Yes, apparently the boys who provided us with many a laugh due to their alcohol-fueled madcap adventures in Vegas are back and as the tagline of the movie tells us “Bangkok has them now”. Without getting into any lengthy discussion about whether this one is as funny as the first or if it has fallen victim to the dreaded ‘Sequel curse’, I’ll say I think it’s pretty awesome that they chose Bangkok as a location for the sequel. As some of you may already know I was in Bangkok myself for a few days on an official class trip which was little better than a thinly veiled excuse for much needed faaji after 7 months of constant and consistent torture by our lecturers. Seeing the trailer for the movie reminded of my few days and nights in Bangkok and seeing as how my brain is as effective at holding memories as a basket is at containing smoke, I decided to write a tale of my own adventures in Bangkok before I forget all the juicy details. That being said, this is my version of The Legend of Bangkok: A tale of smiles, sun, temples, gold and ladyboys.
~The story you are about to read is true. Places and events are reported more or less as they are and as they occurred (supplemented with hyperbole, silliness, illustrations and sarcasm as deemed required) The names of some of the players have been withheld to avoid beating of , legal proceedings against and/or murder of the writer by offended people~
(However, there will be pictures, so…errr….yeah….they’ll still kick the shit out of me and its kind of futile really…so yeah)
Our flight to Bangkok was scheduled for 10:00pm the day after my final exams. I decided to leave all my packing and arrangements till the last minute and then just to make my life more interesting, I woke up late – at 10:30am. (You know, as per badt guys)
Realizing how close I was cutting it, I foolishly decided to leave the house without taking a bath. (This stupidity came back to bite me in the ass later on).
First order of business, I went to get me a haircut. It was pretty sweet if I may say so myself and I promptly christened the style “Bangkok Dangerous”. (If you like be there making fun of me, I don’t care.)After that, I ran all my errands successfully, changed my few British pounds into Thai Baht, and was on my way back home when I saw a sign that quite simply spoke to both the Waffi and the Ijebu in my soul: SALE! I could not resist…I walked in.
By the time I walked out of the store with a pair of sweet shoes bought at a ridiculously low price, it was 4:00pm. I was in a hurry and started to run, I still had to get home and pack. Struggling with the box of shoes I had just bought while running, sweat was now escaping my unwashed armpits and beginning to give off a foul smell. Ignoring all this, I hopped on the bus and headed home. Just because the world is a cruel and evil place and fate likes to mock me, a hot girl got on at the next stop and sat in front of me. She looked at me. She smiled. I looked at her. I Smiled. She smelled me. I smelled myself. She turned away. I looked down at the floor and wept inside my soul with shame. When I got to my stop, I jumped off, ran home and entered the shower to try and wash the shame and the smell away.
After putting that trauma behind me, I packed, locked up my room, said a small prayer and walked to the station where I hopped on the train heading to Heathrow airport. I ran into 4 of my Kazakh classmates on the train and we shared a few half-hearted jokes. By the time we got to the airport it was almost 7:00pm, just about the right time for check-in. I had to wait for my friends “Big E” and “Ms. O” to arrive since I had their tickets with me. After this point, everything went smoothly from check-in to the start of the flight. As the entire class boarded the flight, I thought to myself “This is real; we are really going to Bangkok baby!” (At this point, I may or may not have fist-bumped the air-hostess).
To be continued
CHAPTER 1. ROUGH LANDING
The flight to Bangkok was excruciatingly long. 13 hours in total with a stopover at Muscat airport in Oman. I must say however that Oman Air is a pretty sweet airline to fly by. I was a bit worried at first when we got on the plane and the pilot started praying in Arabic but if you must be stranded helpless above the clouds for 13hrs, you can’t go too wrong with them. The food was good and plentiful, the movie selection was pretty awesome, the air hostesses were hot (in their own Arabic way), not to mention that I was never once worried about terrorists hijacking/blowing up the plane. I mean, why would they? It was filled with Arabs like them, very few Americans to kill. I would imagine that if a terrorist suggested it at their annual terrorist convention (I assume they have one) he would be boo-ed off stage and pelted with rotten fruit. (Plus, I was rocking a pretty sweet beard, I could blend in and pretend to be one of them if I had to 😀 )
When the final announcement came that we were over the skies of Bangkok, I smiled. I had been reading ‘The girl who played with fire’, watching movies, sleeping, eating, tickling my friends and going to toilet for the past 13hrs, I couldn’t wait to get off. Once off the plane, we all went to border clearing where once again, I was reminded of my misfortune to have a Nigerian passport. The dude at the clearance said those of us with Nigerian (and most other African) passports needed a Yellow fever clearance certificate.
