Category Archives: Misadventure

Premature Ejaculator? No Worries in Kuala Lumpur

Lights of KL

I was barely into my first big beer before some guy sat down at my table.

“Hello,” he may have said—“may” because his accent was so thick it was almost opaque.

This situation was exactly what I didn’t want: some possibly drunk and/or stoned boner twisting my ear in English more broken than his teeth. Besides, my friend and I were momentarily burned out on each other and, to exacerbate things, Chinese New Year in Malaysia was thwarting most attempts made at travel and lodging. We just needed some street noodles and beers to unwind. But while she was in the bathroom (and I was criminally eating her noodles), this stick of a man slithered into the open seat.

His black shirt, hanging onto his body only slightly looser than his skin, was tucked into his black jeans, at the front of which was an obnoxious, silver belt-buckle.

I have no fucking idea what he and I talked about before my friend got back. I was so peeved and pissy that I barely mustered the good nature to proffer one-word answers to his awkward chatter. It was during one of my space-outs into the fluorescent-lit streets of Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown that I saw my friend returning. I quickly shook my head to hint that she stay away, but she was already annoyed with me (seeing that I had eaten her noodles didn’t help—at all), so she plopped down at the table’s third seat. I braced for the terse conversation I was sure would follow.

Consequently, I also have no fucking idea when we all started to have a great time.

Lights of KL, and some broad

All of a sudden, the three of us were cracking up. David went from a unwelcome, Johnny-Cash-looking pain in the ass to the remedy for our travel malaise. We had bought ourselves a round and were laughing away as the wait staff sat and watched.

David insisted they were jealous. I’m still inclined to agree.

Petronas Towers

He was thrilled when he learned we’re English-language teachers. He told us about his English lessons; apparently, he was at the top of his class.

“That’s right! Number one!” he said.

But what he said was much less memorable than how he displayed ‘number one’.

Whenever he’d get excited and need to emphasize something’s supremacy, David employed a very specific motion: his left arm would lift, his arm perpendicular to the ground before his elbow would rise away from his body, and his loose fist would flutter before his gangly index finger rose from the shaky mess into a rigid, erect indication of what he meant.

(He made us promise to bring his gesture worldwide. Now that you know about the motion, consider yourself implicated.)

“Number one!”

Why was anything number one?

“It has P – O – W – E – RRRRRRRRRRRRRR,” according to David.

Fucking everything was number one to this guy: English; our beer; his English; his shit-awful cigarettes; our English. The man was nothing if not enthusiastic.

More to the point, my sexual prowess was tops too—at least until my friend told him I was a habitual premature ejaculator.

Cat Nap, and other puns

See, David refused to believe that we were anything less than bang buddies. It took us three minutes to talk him down from marriage:

“You married, no?”


“No? Don’t lie.”

“David, we promise.”

“But she’s your wife, no?


And so forth.

City of Street Art

When he heard “friends” numerous times, he finally settled on ‘special friends’. It seemed like a reasonable place to end the shenanigans. It also opened a window for a joke:

“Yea, but David, she has many special friends.”

I forgot that sarcasm doesn’t translate across languages so well—damn beers—and that my friend can give as good as she gets—damn beers. I just had to wait for the revenge.

My friend and I started to fabricate how we became special friends. It eventually came about that I was the artist for her back tattoo (a gorgeous cherry blossom, so I was flattered), and after those four hours getting tattooed in my chair, she was hooked.

“Four hours?!” David exclaimed. His excitement, barely containable, eventually exploded out of his left hand:

“Number one!”

Thus, the stage was set for my friend.

“Yea, but David, he lasts only two seconds,” she revealed, tipping her head to imply he think about this statement.

He didn’t need to think; his eyes, once proud, shot back to me with disbelief.

“Two seconds? No!”

I got too excited. I saw a hook, well baited: an opportunity to continue the laughs and general revelry, even if at my expense. I couldn’t keep it in. Without control, I quickly blurted:

“Yes, David. Two seconds.”

His jaw dropped. His shit-awful cigarette nearly ended up on his obnoxious belt buckle. Sure, I could get a pretty girl in four hours, but I was finished after two seconds.

“But David, I can have sex, like, twelve times a day.”

He seemed impressed, at least for a bit. Then, I think, he did the math:

2 seconds x 12 sex-romps = 24 seconds of sex-romps. That number’s still far south of stellar. David, much older than myself, knew he needed to proffer some wisdom.

