Here I am, as the title says, in the heat of the tropical night. It’s been a wild ride so far, and I still suffer from a bit of a cognitive dissonance. Am I really here? Is it really me, holding a beer, looking along a 5km stretch of white beach on the coast of the Andaman Sea? The answer is, of course, no. It is not. It is never really “me”. I am always somewhere else. And therein lies the tragedy.
Our last couple of days in Bangkok were nothing if not event rich. We started off our day with a trip down the Khlongs (the narrow channels running through Bangkok) on one of those predatory looking passenger boats, full of busy local people on their way to their busy local lives. It was awesome! The motor was screaming, the passengers were quietly suffering, the fetid water lapped over the board and sprayed its parasite-laden waters in their faces, and we, the only two tourists on board, were busily recording every second through our two wide eyes. We got off in town, went up the “golden mountain” temple, caught our breath, and went down again. Temples, yay. Enough temples. I tried making girly touch a monk (thereby cursing him to a lengthy ceremony of cleansing) but she didn’t want to. I then cajoled her to touch one on the sly (imagine his face when he ends up in hell after his pious life devoted to worship!) but she didn’t want to hear of it.
We then went towards the noise, which turned out to be the anti-government protest. The protesters were pretty apathetic, some of them were apparently allowed to camp out on temple territory, too. We went by the street leading up to the Democracy Monument, which was covered in tents and tarps, and apparently we were the only westerners to have done that in a while, cos we were met with incredulity and open stares, my girlies red hair getting most of the attention (as I am fairly dark both of hair and skin). There were a couple of displays of hostility, too, nothing major, just some cursing and evil-eyes. So we walked about and about, had lunch at a supposedly very popular (Lonely Planet’s TOP CHOICE) restaurant called… Shit. Wait. Yes! Krua Apsorn. It was ok, but it’s superlative claims to fame, such as being a favorite to the Royal Family (what, that place with all the atmosphere of a school cafeteria?), seemed a bit too grandiose to be true. Still, the mushrooms were good and the service quick. Also, speaking of The King, we were walking along a road near the river somewhere when suddenly there were four mounted cops in full regalia blocking the path. We edged closer, and lo! Soon there was a cavalcade of red Mercedes Benzes and BMW’s, along with an ancient beige Rolls-Royce with a character dressed in a white uniform seated in the back. The powers that be lined up small children in school uniforms along the street and shot them made them bow as the cavalcade processed. Very nice. Some people cried, some clapped their hands with their faces split in huge smiles, we just gaped and took pictures. It’s good to be king.
Anyway, after ambling about a forlorn Chinatown (it was deserted, maybe because 10pm on a Wednesday night is too late?), and eating at a shitty Chinese diner that was none the less recommended in one of our travel guides, we took a cab to the hotel and went to bed. Or tried to. We still had terrible jet lag problems. No sleep came before 5am, so we woke up at 13:00, with just enough time to exchange some cash and eat along the Sukhumvit. We were off to the New Southern Bus Station with almost two hours to spare, thinking that it should be more than plenty. Boy were we wrong. We spent an hour and a half in the terrible traffic jams, bursting bladders adding to the torture (we shared a last beer at the hotel, naturally), every painful block cheered, every minute spent honking the horn in impotent fury lamented and cursed in many a language. We made it in time, partly thanks to our taxi driver who was willing to risk his license to get us there in time by breaking too many traffic rules to mention. He got a princely tip of 20 Bhat.
Our bus was a kingly, two storied affair with business-class seats (minus the screens and free WiFi). We even got a croissant and some water to eat right before “take-off”. We chilled in our seats, stretching out limbs and marveling at all the lebensraum, but come night we couldn’t sleep no matter how hard we tried. And here I am, almost 28 hours since I’ve last slept, trying to fucking finish writing this bloody blog up. Good night, ladies and gentlemen, have pity on your humble servant and let him go to sleep.