fatman Find the clues!

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Several Hours to Go Before Take Off

It's the last night in Bangkok. I'm sitting at the 'Blue Wave' bar where Jenks and I have spent many sober hours getting drunk and many drunken nights getting into trouble. I'm sitting there minding my own business..for a change, drinking the remnants of a bottle of Canadian Club that Jenks had the foresight to buy a few days ago (The night prior to us departing to Pattaya for their annual music festival). Next to me is an American army captain named Stu who will be bound for New York, New York in a day or so. We're making polite 'I don't really care what happens to you after you step outside'-type of conversation when he asks what it has been like in the week that I've been here.
Well. Let's see....
Wednesday night. It was at this very bar where Free Beer's brother, Roscoe, was explaining to me about the humble pleasures of monkey boxing, an event held at the zoo after 'lights out'. Not too far from Ross was his friend Arthur- first time out of Australia and first time that he was happily getting fondled by what (at first) he thought was a woman. He couldn't figure out why we were laughing so hard. Much, much later when some thoughtless person informed him that his new 'friend' was a lady-boy, the colour drained from his face at astonishing speed. Arthur, subtle boy that he is, asked the very next woman to approach him if she was born a member of the male species.
I've been to a snake farm where psychotic Thai gentlemen jump around on stage avoiding the venomous bites of cobras. I've seen bored looking strippers produce a variety of things from.....inside of themselves. Ping pongs, flowers on a string, coca-cola. One woman- a Bond villainess in the making- could actually pop a balloon from a distance of several feet using only darts powered by....well, you know. We've been to Ripley's 'Believe it or Not' Museum and seen some amazing sights. I've eaten a scorpion. Just so you know, it does kinda taste like chicken. Crunchy too.
The hours are slipping by and the C.C. is well on the way to being finished. Three hours into the future, Jenks will be waking me up and giving me a cup of coffee. An hour after that I'll be begging some German tourists for 200 baht for the Thai 'departure tax'. But in the here and now I am declining the offer of shaking the hands of a 'woman'
'At least she's a pretty girl.' says Stu.
I look at him blankly.
'You're still very new to this aren't you?'
It's getting late in this foreign city. I finish up my drink and leave.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Wedding Singha

(Note: Singha is a type of beer most common in Thailand. It's a piece of crud joke for sure but seeing that I have little to work with i.e., my brain, it was the best that I can do. Incidentally, I am looking for some "script doctors" to turn my ramblings into coherent essays. Send resumes to (my e-mail information deleted due to possible spambots).

The Day of Free Beer's Wedding.

The Ambassador Hotel, Bangkok, around 5 a.m.
I am having a heated debate with hotel security. They are noticably upset. There are a lot of angry words and finger pointing. Rude hand gestures. Their grasp of English is limited and my grasp of Thai is minimal ( phrases like 'thank you', 'please' and 'I apologise' are quickly forgotten since I don't use those pleasantries in my native tongue. Yet the Thai words for 'prostitute' and 'scumbag' will be lodged in my grey matter for ever) but their sentiments are obvious.
They have been chasing a nude individual running around the corridors, frightening the guests, going up and down the fire escape till they have tracked him to room 329, which coincidentally happens to be mine. This drunken bastard is no other than my travelling companion, Jenks, who has only been in the country for less than six hours and is already causing me an unbearable headache. Or maybe that's the gallon of alchohol in my bloodstream? Negotiations are usually my forte, but when I'm swaying to-and-fro, eyes blurry with drink I find it hard to concentrate on the matters at hand. Agreements were eventually made ('If he does it again I'll shoot him myself'), voices lowered and the door was closed.

The Ambassador Hotel, 10 a.m.
Breakfast. The first time I went to get brekkie with meal coupons in my mitts the waitress took a look at them and motioned me to follow her. We went outside the restaurant, down the hallway and outside the hotel. Ah, I thought, they're on to me. Who alerted them? Interpol? But my fears abated when I was taken to an outside eatery connected to the hotel. This is where Jenks and I recovered from last night's misadventures. Neither of us say very much.

The Ambassador Hotel, 3 p.m.
Jenks had decided to forego the birthday suit for a real suit for the wedding. Morrisey shirt, sunglasses and, wait for it, pants. I am in my Hitman Black suit that I wear to all formal occasions. It's a good thing we've decided to turn up to the wedding an hour early as we discover that the Four Seasons Hotel is the most difficult hotel to locate in the whole of Bangkok. It's like a bad skit show in a foreign language, a Thai version of 'Who's on first?'.

