Day 16 (I think)
Getting back to Bangkok was an all day exercise in a hired van, ferry, twisty highways to the airport, a one hour flight, 3 train transfers, and a short walk. No big deal unless you have to lug Katy's hundred pound shipping container down 67 stairs and three broken concrete streets.
Back in the Rose of Sathorn hotel, where we stayed when we first arrived in town, we chilled out before setting out for the world renowned Paragon Mall. Six floors of the biggest brands you know, lights, glass, security checks, Apple, Starbucks, McLaren cars, high tech brands, restaurants. No bargains to be found here-our six each pieces of sushi cost equivalent of $80 Canadian! But was exquisite-this was clearly where the rich people go.
So we headed to the Saturday night open market where everything is negotiable. Pick an item, say "How much?" The vendor taps on his calculator a number, say, 400 bhat. I say, "no, too much". He comes back with special price of 350. Again, I say no. He says, "ok, you tell me price." I say, "180". Frown of disappointment quickly replaced with the I've got a good idea face, and he types "250". I go to 200, and now we are sawing off 50 bhat which is about $2 CAD. Sometimes they beg you to take the final offer, and if you do, put their hands together and bow, always respecting the customer.
I went too far with the watch guy, when he tapped 4400 for some Rolex knockoff ($175 CAD) I offered 200 ($8). He was offended. I moved on.
Bars open late and I watched the hookers next door go to work on guys who look like me (balding grey hair, belly, mismatched shirts and shorts, and a wallet bulge in said shorts).
I got to know the waitress in the neighbouring bar, watching the hookers and learning how they work. Then she took me around the corner to see real Ladyboys in their element. So I order one beer thinking I'll watch whatever happens on stage, then leave. With no one in that place, the girls (?) swarmed me with Ina and did all kinds of weird things to try seducing the non-Asian white guy into spending money their way. As I reach for my beer, a girl grabs my hand and places it on her now exposed breast. Firm and perky as it was, my other hand was directed to breast on the other side. Distracted, I nearly missed the full view vagina as yet another wanted me to see the glory of her 'reassignment' surgery. Turning to my tourguide waitress for help, a fourth stuck her head in my face with lips pursed in "O" formation, poking her tongue rhythmically at her cheek, the universal language of, well, you know.
As my sensory-ometer red lines, I finally catch the amuses and giggling look of Ina, and she says, "First time Bangkok?"
Returning to the bar I met Nan, the lead singer in a local band, a celebrity of sorts, who was out of work since the king died and all live music and parties are cancelled for one month. He was out with his mother, sister and "friend", and poor guy, just needed some male bonding. He had a bottle of rye and needed help. If Thailand is the land of the smile, and Canada is the land of apologies and helpfulness, then I'm sorry, I had to help, and he smiled.
Katy raised her eyebrows, and he might have caught the vibe, he said "I not gay!"
It was a curious turn of perspective to see that in this social milieu, she was the one who was in the background, invisible while I was up front partying on with my new, celebrity buddy. Ha! Katy, take that!