Sunday, 29 November 2009

Filth and Fun, Fair and Fight and Flight and Festivities (2)

Fair and Fight

Following a few weeks visiting bars in Bangkok (trendy HiSo teen joints on RCA (Royal City Avenue) and slightly lower-middle class LoMiSo?? clubs on Ratchida(pisek) Soi 8) and a bit of a trip with the kids (my homeroom-Y7) to Samut Songkhram (I'd love to show you the pics but even though the draconian 'images of minors' policies prevalent in western societies aren't present over here (good and sensible) the current political climate around these parts (bad, worrying and more of that later prevents me) we checked the calendar and to be fair indeed it was fate, the dreaded School Fayre (or as American English bastadises Fair)/Fete was coming up on Saturday...

It's the time of year that every UK teacher hates in international schools. A full Saturday at the end of a long full term having to hobnob and join in with forced fun.

Of course some of the 'Pariah Brigade' (as I've just Christened them) were loving the idea of spending spare time on a weekend in school and a chance to boost their flailing profile to rich and influential parents not to mention give them something to do on the weekend other than topping up their tans...

We sauntered in at midday after a particularly late and heavy one for D in the locality and a lightweight and early one for me watching western and Thai boxing with the ever-annoying hoi-polloi and wannabe-polloi (more of the third type of expat in a future post) at The British Club on Silom, for a colleague's baby-wetting lads night- congratulations once again Si and Yas!
I and half of my homeroom (half because the other half didn't turn up!) were running the Thai favourite stall 'Sao Noi Tok Nam' roughly translated as 'young girl falls in the water', which should involve a beautiful Thai girl in traditional dress, suspended over a water tank whilst feisty young males (probably an ancient fertility rite) throw balls at targets that once hit, drop the girl into the water.
Thais have a real affinity with water and celebrate the Thai new year (Songkran- we're currently 2552 in Thai years) with a water ceremony (people in hot countries crave the water to sustain life- perhaps Brits should pray for the sun more?) that latterly has turned into a mass water fight, (mainly for nak tong teow- the person who travels/tourist as everything in Thailand seems to be geared around...)
If you're blasted, bombarded or bucketed with water you're blessed bizarrely- in a spiritual sense as well as literally as April (the time of Songkran is the hottest month of the year- many Farangs choosing to huddle in their air-conned apartments in the same way Westerners do with central heating in the winter!)
However, we didn't/couldn't round up many Thai girls (they were too busy working the massage parlours...) and because the idea of forcing a woman under the water I would normally associate with the sadistic behaviour of a serial killer- we chose some hairy-arsed UK male teachers, including me on a double stint.

The school mainly runs the fayre to help with the numerous community service projects that the (perhaps too much time on their hands) HiSo Thai parents like to administer for the poor and needy of Thailand- including the pitiful Soi dogs who greet and growl at you from all over Bangkok, charging money to play teacher and homeroom inspired games for raffle tickets and eventually gifted prizes from local companies at the later after-fayre show. It also commemorates the school's founder so it is quite a big deal.

We had fun, despite our early reservations, each year group had a country and we had to plan game booths (so excited to have the word booth used so often recently) inspired by our country (the theme was 'We are the World'- international school, Michael Jackson...I know...for a school, slightly inappropriate, but the Thais do love him and everything has been brushed under the carpet latterly), - ours was chosen as USA (despite me wanting Italy and Costa Rica nearly edging it) so we went for the water theme of Hawaii and the kids didn't have to do a full on dressing up with gaudy shirts, board shorts, flip-flops and flowers sufficing.

So 'Booths' Bombin' Booth' was quite a sensation in the end, the kids' posters never quite managing to use the apostrophes that well, but we'll let them off considering it's their second language and full-time English users are pretty useless with this vital piece of punctuation anyhow. D's Japanese magnetic fish game was less-successful but her group's ninja costumes were great. She seemed to spend most of the time in the water tank as we had quite a few hours to fill (my two stints ended up with me breaking my toe as the tank was just too small for a big lad like me and as I said young Thai girl I aint)

Now onto the stage show- a chance to relax and enjoy the rest of the 8 hours we were contractually obliged to put in... Or so we thought...

Well, here's where the Booth legal team have stepped in.


