I prised Geoff away from his new friend by showing him the pork kebabs I had cooked and told him I had spoken with Nok while he was interviewing the devil. He seemed quite pleased but obviously had his mind on other things.
We caught a taxi through the traffic on Sukhumvit Road up to Nana Plaza. The taxi driver was keen to show us his porn DVD but we politely declined and asked him to turn it off. He mumbled something about not getting paid but it fell on deaf ears. We departed his taxi outside Big Dogs Bar and entered the wonderland that is Nana Plaza.
To the uninitiated Nana Plaza is a horseshoe shaped entertainment arena consisting of bars and go-go’s and has a ground floor and two upper floors. It is about half the size of a football pitch. It smells of urine sometimes and at other times it doesn’t. Opposite Nana Plaza is the Nana Hotel car park where, at about midnight seven days of the week, scores of girls will sell you sex without you having to pay a barfine.
I have always liked Nana Plaza, it is a love it or hate it place but I love it. I like the bars on the ground floor especially as they are all outdoor and it’s possible to watch visitors to the Plaza come and go. There are a number of ladyboy go-go bars situated on the ground floor and upper floors for those who enjoy the ladyboy scene and at the entrance to Nana Plaza there is a late night burger stand called Nanaburger which is in itself a treasure.
Geoff and I entered Big Dogs for the first time. A long bar with a rudimentary toilet at the far end. We were immediately joined by a number of ladies who were all in their own way attractive but it was too early in the evening to be making those sorts of plans. We had a couple of drinks and then strolled into the Nana Plaza amphitheatre. Immediately upon entering we went into a bar to our right and spent a happy hour or so chatting with a ladyboy who latched onto us both. Whilst extremely attractive with a chest to match the ladyboy had a voice as deep as the Marianas trench which made the whole scenario quite confusing. We then wandered around taking in the scenery before Geoff suggested we go into a go-go. We went up a level to one of the many go-go’s and entered one encouraged by the hello girls who all thought we were extremely handsum young men. The go-go was very much like the many I’ve seen over the years with half a dozen ladies dancing around poles all but one or two of them in a trance-like state. The one or two who don’t appear bored were dancing enthusiastically to Bon Jovi for the umpteenth time. We sat down and ordered some drinks with Geoff now hitting the whisky. We were joined by a couple of girls who again draped themselves all over us but mine had her hair dyed a light brown colour. This immediately sparked my interest and gave her a different look. Surely I wasn’t getting bored with the Thai look already? When I asked her what her name was she started pinching my face. Thinking this was some sort of fun game I started pinching her back which surprised her. It took a couple of minutes for it to sink in her name was Poo which means crab and she was pinching me in the style of a crab. The confusion over with I looked over to where Geoff was sitting and he appeared to have disappeared under a herd of Thai go-go dancers. I could make out his arm and the top of his head but otherwise he was totally invisible. I concentrated my efforts on Poo who was doing her best to get my shirt off while I was doing my best to drink my Heineken. The number of dancers on the stage had diminished as they now all seemed to have morphed into a big pile of Geoff. Geoff was no more.
Poo gave up on trying to disrobe me and turned her attention to prising another ladydrink out of me. I was no match for her as she went to the bar for a Heineken and her purple coloured concoction. It was as she sat down again that Geoff emerged from the pile of go-go dancers shirtless, trouserless and shoeless. He had an enormous smile on his face. I spotted one girl wearing his shirt and another couple wearing a shoe each as they charged around the joint laughing like a pack of hyena’s. Geoff was sat bolt upright like a big grinning meerkat. This was my kind of bar. Predictably we were the only customers in there and I have little doubt the reason for this was the house custom of disrobing any customers immediately they entered the place.
Normality returned quite quickly and we paid the bill. I took the telephone number of Poo and we moved onto another bar. This bar was back on the ground floor and slap bang in the middle of the plaza. A TV was showing a football match and we sat down to observe a dozen or so Brits partying with the girls. Time was now getting on and the drink was starting to take effect so we decided to take it easy for a while until we regained our strength. Sadly this was not to be. The Brits were busily lining up tequilas on the bar much to the excitement of the girls who were all squealing like demented parrots in anticipation of the fun about to start. Geoff’s interest was aroused once he saw the tequila and after a little negotiation he was invited to join the competition. I wasn’t entirely sure of the rules and neither I think was Geoff but it seemed to involve drinking a huge amount of tequila in a very short time from a number of very small glasses. There were three participants, two Brits and Geoff. The countdown started, the girls started screaming and the contest began. It was all over in a matter of seconds with Geoff coming last but acquitting himself well. There were handshakes all round and the winner received a t-shirt.
