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Tues 5 Dec. Ko Phuket, Thailand.
As soon as the boat docks, we rush straight to the bus station to whisk off overnight to Bangkok for Kat to meet up with her fella, and end up in a strong contender for 'most uncomfortable bus in the world'. Packed three to a double seat, severely over-airconditioned and bouncing broken-springed along the road in a way that precludes sleep.
Thur 7 Dec. Bangkok, Thailand.
In 'El Gordo's' Mexican cantina in the red light district, singing Elvis songs with a Fillipino guitarist named Freddy. There is a story explaining how this came about, but frankly, it's not nearly good enough, so you'll just have to imagine it.
After dinner, we wander down Pat Pong, where hostesses wave entirely unenticing floorshow 'menus' at us. Pussy open bottle. Pussy on fire. Pussy and razorblade. Call me old fashioned, but I kind of like pussy just the way it comes, it doesn't NEED to play the piano or whatever to get my attention.
Fri 8 Dec. Bangkok, Thailand.
I'm supposed to meet Vicki, a friend from London, coming over for the weekend on a BA staff standby fare. A posh hotel has been booked (Ah, the wonderful world of those with a j*b), it's time to leave the scummy weed-choked backpacker pond to swim in undreamt-of luxury for a couple of days.
Trying to catch a simple taxi to the hotel is the first sign I've gone up in the world. As soon as I say 'The Pavillion', dollar signs light up behind drivers eyes, and they start offering me 'very special rates' and refusing to put it on the meter.
One guy goes so far as to lie to get me in the cab, and then starts trying to settle for 250 baht as soon as we've pulled away. This causes a raging argument, and only when I start to drag my bags out in the middle of a main road does he finally surrender to 'no meter, no ride'. I then watch him like a hawk for evidence of driving round in circles, but he seems to go directly enough, and, surprise surprise, the fare comes to 75 baht.
Having lost the meter skirmish, he spends the rest of the trip trying to offer me 'very special girl, to give me good holiday'. I explain I have no money for girl, special or otherwise, but as we are off to the Pavillion Hotel he plainly doesn't belive a word of it. This never happens to me as a scummy backpacker! He'll be offering me a chance to get rich quick by making a once-in-a-lifetime purchase of cut-price gemstones next.
Make it out of the cab without accidentally purchasing anything to make my holiday any more special than it already is, but then find out that Vicki han't made it (the hazard of flying standby) on the flight. So have to walk out of the hotel and catch another cab back.
"200 baht!" smiles the first driver outside. I snarl back "75." He catches the unhealthy glint in my eye, and decides not to argue.
Sun 10 Dec. Bangkok, Thailand.
Say goodbye to Kat and her young fancyman. It's been a pleasure travelling with her.
Mon 11 Dec. Bangkok, Thailand.
Yesterday, riding a water bus down the river past the Temple of the Dawn, Bangkok shined under a tobacco coloured tropical sky and seemed wonderful. Today, I get up feeling delicate, have three travel agents in a row be brutally rude, and suddenly the streets are full of bleeding and patchy dogs and nobody's eyes echo the smile on their mouths. Such is perspective.
However, in the end I get my Cambodia visa application done, in a couple of days I'm off to Angkor.
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