Yellow fever? Oh yeah? Dude, Really?! I’ve lived most of my life in Nigeria and I don’t even know anyone that has ever had yellow fever so I was a bit miffed about being accused of being a potential Yellow fever vector. To make matters worse, the guy in charge was as ugly as sin and barely spoke English. After a frustrating 20mins during which I had to say “we flew in from LONDON, not Nigeria” over 30 times, he finally asked us to pay 10 baht before he stamped our passports. Ah! There it was. He wanted a bribe of some sort. His soul was as ugly as his face. Waffi no dey carry last, highest we go play draw- We refused, and another 10mins of frustration followed until, at long last, the guy gave up, stamped the passports and let us go.
We, the unfortunate ones Nigerians, then rejoined the group and headed to the coach that would take us to the hotel. As I stepped outside the airport, the heat took me aback. I was all like “whoa, whoa, whoa, wetin be this? what is up with this hot weather? I mean, Nigeria is hot but this is just ridiculous!” My friend “H” informed me that this is how Thailand is usually and assured me that I would get used to it. I would later find out the scientific reasons why it was so hot. I accepted his assertion, got on the bus and promptly fell asleep.
When I awoke, the bus had stopped and I could have sworn I was on Lagos Island!
It looked just like Lagos. Throughout the trip, I would never get over how much many of the urban parts of Bangkok look just like Lagos. Our hotel was located in a part of Thailand called Ratchadapisek and the hotel was called Ratchada resort and spa, which I believe was some kind of inside joke. Hotel? Yes it was and it was a pretty ok hotel. But resort and spa? TROLOLOLOL!!! Nah. No way. Someone was stretching their imagination when they named the place that. Anyway, it was what we had booked so we moved in. (I have been told that in ‘the hangover part 2’ they ended up in Ratchada police station. This was within walking distance of our hotel and I saw the place a few times. Okay, yes I know #ThisIsNotWhyWeAreHere, moving on…)
The first thing I did was change into shorts and slippers. The heat! And then I and a small group of friends took a walk through Rachadapisek (henceforth referred to as THE ZANGA). That place was a slum mehn! Just like some parts of Lagos, smelly, dirty, with diseased dogs walking down the road, people selling food along the street, music blaring, you know, all the beautiful ugliness of a modern urban slum. But despite all that, it was still friendly and had a fun vibe; there were young girls walking around at 12 midnight, people smiling, it was peaceful and safe. This was a recurring theme throughout the trip. On a side note, I remember that immediately we walked out of the hotel, a man appeared and showed us pictures of naked girls asking if we wanted to come to a “show”. Obviously, we knew what this was and we did our best to ignore him.
After the walk, we joined the rest of our class for dinner at some buka along the road for local Thai food. The food was pretty nice, cheap and full of flavor. I hadn’t eaten such tasty, cheap food since I left Nigeria. I could tell I was going to like this place already. It possessed all the roughness, cheapness and hustling nature of Lagos combined with the structure, safety and organization of London. A true urban jungle.
Throughout this trip I ate a total of 7 times at “Mama Ratchada” buka. One of my friends “Lil D” kept trying to pick-up one of the girls that worked there even though she spoke barely two words of English. Safe to say his standards were (and still are) pretty low. To my knowledge he never did succeed, but that is neither here nor there. Anyway, after the meal, we were very tired and suffering from jet-lag. Personally, I felt burnt out and burned by the Thai heat. I retired to my room, connected to the internet via the hotel wireless and tweeted…. “First tweet from Thailand.”
The fun was just about to begin.