“Two seconds no problem. You know what you do?”

I did not, and I needed to know.

He removed his shit-awful cigarette so he could stick his tongue.

“Lick,” he coyly whispered, pointing to his, apparently, most prized muscle.

Shit officially got weird.

After we three nearly pissed ourselves laughing, we got back to our basic patterns of discussion: being number one, what does and does not have POWERRRRRRRRRRRRRR, the virtues of speaking English (David was a full-on acolyte), and the reported special friendship between my friend and me.

Looking back at our trip to Malaysia, all events—the 9-hour bus ride with one pit stop at a flooded bathroom; the undulating verdure of the Cameron Highlands; the self-inflated, giant, German doucher who tried to ruin said undulation; the expensive but rejuvenating hotel at which we stayed there; jelly-pla stings and non-overreactions in Batu Ferringhi, Penang; tremendously helpful cabbies all over Penang; the silence of Georgetown on the night of Chinese New Year—pass through and/or recall the memory of David. He picked us up when we were down, and continued to hoist us when we needed a quick chuckle elsewhere.

Overcast with a chance of awkward

Until, at least, shit got too weird.

My friend and I were two or three big beers deep and David had arrived already half in some bag, so things devolved kind of quickly—as they are wont to do—after the premature ejaculation talk. We two travelers were hitting a wall as David’s pronunciation was coming up to its own. These two events would have been enough to warrant an exit, but the lack of David’s topics expedited the shit out of the process: he kept returning to cuming early and going down on a chick afterwards.

The conversation had clearly peaked. It was time for a quick cleanup and for us to collect our things so we could bounce. There would be no conversational cuddling after the fact.

Nevertheless, once back in our room, David’s shadow had already begun to cast itself:

“Hey, tonight: number one!” we said with fluttering fists and indicative index fingers.


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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Happiness, Malaysia, Misadventure


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Like a Laotian Jesus, I Walk on Piss

I had been on the road for only an hour, but I already needed to pee. Thankfully, I had opted for an allegedly tricked-out bus, replete with toilet. Since we had to be barefoot during the trip, I entered the bathroom sans shoes—and immediately felt small puddles. I really, really had to go, so I stifled my imagination right away. “Probably just some rogue sink-water,” I told myself.

The light in the bathroom wouldn’t turn on. I could make out the silver outline of the toilet, but not enough to ensure my own pee wouldn’t mix with the, ahem, rogue sink-water. I stepped out, grabbed my cell phone with the life-saving flashlight, and re-entered the bathroom.

Once illuminated, all chances of the rogue-sink-water explanation were pissed away: the toilet was filled to the brim with urine (hopefully only urine, since the sign on the door declared, “Please, no Excrement”) that was splashing around as the bus driver took mad, vertigo-inducing turns around unpaved switchbacks.

I had had enough. Fuck you; fuck you; fuck you, Luang Prabang.

I was finally leaving Luang Prabang, northern Laos’s most major city. I was on a bus that left at 8:30 p.m. and was headed south to Vientiane, the country’s capital. For the preceding five days, I had tried to make the most of my vacation and enjoy a city that, at best, earned my fleeting lukewarm reception. I tried my best to enjoy Luang Prabang, but the city was persistently frustrating. Using the money I had saved by staying at a cheap guesthouse, I decided to live large and buy tickets to a sleeper bus—which was equipped with near-bed-like chairs, dinner, and a bathroom (crucial since an onset of diarrhea)—for an extra 30,000 kip, or 120 baht. If nothing else, my overnight trip to Vientiane would be nice.Psych.

But let’s get to the bus first. It begins with a journey that, like most others here, involves an overnight something to somewhere.

Pai was painful to leave: good food; good relaxation; good sights. Alas, I knew I should go: I was on vacation and carpe diem, etc. At 8 p.m. on Monday, October 10, I boarded a minivan for the seven-hour trip to the border town, Chiang Khong, Thailand, and a trip across the Mekong River into Laos. The ride was fine—I listened to music, watched True Romance on my iPod, and stole interrupted bouts of sleep—but my left foot decided to swell. It now matched my right, which grew, I presume, when it was sprained after my second motorbike accident.

