Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Organising wheels, etc.

Monday 16th September

9am finds me having coffee with Noc. I would like to take her with me on my travels, but no, let us not be hasty. There will be many more fish in the Andaman Sea. I offer her a thousand baht for services rendered, she wants two, we split the difference and she’s happy. I kiss her and send her home, wherever that may be.

My next move is to sort out transport. The girl at the hotel reception is very helpful and sends me in a cab to Lumpini Car Hire at Lumpini Park, a short distance away. After some haggling I get what I think is a good deal for a 2002 Toyota Soluna 1.5 Automatic (made in Thailand) in silver. 21,000b for thirty days. It looks a lovely motor. The sweetie in the office is very nice and offers me tea, fresh grapefruit and herself. I accept the first two but, as it´s only 11am, pass on the third. I need to conserve energy for my trip. After completing the paperwork, and with the help of a street map, we carefully plan a route back to my hotel, this is my very first time driving in Bangkok and I am a little nervous. Within ten minutes I manage to screw it up! Wrong lane, get forced on to the expressway (40b toll-shit!), come off after 2kms, double back, then get caught on the wrong side of Ploenchit Rd and do a moody right. The bill spots me, a shrill blast on his whistle, and I´m pulled. 1000b fine if you want a ticket, fine payable at the police station, or 500b slipped into the cop´s back pocket. I stump for the latter, and the officer, after redirecting me, waves me off. I make it safely back to base, but with a few more grey hairs!

The next job is to buy a film for my camera. Had I done it yesterday I could have taken a snap of Noc, but never mind, there’ll be lots of photo opportunities to come. This done, I sit at the Golden Bar, where I am writing these words and nursing the first beer of the day. Right in front of me a boy has his bicycle parked by the kerb. Over the rear wheel is a metal platform, on which sits a small charcoal grill and a mangle. Suspended from a coat hanger, attached to a vertical bar, are what look like bunches of leaves. Customers select leaves and the boy puts them through the mangle, then grills them on both sides. He slips them into a plastic bag and collects 20b. I have no idea, to this day, what they are! On of life’s mysteries.

Just before 3pm the sky darkens, a wind gets up, and down it comes! Within a couple of minutes the cop directing traffic at the entrance to the Nana Hotel is a drowned rat. Five minutes later it has stopped, the sun is out, and the cop is steaming – literally. On my way back to the hostelry I drop in at Chequers Pub and partake of a cheese & pickle sandwich which fills a gap. Siesta time.

In the evening I take a tuk-tuk ( 3-wheeled taxi ) to Patpong, another entertainment/commercial area across town (there will be a full description of the place at a later date), where I look round the shops for a while and scoff fried chicken at a kerbside café. I spot a handsome hooker at one of the many girlie bars, her name is Took and she speaks a little English. I buy her a drink and chat a while. Promising to look her up the next time I’m in Bangkok, I wish her goodnight and grab a meter-cab back to Nana Tai, finishing the evening at Golden Bar. I fend off all admirers, must sleep alone tonight as I have some serious motoring to do tomorrow.

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