Truely, an odd day...
3.9.10 82 °F
Today we decided that it was time to explore Bangkok ! We planned to guide ourselves on a river walking tour around the Ko Ratanakosin area. There were a bunch of sights to see all bundled together in a close radius around Chao Phraya River so we mapped out our top picks and headed out into town.
Our first adventure was navigating our way to our destination. Bangkok has a very advanced transportation system and you can get around by almost any means. From subways and railways, to trains, buzzes, cabs and tuk tuks, there is always an option for whatever you desire.
Our particular route required the sky train, a form of transportation new to me. Aside from the sky tram at Disneyland I'd never seen anything like it. Aside from its ingenuity, it was also very easy. You never know what you're getting into when you venture around a new country and I have definitely had my fair share of international travel traumas, so I was expecting the worse.
The sky tram exceeded my expectations and I bought my ticket without any hassle. As the tram pulled up, it looked like something straight out of Tomorrowland and I took my seat with a cheesy grin plastered on my naive face. I felt like a five year old riding the tea cups for the first time but I didn't care.. I liked being five.. and riding the tea cups.
After we were done with the first mode of transportation we hopped onto our second; a long slender wooden boat lined with colorful streamers. We set sail down the river and enjoyed our scenic ride.
We stepped off our ferry into a covered market lined with clothes, trinkets and the wafting smell of Thai spices. It was then that we promoted "eat food" to item number one on the to-do list. We slipped into a small cafe that looked out over the river to do our dining. We watched oriental boats move up and down the banks.
I twirled my chop sticks around some spicy pad Thai and I washed it down with milky coconut juice, served in a coconut, of course.
We navigated our way through the busy Bangkok streets trying to find number two on the to-do list; The Museum of the Department of Forensic Medicine. If you know me at all it should come as no surprise that along with my Law and Order collection and my obsession with murder mysteries comes a sick fascination with forensic science. When the first words in my guide book where "Do not go with a full stomach", I knew it going to be just gross as I'd hoped.
The museum was just as awesomely gruesome as I had expected. It is broken up into several different exhibits, each more stomach-churning than the last.
The jaw-dropping hits you as soon as you walk in the door and are face to face with dead children displayed in jars of formaldehyde. The different birth defects and disorders that are featured range from Gastroschisis (an opening in the abdominal wall through which the internal organs push outside of the baby's body) to Parasitic Twins and worse.
- I chose to make these pictures thumbnails because of the content, so beware.
Seeing dead children wasn’t quite the excitement I was hoping for, however the exhibits in the parasitology, pathology and forensic departments were just up my alley. Here I found chain saws, guns, grenades knives used in murders, along with the bloodstained clothing of the victims; diseased livers, kidneys, and hearts; lungs with stab wounds and more.
One particularly interesting victim had his head displayed as a result of a bullet wound. The interesting part is that his head is laterally sawed in half to exemplify the path of the bullet-hole.
I don’t plan on being in a gang fight anytime soon, so this part didn’t get to me as much as the car accident aftermaths; something that could very well happen to me. They had cases with mangled appendages torn apart in auto collisions where you could clearly see all of the tendons, bones, and veins. They also showed an actual ruptured spleen from an accident as well. As a result, I will drive safer. Lesson learned.
One interesting body was the wax-filled remains of the infamous 1950’s cannibal, Si Quey. His body, now filled with paraffin, reveals a visible autopsy scar across his forehead. I was told that his brain was removed to determine if a cannibal’s brain functions differently than the “normal” brain, turns out it does not.
The Parasitology Museum was a whole different kind of nasty. This museum focused on hookworms, pinworms, roundworms, diseases from malarial-vectors and other disgusting parasites native to the Thai region. Perhaps the most outstanding exhibit features a 75 cm in scrotum, the result of elephantiasis, a disease contracted from contact with the mansonia mosquito.
Besides the infant section at the beginning of the museum, one other part
that was particularly disturbing, was the section dedicated to the Tsunami Victims. The 2004 Tsunami killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries and was one of the deadliest natural disasters in history. The museum displays several drowned bodies of children and features videos documenting the whole tragedy.
There is nothing like decapitated limbs and deformations to work up an appetite so we walked along until we found a nice place to escape the heat and eat. We found a nice air-conditioned restaurant and enjoyed some Thai iced tea and a spicy lemongrass salad with prawns.
Next we decided to head back across the river to Wat Pho, a famous temple featuring the largest reclining Buddha in the world. When we got to the docks I noticed a ton of fish right up on the surface, waiting for food.