CHAPTER 2: THE BURN
The following morning, we all had to wake up early to head to the office of one of the Companies that sponsored our trip in Bangkok. This was all part of of our ‘official trip’ charade and so was a necessary song and dance to perform. I will not bore you all with details of this; it should suffice to say that the discussions, interactions and experience were pretty mildly interesting (if you’re into drilling and reservoir engineering anyway). I did however find out why the entire country was so bloody hot. First, it’s a tropical region so the suns heat is intense overhead, second, it sits on the ‘pacific ring of fire’ so the ground underneath is hot too. Basically, Thailand is a giant oven with fire from above and below. This knowledge however did nothing to comfort me or cool down my overheating brain cells. For all I care, it may just be that Satan comes there to fart and the farts heat up the place.
When we were done, the good folk at the company decided to treat us to lunch at some fancy restaurant opposite their office. It was delightful. Really. No Really…
Really. Thai food is pretty awesome with lots of flavor in everything. And they hardly cook with grease. Just the right amount of oils to get the flavor in. I loved it.
With that formality all done, we were returned to our hotel and at this point I realized there was no plan. Everyone was meant to make the most of the trip in their own way but I had little or no information on what to do and so I turned to the most reliable person I could for help: Google. I found out that there were a number of interesting attractions in Bangkok and I promptly laid out a plan to make the most of my few days there. While doing this, I was interrupted by “R” who told me that they were going to a tailor in the middle of Bangkok to get suits. When I asked how long it would take for the suits to be made and how much it would cost, He simply replied “2 days and about £100”. I was in shock. How could a suit be made to fit be ready in two days?! Surely he was conspiring with the tailor to scam us. First off, £100 is about 25000 Naira which is quite cheap for a suit tailor-made for an individual. Second, 2 days is quite literally, well 2 bloody days!!! And this was a Friday. Meaning they would have to work over the weekend. The last time I had a suit made to fit for me; it cost me 35000 Naira and took 3 weeks to be done. This seemed preposterous. But it was true. We went to the tailor to pick out our material and have our measurements taken on Friday; came in for fittings on Saturday and collected the suits on Sunday. Along with a shirt and a free tie and pocket square. SCORE!!!
When we were done with the Tailors on Friday, I headed back to the hotel to cool my head. While on my bed, I received a phone call from my friend “The Lion” informing me of plans for the night. “The Lion” is one of the most intelligent, charming, funny, interesting and outright diametrically insane people I have ever met. He had also been to Thailand before, so when he called and told me that they were going out to a place called “Nana” for some fun, I agreed to show up without thinking too much about it. However, before going, I did consult with my ever reliable friend: Google who referred me to his girlfriend Wikipedia. This is what she had to say about Nana
(If you would like to read more about nana, this is the full link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nana_Plaza)
Needless to say, I was hooked with curiosity. They say curiosity killed the cat but I happen to know several cats that also go laid out of curiosity. Not that I wanted to get laid there or anything. God forbid that I would be “laid” in a place that sounded as vulgar as “Nana”; Nah, Nah, Mba, no way, I just wanted to see er…what was er…going down (pun intended). I am a good, pristine, chaste and holy virgin afterall, beyond reproach and as yet uncorrupted and unblemished by the sins of this carnal world.
After rubbing my beard in thought for a few seconds, I stood up, got dressed immediately and headed out. I wasn’t going to miss this. I convinced my friend Ms. O to come along and we went outside. A strange thing happened when I asked the first cab to take me to nana, he looked at me like I was satans former side chick and drove off. I ignored this and hailed another cab, same thing again, once I said “Nana”, his eyes clouded over, he said no and drove off. By this time I was getting worried. What were they scared of? Why would no one take me to Nana? Was there something really freaky going down there that the locals were aware of and therefore scared to even go there? I was starting to feel like a pervert.
I asked the girlfriend of one of my classmates, a lovely Thai girl, for help. She helped call a cab and speak to him in Thai. She then translated to me telling me that he said there was too much traffic that way and that was why none of the other cabs wanted to go. (Whew, talk about over-reacting! Just because of traffic!!! Jeeez!)