We decided to stay in the bar for a couple more as the Brits moved on. A couple of the parrot symphony joined us for a drink before we decided to make our way to Clinton Plaza for a few late ones.
By this stage I cannot remember how we got to Clinton Plaza, whether we walked or got a taxi but when we arrived it was a huge disappointment. The bars appeared to be closed with just a few punters roaming around and to the best of my recollection, no girls. As I was now well oiled and Geoff had lost the power of speech we went our separate ways.
I climbed into bed debating whether I should make that call tomorrow to Nok or call Poo my new brown-haired naturist friend.
I woke up early the next morning nursing a monstrous hangover. The events of the previous night came flooding back as I lay in bed contemplating and dreading my imminent return to the UK. I had only one more day and night in Bangkok and I was determined to enjoy it. I was up, showered and cooking chicken wrapped in lollipop sticks with my tuk tuk driver friends by 10:30. I spotted the tuk tuk driver who had escorted me on my first day as I tucked into my slightly burnt chicken. He was reclining on his tuk tuk in the early morning sun smoking a cigarette. More importantly he appeared to be at the head of the tuk tuk queue. I walked over to him pleased that I had not missed him before I left Bangkok. He seemed equally pleased to see me and we shook hands. I asked him if we could agree on a price for a couple of hours of tuk tuk fun around Bangkok. He suggested a price of around a fiver that seemed reasonable and off we went with me clutching my camera. He asked if I wanted to stop at any bars but I told him that would be a bad idea considering my exploits over the previous few days. Besides, my head was still throbbing from the night before.
Schumaker weaved through the morning Bangkok traffic in search of sights to show me. We soon found ourselves near the Royal Palace in a huge park. We stopped while I took some pictures of tourists and various monuments, statues and the like. We stocked up on bottled water and then headed towards Khao San Road, the backpackers paradise, along wide tree-lined avenues. The sun was shining and thoughts of returning home were forgotten.
Arriving at Khao San Road I was immediately struck by the number of people milling around. They were mostly young couples along with large groups of young men and girls, very few of the single men commonly seen elsewhere in the fleshpots of Bangkok. Khao San Road in the daylight reminded me a little of Soi Cowboy, it was about the same length, about the same width, was lined by bars and seemed rather sad in the sober light of day. The smell of urine was again present in certain places which certainly assisted in clearing my head, a little like a good lungful of smelling salts. Music was being played in a number of bars and restaurants along the length of the soi. The volume was restrained with the promise of bigger things to come once night fell. From what I had seen so far it was a place I would probably steer clear of during my nocturnal activities.
Feeling a little peckish I asked to be taken to a pavement café serving traditional Thai food. As there are literally thousands dotted around Bangkok our race through traffic seemed unnecessary at the time but once we sat down to eat I realised why this particular establishment was such a favourite of my driver. I ordered chicken fried rice with lots of chilli. My friend ordered tom yum koong with rice. His prawns struggled to be contained in his bowl, they were so large and my chicken fried rice was delicious with strands of basil and golden shards of garlic sprinkled on top. Suitably sated we roared off for our final stop which was a favour for my driver. He said that if I spent 10 minutes walking around a gold shop he would get a free full tank of petrol for his tuk tuk. I was a little hesitant at first but as he had never come close to trying to pull a scam on me I trusted him. We pulled up in a soi as he pointed out which shop to enter and he again reminded me, stay only 10 minutes. I entered the shop and spent a few minutes walking around, I was asked if I was looking for anything in particular but said I was just browsing. Ten minutes passed and I departed. I had done a favour for my friend and he received a tank of petrol for his tuk tuk. We returned to my hotel where I had matters of a pressing nature to attend to.
Returning to my room a note had been pushed under the door saying I had received a telephone call with a number written neatly on a piece of headed hotel notepaper. I am always impressed when I see the writing of Thai people, it is invariably very neat and exact. The number belonged to Nok. I was a little peeved she had called the hotel although admittedly I had told her the previous night I would call her in the morning and now it was early afternoon. I mulled over the situation and decided to ignore the note and give Poo a call.
