August 24th, 2006

Day 31: An outing with Saa (and an unsettling encounter!)

Today we woke up late and relaxed a bit before heading out to meet our Thai friend from Japan, Saa. We agreed to meet her in the Kinokuniya Book Store on the fourth floor of the Emporium shopping mall. She was late and ran into the store frantically looking for us and after briefly commenting on my beard told us quickly to follow her and ran for the escalator.

We followed her out of the mall to a small eatery around the corner where her sister was waiting for us with a full meal. It turns out that we were meeting at the Emporium because Saa’s sister works as an accountant for a company in the office part of the Emporium building, and the eatery was a good place to go close to her work for lunch break. We dug in and at about one o’clock Saa’s sister said her goodbyes and went back to work.

The other person we were waiting for was Saa’s boyfriend, Golf. Golf seemed to be a cool guy. He is currently working on his law degree. He didn’t say much to us throughout the day, but he hung out and was really friendly the entire time. I think he might have been a little jealous of Saa’s cool male friends from Japan (read: us), but probably not. :P

We got in Golf’s car and went to the Emerald Temple first. The Emerald Temple is the official royal Buddhist temple where the king, Rama IX, holds official national religious ceremonies. It is called the Emerald Temple because the centerpiece of the temple is a statue of the Buddha made entirely of emerald, and clothed in solid gold. The entire place is extremely colorful, a stark contrast to the muted colors of Japanese mainstream Buddhism.

Saa wanted to get a Thai massage from the Wat Pho area that we visited back on Day 4 ( Wat Pho is famous, not only for having the largest recycling Buddha in the world, but also for extremely good Thai massages. Saa asked a local girl for help and she led us to a Thai massage place with certified Wat Pho masseuses. We each got a one hour full body massage. It felt really good, but I am pretty ticklish, and had a hard time not laughing at points. Up to this point I was uncomfortable going to a “massage” place, since I don’t need a massage with release, but with Saa with us I felt good about doing it. I will definitely do it again when I return to Thailand with Signe. ;)

After our massages we hoped a Tuk Tuk to a mall where Golf was hanging out looking for a place to get my hair cut. Saa, being Thai, got a great price for the Tuk Tuk for us. It was at least half the price of the cheapest Tuk Tuk we have taken thus far. Earlier in the day I expressed an interest in getting a haircut, especially after seeing Saa’s cool new hairstyle she got right before leaving Japan.

The stylist looked at my hair and knew exactly what needed to be done to make me look good. She did a great job, BUT there was one bummer. She trimmed my beard really short, to about a millimeter in length. It feels nice and even now, and doesn’t look all that bad, but I was looking forward to showing Signe my full beard. Oh well. I think I’ll keep it though, it looks nice enough and such. We will see what Signe says when I return to her loving arms. :)

They took us to dinner and then a night market, where I picked up a present for my Dad that I had been thinking about for some time, and then took us to the BTS line so we could head back to our hostel. We said our goodbyes and got Saa’s business card and were on our way.

We got off one stop away from our hostel so we could walk the night market in search for a gift for Mateo’s step dad. He had a specific thing in mind and we were looking for that in particular. Our noble search led us down the wrong street. A street of bars. Bars and women of the night. Aggressive women of the night. We were walking down the street and two of them approached us, grabbed our arms, and started following us. Before we got away one of them had yelled at us, “Two men, one lady, OK!” Wow. I was reeling.

Then we realized that it was a dead end street. So we had to turn around and walk back through the fields of super hookers. This time two others attached to us. Mateo’s was looking through his bag with her arm around him chatting him up. Mine very much resembled a ladyboy, and hooked to my side while I feeling tried to escape. She even grabbed my ass. Now you might be thinking, trv’s a perv, he loves that kind of stuff.

No. No I don’t. It freaked me out. The only girl I want invading my personal space ad grabbing my ass is Signe ( This was completely unwanted aggressive solicitation. Of course, there are a lot of men out there looking for just that, in fact we have passed dozens of bars full of old men and their nightly companions. We have seen them walking together on the street, on the beach, everywhere. It is not difficult to engage in sex tourism in this country, I just didn’t want any part of it.

Mateo was amused at the entire episode, and I suppose I should have been, too. But all I could think of is Signe and how I very much did not want to be there. Oh well. In a way it is an oddly fitting escapade to wrap up this month-long excursion of ours.

After that we went to Pizza Hut and got small pizzas as we promised ourselves we would do on our last night in Bangkok one month ago. It was a good place for me to cool down. I was really worked up after that little escapade.

Tomorrow morning we head to the Bangkok International Airport and home to Japan. Wish us luck!

Until then, take care.

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