She advised I and Ms. O to take either the sky train or the smaller, more mobile “Tuk Tuk”. We opted for option two and hopped on Thailands answer to Lagos’s ‘Keke napep’: the infamous “Tuk Tuk”.
Sitting at the back of that Tuk Tuk, my Nigerianness started to get the better of me: I became tense and held my pen in my pocket like a dagger, ready to strike if need be. I mean, I had good reason to be scared; here I was halfway around the world, heading to one of the most infamous urban areas on the planet in a contraption that could barely be called a vehicle, driven by an over-enthusiastic barely-literate young man who for all I know, could have been a robber, a killer or some sick transvestite rapist cum serial killer who would rape, kill and sacrifice us to some strange elephant god. I sha know say Waffi no dey carry last, I was ready to kill him if I had to. But after a while I relaxed. This was Thailand, not Nigeria, the people were absurdly friendly, so much so that it was to a fault as I would soon discover.
Once we arrived safely at the nana station, I called “The lion” and he came to grab me and the others that had shown up. He took us to a place called ‘spankys’
Once we arrived, the entire party of nine froze outside. For a few seconds, no one was sure they wanted to follow “The Lion” into the “den of sin”. This was the infamous Nana after all and surely there would be plenty of carnal debaucheries in progress there, right? After about 10 seconds of ‘dead air’, two of us suddenly motioned forward and climbed up the stairs. There was no way I was going to come all this way and not witness what all the fuss was about. I hesitated at the entrance of Spankys for another second before taking a cautious step inside and looking around. I wasn’t sure what I expected to see there but it was most assuredly not what I saw when I got in. I was shocked to my core!
CHAPTER 3: NIGHT OF THE LADYBOY
I was shocked with disappointment.
‘Spankys’ wasn’t really anything worth watching in my opinion. It was just a bunch of topless, skinny, ugly-ish girls that looked like 13 year old boys vibrating on the elevated dance floor while a bunch of mostly old white men, sat round tables looking at them. It wasn’t even a decent strip club. I would not insult the talented strippers in Vegas and other places of premium quality carnality by calling what they were doing “dancing”. Imagine if you will, a 40 year old woman with the body a 12 year old girl, topless, being occasionally poked with a cattle prod. She would shake violently for a bit and then stop, right? That’s basically what this was. Every other thirty seconds or so, one of the girls would spank the others with a padded stick. I assume this is what inspired the name of the club. I ordered one drink, endured this absurdity for all of 5 minutes before excusing myself and rejoining the rest of the group that had decided not to go in.
(I was later informed by one of my friends who had decided to stay back that about an hour after I left, they had gone to another, considerably more interesting club where the…erm…strippers did many…erm… interesting things with their nether regions…like launch ping pong balls into the air, pick up coins and the like. I guess that would have been fun to see but by this time I was long gone from the Nana area. To this day I’m not sure if by leaving, I made the right decision or not. Oh well, that’s what it was)
We decided to go get dinner and some Shisha which turned out to be much more fun than the little strip club that I had seen. We spent the evening eating Arabic food, drinking fruit cocktails and smoking shisha. My friend “Tiu” tried to teach me and another friend “Bear” how to blow the smoke in rings but the best I managed was to blow it through my nose like an angry bull.
First off, the town was absurdly lively even at that late hour. Shops open, cabs running, people hustling and bustling around. It was quite comforting to see a city function at midnight as though it were broad daylight.
Second, there were a lot of young Thai girls with old Caucasian men walking around. I should say that of the “girls” we saw, I estimate that 40% of them were actually men parading as women – ladyboys (transsexuals) as they are called. It was quite ridiculous. I had learnt the trick to spotting them earlier from “the Lion” who simply told me:
“forget ass and tits, always look at the jaw and throat (adams apple)”
Simply put, they had square jawlines and prominent adams apples which you could use to spot them. But still, some of them were so stunningly beautiful that I’m sure a little konji and alcohol would be enough to blind many men to the fact that they were indeed ladyboys.
