My last morning in Vietnam, I hugged Melanie goodbye (but not for good!), hopped in a cab and was off for Thailand. Bangkok is everything to the utmost – the biggest, loudest, wildest. It’s a bit much for me, but I was only set to be there for a little over 24 hours so that suited me just fine. As I was getting checked into the hostel, I saw a familiar figure coming down the stairs.
Brett is the brother-in-law of my BFF Laura, who I’ve known for years. He and his friend Rich were spending a few weeks in Thailand over the holidays, which worked out great for me because I was more than ready to see someone I knew, especially over Christmas. Brett used to be Bobby’s little brother who we bought booze for and who frequented parties when we were visiting Laura and Bobby in Chicago. And then… well, then Brett got cute.
“Laura…. what happened to Bobby’s brother? He looks like… well he looks like a MAN.”
“Yeah. I know.”
Alright then. I’ll leave it at that.
After throwing my stuff down, I joined Brett and Rich downstairs on the porch. By the time I got there they already had a beer waiting for me. Although I didn’t know Brett that well (and didn’t know Rich at all) I knew then that we’d get along just fine. We toasted to our pending adventures and set out to dinner with a group of others from our hostel. Guided by another traveler who was more in the know than we were, we went to an awesome/crappy little place (which is where the best food usually is). My first taste of real Thai cuisine and it did not disappoint.
Later we headed out to the infamous Khao San Road – a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah with indulgences of every variety: booze, whip-its, weed (and a smattering of other drugs, depending upon how/who you wanted to inquire with) lady boys, prostitutes, lady boy prostitutes – you name it. It felt like a sort of out-of-body experience, looking around wide-eyed at the mayhem that surrounded us. Other staples on Khao San Road include exotic animals to hold (for a price), fried scorpions and other insects to eat, and nasty trinkets for young, Western travelers to take back to their friends. I didn’t stray too far from Brett or Rich’s side, but it was actually a pretty fun night.
The next day, following a truly disappointing lunch (you’ll have those from time to time, but few things are worse than a bad meal…maybe a bad nights sleep), we opted for Thai massages: a must on the “to do” list for visitors to Thailand. But be forewarned, Thai massages aren’t the relaxing, rejuvenating experience you might be used to if you’ve had a massage in America. Thai massage involves stretching, kneading and bending the body into submission, making for a less-than ideal experience at the time, but the benefits are certainly felt later.
Although in different “rooms” with screens separating us, I was in the same area as Rich and could easily hear him. And what I heard were the grunts and exclamations of a man being tortured.
“Huhhh! Uuuuuhhuhuhuh…. JESUS CHRIST!” I’d hear every now and then.
I couldn’t help from laughing.
“Rich, you can tell her to ease up.”
“Nope, no. I’m good.”
He sounded somewhat less than good. The massage can be pretty physical, with the masseur/masseuse using his/her body (and body weight) to twist and shape you, stretching this muscle and cracking that joint. One of the guys with us was a really tall guy – probably about 6’7″. At one point the masseuse inverts your body, sending your feet past your head. This guy’s feet knocked the wall before she could even get him all the way back.
“Ohhhhh tooooo biiiiiig!” the masseuse exclaimed.
This sent the other guys within hearshot into a fit of giggles and made for some really great comedic relief throughout the rest of our trip.
Afterwards we headed back to the hostel to pack up for our flight later that evening. Bibi, one of the girls who’d been out with us the night before, mentioned that she may come along with us to Chiang Mai. Not an uncommon thing to say/do among travelers, but you usually feel each other out a bit more beforehand. Little did we realize then that our threesome had quickly become a foursome for an undetermined amount of time.
Soon we were packed up and heading back to the airport, off to northern Thailand …where things started to get interesting…