|Surprise visit from Dale, a friend from Tasmania, for a week. It was his first time in Bangkok and Peter (with Dale and I trailing) have covered the city and surrounds north/south/east/west. Ferries, buses, sky trains, tuk tuks, canal boats and the occasional taxi – we’ve used them all getting to floating markets, the movies, food halls, more markets, Chatuchuk, absolutely everywhere in fact. I’m sure poor Dale was happy (and exhausted) to leave for a week in Phuket. Walking around with Dale, who is 6’4” and wears a 10-gallon hat which makes him look even taller, excites lots of nudging and stares – usually friendly.
Meantime we continue our morning exercises in the park. Must admit it’s a totally different animal here – as well as groups of people exercising, there’s people in wheelchairs, stroke survivors, babies in prams, very old and very young and all at different stages, states of dress and dedication. No yummy-mummies, no OTT lycra. However, still lots of interaction between everybody.
Last Saturday we were invited to the breakup party of the exercisers. We (incorrectly) gathered it was a posh seafood smorgasbord as it cost 600bt ($24 per head) which is on the expensive side here and Peter was advised to wear long pants. Turned out to be a busy karaoke venue with extremely loud music, flashing strobe lights and the majority of participants dressed as COWBOYS!! Now I think most of you would realise Peter and I are prejudiced on the Thai side but I have to admit this is perhaps something that you have to actually be Thai to enjoy…….
Just about everybody had a crack at singing – VERY VERY loudly, in Thai, with equally loud audience participation, lots of laughing, clapping and dancing, all at many decibels passed the safe level. Peter was persuaded to sing after much encouragement. He chose ‘Yesterday” by The Beatles. I have a video of his performance which I might consider putting on Y-Tube…….the poor sod started singing too early, realised his mistake (it’s got a long intro) and lurched and galloped until the merciful end. It’s excruciating. In amongst all this a young girl learning English at school was stationed at our table (pushed by Mum and Dad) wanting to practice her English. Holy Smoke……..
Turned out part of the evening was to raise money for HIV patients in the area. The audience were wrapping money around the stems of roses and presenting them to the singers – the money was then deposited into a box and the roses re-used. A kind of back-handed way of donating I guess. After four hours, ringing ears and the cowboys getting even rowdier, we pulled the pin and left with just about half the party shaking our hands and thanking us profusely. No wonder we love Thais!
We found out later that the other people in the park also think we’re great, primarily I imagine because of Peter’s patient and persistent personality and that, in fact, we were the first foreigners to be invited to their annual shindig. What a compliment!
You might recall a few years ago I wrote about The Worst Job in the World – standing waist deep in the Ganges (Varanasi, India) in front of the burning ghats sorting through the ashes of dead people for rings, gold teeth etc…..
Just seen the second here in Bangkok, Drain Cleaners. To explain: drains here are very deep, probably because of the monsoons, are used for disposal of just about anything that will fit down them and consequently stink to high heaven. They are covered but have inspection plates over the pits. The job entails a person climbing down into the pit (about waist-high and bare footed!) digging with a shovel all the debris that has collected, swinging the shovel up and out of the pit where 2 other people SORT THROUGH the stinking black sludge with their bare hands (for God knows what) and it is then shovelled into sacks for removal. Went over and spoke to a crew of girls, of course couldn’t make conversation but ascertained they were Thais (usually Burmese do the dirty jobs) and appeared quite happy……..bloody hell!