We completed our walk, bought a few souvenirs and caught cabs home. I was on my way back to my room, thinking the night was over, when I got a call from another one of my friends “M-man”. “M-man” is without a doubt the hardest drinker I know on God’s green earth. He and a few buddies had been drinking for a while and at this point were inebriated and looking to head to a club (at 12:30 am). I had a full day planned ahead of me and I wasn’t particularly interested in going clubbing but how could I resist? We were here for faaji. I went to my room, took a shower (it was still hot), changed and got dressed and we headed out.
We were a party of about ten, including, my course coordinator whom I assume had come along to have some fun as well as babysit us and make sure no one ended up at the police station by night’s end. Once we walked in, we were led to a table where “M-man” had already ordered drinks for everyone. We started in on the drinks and chatted nonsense for a bit (you can’t really carry on logical conversations with drunken engineering students). After a bit of this, me and my wing-man for the night “H”, made our way onto the dance floor and danced with some Thai girls. At first we were met with violent resistance by a group who I am sure were lesbian Satanists (Don’t ask me how I know this). Their warrior queen pushed “H” back and shouted in damaged english:
“No, these my girls, they for me!!!”
We backed away and squeezed through the crowded dance floor to another group of girls who weremuch friendlier 😀 . From there on out, it was a haze of dancing, drinking, Hi-5’s to random strangers, laughter, silliness and people offering us their drinks. I have to say Thai clubs have a much friendlier vibe than any other I’ve been to. I can’t imagine what manner of demon would possess a Nigerian in a club to offer his drink to a random stranger whom he couldn’t even communicate in the same language with.
As was bound to happen sooner or later, due to the large amounts of alcohol being consumed and the konji reaching critical levels, there was an incident with the lady boys. During the middle of our groove, while I and “H” were dance floor hopping, we walked past a group of Lady boys standing in a corner flagrantly disobeying Wizkids instruction to “Not Dull”. Anyway, Lady boys are definitely not my thing so I pulled a Johnny walker and kept walking. After a few minutes, I looked behind me and noticed “H” wasn’t following me. I retraced my steps and found him dancing with (dry humping) one of the Lady boys we had walked past. I decided not to judge him and firmly blamed it on the alcohol. I walked up to him and whispered in his ear:
“You know that’s a guy you’re dancing with right?”
To which he responded in a drunken slur:
“Nah, Wole. Don’t say that. She’s a tall beautiful lady”.
It was obvious that he had lost all reasoning capacity at this point and I had no choice. I grabbed him by the arm and dragged him away before he ended up with a lifetimes worth of regrets.
A lot more stuff went down that night which, well, since it didn’t happen to me, I cannot really reveal. All I can say is: A lot of drunken people mistook a Ladyboys for girls that night, At least one person had sex with a Thai girl (at least I hope it was a girl), one person puked on the dance floor and someone (me) got his ass grabbed by a girl ( I really, really, realllllly hope it was a real girl).
Anyway, I mostly confined myself to dancing and laughing and generally having a good time. When the music stopped playing, the live band that had played earlier came back on and began what I can only describe as ‘Thai bizarro club theatre’. They brought some girls on stage, made them dance, stand around and act out weird scenes with other male club patrons. Nothing sexual, just weird. Like the guys would kneel down while the girls dance round them, touch their heads and say some weird stuff. Later when I asked, I heard it was some kind of game. But in a club though? Thai people are odd. We left the club at around 4:00 am, hailed taxis and headed home. It had been a pretty interesting night all round.
By the time I lay down in bed, I was exhausted. I really needed to rest because the next day would be tiring as well: we had already laid out plans. We would be heading to The Grand Palace.
CHAPTER 4: THE GOLDEN SUN
I woke up on Saturday morning surprisingly hangover-free. I guess my liver had finally manned-up and learnt to process alcohol quickly. (or maybe I just didn’t drink that much, the night before)
Anyway, I had to be dressed quickly today; we were headed for the Grand Palace.
The Grand Palace or Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang as it is called in Thai is a sprawling assortment of buildings surrounded by a beautiful garden. Apparently, it has been the official residence of the Kings of Thailand since the 18th century and was built in 1782, by King Rama I, when he moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok. The Palace has been expanded over the years and new structures continuously added. The present King of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whose picture can be seen on more or less every street in Bangkok doesn’t live there though. He resides at another palace.
