Disclaimer: Parts of this post are racist. Parts of this post won’t pass the PG Guidelines. Parts of this post will offend the half-wits.
Since you are not a half-wit and are okay with the rest, you can continue reading.
The next day, the alarm woke me at 6 am. Then at 6.30 am. And a final one at 7 am. We were to assemble at the lobby to go on the Phi Phi Island trip. At 7 am, I put my feet on the ground and decided to get ready. I took about 10 minutes to walk to the bathroom. I took one look at myself and I said, ’Fuckit’ and climbed back into bed. I was swollen and in pain.
All the walking and the smoking and the cheating on the diet was showing me just how out of control my affair had got. I slept. Which is again an excellent way of dealing with acute distress. I was learning many new things on this trip.
At 10.30 am I woke up hungry and headed to the lobby and dug into the breakfast buffet. I was alone. I didn’t want company. I didn’t like people. I didn’t even like the world. I crawled my way back to my room and slept some more. It was hot outside my balcony. But within my room, it was cool and toasty and I was happy to put my head on my purple pillow and let an entire day go by in solitary bliss.
Around 5 pm when I finally woke again, I made myself a cup of tea and watched the world go by from my balcony. I hadn’t felt that peaceful in a long time.
By 6, I was dressed and out of the door and heading to the beach. I spent a good hour or more on the beach by myself listening to music, watching half-naked holidayers, and just drifting. I had planned another evening of discovering the city by myself but I met a few colleagues who said we were flying out to Bangkok the next day and had to be at the lobby by 7 am. I wasn’t worried. I’d packed and I was ready to leave. But I didn’t want to overdo my sight-seeing. So I went into the hotel restaurant and ordered my dinner.
‘Yes, alone, thank you.’
I had Thai green curry with rice. So, Thai food in India is simply exquisite. Thai food in Thailand at best is good. At its worst – simply unpalatable.
And this will come as a shocker to the friends, lovers, and husbands in my life but I was packed and ready at 7 am. I woke up with nausea and the beginnings of a migraine. I knew it was the Thai green curry. I drank some fruit juice and had a few slices of watermelon and I was done with breakfast. The sight of roasting meat and oily noodles and rice made me want to gag. We set out to the airport and this time I caught the sights. It was interesting. It was nice. But it wasn’t earth-shattering beauty. I didn’t see why it would be a honeymoon destination.
I couldn’t sleep on the flight.
We reached Bangkok and everyone was excited about a day of unending shopping in Bangkok. I had made up my mind not to shop unless I saw something absolutely exquisite. While most of the group went shopping, I boarded the bus that was to take us sight-seeing. It took us to the Golden Buddha temple. It’s uncanny how similar to Bangalore, Bangkok is. It has more high rises, but the newer buildings are all made of glass. I will never understand why builders would use glass as a construction material in a tropical country. There were signs of progress along with examples of poverty and not-so-great infrastructure. It was depressing. The only exciting thing was the taxis. They have cheerful taxis in all the bright colours of the rainbow. I think we should do that in Bangalore as well. So fun.
The Buddha temple area for some reason reminded me of Basavanagudi in Bangalore. And the Buddha temple itself, in marble and gold, looked like a posh Jain temple in Bangalore. I saw the Buddha but I know I had felt more pious and peaceful looking out to the sea the last two days. I took some obligatory pictures and got back to the bus.
The guide told us that next on the list was shopping. I nearly moaned. We were to walk through Indira market and reach The Platinum Mall – the biggest mall in Bangkok catering to fashion. It was sordid. Three buildings with seven huge floors filled to over-flowing by Thai people and a quintessential Thai scent (which is yuck and puke inducing by the way), and the flat, long, loud sounds of the Thai language. My migraine became a reality. I browsed through all the three buildings wondering how people could go crazy over such evidently tacky stuff. But that’s just me and the way I think. I saw many Indians looking like they had died and gone to retail heaven. I sat sipping a cold iced tea and watched Bangkok go by.
Spice Girls in Koramangala sells shoes and sandals for women imported from Bangkok. I know this for a fact. And I was told that bags, shoes, and watches were something I could pick up in Bangkok. The imitation looks so real you cannot tell them apart. And yet, I could. Maybe it’s because I worked for a year in U B City and really saw how Louis Vuitton bags and shoes actually look. Maybe it’s because I have friends and lovers who are all designers and fashion conscious and into tasteful, classy stuff. Maybe it’s because I am me.