The minivan ticket included a three-hour nap, which I gobbled, at a guesthouse in Chiang Khong. Once across the river and visa nonsense aside, I grabbed a baguette sandwich—one of the more delightful remainders from Laos’s days as a French colony—and debated how to make the long trip to Luang Prabang: overnight bus or three days and two nights on a slowboat? Everyone with whom I became friends on the van was doing the slowboat, which, I read, is a popular option for people traveling south. But I wanted to get to Luang Prabang quickly and, for various reasons, the boat seemed much less desirable: time; money; comfort.

Looking at Laos

And so began the shittiness that quietly followed me around Laos.

Crossing the Mekong

Once in Laos and across customs, I bought a ticket for a VIP bus—which are differentiated from local buses by the presence of A/C, more comfortable seats, chance food, and a chance bathroom—and was ready to finally arrive in Luang Prabang. Once at the bus station, all passengers were informed that the VIP bus had broken down and we would be taking a local bus—information we received well after our tuk-tuk driver gathered our bus tickets and exchanged them at the window. Fine. Whatever. No biggie.

For the next thirteen hours, I sat on a cramped bus with a new mother asleep on my right arm as the bus raced around corners and challenged its dying transmission on dirt hills. The driver was an aggressive motherfucker. More pressing, however, was the status of my feet: I now had cankles and the wound on my left food was regularly oozing.

I arrived in Luang Prabang around 6 a.m. on Wednesday, October 12.

My first time in a commie-pinko country

Adjusting to the currency involved a steep learning curve. Laos uses the kip—but businesses and vendors also regularly accept baht and dollars, despite government directives—which has suffered such tremendous inflation that paying for things typically involves five digits. Budget rooms are typically 50,000 – 60,000 kip, sandwiches and coffee linger around 10,000 kip each, renting a bicycle for a day is 20,000 kip, and six doses of 400mg ibuprofen is 8,000 kip. Prices, compared to the dollar, are comparable to those in Thailand, but spending in thousands took some mental adjustment.

Luckily, I found a slightly grungy but super cheap guesthouse in a nice, central location: Paphai Guesthouse, which was in between the central road, Sisavangvong, and close to Kingkitsarat, the road that skirts the Nam Khan River—and began strolling.

The overwhelming majority of my time in Luang Prabang was spent on the peninsula, which juts into the meeting place of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers. The third main road, Khem Khong, follows the Mekong. In hindsight, this limit contributed to my total lack of warmth towards Luang Prabang.

Simply stated, I didn’t like Luang Prabang because it didn’t feel like anyone lived there, but rather sold stuff to foreigners there. There was a disproportionate number of tourists to Laotians and the are of the city that I saw was disturbingly homogenous: French veneers that harkened back to Laos’s colonial days, pricey cafés, travel agencies, ritzy guesthouses, and shops full of stunning pewter wares that lost their luster when I saw the same goods outside of a convenience store. Indeed, the entire area appeared to function like a colonial veneer: pretty on the exterior, but too shallow to be scratched with any satisfaction.

Once, while in JoMa Bakery—a place that, in all fairness, thankfully makes no pretensions about being anything other than a Western-style transplant in Laos—I heard Bon Iver’s new album.

And then there was the time I helped carry two guys who weren’t breathing into a tuk-tuk.

Here’s a passage from an e-mail I wrote in the wake of the event:

“. . . I thought I carried two dead bodies two nights ago.I met up with a group of people I met at customs and there were two new guys. Around 2:30 a.m., they bought a gram of, what they believed to be, coke off of a tuk-tuk driver (all of whom deal). Around 3 a.m., they both go white and limp within 10mins of each other at a restaurant. The second guy mumbled, “–told us coke, but this isn’t like coke, man. I think was heroin?” So they both snorted half a G of heroin, possibly. If nothing else, it was the shittiest coke ever. Both turned ghost white and their lips went purple. Both were either not breathing and without a pulse or had the most minor of traces. I ended up helping carry both of them to a tuk-tuk bound for the hospital. Laos health care sucks for anything serious–you know, like an OD–so I doubted things worked out well for them.

“The next morning I was on my way to the hospital for some antibiotics for my foot and saw the group who went to the hospital coming out. It honestly took me 5 seconds before I believed it was them because I would have bet they died. The group told me both of the dudes’ hearts stopped a pair of times and they had to do CPR. They told me the hospital was shit–even showed me pics–and advised me not to go in. They said the nurses did shit and a doctor didn’t show up for 90 minutes after they arrived.”