Full details for those interested are here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Palace
<End of History Lesson>
Once I had I breakfast, I met up with the rest of the crew, hopped into our cabs and headed out. The sun was blazing overhead with the vengeance of hundred angry volcanoes, though it made things uncomfortable, it also made everthing look more beautiful. When we arrived, we were informed by a friendly looking con artist outside the gates that the palace was closed till 1pm for the day and we would have to wait till then. He then proceeded to tell us about a snake farm and some other sights we could go see while we waited and of course offered to help arrange all this for the meager sum of 2000 Baht per person. As per sharp guys and things, one of us (he was French) decided to actually walk into the palace to check. He came back and told us that the guy was trying to scam us and that the palace was actually open. It was a pity though, this con artist, like all Thai people was actually very friendly and some of us (me) didn’t want to believe he had lied to us, but the evidence was clear. Confused and disappointed slightly, we left him and headed into the palace.
Shorts, miniskirts, armless shirts and other clothes that expose flesh were not permitted in the palace (Since, well… I guess they didn’t want people distracting all the serious, contemplative statues of Buddha from their introspection)
Once we entered the grand palace, we were struck by a constant barrage of gold and light and color. Everything was so ancient, so beautiful, it was almost overwhelming. From the statues of ancient Thai gods and demons, to the gold-tipped spires and rooftops with images of dragons sculpted on them, it was all very….impressive. I doubt I have the words to adequately convey the beauties which my eyes witnessed in the grand palace, I will simply show you.
Once we were done being amazed with all the sights we had beheld in the palace, we headed out to the biggest market in Bangkok – Jatujak market. I have never in my life been to such a huge market before. Simply put, that market was insanely gigantic. So gigantic that we needed a map to navigate around and our party of 15 got lost several times. After trying desperately to decide what to buy and what direction to go in order to please everyone, we eventually split into groups.
One group stayed on to further explore the market while my group (mostly Nigerians) headed out for the Chao Praya River. We had heard we could get boats going toward the “snake island” and the “floating temple” from the pier so we decided to go there. Now, two of our friends decided (against my advice) to take the “tuk tuk” while the rest of us went in a cab. This little bit of foolhardiness eventually led to comedy of errors as the following ensued:
1. Our taxi arrived at the pier first and we found out that not only was the boat to the snake island closed for the day, the pier we had come to was a private pier and would be much more expensive than public piers which, by the way did not have boats to go to the snake farm anyway. So, we would have to come back the next day.
2. My friends in the tuk tuk went to another pier and did not know how to tell the Driver where the rest of us were to come meet up because well…his English was about as good as my Hausa (embarrassingly terrible)
3. We left the private pier and went to the nearest public pier with the intention of just taking a boat to Chinatown. We asked the other group to meet there.
4. They told the driver where we were: ‘Chao Praya’ boat pier. Unfortunately, the entire river is named Chao Praya and so he took them to yet another wrong pier.
(At this point, I’m sure you can see how all this was going and imagine the rest)
To cut a long and irritating story short, we wasted 2 hours trying to reconstitute our group. By the time they arrived it was 6pm and the sun was about to set. Somehow it seemed fortunate that we had wasted all that time because Bangkok by boat at sunset is a most glorious sight to behold.
Whilst waiting to get onto the boat we ran into the most interesting fellow: Jacob. Jacob is a German Jew (yes, you read that correctly) that had come to Bangkok to interview for a job as an English and German teacher for an upper class school in Thailand. He had also been a teacher in Kenya, Brazil and many other exotic locations and he was just 26. Fun, friendly and very trusting, Jacob immediately took a liking to us and joined our group. We planned to take the boat ride together and have dinner at Chinatown. I sat next to him throughout the boat ride asking ridiculous questions like “how does it feel to be a German Jew?”, commenting on the beauty of the Temples at sunset and the make-up of the Thai architecture as compared to other exotic cities. It was a delightful conversation, so much so that we decided to stay on the boat all the way to the end of its rout and then come back before alighting at Chinatown. That was a mistake.