But I’d rather go to Spice Girls and pay the Baht-INR difference and pick up shoes that the shop-keeper has already picked as the best of the lot and do some happy bargaining with a man who actually understands English.
‘Ma’am, I cannot make it any less than 450. Think of my cost also. I got it from Bangkok. Look at the label. Designer.’
‘Don’t be silly. It’s not designer. And you are robbing me blind. Is this how you treat your oldest customer?’
‘450 for you is special prize. To the rest, I sell it at 800.’
‘I don’t care; give it to me at my rate. You know what that is. I will not pay 450. I’m only a teacher.’
‘Ma’am, I’m only a student. But okay, for you, 400, last price, but because it is you.’
‘Fine. But only this time. Next time I want a better price.’
‘Ma’am, you are my oldest customer, for you I always give the best price, I make no profit.’
‘That’s what you say.’
And at the end, both of us are happy.
And no way in hell was I going to spend Baht on tasteless bilge. Thank you very much.
It was all finally over. At 5 pm we assembled at the bus that took us to the airport. The flight was at 9.30 pm. My feet were in hell. And so was I. The effects of the gorgeous massage had worn off. I found recliners and sat with a colleague’s wife and kids. I was ready to die. And just then I remembered what Bernd, my friend from Germany, had told us not two weeks ago. He got the best massage of his life in Bangkok airport. I told this to my colleague’s wife. She said, ‘let’s go.’ And we did. We found a place and signed up for a traditional Thai massage and an extra foot massage. They did the Foot massage first, I’d asked for 30 whole minutes of foot massage heaven. I was finally able to walk. The wife finished with hers. We’d completely lost track of time. And I was in massage heaven again. She said she’d send her husband over so he could have a foot massage as well. I moaned my assent.
Five minutes later, I heard my colleague call me. He sounded like he was in a rush. I answered and was told that everyone had already boarded the plane and he’d asked them to wait for two minutes. He’d collected my cabin bag and ‘would I please hurry?’ I barely even apologised to my masseuse. I dressed in record speed and was out of the massage parlour. He was almost running. But with my Osho chappals and after the massage I was slipping all over the place. I said, hang on, and took off my chappals and ran like I’ve never run before. We had to get down a flight of stairs and climb up another and then run a straight stretch. We ran the whole time. My top kept slipping to reveal my bra and my tattoo. And there I was uncaring, clutching my purse in one hand, Osho chappals in the other, and running as if for dear life. And that was the best memory of my entire trip. Everyone stared. We finally made it into the plane and I collapsed on the seat.
I was blinded by the light in the plane and my head was beating its own rhythm. Migraine check? Yes. But my feet and my joints were fine. And that is the miracle of a Thai massage.
I don’t care how silken the place and the airways are, Thailand is NOT the perfect honeymoon destination. At least for someone like me. It’s a great, fun place that you go to – solo. Pun unintended. You shop, you go to a few strip clubs, may be experiment with some prostitutes and come back to your country and brag about how ‘when you were abroad, in Bangkok, don’t you know, I saw the coolest thing, I did the hottest man/woman, I bought the most awesome stuff’. Not a honeymoon, children, please.
I didn’t like the food; I didn’t like the sound of the language. And I didn’t like the fact that hardly anyone knows/understands English. Thai is not exotic, it’s terribly annoying. And I sure as hell didn’t like the shopping. There is something to be said about the beaches though. But there are beaches everywhere. And then there is the fact that night life exists. But hell, if we are on a honeymoon, why would we want that?!
So I conclude it’s a real sad place to honeymoon at.
But the one thing I absolutely loved about Thailand is the way they treat their transvestites and the transsexual. No begging on the streets, no prostitution unless they want to. No going drag unless they want to. Just a normal job in a normal mall. Just waitressing. Just anything. And no one stares and no one whispers. And no one acts scared. And for that, ‘Salute, Thailand’.
Three hours after a very uncomfortable flight with me constantly wondering if the giant Indian octopus/space hog next to me was trying to feel me up or not in his sleep, we were in Bangalore.
I know I could be happier. But being in Bangalore when we landed was pretty amazing.
Oh for those who are wondering, I solved the giant octopus/space hog problem by waking him up and telling him I was nauseous and claustrophobic – very, very sick, sir – in case he didn’t get the message, and made him take my window seat. And before he could settle in, I shoved my bag and the pillow in the middle so the only thing he felt up was leather and cotton. So like that.