The Four Seasons Hotel, 3:45.
We finally locate the hotel formerly known as the Regent in the country formerly known as Siam. Un-believable. The lobby lounge is the plushest I've ever seen in my life so much so that it's almost forgivable that they charge five times as much for a local beer. Should've checked the prices I guess. We're listening to classic music. Not stereo music. That's for the pissy four star hotels. There's an actual quintet band upstairs so you can make requests ('Play Chisel!') and throw peanuts at them.

The Four Seasons Hotel, 4:20.
The wedding should've started twenty minutes ago. Free Beer is dressed in a traditional Thai garb that is quasi-militaristic. He has a towel slung across the shoulder for wiping his hands after he goes to the bathroom.
Me:'So, what happens at the ceremony?'
Free Beer:'I don't know. No one tells me anything. Everytime I ask they change the topic.'

Buddhist Wedding.
Buddhist monks have a luxurious life. They only have to work in the mornings, which means they can go surfing all afternoon and party all night. The ceremony was a real casual affair. After being told that I had to carry a massive banana leaf for part of the ceremony, they turn around and tell me 'You should carry something heavier.' It's a plate full of little green fruit/ balls/ grenades, and it weighs a ton. Here's a secret westerners- They Make Everything Up As They Go Along. People bowing. Putting things in Free Beer and E.E.'s head. Pouring water on their hands and making a wish. Waiters carrying soup with the testicles of Thai kick boxers. Mobile phones were going off like crazy. It was nuts.

Fatman goes to Bangkok and all I got was this stupid e-mail,

Monday, March 22, 2004

National Lampoon's Bangkok Vacation

From the guy who brought you 'Big in Japan' it's...

National Lampoon's Bangkok Vacation:

the Griswalds go to Thailand (Rated Pg, Ma 15+, R, X as the week progresses)

Bangkok, Tuesday. Walking around Bangkok is to be surrounded by the humidity that isn't so much like being engulfed in a blanket, but rather like having a film of sweat, diesel fumes and grit lightly on your body. Hands up please those of you who have ventured this way. A few of you? Well it's easy for you to know what I'm talking about. You seem to be breathing air that has been transported from the Queen Victoria Market- a combination of all kinds of food, vegetable, mineral and other that been heated up and kept locked in a musty room for awhile. It's also like having an end-to-end red light district that bleeds into all directions. Every street with a choice of whores d'vours and cabbies and tuk tuk drivers calling you to them.

Tuk Tuks.
You don't have to be a sucker to ride a tuk tuk, but it helps. For those of you who don't know what it is, it's like a cross between a bike and a car, an open aired three wheeled vehicle with a noisy motor and a crazy driver. It's a great scam. Really worth your money if you have several hours to kill. The downside is that car fumes replace oxygen in your lungs and it's hot on a hot day. Here's how it was for me....

1. I'm minding my own business, walking down Sukhumvit road, fashionably lost when a friendly guy (ever since embarking on my Thailand adventure I am thoroughly suspicious of any friendly person) sidles along. 'Hot day eh?' he asks in pretty good English. He's in a suit. Doesn't seem to be holding anything he can sell, so I get into a conversation about where he's from, where I'm from. Then he surreptitiously mentions; ' You should get a suit while you're here in Thailand. Really good suits here, very cheap.'
I nod dumbly- a standard move.
'But how will you travel to the main part of Bangkok? There's always the bus ofcourse. Cheap. Efficient. But no one speaks English.'
Nod dumbly.
'A taxi? We...ll, you don't know what the price will eventually be. Heck, it could cost you a lot of money.'
Nod dumbly.
'Or just maybe....' he says, as if the thought just occurs to him in a brilliant flash of inspiration 'a tuk tuk.' He waves his arm in a gesture and 'lo and behold- a tuk tuk is there. 'A tuk tuk. Here we have a friendly tuk tuk driver- poor, but honest, who we can haggle with if need be. Hello (wink wink) total stranger.'
' 'lo stranger (wink)'
'How much to drive this fine, young gentleman to get measured for his brand new suit?'
'But, I don't want a.....'
'Make it thirty.'
'I'm telling you I don't want a....'
'Here we are sir, enjoy your ride.' tuk tuk speeds off with me in it. I thought I left my 'Idiot Foreigner' T-shirt at the hotel room. Obviously not.