The boat ride was much longer than we expected and after one and a half hours riding without reaching the end, we were tired and had run out of conversation. We were also getting anxious because it was night now and we were far away from mainland Bangkok. We asked and were told that we had to get off at the next stop and return or else risk being taken very far away ( I for one was sure that boat was headed for Vietnam or Laos or some other not so awesome place). Once we got to the next stop, we jumped off the boat like it was a molue on fire. It took a while for us to realize that Jacob was not with us. I guess he got carried away with the boat ride or maybe he just wasn’t quick enough. If he were a lady, I’d remember him as the potential P that was never set, you know the nice movie-type chance encounters that just start and end suddenly… anyway #NoHomo.
This was also the night I had to rush off to the tailors and get my suit fitted. We did that quickly and returned to the hotel exhausted. We immediately finalized plans for the next day as it would be our last full day in Bangkok and we had to make it count. My group of friends was a bit skeptical about the plan but my mind was made up, nothing would stop me from heading to the infamous Snake Island.
CHAPTER 5: SNAKE OF BUDDHA
It was a bright and sunny Sunday morning the day after our little market and river adventure and we were about to head back out to the Chao Pray river for another. The first order of business was a bit sad as we had to bid the rest of our class goodbye. They were heading off to Phistanulock and from there onto Phuket, while we would remain in Bangkok for one more day before going back to London. Although, we weren’t thrilled about this (Phutket is an amazingly beautiful place and I have every intention of going back to Thailand just to see it), it couldn’t be helped, we had job ‘interviews’ that week. I crawled out of bed, went downstairs, said my goodbyes, crawled back up to my room and promptly went back to sleep.
I woke up again, hurriedly dressed up and jumped into the bathroom, cleansed myself, ate and proceeded to the hotel lobby to wait for the rest of my crew to congregate. Once everyone was good and ready, we called two taxis, hopped in and sped off toward the private pier we had accidentally gone to the day before. In a fit of stereotypical Ijebu-ness, my friend ‘Miss-O’ decided to renegotiate the prices we had previously agreed upon the day before and we ended up getting the same deal for a cheaper price. Everybody needs that one friend…
The boat wasn’t really a boat; it was a canoe with delusions of grandeur. Long, with a plastic ‘roof’ and a motor at the back, it was nothing like the boats you would expect on a ‘private boat cruise’ but then again, it was bloody awesome fun, so I didn’t much care. For example, when our driver sped up, the boat hopped on the waves and sprayed a little bit of the river water upward. As much fun as this was, I did my best to keep my mouth shut, I was sure that if any of that river water entered my mouth I was going to become a mutant turtle or the incredible hulk. Up close, it looked like it contained all the pollution of all the factories in Thailand.
After about 10 minutes of ‘sailing’ along the main river, we branched off onto the small pathway that led toward ‘Snake Island’ running into fishermen selling things, waving at random villagers standing around and taking pictures of the scenery and temples along the way. Finally, after about 25 minutes on the boat, we finally arrived at the Snake Farm.
Things got off with a bang once we stepped off the boat. We were ushered in, told to buy our tickets and quickly led into the premises where there was already a show in progress. The show took place in a circular arena surrounded by raised seats where we were expected to sit and be amazed. There was an announcer in a corner providing factual/comedic commentary and occasional misinformation. He spoke with a slow, deliberate pace, heavily accented but passable English and a bizarre intonation which I’m not sure how to describe. It felt like a scene out of something on National geographic.
The first snakes on show were two cobras which the commentator informed us were some of the most poisonous snakes in Asia. After charming and tossing the snakes around a bit, he took one, brought it right to our front and ‘milked’ it – extracted the venom.
He then put it back in its cage and another fellow brought out the next display, a viper. The bloody snake kept trying to crawl off the stage and come to our seats and the silly fellow in charge would let it wander a bit close before he pulled it back, I’m sure this was part of the show but it scared the righteousness out of me.