There were more fish than I'd ever seen congregating in one area. I watched two Thai ladies throw them a bag full of cheesy poofs and they went to town!
They were flippin' and flappin' all over each other, smackin' each other in the face with their tails, fighting to the death for these cheese balls. It reminded me of my childhood when I would go fishing with my grandpa in Michigan . He would bring me to these little man made ponds and would throw in some fish food. He'd help me toss my line in just as the fish were flapping around the food. I would always catch at least one. I thought I was a pro, and my grandpa just sat back and smiled at my naivety. It wasn't until I grew up that I realized that he made it so easy for me, I might as well have been shootin' fish in a barrel.
The next place on our tour was Wat Pho, the oldest and largest wat (temple) in Bangkok .
We passed under a small portico and were greeted by two Farang guards dressed in Chinese opera style armor and long beards. Although they were armed, they smiled and let us take pictures.
We walked around the jeweled wat and into the southern compound, Tukwagee. Tukwagee is a Buddhist monastery and serves as a school and home for many monks. We watched them congregate around the complex clad in their traditional robes.
We walked into the main chapel and saw several monks praying before a giant gold gleaming Buddha.
Next we walked around the four great stupas of Wat Pho. Each of these colorful mosaic stupas stands over 40 meters high.
There are groups of these Chedi's all around the complex, each with a different color scheme and each just as intricate as the last.
Next we moseyed over to the Khao Mor, or model hills.
These are the rock Gardens of Wat Pho.
Filled with Chinese pagodas and small rock statues, each garden is named after the type of plant grown there. I had fun imitating the yoga poses of the rock statues.
Wat Pho is home to the world’s largest collection of Buddha images and it didn't take much walking around to realize it. We stumbled upon a large cloister lined with standing and seated Buddha’s, each slightly different from its neighbor. There are 150 Buddha statues on the inside of the cloister and 244 lining the outside.
Phra Mondop is the scripture hall of Wat Pho. Mondops are typical at the larger Buddhist temples and are used to store important scriptures or Buddhist teachings.
The last and most memorable place we visited inside of Wat Pho was the temple of the reclining Buddha.
After all the sights I've seen around the world, it takes a lot to impress me and this statue definitely did.
The giant statue is jaw dropping and is 150 feet long and 72 feet tall. The entire statue is glimmering gold plated and is inlaid with intricate mother of pearl at the soles.
The elaborate designs of mother of pearl illustrates the passage of Buddha into Nirvana.
Surrounding this golden beauty are several smaller Buddha’s and rows of prayer buckets. We bought a bucket of coins and took turns tossing a prayer into each.
The sun was falling and it was time to head back to the hotel. We walked through a small market place full of delightful smells and rotting meat until we reached the docks.
We hopped on a boat and two sky trains before we were finally back home.
We washed up with quickness and set off, anxious to experience Bangkok after dark! Bangkok nightlife has a reputation for being wild and rowdy. With offers of go-go girly shows, lady-men and prostitution the famous red-light district of Patpong is where it all starts.
Patpong's neon lit buildings house a multitude of go-go bars, restaurants and discos all offering drink special and women for sale. At night, the market opens and the streets are filled with drunken tourists making bad decisions on fake Prada bags and Burberry bling. It is like the Vegas of the east except with looser woman and ruder rip-offs, in other words; great entertainment!
We started off slow, with a glass of Chivas Regal and a game of pool at a low-key corner bar. Once my tummy was warm with whiskey we decided to step it up a notch and venture into the "Electric Blue Go-Go". This small rectangular bar consisted of a raised runway centered around bench seats that lined the walls. The Go-Go show was merely bikini-clad girls standing next to poles. The dancing, if you can call it that, consisted of small pivoting movements and shifting their weight from one leg to the other. Their disinterested eyes failed to leave their own physique, as they stared straight past their audience into a large mirror where their vanity was on full display. At first I was a little disappointed. This was supposed to wow me and I've seen more entertainment at drag queen show with my mother. Then I noticed that each girl had a numbered pin adorning her bathing suit bottom. I looked around and noticed a large sign painted on the wall that said "Every girl is available for your ultimate pleasure". That's when I realized I'm not in Kansas anymore.
We left the Go-Go show and started walking down the street. It wasn’t long before we encountered someone trying to sell us something. In this case, it was beer. I listened intently. The guy offered us large Chang’s for 100 Baht, a great deal, especially in this district. We followed him down the street and up a flight of stairs into a bar. I looked around for a name and could not find one. This club was unlabelled; my first tip-off of trouble to come.
