was 300 baht a night, very cheap and very grotty but I wasnt there for a resort, just to get myhad down later so it mattered not to me.
Now, before i continue, a little background to the place, and many places like it. Essentially Sadao is only there because of the constant passing trade, people moving accross borders and exporting goods etc. Additionally, with Malaysia being fairly strictly muslim they also have people crossing the border for a "good time" in the more relaxed surroundings of Thailand. Bluntly, Sadao, like most "border towns" is a man-made den of inequity. A curious, small speck of centralised filth and they dont try to hide this fact. I was well aware of this but even I was surprised by the level of what goes on there.
Within 5 minutes of shutting my hotel room door I had 4 separate knocks from girls offering their "services". This was at 5pm! I politely declined and decided to take a nap before heading out on the town, only to be rudely (excuse the pun) awoken by one of them who had somehow got into my room and was more forthright in her offer of services. Bloody hell! The nap was clearly out of the question and once had shuffled her out using shouting and gesticulations I sheepishly showered in my grotty shelter and headed out to the town, hoping for more peace than I could have got in my own hotl room.
As expected, the place was a hive of activity. Neon lights, karaoke bars on all sides and women sat in all of them, hollering variations of hello's and come here's, along with some broken English clearly learnt from some crude erotic novels. Having lived a month in Pattaya this was fine for me, I know the ways to diffuse any unwanted attention and mostly a smile and a wave back puts everyone at ease and any further banter is all part of the fun.
Despite this I still hadnt had a beer to calm my shot nerves after the hotel experience and I really wanted a quiet relaxed place to do this, not one where I was to be courting attention from the locals. Spying a place lbelling itself a cafe/pub I entered thinking it would be exactly that. Wrong. It was a dimly lit, seedy karaoke pub and before I had the chance to turn and make my escape, the owner, a Thai man in his mid fifties, came racing accross the sticky floor to greet me, a ferangin his bar it seems, would do wonders for his business. So I sat and chatted with him briefly, enjoying the cold beer that had been graciously poured for me by the giggling bar staff. Soon, as I suspected, talk turned to "his ladies". He was willing to let me have free beers as long as his ladies could sit with me. Not one to turn down a free ale I agreed, knowing there was a no obligation policy and a fire door to escape right next to me. The beer arrived, and then did the ladies, ahem, well, not ladies, kah Toi, ladyboys. Sh*t what ad I got myself into? Surrounded on all sides by frankly unconvincing ladies I tucked nto the beer at pace, it seemed my only hope. After a whil the banter began to die down and one of the ladies/gentlemen, who was horribly chowing down on fried insects as he/she/it spoke asked me something. In between the flying insect legs escaping from all sides of their mouth I understood it to be some kind of indecent proposal which I immediately, and politely as I could through the panic, declined. This did not go down too well, as the reaction was to force feed me a deep fried scorpion, a sting in the tale, literally.
Disgusted and using this as an excuse I made my escape, and looked for a better place to relax. This was not proving easy. I tried many bars, unable to settle due to the constant attention my presence created, I did not see another white face the whole time I was there, so I was a rarity. One place i atempted, and managed to enjoy briefly, resulted in a "lady gaga tribute drag show". Insane, but mildly entertaining until they wanted to bring me up on stage to join the antics. Escape was sweet relief once more.
Eventually I grew weary of the irrepressable furore around my every move, but my desperate search for a nice place to settle was at an end. I discovered a backstreet karaoke bar where there was a few friendly staff and that was it. I sat for a beer and got chatting to them, a top bloke called Put from Bangkok and a girl called Daw frrom malaysia who was beautiful and had a wonerful singing voice. I remained there into the early hours enjoying the banter and occasionally punctuating our chats wth various attempts at Karaoke. This was often problematic due to their choice of Western songs for me to sing, resulting in some Spice girls and the like, though I retained my cool and taught them some Oasis and the Beatles also, not to mention my usual motown swagger.
These guys were really nice and I had a great evening with them, so much so that Daw might be coming to visit me in Trang in a couple of weeks, so I am looking forward to that. Before I left however, I saw them all laughing and pointing in my direction, feeling slighly paranoid and ill at ease I turned around to see an elephant with its trunk on my shoulder. I was dumbstruck. The mahoot who owned the elephant shouted something while laughing and the elephant responded by sticking its trunk in my glass and nailing my beer! Only in Thailand eh, it was a bizarre incident that kind of summed up the craziness of my night in Sadao, which incidentally finished with even more knocks on my hotel door throughout the night, which I just came to ignore eventually.
Anyway, I left the next day and after a pretty sweltering bus journey I have done very little since getting back. It was literally one of the maddest places I have ever been. I was expecting carnage but what the reality was cannot be really expressed through mere words, the whole atmosphere was electric, buzzing with life without the merest hint of subtlety. I really enjoyed it but am glad it was a one night affair.
So back to the here and now, tonight I plan to go to Johnnie's shack fo a mini BBQ before heading into town to watch the football with a bottle of Thai whisky. Saturday seems to be a whisky day to me, so refreshing with some soda and coke while watching the footy. Its getting a bit scary around ours in the dark evenings as in addition themultitude of scorpions that appear to take refuge in my ktchen these days there has also been a plethora of cobras being spotted around our houses, difficult to spot in the dark so every footstep must be treaded carefully lest you step on one of the slimy deviants.
So thats me for today, missing you all muchly, so take care. x