Queen Sirikit’s Birthday Weekend – The End

I woke up to the shrill bleating of my phone and picked it up half asleep. Someone (I had no idea who) asked if I was still free to meet up later that day. He was definitely American so I assumed it was one of the teachers I had met in K, so mumbled an incoherent ‘yes’ and hung up. A more musical number woke me a second time from my slumber. Blearily, I patted the bedside table to try and find my phone. It was a message from P.

Im writing this entry while on the train to Cambodia (which you will hear about later) and struggling to remember whether or not I mentioned P to you? I’ll assume I have. Anyway he texted to say he’d be over in around half an hour to take me to lunch. I checked my phone to see who had called me earlier and to my surpise found out that it was P! But why did he have an American accent? Did I imagine Prof. Hong saying he was Thai? I let myself sleep for another 15 mins and then quickly got up and changed. No time for a shower and I economically made use of last night’s makeup. P turned out to be one of the coolest people I have met in Thailand. A native Thai, he went to school in the States when he was younger (thus the perfect English). He piked me up in his swish new hybrid car – they make no noise!  It was the most curious aubergine purple with red plates – apparently all new cars in Thailand hae red plates for a few months before you can buy real plates. during which time you are only allowed to drive at certain hours. Odd?

He took me to members only Royal Bangkok Sports Club for a very delicious culinary experience – he ordered everything, which meant I tried things I never normally would have dared to order. I particularly liked the pork toast. To my extreme excitement, the sports club turned out to house a racing track over which the restaurant we ate at looked. It was a little oasis in the centre of the crazy city. P promised to take me to the races as long as I promised to explain to him the ins and outs of racing as he had never been. An offer I could not refuse! Apparently gambling is banned all throughout Thailand unless it is on the Kings land, and so the club makes a fortune as one of the few places where it is legal to bet!

I’m sorry this post is a little less verbose. It’s 4am and i’m half asleep as I write and finding it difficult to cast my memory back 2 weeks catch every detail. Also, i’m currently averaging 2000 words a post and I know that the attention span of my friends will probably have dinimished after 200 (not you, mummy, I know you read every word <3 )

To sum up – I knew P and I were going to be good friends. He kept me entertained all through lunch with stories of Thai life. Perhaps my favourite was about films. According to P, when the Thais dub foreign films, they add in extra sentences and change the intonation of conversations to make even the saddest film into a comedy! How I wished I could see that. He was laid back and fun and we had a lot to discuss as our research topics coincided nicely. However feeling a little run down I cried off any further activities to go home and crawl back into bed. No sooner had I closed my eyes when I got another message. I was beginning to think the only way i’d ever get any sleep would be to turn off my phone, but being unable to resist the lure of a new text – I read it.

It was from Sam – the 3 musketeers were going to the Sky Bar, but they wanted to get there to see the sun set over the city so if I wanted to join them I had to leave in 20 minutes. Groaning, for I knew I couldn’t resist (my new motto for Thailand was never say no). I had the fastest shower I have ever had (and Chung can testify that I can be FAST), changed into a skimpy dress and wedges and ran out. The three men were very elegant as the bar had a dress code – well perhaps except Joey who looked more amusing with a tshirt saying ‘sorry girls, I’m gay’. This t-shirt had people laughing at him all night, although according to him all Thai people laughed at him all the time anyway. (I later found out that this might have been because in Thailand and Cambodia, men/boys only get their ears pierced if they have an undescended testicle. Apparently they believe it will help the problem. Anyway, Joey had 2 piercings!

The Sirocco Sky Bar was, I later found out, only one of a plethora of sky bars across Bangkok. Another night later on I went with P to Vertigo at the top of the Banyan Hotel which I think was much nicer – more like somewhere you go to hang out and have a drink as opposed to a photo opportunity for tourists. Nonetheless, Sirocco was catapulted to fame with the release of the Hangover 2 as an FBI chase occurs when a helicopter lands on the roof.

The drinks were even more expensive than London – 10 pounds for a cocktail, but you could hardly complain as the view across the whole city of Bangkok was stunning, as was the design of the actual bar. A golden dome covered the restaurant inside and a sweeping staircase led down to a little parapet leading to a circular bar hanging over the edge of the building. Rather amusing detail – each step (even if it was just one) was manned by an employee holding a torch to let you know of the impending danger. Despite this, I still managed to trip over. :S We shared drinks and stayed there long enough to take some photos and stare, speechless at the view. At first Sam stayed away from the railing, battling his vertigo, but the allure of hanging over the railing and the exhilarating feeling of freedom soon went to his head.

Afterwards we decided to check out Patpong – the ‘red light district’ of Bangkok. First the night market – same old things as Khao San and then we wandered through the winding streets. More than a few women approached the guys, and they took it in turns to drape their arm around me and pretend I was their girlfriend to escape. Finally one girl cottoned on that it wasn’t possible that I was all their girlfriend which caused a lot of laughter. Even if trying to sell you things, Thai people just like to be friendly and have a little giggle.