Anyway as per badt goiz, I didn’t flinch, just sat there, like a boss. When he was done showing up the somewhat boring and yet scary viper, he picked it up and without warning, swung it around 360 degrees so it went right past my face. In the 2 seconds it took for that to happen, I made my peace with my maker. I swear that must have been the fastest repenting of sins that heaven has ever received. When the snake was put back and I realized I was not dead, I relaxed and settled in for the next display – a black mamba.
When they pulled out the mamba and the charmer started his dance of death with it, all I could think of was Wiz khalifas ‘black and yellow’ , that and the Kobe Bryant vi 6 sneakers.
Apparently, the black mamba has one of the highest kill rates on the planet; almost 100% of its bites are fatal. I also learnt that brightly colored snakes are to be feared since they are the most poisonous. Nature tries to warn people not to mess with these snakes by giving them bright, visible colors, essentially, the bright colors are the “Don’t fuck with me” T-shirt of the snake world. The ones that blend into the environment aren’t so dangerous hence they have to hide so as not to be seen. (Don’t quote me on this).
Anyway, when they dragged out the Pièce de résistance – the python, I was genuinely excited because by this point all my fear had gone, I’m not sure why. The snake was huge! The creepy commentator/lecturer told us that slow snakes are the most poisonous, again, since they cannot move fast enough to run away, they have to be badasses. On the other hand, the faster snakes were generally not as dangerous. (Again, don’t quote me on this, for all I know the guy might have been talking out of his arse)
After the talk, milking the python and a few stunts, they asked us to come and take pictures with the snake…on our necks. I could have sworn that for a millisecond I smelled raw fear from myself and my companions. But after I led the way… as usual, we eventually dragged ourselves up and posed to take the picture. The snake skin felt like a living breathing ‘Loois v00itton’ handbag. Anyway when that was done, we were roamed around the farm where there were lots of other animals to play aroung with…monkeys, tigers, deer… it was buckets of fun. By the time we were ready to leave, we were asked to take one more picture with a python and this time, it was to be personal. Only ‘Miss O’ and myself had the guts to do it. She’s a Five-star chick in my opinion, with more balls than all of the others combined. (Suckers! :p)
When the snake and animal tomfoolery was done, we took the boat back to the pier and decided to head out to see the largest solid gold statue in the world – The Golden Buddha. It was located in the temple of Wat Traimit which we headed to via taxi. The temple itself was awesome with a gigantic picture of the king in the background.
Gold topped white buildings in the entire compound gave it a feeling of royal peace. It was spectacular in many ways. Some of my more religious companions refused to come up to see the statue; I guess they were scared of being infected by some stray spirit. There might have been something to their theory but still, there was no way I would come all this way and not see the statue. Those of us that were willing, went in and I can tell you, there is a big difference between gold and GOLD.
The statute was 5500kg of pure radiant gold and it shone even in the shade. We didn’t stay long so as not to disturb those that came to pray here, we took our pictures and left in peace.
The final stop on our Bangkok trip was the Gem gallery. A giant building that housed a workshop and sales shop where jewelry is made and sold. The place was pure class. When we walked in, they offered us drinks, told us pictures were not allowed and two of the most polite Thai ladies ever walked beside us offering information and asking questions. It was obvious they were putting the moves on us, trying to get us to buy something. While the prices were reasonable, the gems were stunning and there was a great variety, we were quite simply…broke ass niggas. We couldn’t really afford anything of the quality on display there but when I am good and ready, there is every possibility that I will buy my wedding ring from them. We walked around, admiring the craftsmen at work, looking at the finished products and the shark tank in the center of the gallery. I bought some smaller items I could afford for a friend *wink* and we headed to the tailors to pick up my suit which was finally ready.
Finally back in the hotel, I ate dinner, started packing up, collating all the pictures from the days before, and mentally preparing for the 13 hour trip back to London. It was going to be a long and hard goodbye to the Land of smiles and gold.
~And thus concludes the Legend of Bangkok. Its been fun recording the memories and sharing them with you all.
Whatever the reason, travel more. Theres splendor to behold in the world . Take advantage of every chance. Don’t think, just go. Cheerio~