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Day 37 – Was a Day (Still in The Eye of Thai Protests)

April 9, 2010

Dateline: Bangkok, Thailand – Friday, April 9, 2010

I was drunk. Not sloppy, mind you, but you wouldn’t want me behind the wheel. I was sitting on Becca’s balcony with Franck, polishing off a bottle of red from their wedding. A lovely Cuban cigar smoldered in my hand. We were below the lip of the clear balcony railing, sheltered from the warm night breeze. None of this was according to plan, but then again, when was it ever?

I’d hoped to go to a muay thai fight at Lumphini Stadium tonight, but the Red Shirts were out in force and had spoiled my plans. It wasn’t the first time and I have a feeling it won’t be the last. The street festival from the night before had turned a bit nasty. All day I’d read reports of Red Shirts taking over TV relay stations and breaking through police and army lines. The Reds had even placed monks at the front of their lines and tried to advance on a police headquarters. In response, the police had gathered up as many female officers as they could and put them at their front, counting on the fact that monks aren’t allowed to touch females. It was part revolution, part farce.

The Reds had stepped up their pressure on the government in the face of the upcoming Songkran holiday. They wanted a new government before heading home for the holiday. I’d probably have been able to go to the fight unmolested, but at Becca’s suggestion I decided to play it safe.

Instead of watching two men beat each other senseless, I had a dinner of street food with Becca and Franck. We were only occasionally interrupted by baby Ananda’s cries for mommy’s boob.

The evening typifies what I love about being on vacation. Sure, it would have been nice to take in Thailand’s homegrown sporting event at the nation’s premiere venue but, because I lacked obligation, I stumbled upon a more perfect evening.

Before dinner, Frank put a bottle of red in the freezer to chill (I think this peculiarly French). In the dinner preparations, we all forgot it was there. Becca, Franck, and I plowed through fish with vegetables and chili paste, fried chicken, yam soup, and red rice. We had nothing but food on our minds. After dinner, Franck showed us pictures of his scuba dive trip to the Maldives. We all watched silly clips on YouTube and old videos Franck had made for his friends.

That’s when he remembered the wine and, a bit later than planned, broke it out. I can’t say either of us intended to finish the thing since it was so late. Becca was exhausted from a day of taking care of baby and headed off to bed. I hung out, missed the last boat from the condo complex, and decided to relax and just take a cab back to my hostel.

To that point, we’d only finished half the bottle. I gathered up my stuff and prepared to head home. That’s when Franck suggested I have a Cuban on the balcony. Considering the American embargo on such luxuries, how could I refuse?

Now that I think about it, a disproportionate number of my fondest memories involve cigars. After struggling to light the thing in the wind, we sat down and polished off the rest of the wine. We talked about working in Thailand, diving for a living, what we’d do if we weren’t lawyers, and getting older. The city lay before us, quiet and dark.

When I’d dragged the American contraband down to a nub, we got up and Franck pointed me in the direction of a cab. I walked down the quiet soi to the main road and hailed the first open taxi. In broken Thai I directed the driver to my hostel. He flipped on the meter and we were on our way.

A pickup truck full of Red Shirts zipped by. We edged past the site of last night’s Red rally. Cars honked their horns in support and Reds waived flags in response.

Then the taxi rolled on and all was quiet. The Reds had once again foiled my plans. All day, I’d done nothing; for some reason, though, I felt like I’d done all there was to do.

____________________

Stupid Travel Tip of the Day: For best results, take your holiday during an attempted revolution.

Not So Stupid Tip: To hail a cab, bus, or to get someone to come closer to you, don’t do the American version of the underhand wave. Instead, raise your arm and open and close your four fingers. If you want to be more vehement, wave downwards with your wrist or whole arm; it’s the Asian sign for, “Come here.” The American versions can come off as either confusing (best case scenario) or vulgar (not best case scenario).

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sally permalink
    April 22, 2010 3:53 pm

    Smoking and alcohol? On the same night? You are such a bad, bad Adventist.

    • April 23, 2010 2:49 am

      Is it really smoking if I don’t inhale?

      Besides, there are lots of other reasons besides booze and inhalants that make me a Bad-ventist.

      I’d also like to note that I’m a terrible baseball player, a mediore rapper, and a dissapointing Jew. Being a bad Adventist doesn’t even make the top 10 of things I’m bad at.

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