Suffice to say for legal, occupational and safety reasons I'm unable to fill you in anymore in the cyber-world. I know many bloggers post in an 'invite only' way but frankly that defies the object of blogging especially when so few people could actually find us in this way and even more frankly it pisses me off when (like with message boards and chat rooms) the Big Brothers of the internet world have completely ruined the idea of free-speech and opinion, especially in such a wonderful global world that we live in these days. BTW, I'm not talking about 'serious' defamation of character here!)

In a more frivolous mode, however- I hope I've sewn the seed for more- in which case those of you lucky enough to meet us in person over the Christmas period will undoubtedly learn more- just to let you know we're safe and sound...for now...

Next time: Flight and Festivities

Filth and Fun, Fair and Fight and Flight and Festivities (1)

Alliteration, the one thing along with metaphor, that most half decent scholars can remember about secondary school English lessons when they're grown up and have long forgotten everything else- if not the term, then surely the purpose, where specific words starting with the same letter are used for effect by a writer.

It is with this purpose that I link you into our latest adventures since the Krabi expedition. Although here the 'Fs' are not used for profanity or to stutter like Arkwright the erstwhile, northern shopkeeper from the popular 80s sitcom, starring the late, great Ronnie Barker and 'used to be great' David Jason.

Far from it in fact, as I couldn't possibly be s-s-s-s-s-sstutterr-r-r-ring about the last month! Have I whetted your appetite for more? Good, then read on dear reader...

Although November is seen as a miserable month in the Western world, it could be equally be viewed in the same way out East- not much happening apart from cooler weather (a whole 4-5 degrees!) and the potential of no rain at all for 6 months (marked by Thais with the Loi Krathong festival, where Thais of all ages set off little floral boats onto water to thank the waterways for the usage by us and to thank Mother Nature for stopping the incessant daily hour's torrential rainstorm- although like the rest of the world and global warming- it's very unlikely that the wet, dry and hot seasons will shuffle in and out in the same way anymore). We however, continued to have as many adventures as we could- starting with:

Filth and Fun

Everyone warned us, no-one expected us to venture into the world of filth and debauchery that is the Sex capital of Thailand, if not the whole of South-East Asia, the infamous Pattaya.(although some expert recently claimed that 'there was more prostitution in the Phillipines and Taiwan, easily.' I don't know how and why he conducted his research and nor do I want to know- still who am I to argue.) As always with these things, the claims were greatly exaggerated and we had a great weekend. Yes, the streets are laden with go-go bars (a slightly weirdly old-fashioned term for bars/strip joints/brothels that has been left over from America's occupation of Vietnam and continued by the U. S. oddballs (followed by Brits and Aussies) that returned to this part of the world over the last 40 years- I almost expected to see such outdated adjectives as 'happening' and 'switched on' to advertise them in their bright neon signage!)

Yes, it was a bit seedy, with old men wandering around with young girls, but it seemed strangely appropriate in this quite pretty seaside resort, rather than in BKK- 10 quid each return and 3 and a half hours there and back from Bangkok. There's a whole post and debate about Thailand's most famous industry, but as always things are never as cut and dried as they seem. It was also easy to ignore and keep away from, if you wanted to, which we did.
Think a slightly more exotic Benidorm and much more exotic and with a better seafront Blackpool!

We went down to see some colleagues post-sky dive (I bailed at the last hour- not from the plane, of course!) and to escape Bangkok for a bit and in the cooler temperature and cheap and very basic room at 8 pound a night we had a great stay and will venture back soon. We especially enjoyed the drunken Brit getting battered around the ring by a 15 year old Muay (boxing) Thai fighter in a bar and 'Ripley's Believe it or Not!' museum (yes, really!) on the Sunday, but not the Irish bar and overpriced British Transport Cafe styled all-day breakfast (advertised as being 'the no1 food for truckers all over the world', not sure if Tibetan truckers in the Himalayas would tuck into greasy bacon and eggs though...) as well as bad Danny La Rue impressionists miming to bad/good Korean pop!

Coming next- Fair and Fight

Friday, 13 November 2009

Feeling a little Krabi? Part 2

On the Saturday, we decided to take a little tour round some of the surrounding bays. We visiting the James Bond island where 'The Man with the Golden Gun' had been filmed. You know the one with the man with the extra nipple and the little fella with the thyroid problem. Anyway, after taking a few pictures and a dip in the deceptively deep water, we moved on to view a temple (wat).

