Went to Chatuchak with Joel as planned. Unbelievable. 13,000+ stalls of anything and everything you want. Live squirrels, T-shirts, furniture, plumbing equipment, tattoos, anything. (did i mention the live squirrels.) Joel (aforementioned and below-pictured Aussie guy.) introduced me to the joys of "coke in a bag." Pretty straightforward, "coke in a bag" is when you buy a coke from a vendor, and they pour the bottle of coke into a bag of ice and stick a straw in it. "Coke in a bag" rocks. Do not, however, under any circumstances, get into a taxi, tuk-tuk, or other motorised vehicle with a "coke in a bag." Invariably, you are stuck with the much less desirable, "ice in a bag" and eventually "water in a bag." Joel and I had just such an occassion to discuss this problem at length. We're thinking of filming a public service announcement.
One of my brilliant traveling schemes was to bring almost no clothing. I had heard from friends that Bangkok is T-shirt Mecca, and so I figured I'd just buy stuff when I got there. As it turns out, the "Bangkok T-shirt scene" (as we well-traveled dirtbags in the know call it) is, in a word, redonkulous. Met a woman at Chatuchak market who works with a Japanese partner designing T-shirts mixing traditional Japanese and Tibetan culture with urban themes. i.e. breakdancers decked out in Samurai gear, Kabuki sorcerers spinning records, etc. I think I bought five. For 400B. That's about three dollars a piece. Limited-run, original artwork T-shirts. Three bucks a piece. Hell yeah. Also, ever wonder what Astro-Boy (better known as Atom in Asia) would look like if he died in some horrible chemical accident, was then resurrected as a Zombie, and is now popping out of your chest. Cuz if you have, have I got a T-shirt for you. Here's a couple more photos of Chatuchak, note delightful "I make lamps and stuff out of dead animal bones" guy.
One thing that struck me about the market is how bloody friendly and relaxed Thai people are. Now that I'm getting slightly better at bartering, I had a lot of fun talking to various vendors about where they're from, where they get their goods, how many kids they have etc. Back at Soi Rambuttri, the next street over from Khao San, I spent a good twenty minutes talking to one of the "crazy hat ladys" selling necklaces and bracelets. When it became clear that I was just harassing her trying to get a good price for my friend, ansd wasn't going to buy anything she decided to cut off my nose. Luckily, the Thai people have yet to discover scissors, so I was alright.
Apparently we found the sketchiest people on Khao San Road and invited them to party with us. Funny, I don't remember inviting them, but there they were. After hitting a few bars, sometime around 3am we (Joel, English Alex pictured above, and a Canadian girl also named Alex) went back to Soi Rambuttri, the street on which our respective guesthouses lay, to have a nightcap at the affectionately and accurately named "camper-van guy who sells beer all night." We sat down with these rather sketchy looking English guys, and a dutch dude named Pascal. From the first five minutes is was rather clear that Pascal was cool, but these English guys had just been in Bangkok for waaaaay too long. Before long, a feisty looking-- actually more like homicidal-looking Thai woman showed up and started yelling at one of the sketchy English guys. I asked what was going on, and someone leaned over and told me that the woman was his wife. Having been drinking since sometime when the sun was still up, I hollered over to him to inquire if this was true.
"Is that your wife?"
"No, not really."
"By not really do you mean that she's not your wife in England but you're married in Thailand."
Okay, so the guys a bit of a scumbag. Whatever, we asked them to move their row, which was getting louder by the second, somewhere else. I don't know what the Thai lady said in response, but the English guy wouldn't budge. Finally, the climax arrived. After they were both on their feet shouting at each other, Thai lady wound up and smacked English sketchball in the face, full on. The next bit happened sort of slow motion. English sketchball grabbed Thai lady's shirt, everyone's head turned to look what was going on, and before I could mouth the words "What the fuck?", the English jerk was punching crazy Thai lady in the face. We all jumped up, broke it up and told them to get lost. The Next Thai Karate Kid and English Fisticuffs did move on. But we were still stuck with English Fisticuffs' friend, who we'll call Sketchy McEnglishing. (Actually that's the last time I'll be mentioning him, I just wanted to give him a name.)
We all moved to another bar down the road and had a ridiculous time until 9am. A guy from detroit whose name I can't remember but will forever be known to me as "Motown" showed up with a guitar and we partied hard late into the night. There was more sketchiness not worth mentioning, but all in all, it was an interesting and relatively fun night. It must also be said that I spent 5 nights in Bangkok, had a blast, and this was the only night things were weird. Well, no, things were sort of constantly weird. But that was the only night things got downright seedy.
Anyhoo, Tonsai Bound!