Poo answered the phone with a cheerful, “Alloooooo”.
“Hi Poo, what are you doing?”
“I wait telephone you”
“Want to come to my room?”
“Where your loom?”
Poo arrived an hour later dressed in a bright pink skirt, a black t-shirt with “Naughty Girl” written on the front in gold letters and a pair of trainers carrying a small shoulder bag. She came into my room and kicked her trainers off before sitting on the corner of my bed eyeing the TV remote control. I leant over, kissed her and removed her clothes.
After making love we showered and called room service. Poo ordered tom yum koong, a huge salad and what seemed to be the entire annual production of an Issan rice paddy. I settled on a vegetable curry with French fries and the obligatory pig nam pla. Poo asked me what I was doing later and I said I didn’t know. After making love it takes me a while to gain any motivation to think about or do anything. I was also thinking that maybe I would go and see Nok but didn’t think it would be a good idea having Poo tag along. We lay on the bed eating while watching a Thai cartoon with a squeaky fat yellow bird and a brown dog with insane eyes.
We slept and early evening I escorted Poo to Nana Plaza for her nights work disrobing unsuspecting customers and I wandered along Soi 4 looking for a bar. I found one just past the Dynasty Inn next to a launderette/beauty salon/hairdresser/massage shop. This was to become one of my regular watering holes in later years, Charming Bar. I entered and ordered a drink. Remarkably I was left on my own and wasn’t bothered by any girls approaching me looking for a drink. Maybe I wasn’t such a handsum man after all? I found this refreshing just to be left alone without feeling pressured to buy any drinks apart from ones I wanted to consume. I spent a happy hour having a drink and watching MTV before I moved on to a bar across the road next to the Nana Hotel which was packed and seemed to be quite lively. It was. I got talking to a young lady called Som. She was from Buriram and had been working in Bangkok for three months. She wasn’t in possession of the effervescence I had seen in Tuk a couple of nights previously but she had a lovely smile and a laid back personality which suited me at the time as I was also feeling a little laid back. She hadn’t yet perfected the Thai girl interrogation technique but she was learning fast. I was quizzed very efficiently but not very effectively. Seemingly happy with the answers I provided I bought her a bright green drink while she struggled to climb on to a high bar stool opposite me. She leant over placing both of her hands on my thighs and said, “I tell you seeklet”. Intrigued, I told her to go ahead but instead of telling me she looked at me quizzically. I again asked her to tell me what the secret was but she just frowned at me. To this day I don’t know what she was getting at but I can only assume that like a budgerigar she had learned to say something without really knowing what it meant. Bless her.
I left Som with her secret and wandered off down the soi towards Nana Plaza. Outside Nana Plaza next to Big Dogs there seemed to be an awful lot of ladyboys. The thought crossed my mind it was a ladyboy picket line protesting the number of girls working in Nana Plaza demanding more ladyboys were given jobs there. I later found out they were just looking for guys to have sex with.
I entered Nana Plaza and went to the bar where Geoff had lost in the tequila drinking competition the night before. I was recognised by a couple of the dawn chorus who greeted me like a long lost friend. I sat down and ordered myself a drink while my friends wiped me with a cold towel. I felt a bit deflated as this was my last night in Bangkok for goodness knows how long and found it difficult to recapture the spark I had felt for the past few days. Maybe tiredness was catching up with me aswell but I wanted to make the most of my final night. I decided on a tequila to pep me up and invited my two friends to join me. They broke into a chorus of little screams again and clapped their hands excitedly as the drinks were poured into small glasses. A plate was provided with slices of lime and salt before we all threw the tequila back down our throats. The girls pulled gargoyle faces as they spluttered while sucking lemon to kill the taste of the tequila. I immediately felt re-energised and ordered another three tequila’s. We repeated the torture process another couple of times before I paid my bill and went in search of Poo.
I found Poo outside her go-go wearing a silk kimono clutching a board that offered happy hour beer at a very cheap price. She screamed when she saw me and ran unsteadily towards me tottering on her high heels. She gave me a huge hug and dragged me towards the scene of last nights disrobing activities. Not wanting the same treatment as Geoff I was reluctant to enter but I got the impression the girls were more interested in the som tam they were eating outside the go-go than they were in making me naked inside the go-go.