The wat is inside a cave with a giant reclining Buddha and is, rather bizarrely, inhabited by monkeys. Loads of them. Despite the monkeys all being very well fed by the constant swarm of tourists, this didn't seem to be enough for the little bleeders. I was left rather perturbed when a particularly wily one decided to grab hold of my ankle and tried scaling my leg to get to my cornetto! One cheeky one had already had it away with our driver's ice-lolly. Alas, my monkey wasn't so lucky. I'm not a girl to be easily parted from her food.

Before we returned to Bangkok on Sunday, we had a 'chillax' on the beach at Railay Bay where we treated ourselves to a full-body massage. I had been too scared to have one before then (I don't stand pain very well) but it was brilliant. Not sure how much J enjoyed his though. Instead of having a nubile, young filly as a masseuse, he got a ponytailed, middle-aged man whose groin (at one point) was pressed rather firmly into J's back!

At the end of the weekend, we both decided that we'd love to come back but definitely for longer next time. Sorry that some of the pictures in part 1 don't quite match the description. We had to go back to rather more traditional means of taking photos (a 35mm camera no less) and that particular roll of film is still waiting to be developed. Until next time, sawadee kha.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Feeling a little Krabi? Part 1

After our rather action-packed week off (courtesy of the Booths Tours Bangkok Ltd), we really could have done with a holiday! Alas, the next one isn't until mid-December so we decided to go away for my birthday instead. We were booked up for a weekend in Krabi.

My birthday was on the Tuesday and (me being me) decided not only to celebrate on my actual birthday but to also eek it out for as long as possible. On the Tuesday night, J booked us in for dinner at the BedSupperClub. I'd been dying to go there from before we came to Thailand. In fact, is was probably the only thing in Thailand I found of interest before we arrived and was in awe of the stark white interior. It looked like a scene from a 70s sci-fi B movie.

Anyway, from the outside the club actually looks like a spaceship (aha, my suspicions were confirmed!). We arrived on time but found ourselves waiting outside for about 15 minutes whilst they opened up. This usually wouldn't bother me but that evening was, I'll have you know, rather chilly. I had to wear a cardi! I suspect the temperature only actually dropped to about 21 degrees but after the months of sweltering heat, it may as well have been freezing fog!

We were shown inside to a large white area; above us was a large white balcony. Our table was actually a sort of bed that extended around three sides of the restaurant. You take your shoes off and hop on (so to speak). We sipped mojitos and listened to music (yes, proper music-I was so excited!!) whilst, erm, lying in bed. We had pillows and everything. All we were short of was a duvet. Actually, blankets were available from behind the bar...

We had a very nice dinner and just when I thought we ought to polish off our drinks and get going, a man dressed, in what looked like white hospital robes, walked into the middle of the restaurant and lay down on the chaise-longe. He then proceeded to make himself comfortable and went to sleep! At this point, I was convinced that he must be on day-release from Bangkok Mental Hospital. Then, the music changed, the lights dimmed and a woman came out and began strutting round him in a rather elaborate costume (which was very nice actually, if you like that sort of thing. Bit fancy for day wear-too many frills). She then picked up a glass vial filled with red liquid and proceeded to pour it over his nether regions! I was beginning to wonder if day-release was extended to the entire hospital when the word 'LUST' flashed up on the screen above the DJs head and she sloped off.

We figured that as only 'LUST' had come up, we were in for another 6 deadly sins. About 10 minutes later, another very elaborately dressed woman, carrying a vial of purple liquid, came in and began walking round the same bloke. However, instead of pouring the liquid over him, she walked over to me and handed me the vial! What the hell was I supposed to do with it??! Gesturing for me to take part in this poor gentleman's ritual humiliation, I poured the contents over him, avoiding the nethers this time, in the shape of a cross. Very artistic! I don't actually know what 'sin' I was supposed to represent. I was too shocked to look at the screen. We sat through 'VANITY' and 'SLOTH' before leaving.

Anyway, as I said, one evening out (as great as it was), was not enough for me. So that weekend we took an hour-long flight to the beach resort of Krabi. Now, neither of us had heard of Krabi when we were back in England, but clearly we must have been the only ones. The resort had plenty of Brit, German, Aussie and Russian holidaymakers.