the last day of 2006 was eventful, to say the least. from boarding the free seating tiger airways and irritating fellow passengers all the way to bangkok with our noise and nonsense, we arrived hollering down the aisles and barging our way out of the terminal. once we got on the bus we waited and waited and waited for the bus to move only to find out we were 5 metres further away from our destination, because the bus reversed instead of moving forward. the sights are fascinating, though, and we photo-whored all the way into town, amusing the rest of the passengers (which seems to be a trend, we provide live entertainment everywhere) while patrick kept imitating borat and we kept screaming for sam to take his shirt off and get molested by gayboys.
it was all joy and laughter till we went exploring the area for a nice place to have dinner. when we finally settled in, somebody messaged kwek saying 7 bombs just went off in bangkok — right about the time we were on the bus into town, though we didn’t hear or see anything, continuing in our happy cocoon of bliss. it was scary when we found out, i guess — kwek kicked into soldier mode and called the embassy and made sure everything was okay, the boys ran to 7-11 to stock up on water (and bought beer, and chips, and nothing else) while we all walked back separately in groups after the restaurant rushed to settle our bills so they too, could go home. it was frightening — but when you’re removed from the danger you can’t really feel much, though it still looms ever-present, the threat of more bombs going off while you’re walking on the street. it seems trivialising to say now that we’ve never been so close to almost dying before, but the thought stays at the back of your head, and comes off the top of your head, so easily. it’s so difficult to imagine, but the danger is so real.
on the way back it was strange because i wondered what would happen if all the beggars, sitting harmlessly by the wayside, ended up dead in the hours of the morning traffic, while more bombs went off outside our hostel over the new year, while we were (relatively) comfortably esconced in our rooms playing stupid card games and getting high on beer, our idea of punishment being not being able to go to the toilet, while later sitting and wishing random italians a happy new year. the ones whom nobody remembers to remember, or even forget. all these people who suddenly disappear, without a trace, while the world runs on into the rest of its days.
here the city is at its cut-throat best. the kittens sneak their way around dogs lazing on the pavement, though they pose no harm. it’s funny, their country and ours, even the differences are in small things. how the cats here know enough not to be afraid of the dogs, as if all the animal instinct has been bred out of them. in singapore they’re all afraid of people, and the enemy of your enemy is your friend. at the markets everyone looks to sell their goods; some give you attitudes when you bargain and walk away not buying, some try their best and throw in everything and a smile. in their musical, sing-song voices they entice you, they beckon you over, feeding you sweet-sounding lies after lies about this being their lowest price. things are different, though, if you’re asian, and they skin the caucasians alive. which is lovely, despite it being in a racist sort of way, but it underlies the communal tradition, a remnant from thailand’s subtle and invisible colonialism. it makes small allowances in a country where people continuously struggle to maintain an existence, proud and polite as they are.
here there is no shame. somehow seeing foreigners with one of the numerous, willing thai girls bring to mind all the strange and weird sexual encounters i’ve read about on worldsexguide.com (don’t visit if you’re underage and/or squeamish about porn ads, but once you get past the sexual descriptions and vulgarities it paints a fascinatingly grim picture of the social fabric that survives on the underground sex tourism that goes on in the world) and it disgusts me slightly, this vast continent of whites that prey and feed on asia, just as they’ve always done. in bangkok there is no seedy underbelly; the girls are open and unashamed, they lift their heads and walk with a grace you don’t find in geylang or anywhere else. when the boys walk by the men eye them with open interest, even though their arm is around another man. sometimes a whole row of them will line the pavement of the street just outside a bar, and it’s an amazingly fish tank-like experience, walking by in single-file as if you were displayed for them to pick out. it’s unnerving — but here the boys are forward, and don’t care much about propriety. caitlin says it’s because one of the thai kings used to be gay, and they found it impossible to divorce the near-fanatic reverence for the monarchy with his apparent decadence. and here the king is everywhere, his portrait on the streets and in the shopping centres and markets and restaurants, a veritable father presiding over a country where anything goes, but everything works.
in between the days of endless shopping where we scored cheap t-shirts, dresses, belts and shoes — joanna bought 4 bags’ worth of stuff and joel even had to lend her his extra bag — we managed to run across the road holding cup noodles full of hot water over the overhead bridge and having supper every night. we tried to sleep before joel so we’d all avoid his snoring, but always caitlin and i ended up having to plug our ipods in so we could drown out the sound. on the last night joanna joined in the snoring, and the jos conducted a symphony between them the entire night. it was harrowing.
the rest of it all passes in a blur: sam’s shit clogs up the toilet bowl, dennis, christine and zhengx keep oversleeping, the toilets are always flooded after a bath, raffli and caitlin singing horrendously while in the shower, dancing furiously at bedsupperclub where zhengx picked up a thai girl and spent a whole day with her and her honda civic (and her uncle, who was translator), concussing on the lovely white beds at bedsupperclub, the obscenely-priced drinks, the way everything closes at two, the drunk angmohs and their gayboys and thai girls, the random bursts of yellow on the streets, the bombs, the car wreck by the side of the road due to the impact, the happy christmas and new year lights all around screaming happy new year 2007, the cool shops in the big shopping centres, the immaculately clean food courts, the insanely dirty side-streets packed full with roadside stalls and lovely cheap food, random graffiti on the sidewalks about thaksin and singapore, watercoolers along the street that don’t work, numerous black canyon coffees, twisting my ankle on a step that said mind your step, justin and sam getting eyed by gayboys, a&w meals, cabs that con you if you don’t insist on asking for the meter, observing people on the train, crazy pictures.
and you know what, as a completely random point, i should have bought black instead of red heels! arrrr!