Jay committed a near fatal error and believed someone who told us to come to his bar which would be 100 Baht entry including a drink. From Wikipedia:

Some of these second-floor bars are run by scam artists who lure tourists with offers of low prices and later present a wildly inflated bill along with a threat of physical harm should the bill go unpaid.

Needless to say, after 10 mins, they presented us with a highly inflated bill – 8,800 Baht. None of us had that kind of money on us, nor were we in the slightest  inclined to pay up. So we threw a couple of hundred on the table and after a tense moment, were set free. Thanks a lot, Jay! After that, we decided to hare back to the safety of Khao San. It was going to be an early night and Jay and Sam were leaving first thing the next morning. Joey still had one day left as he (or Jay) had booked the wrong flights. Over drinks I found out quite a few highly entertaining stories about the 3, none of which I can relate here. Needless to say, they had me laughing for hours, especially Jay. The only story I will repeat is that the previous night, after I left, Jay went to a hairbraiding stand and got 2 braids right over his face, which had fallen out during the night. I was so disappointed to have not seen Jay with hair braids that I persuaded him to get another one with me. He seemed actually quite excited at the prospect. I love how game Jay was for everything. Sara and I later met a German guy called Benedict who refused point blank to put an orchid in his hair for a photo – he was too worried he would look gay. Anyway, after a lot of persuasion Joey and Sam also agreed  – I suspect the 3 of them removed the braids as soon as they were back in England, I only took mine out today (2 weeks later). It feels like the end of something special.

Sam then insisted on taking my ‘cricket virginity’. For an enormous creature with long woody legs and big beady eyes, it tasted surprisingly good. Pretty much just like the spicy oil it was fried in. Sam tried me to eat some beetles and maggots too, but there I drew the line.

With promises to visit Jay and Sam in Manchester soon, I said goodbye. It would have been a tearful event had more alcohol been consumed, but I was truly sad to see them go, and glad I still had Joey for another day and a half. I had so much fun with them and I really hope we stay in touch. It was perhaps the best possible easing in to my stay in Bangkok (sorry Horst).

That was Monday. Tuesday I was once again brutally awoken by a phonecall from Joey. He was downstairs. I looked at the time – it was just after 8am. Joey! I pulled on some trousers and stumbled downstairs to let him in. Apparently after the others left, he couldnt go back to sleep so figured he would just come over. I crawled back into bed and we both slept for a couple more hours, I think he appreciated my aircon. When I woke up I was feeling pretty sick – I know the tell tale signs of tonsilitis and they were all there. Oh no! At that point I figured it must have been due to my 5 days of late nights and partying but when I told Joey of my feverish symptoms, he let me know (rather too late) that the 3 of them had just recovered from the same, HIGHLY contagious sickness. I glared at him, they could have told me that before I shared all their drinks and literally lived in their pockets. I wasn’t feeling up to much that day and it was pouring outside. I tried to instill some enthusiasm in Joey to make the most of his last day in Bangkok and go sightseeing, but failed epicly. Joey is the laziest person I know – just like a big cat, all he seemed to want to do was lie in bed all day sleeping or cuddling.

We made it out to Siam Square to wander around a bit. It was still pouring with rain and I hadn’t yet bought an umbrella so ended up wearing the lovely jungle hat that my father gifted me on my departure, much to the amusement of Joey and all the local people we passed. I guess he was happy that the laughing wasnt directed at him for once! On the way we came across some fluffy teacup bunnies which we played with and cooed over for a while. This was the first of many animals that I have wanted to adopt since coming here:

We ate lunch at MacDonalds (his choice, not mine). I have been very strict about eating only Thai food as I knew i’d regret not doing so when I was back in London. At that point I was still naive. One month into my trip and 3 weeks later than this day, I have caved in horibly and frequently opt for spaghetti – noodles/rice 3 times a day is just too much. After a while we got bored and walked back to my place. I was feeling much worse, first sweating and burning up then so cold that I couldn’t stop shivering and had to wear a hoody. Joey looked after me the whole time, switching on and off the aircon accordingly and wrapping his warm arms around me whenever my teeth started chattering. We ordered pizza and watched a movie – Bad Teacher again. I was happy to see that it was still hilarious second time around – the test of any good film. Bridemaids failed. Joey also introduced me to Ed Sheeran for which I will be forever grateful for not only is he an amazing artist, but I earned some street cred with a group of people we met last night talking about the grime impromptu stuff he did with Wiley. We messed around on the internet for a while, telling each other stories and I shoved paracetamol down my throat hourly (yes yes I know, it’s only supposed to be every 4 hours – but I was desperate… and delirious!)

The next day I saw Joey off and spent the day in bed feeling very sorry for myself. It was also the first day of an antibiotics course and so started the week of no alcohol. Thus ended the intial phase of my time in Bangkok – the 2 weeks that have passed since that day I will call the ‘Sara Days’ as we hung out almost every day, which led to our joint adventure in Cambodia. I don’t think I will be able to go into detail about what happened every day of those 2 weeks as they went past in a blur. I’ll move on now to Cambodia as it is more topical given that I am currently here and revisit the missing weeks later. I apologise for such bad writing behaviour!

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