WARNING:EXPLICIT CONTENT BELOW…
This unlabelled bar was home to the notorious “Ping Pong” show. A ping-pong show is a free adult show in which innocent tourists get WAY more than they bargained for and WAY more than they wanted to see. First of all, any show that is free, is probably not worth your time. Any sex show that is free, should send you running for the hills.
We were conned inside by the cheap beer and before we had a chance to look observe our unfortunate surrounding, we were handed our beer, forcing us to stay and watch. It put me at ease, looking around at the crowd of young couples drinking around us and I figured it couldn’t be that bad. We introduced ourselves to a nice English couple around our age that was sitting next to us. When I asked the woman what I was in for she responded with, “Just wait”.
The first show we were lucky to see was the Ping-Pong show in which a homely middle-aged woman shoved a few ping pong balls between her legs. She must not have been doing her “exercises” because they fell out, frantically trying to break free. Once she secured them, she wowed us all with her accurate aim, as she shot them into a drinking glass on the edge of the stage, putting a whole new spin on the game “Quarters”.
Because of the wide variety of my blog viewers, I will tip-toe around the next few descriptions and if you perverts want more details, you can email me.
Besides the ping-pong show, there was an egg show in which an egg was cracked on stage using unspeakable orifices. One girl showed us her special way of blowing out candles. One show that makes me cringe even now, was when one girl played hide and seek with a string of razor blades. There were sparklers, soda bottles, whistles, and horns. It was a regular nudie circus. The highlight of the night was when a showgirl wrote Max a little love note without using her hand a souvenir that, I’m sure he will cherish forever.
After my awkwardness hit its peak and I was begging for some hand sanitizer, we decided to leave. We drank only two beers each and bought one for the trickster who wrote Max’s name, so our bill was only 500 Baht.
We went up to the counter to pay out and were greeted with a stern glare by a woman who looked suspiciously like John Goodman. She handed us a bill for 3,400 Baht and I almost choked. When I calmly told her that there must have been a mistake, she wasted no time signaling for her backup broad, another woman that looked as though she should be NFL linemen. I told her that we only had 5 beers and at 100 Baht each our tab should be 500 Baht. Without hesitation she got within a foot of my face and started screaming at me like a wild banshee. I thought it best not to challenge her, since she could and would sit on me and flatten me into a pancake. Instead I stared into her eyes as she winded down her tirade. I turned to Max whose only comment on the situation was, “I’m going to jail tonight”. I thought maybe we could make a run for it, but as I walked to the door another set of titanic tits blocked my way. This chick was bigger than the last two and had no intention of letting me go anywhere. As I turned back to the table Max was shelling out some cash and the doorman was signaled that it was alright to let us go.
One good thing about growing up so close to the boarder, is that we are pretty good with how not to get hustled. There is a very important rule to remember when you to Tijuana; divide up your money. Put a 20 in your shoe, small bills in your wallet, and another 20 in your bra. This is so, when you get robbed by the corrupt police (which can and does happen frequently) you give the impression that you are giving them everything you have. When all the money in your wallet has gone to supporting the recreational drug usage of the federali's, you still have money stowed away. Thankfully, Max used this same mentality when we headed out for the night. He had 1,000’s stored in a secret pocket but only 700 in his wallet which went to the “free” show.
When we left, I was livid. Not because I had been hustled out of an extra 200 Baht, because I got punked by a Jon Goodman tranny! I needed another drink to calm down so we ended the eventful night with a few games of pool and a pitcher of beer.
Thank you Patpong for a shockingly memorable experience!
- SIDENOTE: The show I was working on at AMS Pictures in Dallas TX, entitled "Ma's Roadhouse", premieres on September 15th at 9pm! http://www.trutv.com/shows/mas-roadhouse/index.html
From Executive Producer Andy Streitfeld and AMS Pictures, comes Ma's Roadhouse a new reality show on truTV!
Rick Fairless is the owner of Strokers Dallas, a Texas motorcycle shop, tattoo parlor and biker bar. His greatest asset is his 71-year-old mother, who's also his best, but most outspoken, employee. Can Rick keep his business afloat? And can Ma keep her hands off the bartender?
I wish I could be there to watch it with all the hardworking people at AMS but at least, by then, I will be back in the states and watching intently from my TV at home You guys rock!