One night in bangkok makes a hard man humble. Depending on which street you walk down at night, it can make a hard man do all kinds of things.
This night in Bangkok, it was Khao San Road, and it was, to paraphrase my friend Barney Stinson, legend - wait for it, scorpion goo is not -
It started innocent enough - sitting around in Lub'D Bangkok (the hostel) with nine other travellers, when Dora the Icelander said "when we gonna eat some scorpions?" My ears perked up, and I realized that I had to join 'em. Introducing myself to the others in the group, we all agree that we want to imbibe in the Bangkok tradition, and eat the largest, most disgusting thing we could think of.
The hostel manager directed us to Khao San Road, and told us to remember to negotiate down, that the large scorpion shouldn't be more than 100 baht (about $3). Fifteen minutes and 200 baht later, we're surrounded by hoardes of drunk kids, ladyboys, insect-selling vendors, and bar after bar after bar. Everyone decides that they need a beer before they can down a scorpion so we sit down outside a small bar. I say no to the beer, and choose a coke instead, figuring a man eats his scorpion without the need of liquid courage. Steffan buys my coke as I go off to find some scorpions with Dora and a few others. The scorpions are huge, and the street-vendor originally is charging 250 baht. We offer 50 baht, and lo and behold, the price is negotiated to 100 baht per scorpion. 700 baht to the crazy bug-lady, and we carry seven scorpions back to the table - the two spanish girls and a Canadian dude Chris bowing out already.
Before I dig in, I decide to first taste a leg of the scorpion as Dora takes a photo -- so brittle it was, the front leg breaks off, and I'm forced to start eating scorpion leg immediately. Bacon, I thought. Burnt bacon.
Dora videotapes as I eat the scorpion and, as the video shows, I had a hard time a couple times. When its cooked throughout, it's fine. It's the gooey parts that taste like s***, and cause me to twitch. The intestines are not crispy but gooey, and with the slimy texture and bitter taste, goes down agonizingly hard. Thank goodness for the coke, as I'm able to wash the last bit down.
After I eat mine, Dora digs in, and surprisingly, she loves 'em. So much, she eats another. And another, and I believe six before she finally stopped eating. Unbelievable. Everyone is shocked at Dora having eaten all the scorpions that we had in front of us.
Steffan (pictured above with me) is now on his third beer by this time by the time we get back with more scorpions. He must have been drinking at the hostel, because he is s***-faced already, and is screaming at everyone walking by. The two spanish girls are across the street, buying some leather goods, when we hear them yelling at the storeowner. "I GAVE YOU A THOUSAND BAHT, NOT A HUNDRED. YOU OWE ME 900 MORE!"
The owner denies her request, and tells her to leave or he will call the police. We tell her to not worry about it, that it's only 30 dollars, to not let police get involved. The spaniards refuse, on principle, to let this store-owner take their money, and tell him to go ahead and call the police.
Within seconds, I hear commotion behind me, and look behind just in time to see a Thai man punch Steffan twice - once in the jaw and once in the side, while Steffan has his hands up trying to protect his head. Nobody in the group knows what has happened, but we instinctively rush to Steffan and separate him from his attacker.
The group of us walks Steffan away and go up the road, sitting down in a different bar to figure out what the hell has just happened. Steffan, three sheets to the wind, doesn't know and just repeatedly stammers out "I don't know what happened, he just started hitting me."
We order him a non-alcoholic drink, and try to decide what to do next. "ping pong show?" someone suggests. We had had numerous guys offering up "ping pong shows" outside their bars, and a few of us were intrigued. Before we could come to an agreement, our discussion was interrupted by "Uh-oh, police are here." I look over, and see the police talking to a woman with a large bandage on her left elbow, and pointing in our direction. s***, this isn't good.
"Steffan, give us your wallet, you CAN NOT go the police station with all that money." The police come over, and ask for Steffan to stand up. "What is this all about?" we ask, almost in unison. The bandaged woman comes over to the table and points at Steffan, yelling "he pushed me, see what he did to me" and rips off bandage, showing the scraped up elbow. "Now I can't work, how am I going to make my money?"
The police begin to handcuff Steffan, but only after we take everything out of Steffan's wallet save 300 baht, and his passport. We repeatedly tell him "everything is going to be ok, don't say anything to the police. We will have your stuff at the hostel, when you get back. Lub'D Bangkok hostel."
With Steffan gone, we decide it's closing time, and head back to the hostel. The spanish girls don't want to leave, and want to continue trying to get their money back from the leather goods guy. Only seven of us left then, and then, to save money, we all cram into a small taxi cab (five in back seat, two in front passenger seat - yes, lots of crushed laps!) and pray for a smooth ride home.
Five bumpy minutes later, we're back at the hostel, and for the next few hours, we're trying to make sense of what happened. At around 3am, right as we're about to go to bed, Steffan strolls into the hostel, and gives us the low-down.
"While at the police station, I see the girl who accused me of pushing her down. I say to the police 'I didn't push her!" but the police aren't believing me. And then some other girl in the police station yells 'SHE'S LYING! SHE HURT HER ARM YESTERDAY!" The police let me go.