This event, by the way, happened on my first night in Luang Prabang.

Fucking ridiculous.

How my feet looked for most of my time in Luang Prabang.

This excerpt brings me to another misfortune: my goddamn feet. Both were swollen and one was an open wound on the verge of festering. Additionally, my right shin was swollen from the second motorbike accident and repeatedly kicking the hell out of things at Rose Gym. As a result, I stayed away from the area’s beautiful waterfalls for fear of further infecting my foot, trekking for fear of exacerbating my injuries, and massages because my legs couldn’t stand a rigorous and violent Oriental-style massage.

I felt consistently thwarted in Luang Prabang. For one, the situation with my legs made even walking for long periods of time difficult. I wasn’t even able to do personal work to kill time because the 5,500-THB netbook I bought specifically for traveling broke sometime during my journey from Pai to Laos.

There wasn’t even a good selection of street food. I wandered and strolled—explored and meandered—and there was jack shit along the peninsula, just my grilled-banana lady, people with disgusting-looking fruit, a concentrated 100-yard-stretch of sandwich and coffee vendors, and fruit shakes. No fried rice, rare noodles, and little grilled meat (which isn’t on my menu, anyway). There were also plenty of tasty crèpe carts, but redundancy is not the spice of life.

But even when I attempted to maximize Luang Prabang and escape my hole of loathing and self-pity, the city laughed at me. Simple noodle places were hard to find, as the two I found were jammed in alleys between European-style restaurants. My first day there, I found a place to volunteer with little kids and teach English literacy. I picked up a brochure, but the map on it sucked so much that re-finding the place proved too difficult. Two different locals—a tuk-tuk driver and a cop—gave me two different sets of directions. For two days, I walked for forty-five minutes to attempt to find the place, but with no success either day.

I really did try to take advantage of Luang Prabang.

Not all was shit, though. I did eventually fall into a progressively comfortable routine. I read a lot at a beautiful, comfortable, and reasonably priced café near the end of the peninsula. I ate ungodly amounts of food, including delicious tofu sandwiches on warm baguettes and fruit shakes. And, every night at 7 p.m., I watched a movie in the upstairs lounge at L’Etranger Books & Tea; my line-up included Bad Teacher, Midnight in Paris, Slumdog Millionaire, and Hangover 2. I also took some awesome photos, if you’ll pardon some bragging, and was lucky enough to have my camera with me during the coincidental Bun Awk Phansa festival, which marked the end of the rainy season.

Unfortunately, I missed the part of the ceremony, after the parade, when participants cast their elaborate boats into the Mekong. The event was reportedly beautiful.

Luckily, I also met some friends along the way, including a pair of similarly-aged ladies—one from Scotland; the other from Australia—who had been bouncing around Southeast Asia for the past several months. We met each other at customs at Huay Xai, resulting in my twenty-four-hour nickname, Customs Guy. I met up with them most days, touring a wat, eating food, trying to catch the culmination of Bun Awk Phansa, drinking adult beverages, and general bull-shitting.

The couple from England-via-Slovenia, who I met in Pai, made some guest appearances in the city as well.

She saved my foot

The Scot is also, probably, single-handedly responsible for saving my foot. After making me terribly nervous our first night in Luang Prabang—“Barry, are you serious? That’s an open wound! And you have cankles! That’s not good. Do you want to keep your foot?”—she researched antibiotics with me and gave me Doxycycline to help kill the developing infection. High five, Scot.

Not luckily, they were having troubles of their own. The pair, along with a couple others, accompanied the two guys to the hospital and participated in the thirty minutes of CPR. After leaving the hospital, they were understandably shaken by the complete lack of reported health care in Laos, alleging the nurses were incompetent, the doctor didn’t show up for ninety minutes, and the building itself was dirty and minimally stocked. Moreover, the two got their laundry ruined—resulting in an argument with a stubborn laundry woman—and one sliced open her toe her last day in the city.

Beginning the climb

On the day of the laundry mishap, we were determined to turn our fortunes and explore some of the more cultural aspects of Luang Prabang. Consequently, we made a trip up Phu Si Hill and explored the hilltop wat complex, which also offered us a stunning view of the city. It was at the top of Phu Si Hill that I realized the actual size—grand, much grander than the tiny old city to which I limited myself—of Luang Prabang.