Once inside I sat down with Poo who had taken my right arm hostage and was refusing to release it. The sound system was pumping out some American rock but there was a noticeable absence of girls dancing on the stage. I presume they were all outside eating som tam during their break. Poo’s friend came over to take our order as the grip on my right arm was relaxed. Poo was very keen to tell me she liked my loom. In fact she had liked my loom so much she wanted me to take her there at that very moment. Maybe if she had said she was impressed by my dazzling good looks and sparkling personality along with my razor wit and amazing lovemaking skills she would have got an invite but as the room was the object of her affections I ignored her request. We had a couple more drinks before I said my goodbyes and left Poo to the remnants of the som tam table.
I decided to visit Soi Cowboy one last time before I went home. The taxi dropped me off close to the pork kebab stall and I wandered slowly up the soi taking in the sights. I spotted the lady in the gold boots and red flashing horns who had swapped telephone numbers with Geoff the previous night and wondered whether they had managed to meet up. Tonight she had changed costumes and was wearing fishnet stockings up to her knees along with a white swimsuit and a silk wrap. She stood smoking and chatting to an equally attractive lady in a similar costume.
On my right was the bar where Tuk and Meow worked and as I walked slowly by I glanced over and sure enough Tuk had her back to me delivering a drink to one of the outside tables. I decided to go over and say hello. When Tuk saw me she shouted out my name and came running over. I hugged her and asked where Meow was. She pulled me towards her bar and just as I sat down Meow appeared from behind the black curtain at the entrance to the go-go. She too shouted my name and came over to sit with me. Tuk took my order and we all sat down to talk. It was lovely to see them and all the memories from our night together came flooding back. These girls were great fun. They pretended to sing me a love song holding pens for microphones just as they had done in the karaoke bar, joking that I snored too much and they didn’t sleep, having fun as we all just enjoyed the moment.
It was now getting late so I decided to bid farewell to Tuk and Meow. We hugged and kissed knowing we had shared some fun times and also knowing we would never meet again.
I walked up Soi Cowboy as far as the Old Dutch and then made my decision to go and visit Nok. It had been on my mind all day but I had been unsure whether to see her or just forget her. Out of all the wonderful ladies I had met in Bangkok the previous few days Nok had been my favourite. I felt we had shared some good times and I thought it appropriate to visit her and say goodbye. It was now after midnight and the bars would be closing very soon so I knew this wouldn’t be a protracted goodbye. This was some comfort to me.
I walked out of Soi Cowboy with the Old Dutch to my right and made the short walk to Asoke Corner where Nok would be working. I approached her bar with a certain amount of trepidation, what would happen if she was away with a customer, what would happen if she was draped all over a customer, was I doing the right thing? All these questions ran through my mind and they all seemed to matter right now.
I saw Nok immediately I entered the bar, she had her back to me and was with a group of girls crowded around a couple of customers. I heard a couple of raised voices before Nok turned and looked at me. Unlike Poo, Nok and Meow she didn’t shout my name or come running over she just looked, smiled and walked slowly and deliberately towards me. We sat down in our usual spot and she sniff-kissed me on my cheek. For a few seconds we didn’t speak, just looked at each other. I reached out and gave her a hug – we were friends again.
I told her I had missed her but said nothing about the night I came to her bar. I didn’t want to know anything and I had no right to know anything. She asked me what I wanted to do as I think it was inevitable we would spend the night together. I suggested we went for a walk along Sukhumvit Road. Nok collected her bag from behind the bar and joined me as we strolled hand in hand in the warm night air. We talked about nothing in particular as we became part of the crowd that emerges during the early hours along Sukhumvit. I flagged down a taxi and we returned to my hotel. We went straight to my room resisting the urge to have one last drink in the hotel bar and held each other close as we lay on the bed. We then showered naked together as we prepared for bed. I left Nok in the bathroom as I towelled myself dry looking forward to spending one last night in her arms before I returned home. I sensed Nok behind me so turned around to see her smiling at me holding a Pink Panther toothbrush in front of her. I wasn’t sure what she meant so I asked her if she needed another toothbrush to which she replied, “you hab new toothbrush?” The penny dropped, one of the lady visitors to my room had left their toothbrush behind, I hadn’t noticed it but Nok had found it and was stood in front of me holding it. I confirmed it was a new toothbrush, took it from her hand and replaced it in the bathroom. Nok didn’t mention it again but I wonder whether that made us even in a strange sort of way.
We held each other close all night and made love with an intensity that said we would never meet again.