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 (http://dailytravelphotos.com/archive/2010/09/12/index.php). 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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