We definitely had fun, but the three of us also definitely did not love Luang Prabang. Thankfully, they’re coming to Bangkok for a week at the beginning of November, so maybe we can make up for our shittier experiences.

A view of Luang Prabang from Wat Phu Si

Oddly enough, by my last two days in Luang Prabang, I began to slightly and regularly appreciate the place. My café was a gift from heaven, the Indian food was good, and there were cool people about, like the German guy I met who had spent the last six months cycling—and busing where he needed—from Mongolia to Laos. The midnight curfew—which can be mocked with a trip to the bowling alley—was a drag, but it did make for cool interactions at the guesthouse, like the one I had with the cyclist.

He had no idea when he’d be done with his trip.

Stay away from colorful fonts, religion.

Personally, I got a lot of benefit from a solo trip to Xieng Thong, a wat at sleepy tip of the peninsula. The temple was only an extra ten- to fifteen-minute-walk from my choice café, but I didn’t make it down there until my final stretch of days. Ugly-as-hell sign aside, I’m just happy I spent the extra time and energy to get down there—and with my camera.

There was also the astounding, delectable, expansive, inexpensive, and varied half city-block of vegetarian mess-plate vendors. The city’s nightly market, the Hmong Night Market, was comprised of mostly the same shit: beautiful textiles, charming art, Beerlao t-shirts, and pewter wares. Needless to say, it became boring after the second day of perusal. However, down a small road off of the Hmong Night Market was a deep line of tables displaying mounds of freshly cooked vegetarian food. The price was 10,000 kip—about forty baht, or $1.30—per plate, and it was heaped with all six items I indicated from the vendor’s line-up. That, along with my Beerlao Dark, was an ideal final dinner in Luang Prabang.

Incomparable in Southeast Asia

Although I was getting into a rhythm, I knew I had exhausted Luang Prabang as much as I could. I had accepted the part of the city for what it was—a tourist town—and was afforded some peace of mind. However, a tourist town can be squeezed only so much before going dry.

It was Monday, October 17, and time to leave for Vientiane.

But before then, a walk through a sloshing puddle of piss and—did I mention?—Thai/Laotian pop music blasted through bus speakers, and felt reverberated in the walls, from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Sleeper bus? My fucking scrotum it was.

I’d go back to Luang Prabang, but after I see everything else in the world.

At least I got to play with my camera. I also decided that Luang Prabang rarely looked better in color.

Gettin' out

I knew there was a reason I packed only my dad’s Minolta 50mm f/1.7 lens.

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Posted by on November 6, 2011 in Laos, Misadventure


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Unrelated Floating Markets and Near-Flooded Bathrooms

Today, the stomach’s acting up and I just got back from the gym. Ahead of me are grading,  a shower, and Crazy Heart on Star Movies (our HBO, which mostly accommodates lovers of Nicolas Cage and Over the Top).Until those things, however, it’s time to get back on the blog horse.

Last Saturday was more new-teacher-orientation rigmarole in Bangkok. I’m currently going into my sixth week of teaching, so a fifth lesson on what I should do on my first day is appreciated—but totally goddamn annoying. To top off the whole experience, the new teachers were taught classroom management skills by a woman who couldn’t even manage the new teachers. By then end, my frustration so palpable I had to go to the bathroom just to take a breather from the overwhelming stupidity. During the whole process, I played a lot of Would You Rather, comparing various situations to my current predicament. I think I landed somewhere just past sandpaper to the forehead but before boxing a kangaroo.

Amphawa Floating Market

Part of the reason the orientation was such hell was because of what was next: a trip to Amphawa Floating Market with some great friends. Located in Samut Songkhram—which is about sixty minutes southwest of Bangkok, depending on traffic—the market traces the banks of the Amphawa Canal on a dock of varying widths, along with boats moving up and down the canal with wares, food, and passengers. But more on those later.

From Bangkok, seven of us jammed ourselves into a station wagon equipped with an iPod and hauled our asses to Samut Songkram. Four of us occupied the back seat and I ended up sharing indistinguishable sweat with the friend next to me. By the time we got to our bungalow, our arms that had been touching looked like twin Slip ‘n Slides.

