Monday, December 12, 2011

Red Bangkok

First thing’s first. I had to shave my alpaca body because I was in Thailand now and momma’s wearin’ a tank top dress. Significantly lighter I head to the Indian visa office to get an Indian visa. Thailand is colorful and bouncy. Even the cabs are pink. The people are small but the women all wear strappy, thick, colorful high heels.

At the Indian Visa office I was all business with a touch of James Bond. The line was out the door so I found an older used ticket and presented it to the counter. “My number was called but I didn’t hear it.” WAABAM. I’m in. “Ma’am we don’t allow multiple entry just single.” “Well what if I go to India, Bangladesh and then back to India?” “Yeah I guess that would work for a double entry visa.” WAABAM. “But Ma’am we don’t expedite visas, you’ll have to stay another week to wait for your visa/passport back.”

I was not crushed at this news because I was on some kind of mafia high and was ready to make them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

In the elevator an older, Indian man in a powersuit got on. I asked him if he worked for the Indian Embassy. He said no, he was the country manager for Kingfisher Airlines but he liked me and would walk me to the Indian Embassy and even though it was off hours he would get me in. Turns out he is a Bengali from Kolkata! My Bangla is finally paying off…in Thailand! We exchanged business cards and after some Indian head bobbing all around, he got me into the first gate.

The second gate was a bit tough. I tried to follow in some other officers but got stopped by security. “Oh no no, it’s ok, he told me I could go in.” “Who’s he?” “Oh you know, that guy…shoot forgot his name.” AND IT WORKED.

Third gate. “Do you have an appointment with the consulate?” “Yes.”

Assistants Desk: “You can’t see the consulate this is off hours.” “I know I know but I need this visa extended! My sister is getting married in Dhaka on the 11th and I need to fly home!” “OH yeah, what does your sister do for a living in Dhaka?” “She’s in advertising. Works for Citi Color advertising firm.” “Oh I’ve never heard of it.”

The consulate walks out and I scramble for my papers. “Please sir, sister, married, expedite, please.” “Sure, sure.” He waved me off with a nod, his assistant put a sticker on my application that said expedite and WAABAAM.

I took the train for a victory lap and got off at the famous MBK shopping center. I was expecting it to be full over treasures and cheap bargains fleamarket style. Instead it was a 7 story pristine megamall. I walked around and saw hundreds of old ugly white men with very young beautiful thai girls many shopping bags in hand. But truth is, I’m a poor graduate student so this mall didn’t hold my attention for very long and I head back to the hotel.

At the hotel I met the restaurant owner, Naz. Naz was an Indian expat who most recently worked in West Africa. He came to Bangkok on vacation and never left. I was told by my professors, that if you are in Bangkok, you absolutely need to visit the red light district as it is the most famous in the world. Naz promised he would show me around later that night.

For dinner, I went down the block to a few street food stalls. The Thai ladies were cooking up something delicious but I had no idea what. I tried pointing and grunting but it was getting nowhere. Suddenly a Brazillian stepped up and ordered me what he was getting. I always rely on the kindness of strangers. He was a DJ in Bangkok that lived nearby. We ate dinner together: A papaya salad with pork and tofu pad thai. Freaking scrumptious.

At 11pm I was ready to go out into the red light district. My outfit was channeling: I’m-Not-A-Prude-But-I’m-Not-For-Sale. This was not a dark alley. This was the Disney World of Sex. As bright as Times Square, the red light district wound around and around. Prostitutes, as it was explained to me, were grouped. The Russian Prostitutes hung around the grace hotel, the Kazhakstan prostitutes on another street, and the Arabic prostitutes would not go home with you, no matter the price, unless you are Arabic. Then there are the Kathoey. Male-Female Transgenders. About 1/3 of all prostitutes I saw were Kathoey. You can generally spot them when you find a woman who is prettier than the rest. She is a he is a Kathoey. Many can’t afford the surgery and are transvestites.

Naz and I sat on a little table in the center, drank orange juice and looked around. The place was crawling with old british men with crooked teeth and hunched backs. With Arabic men and their sleezy facial hair. Many had a few girls at once around them. Most had on wedding rings. It was gross.

The girls were so young and beautiful. But they were not innocent. They barked their price at you and shook themselves in your direction. Naz and I were married for the night and were practically invisible.

I did go to a show. I will not write about it in this blog. I am saving all of you your virgin brains. You can email me for info if you must.

We left the red light district and went to the back packers paradise. Whities all on one block high as a kite. I stopped into a street spa and paid to have my feet dipped in a tank of fish that eat the dead skin cells off your feet.

I lowered my feet and the fish swarmed toward me, covering my legs and gently nibbling at my feet. It was horrible. I started yipping loudly and making a huge scene. “Keep your feet in, it gets better!” Naz had insisted. It didn’t. Never again.

I passed a food stall selling lizards, worms, cockroaches and scorpions. I didn’t stop.

The night ended with McDonalds French Fries at 4:30 am.




  1. wow you are so indian! nicely done! (in ref to the visa). and keep that kingfisher contact with you. that airline is dying and almost out of business - i bet you could get a free flight or upgrade.

    when will you be coming here?!