2. 20 minutes of riding through intense, faith-inducing traffic.
'Where are we going?'
'Ha-ha. 'so.ok. Fo-ren Id-yot.' Scenes like these are commonplace in Bangkok. Too often you will see one tourist in a tuk tuk passing another bewildered traveller in another tuk tuk. One of them will be waving a new suit at the other shouting something like 'All I wanted to do was to visit the zoo!' and the other will reply 'Don't complain dude, I've been riding this bastard for two straight days.'
We finally get to a massive suit shop where there is a throng of tuk tuks, thirty or so in total. So many, in fact that I thought it was a tuk tuk depot. 'Go inside, they look after you.'
'You're not listening. I don't want a suit.'

3. From thence to a Buddhist temple. The tuk tuk driver is annoyed with me because I wouldn't buy a suit. I'm annoyed at him for taking me there. At the temple I encounter another 'friendly stranger' who 'happened' to start praying when I arrived.
'Are you a Buddhist sir?'
'Me? Noooo. I just wanted to visit the city when I was abducted by this....'
'Because this is a rare and sacred temple. Very hard to find. Not too many tourists visit here.' Too many tourists, it seems, have been warned by their guide books on the agony of trying to go from point A to point B without having to detour in points C, D, E, F, G.

4. On the way to a gem store. Gem store?
'I'll pay you double NOT to take me to a gem store.'
'Ha-ha. Gem store. Ver' cheap. Give girl frien' '
'Don't have one.'
'(Thai mutter. I'm no liguistic genius but I'd say it translates to: That's because you're a cheap, worthless, yokel.)'
So I go inside the gem store.
The gem clerk looks me up and down. 'That tuk tuk guy used to be good.' she said.
'You'd think he'd pick a rich moron' I agreed.

5. We arrived somewhere near the hotel. Pseudo-friendly banter has well and truly been out the window since tuk tuk guy got a fine from a cop.
'Walk tha' way' he said through grit teeth, barely suppresing his rage. I gave him a hundred baht which he sped off with without giving me change.


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

There's One Born Every Minute

Not too long ago, the remnants of my memory sluggishly informs me it was two weeks, or ten, a couple of stereotypical salesmen-types came inquiring for the manager of the Amethyst Bar. Seeing that they were unarmed and weren't brandishing viscious summons (My enemies are many and varied. The List includes, in no particular order, Telstra, John Farnham, mormons, Freddie Prinze jr, cub scouts, the blind, left-handed people, zombies, the guy who invented muzak, hippies, etc,etc) I informed them, humbly, that the closest person who fits that description was probably Yours Truly.

'Well,' spake Banana #1' we are here to give people FREE credit cards.'
'Everyone enjoys FREE credit cards.' agreed Banana #2.
'Which credit card do you currently use?' they asked in unison. I informed them that I did not, nor ever had, one in my possession.
They exchanged looks.
'You mean you've never had one?' one asked carefully while the other rifled through his briefcase to get a handful of papers. They seemed shaken and confused, like an albino coming out of a solarium.
'I've never seemed to need one.'


There are two types of people who have credit cards. The first type are those who are gifted with a financial sleight-of-hand. These people are great at juggling their own wealth, as well as the wealth of others. You see these people getting tans in Spanish villas- evading all kinds of silly laws while their offshore Cayman Island accounts get fat off the stupidity of idjits. The second type, dubbed 'the Clumsy Waiter' personality cannot juggle accounts to save themselves, which may sometimes be the actual case. Financially speaking The Clumsy Waiter is akin to that guy who not only gets the order wrong, but will spill these wrong orders into the laps of the worst kinds of people. They buy expensive things they do not need and end up either cutting up their cards or floating face first in the Yarra.

(End of nonsensical Interlude)

They then proceeded to hound me with difficult questions like...
1. Do you have a bad credit rating? ....er....no? (For details of Fatman's bad credit rating please refer to previous e-mail 'Why I am hated by Telstra')

2. Do you earn more than $30,000 a year? Probably. (Also not true. After these guys left I had a quick play on the electronic abacus-thing that I found inside my phone the other day to discover I earn less than your average busker)

3. Do you have any children? ('That you know of? Ha Ha.' they asked. Textbook 'get-the-sucker-to-laugh-with-you' schtick. I maintained a false smile that hopefully said 'Go-to-hell')

They left soon after. I doubt I'll ever see them again. Once they regain their hearing from the immense sonic H-bomb/ blaring of alarm bells that will commence from the moment they type in my credit details to the moment they forcefully unplug their computers. The salesmen will eventually nurse their wounds by enjoying a nice, light beer, served by a schmo like me, in their Spanish villas far away from the hopeless, the helpless and the poor.

Why do I waste your time?