Our bungalow's porch

Yes, I said bungalow. There was an added bonus on this trip: a pair of Thai guys, Tor and Tak, who were (and still are) dating two of the girls in our group, making our excursion much easier and more delicious. Thanks to them, we ended up driving to Amphawa rather than paying for a bus, haggling 500 baht off of the price for the bungalow, buying 3kg of remarkably fresh seafood, and plenty of alcohol—although this last part I imagine us farangs could have managed on our own. A resourceful bunch, we are.

We dropped our stuff off at the bungalow and went directly into town, riding in the back of Tak’s red pickup. Needless to say, a bunch of white people in the back of a pickup was thoroughly enjoyed by the other Thais driving around. Our group was smart enough to recognize the novelty of a farang truck.

Ridin' farang.

In town, we had one mission in mind: seafood. Mission completed. We came back with a wonderful mix of squid, little shellfish things that tasted like a tangy BBQ sauce, and big-ass prawns. It was beginning to get dark, so we returned to the bungalow to refrigerate our food and beers and reserved a long-tail boat—a typical southeast Asian boat with 8 – 9 rows and a lengthy outboard motor that looks like a weed-whacker—to take us to and from the market, with an added bonus on the return trip.

Amphawa Market itself was pretty cool, if not startlingly touristy. There were a good deal of white faces and it seemed like almost ten percent of the people there had dSLRs. Normally, such a scene would make me a little snarky, but Amphawa struck me as one of those places that should to be touristy—if that makes sense—and would probably have been less charming if it wasn’t. The things vendors were selling either sucked or were too cumbersome to carry around on a dock, so the trip proved to be more of a sensory experience than commercial one, which was totally fine with me. I did have a nice banana-leaf bowlful of grilled corn while watching food vendors in boats sell bowls of noodles to people sitting and eating on steps over-looking the canal—a pretty cool scene (that I’m pretty sure is in an episode of No Reservations). More than once, there were odd moments of picturesque serenity amidst the absolute mayhem of shoppers.


Bridge over


In fact, I wish I had my dSLR at the market, but the lighting mostly really sucked and trying to take a good photo in a sea of bodies moving along like cattle in a chute is not my idea of fun.

Our long-tail took the scenic route back to the bungalow after promising, vaguely, fireflies. Most of the East-Coast Americans in the group were skeptical, as fireflies are a regular occurrence for our American summer nights. After speeding away from the stores and to the residential part of the canal—a mix of plush houses, tiny shanties, and other bungalows—and getting worrisome water splashed in my mouth, we hit the fireflies, which proved a pleasant surprise. They were like tiny Christmas lights, hidden deep in the over-hanging brush and blinking slightly out of sync. The sight wasn’t spectacular in itself, but provided a scenic backdrop for in-boat conversation.


Once back at the bungalow, around 10 or 11 p.m., the grilling began. All of us sat around the picnic table telling jokes, playing Catch Phrase, drinking beer, drinking whiskey, eating grilled seafood (of which I definitely had more than my share), having guitar sing-alongs, enjoying sparklers like a group of six-year-olds, and probably being rowdier than we should have been after sundown.

Fire eater

Beginning at 2 a.m. people began to slither back to the bungalow in waves. It was humid as Thailand outside, so I got in line to take a shower. As like many showers here, there is no division between it and the toilet and toilet: the bathroom is an open room with a drain in the middle of the floor. I jumped in the shower, quickly rinse off, and turn the valve to shut off the water. Suddenly, things became very confusing. I looked at the valve in my hand, then at the piping, then at the valve, then at the piping.

I had broken the handle the off of the piping, causing a steady geyser of water to shoot out of the shower and onto/into the sink.

I tried to reattach the handle, but with no luck; the valve had completely corroded, allowing for me to rip it off with my unforgiving man-strength. Moreover, because I broke the valve, I couldn’t shut off the water from inside the bathroom, either. Tak ran and found the owner of the complex, who quickly came over, took one look in the rapidly flooding bathroom, and went outside and shut off the valve. The Fire Hydrant of Shame, as one of my friends called it, was put to rest.

Tak singing

I fell asleep by 4 a.m. but woke up around 8 a.m., sunlight coming in through the window and kicking me right in the eyeballs. I went outside and hanged out on our porch while listening to Iron & Wine before being joined by a friend. We then went out to the dock, where Dak was relaxing and playing the guitar. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t have asked for a better morning to a better night.

Through the bush

All in a row

Across the water

Go for a dip?

