A Long-Brawl Trip!
After a mammoth long-brawl journey involving three flights, two taxis, a rickety shuttle bus and a near emergency landing due to some old git having a panic attack at 37,000 feet, The Lola Boys arrived in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Neither of them felt or looked their best.
In fact Paul literally had no eyes!
This happened to be an irony, as had he used his irises, when he still possessed them, he may not have booked he and Andrew into the ‘VIP’ room at the ‘Iris Hostel.’
The establishment was clean, and very friendly, but it’s proprietors had neglected to point out on their website that their balconies overlooked a busy dual carriageway.
‘VIP’ had not been a lie but had obviously referred to their lodgings being in a Very Irritating Position!
There was a 13th century moat to be seen, but nestled between countless lanes of roaring traffic, it was hardly romantic. In fact, the only romance about the place was the brothel opposite, which seemed to be doing an equally roaring trade as the traffic below.
As he attempted to bed down for the night he was serenaded by eager punters opposite attempting to do the same. But Paul wanted more than an hour and the only happy ending he was after was to wake up.
It didn’t happen!
What with the knocking shop, the all-night fast food joint next door and the constant flow of party buses which came screaming by, causing a stream of insomnia as they sped past each establishment, Paul’s sleep was never established. He fell vaguely in and out of consciousness only to be woken jarringly by a bus load of Buddha knows what, it’s occupants singing tunelessly along with the vehicle they were riding.
Twenty-four hour mobile karaoke was not his thing! And knowing how the Thais showed such respect for others privacy he was surprised the practice was allowed, but then Thailand was a wonderful country of contrast – which was exactly why he loved the place. He had no complaints.
But equally – he had no sleep.
He had been tempted to pop a couple of pills a la Judy Garland, but after just having seen the recent biopic of her later life, he had no intention of flying over the same rainbow. He decided to leave any imbrication to the revellers below as he listened to their troubles melt like lemon drops not quite far enough below the chimney tops. It was akin to a Blackpool hen night. Although he imagined, from the quality of some of the vocals, some of the hens may have been cocks!
Andrew seemed to hear very little of the boisterousness below – even when a juggernaut juddered by shaking the very walls within which they ‘slept.’ Paul was almost sure his partner would find it quite possible to sleep through a nuclear exchange – a talent of which he was most envious. He was woken by even the drop of a knicker, most unhelpful when being in close proximity to a house of ill-repute.
When morning broke – he felt the same way.
Chiang Mai had changed since their last visit. It seemed a touch more vibrant to say the least!
The following day, he and Andrew made their way through narrow alleyways deeper into the old town. The traffic abated and the working ‘girls’ and their punters were now resting. As the lanterns strewn across the streets remained colourfully sedate in the windless air, he was reminded of the charming settlement they had first visited nearly eight years earlier.
It had been their honeymoon and they had both been charmed by northern Thailand’s grand dame of a city.
After a healthy breakfast of blistering noodles and a rice soup to which Andrew added a lewd amount of dried red chilli, the old girl’s appeal was beginning to re-emerge. Things were heating up. Mid the market stalls outrageous abundance and the gentle chirping of her vendors, they were once again entranced.
It had been a tough and strange year for The Boys for many reasons, and as they wandered the ancient city they had only enough energy to mumble compliments to one another regarding the food. Indeed, at one point, Paul asked Andrew if he even remembered what a consonant was.
It could have been their first argument of the trip if either of them had possessed enough energy.
Paul himself had never felt so let-jagged! He could hardly tell his earse from his albow what with the Dickapilly Circus neath his loom.
It didn’t bode well for his blag!
He could partly blame his current abode for that – but then he’d written nonsense in the past so he doubted any of his avid readers would care. He realised most of them were only in it for the drama, not his literary flare, which he knew had yet to spark. Especially as he was off the sauce for a few days after a pretty fluid festive period.
It wasn’t going to be a dry January, he knew that. He came from the Hemingway school of writing and usually found it best to write drunk and edit sober, but he thought he could at least manage forty eight hours!
He would see!
That evening the moon rose royally above her fairly unmajestic surroundings as Paul sat soberly on the rickety balcony of he and Andrew’s ‘VIP’ room.
He tapped away rather unproductively on his iPad, wondering what the medieval warriors who’d once defended the place would have made of the siege going on beneath him. Perhaps they would have found the battle below reassuring, although instead of chariots and champions making the constant racket, it was now Tuktuks and tarts!
Andrew had hit the sack, once again overcome by the time difference, and probably the fact that he hadn’t slept at all the night before their departure. Over-excitement and a bottle of Havana Club had seen to that!
Paul, on the other hand, was attempting to go through until midnight or he knew he would definitely be off to see The Wizard later. He couldn’t do a second night of baubles, bangles and needs! He’d probably develop a tin heart – either that or the poor organ would give up on him. And although he was certainly a friend of Dorothy’s, he didn’t want to get to know her that well.
Not just yet.
As he watched another battalion of drunken, young Russian lads making their way across the busy junction – all man buns and machismo, he wondered if he were getting old. No, he rebuked himself at once, he just had taste! But he also made a mental note to purchase some decent earplugs from ‘Boots The Chemist’ next door.
Later that evening The Boys made their way to the night bizarre. An eclectic mix of food stalls, haystacks and drunks that was truly -bizarre!
A Thai band played, rather flat in tone if not in spirit. They enthusiastically belted out ‘Uptown Funk’ as those who were downtown fucked span and punched the air as if attempting to dance.
One particular young gentleman with an orange beard and a far away look went even further. He jumped and stumbled across the haystacks, lit fag in hand, attempting to grab partners to join in his ribald revelry. Paul and Andrew were concerned that they could be burnt to a crispy noodle at any moment. It was, after all, a none smoking area. The abundance of straw kind of gave it away. Even Andrew, who was still an avid fan of tobacco, resisted the urge to light up – fearing any such action may see the whole place lit up. The silly arse with the red facial hair eventually took himself to oblivion, whirling like a crazy dervish and falling onto a haystack in front of a horrified older couple. He then vomited quite spectacularly onto their table. Paul thought it time to leave.
Besides, Andy wanted a fag!
That night they both succumbed to a couple of beers, without them, they knew, the land of nod would be impossible to reach.
Paul was still woken regularly by heavy bouts of traffic coming from the road and the whorehouse! At precisely 06.18 he was roused from his light slumber by a severe bout of copulation followed by an equally severe bout with the cops downstairs. Sirens blared and a melee occurred on the street with some pissed up Englishmen. Paul wondered if one of them sported an orange beard – but he was too tired to focus.
He sat on the balcony and listened to the harsh music of the rush hour as the sun made her own golden noise rising quickly, as she was wont to do in The Tropics.
Andrew had not yet done the same. He was inexplicably sleeping soundly mid the many street sounds, Paul thought it cruel to wake him. Mr Marlboro would do the job before long anyway. He knew nicotine to be an equally as effective alarm call as any thundering lorry.
As he sat and finished his first blog, he had no idea what he’d written. He must have achieved about five hours sleep out of seventy two. He was looking forward to walking into the quiet part of town, finding a temple, and sitting.
Or laying down.
There were reclining Buddhas after all. Paul wondered if some of them had stayed in room four at the Iris Hostel.
He knew how they felt!
He wished he’d not booked and paid a whole week in advance.
‘Chiang Mai My My!’ He tried to think above the constant din.