On our way back, we ordered a feast at a nearby fish restaurant, which was located directly on the water and guarded by monkeys. The meal felt like a splashdown after a grand weekend, and therefore filled its role perfectly.

Back in my apartment after a quick jaunt to Jatujak for gifts for the family, I saw this on my Facebook wall from the weekend’s prime organizer: “We knocked the socks off this weekend.”


Sun on the rise
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Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Misadventure, Thailand


My First Taste of Kok (a bit bitter, but necessary).

The Monday night after I arrived—my second night in Thailand—was the last night for a person who had taught here for a year. Her contract was up and she decided it was time to return to her small town in Virginia. Monday was to be her going out party, and that meant a night, at her direction, in Bangkok.

Of course I would have loved to have come into this country without any prior expectations—and of course that ideal is a bunch of bullshit. Say “Bangkok” and a number of things will come to mind: cheap street food; prostitutes; skyscrapers; pollution; underage prostitutes; beautiful temples (wat); rich-ass foreigners; transgender prostitutes; class stratification. For better and definitely worse, my first trip into Thailand’s City of Angels included almost all of these.

From my campus in Bang Na, a group of NES teachers—three experienced; two new, including myself—hopped in a taxi for the 40-minute trip from Bang Na to our university’s campus in Hua Mak, Bangkok. Hua Mak has a strikingly different vibe compared to our relatively isolated location; it’s located in Bangkok itself and is very much a city campus. Within walking distance of the classrooms, there’s an array of food, entertainment, relaxation (massage!), and sight-seeing choices, not to mention ready access to plenty of cheap public transportation. I got a little jealous at first, but I don’t know if I could handle one of the East’s major metropolises for a year.

Everyone—about twelve NES teachers—pregamed a bit in the soon-to-be-departing female teacher’s room before seven of us eventually went into the city. I had no idea where we were going, but everyone saying “skybar” sounded a bit highfalutin, if not a bit fun. I missed where the bar is specifically located, but from the view it seemed to be in fairly central Bangkok.

Oh, the view? from fairly central Bangkok? from the rooftop bar on the sixty-fourth floor of a high rise at 11 p.m.? Fucking phenomenal. After a quick Google Image search for an example, this picture kind of jogs my memory ( So, let’s pretend like I was at the top of the State Tower, which is the vantage point of the top picture.

At this bar, I was merely an appreciator of the skyline. I—and probably we—were/are totally outclassed at this place, which was populated mostly by international travelers who enjoy the finer things in life. Drinks were THB 400, or about just north of $13: a price I wouldn’t pay in America. I’m not a big drinker anyway, so I didn’t mind nursing the view from above instead of a gin and tonic. I never realized how big a city of 9.1 million cramped people actually is.

It was only a matter of time before the potential price tag of the skybar got to the group. From there, we decided on Nana Plaza—and that’s where shit got to be a little too much for me.

Getting there was an adventure. The group split up into two groups for cabs; myself and the other new teacher ended up with one who had been around a year, but was too drunk to remember much of the cab ride. I’m not sure how we got to Nana Plaza, but it involved a lot of pointing and almost futile repetition. We ended up traveling down a narrow soi—a smaller road off of a main drag—that could barely fit our taxi, let alone the dense line of human beings walking up and down parts of the road/alley/nocarshouldevergodownhere. Thankfully, we spotted our friends, shouted at the cabbie, and hopped out into pretty seedy nightlife.

We made our way up stone steps that were more puddle than hard surface and into a club called Spanky’s. Inside, there were eight to ten girls on stage, all of who were reportedly for rent.

For anyone who knows me, this lack of enthusiasm comes as no surprise: I don’t really like the sex industry—at all. I don’t feel like getting on a high horse on a blog over it, either, so this part of the story will remain short.

Anyway, we went, people had fun, and I can’t imagine going to Bangkok with a bunch of twenty-somethings and not going to a sex show of some sort.

After some ketchup-saturated street food in which I, thankfully, did not partake, we jumped in a pair of cabs and got back to the dorms by 3:30 a.m. Unfortunately, I was up for another two hours with the dreaded anti-sleep.

All in all, it wasn’t the greatest night in the world, but it felt good to go out with people and not spend the night watching Thai TV and reading. Stay tuned, though, for my almost ideal-night-out and when I considered slapping a cabbie on the back of his head so he didn’t kill us at 120 kph.

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Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Disorientation, Misadventure, Thailand


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