An Indian head-wrapped yogi stopped me while on Khao San Road. He was friendly and I was naive. He said he could read my future, started talking like he was reading my zodiac fortune from a newspaper, and got mad when I said no thanks when he said he’d continue for money. My experience in Thailand was the first time people pretended to be super friendly for monetary gain.
I walked aimlessly, stopping for whatever seemed interesting. I visited a temple and saw monks.
I ate fried chicken from a street vendor. Many recycle the same oil for weeks, I hear, but it was tasty.
I had no plans and needed something to see and do, so when I stumbled upon a travel agency, I entered and walked out with an itinerary. Flights, hotels, and bungalows were booked.
I left Bangkok the very next day, flew south to Krabi Beach. A shuttle service brought me to my bungalow, somewhere remote and down a dirt road, surrounded by trees. The bungalow experience is a unique one, better than any hotel. They look cool, the interior and exterior.
The best part was each room came with a motorbike.
“Can I drink and drive here or will I get in trouble?” I asked the Thai guy about my age who seemed to be the manager.
He smiled and said don’t worry.
Nothing, I learned, in Southeast Asia is more fun than drinking cold beers and racing down unknown, jungle roads on a motorbike.
My takeoff was a bit shaky, but I had a feel for it in seconds. It was easy to be confident when there was no traffic and Krabi, a small town on the beach, was not a very populated.
I stopped at a bar. There were several of them, all outdoors and many sharing the same overhead tent to block out the sun.
Girls and guys played pool. One girl, wearing a white tank top and short jean shorts, I thought attractive, and my eyes lingered on her. Face looked great from far away, and I like long black hair. The bartender asked if I wanted him to introduce me to her.
“No. I’m not interested. Please don’t.” I lied. But really I was too shy.
At some point, right next to me, she approached the bar to order a drink.
Don’t be a coward, I said to myself.
“Hello,” I said to her. When she turned to face me, I knew I’d made a mistake.
It was no woman.
Its big adam’s apple gave the ladyboy away. I talked to her or him anyway. A Swedish guy next to me tapped me on the shoulder. “You know that’s a dude, right?” he said.
“Yeah,” I said.
Conversation with no English was hard, completely one-sided, and I gave up being friendly and left.
I bought beer from a supermarket and drank on the beach and watched the sunset. Sand crabs scurried across the sand and I tried to catch them, but they buried themselves too fast.
Between intermediate stops for drinks, I continued to explore around on the motorbike, getting a little more reckless. While trying to pop wheelies, I realized I was drunk and how disastrous it would be if I blacked out, so I returned to the bungalow.
I did black out the next day, though.
Like the previous day, I explored around on the scooter and stopped to fill up on gas and spicy food. When parked along the beach, a Thai guy pulled up next to me on his own scooter and asked me if I wanted to follow him to his treehouse bar, and I did.
There were two sections, one higher and one lower, stairs all the way up, and wooden railings to keep you from falling. Sitting on the floor in the treehouse were three XXL Australian girls. Their accents weren’t attractive. I’ve only known them to be so on Japanese girls who learn English as a second language. But then again, maybe I would have told myself the opposite if they were attractive to begin with.
A peace pipe was passed around. I took a puff to fit in but no more than that because I feared a random drug test at work. Next, we played Jenga. I don’t think girls are very good at this game, because the tower never got too tall without them knocking it over.
After time there, I drove to a beach bar. Two Thai girls were working, both of them in their forties. One of them skinny and kind of attractive, definitely a girl, and the other one fat, fatter than the three Australian fat-tailed dunnarts.
I could only think about how a petite 40 something year-old Thai woman must really know how to give a blow job, especially one who’s been a lifelong whore. But I didn’t get any attention from her, the older men were hogging her attention.
Instead, I got the overweight one. We played Connect Four, and she beat me every time. So I challenged her to Jenga, but she beat me at that too. It didn’t help that I was getting tanked. She kept making me drinks and I kept thinking about how I was going to go about sleeping with the thin one.
Next thing I knew, a dog was licking my face. When I opened my eyes it was like looking into a welding torch, the sun was so bright. Here I was lying down on the beach. I had to jog my memory for what happened.
I’d fucked the fat prostitute, that’s what happened. It was all that I could recall. One minute I was playing games at the bar, the next I was doing her from behind. I remembered checking on the upstroke to make sure the condom was still there. I’m so worried about STDs that I’ve somehow managed to protect myself on auto pilot. I was ashamed of myself. I came all the way to Thailand and paid to sleep with a girl who should have to pay men to sleep with her.
I remained lying on the beach, still unable to move. The bungalow manager found me after locating my parked motorbike. I had too much to drink, I told him. He laughed and left me at that. I wasn’t dead and his bike wasn’t destroyed.
I stripped down to my underwear and crawled out into the ocean, in which I masturbated. It was a laborious thing to do while hungover and in the water, also with having to stop when boats passed. But once I start something, there’s a good chance I’ll finish. With the fish fed, I got dressed and returned to my bungalow.
Mr. Thai bungalow man invited me to play volleyball. Volleyball with your feet. His friends and him rallied the ball back and forth over the net. The learning curve was too much, and they stopped kicking it to me because I could never kick it back over.
The hangover worsened, and I got sick. Vomiting and pissing out my ass. I could hardly eat anything. How miserable I was, a red-skinned Geronimo with the worst sunburn of my life.
And I had to catch a ferry to Phi Phi Island, which I did on an empty stomach to be safe.
The island was hit by the tsunami that killed 250,000 people in a single day in 2004.
My bungalow was in a village of bungalows. It looked like Robin Hood’s headquarters in Nottingham. Young foreigners were everywhere, drinking and having fun and watching Thais playing with fire on the beach. I stayed miserable, but I did make a hike to a popular viewpoint.
Next, I caught a ferry to Phucket, where for two days I only left my hotel to have hot noodles across the street. It was family run, under a tent, and they always smiled at me.
My body began to feel better but not my mind. But I had an idea, something to do that would return my lifeforce. I caught a motorcycle taxi and told him to take me bungee jumping. I’d seen the tower when arriving off the ferry.
The tower was a part of a mini-golf course, restaurant and outdoor bar. Besides me, there were only two other customers, a couple. The bartender, a white guy, looked like my high school P.E. teacher, Mr. Dirkson.
“Can I help you,” he asked.
“I want to bungee jump,” I said.
“Alright. Fill out these forms.”
The couple, sitting at their table with their drinks, complained: “But we were here first.”
Mr. Dirkson said, “You guys are too busy talking about jumping, and this guy’s ready to jump.”
Preparations were taken, like having my weight checked. “72 kilos,” an adolescent boy said.
I didn’t know kilograms and hoped, for my sake, he was right.
The same boy fastened my legs together. God, I hoped he knew what he was doing. A boy doing the job didn’t give me much confidence. We went up the elevator and everyone and everything got small, and I started having second thoughts. But the fear of embarrassment from backing out at this point was greater than jumping.
“On the count of three you jump, okay?” the boy said.
I hoped the pond at the bottom was deep.
“3, 2, 1 . .”
I impulsively threw myself off. All mind chatter seized as the ground came fast, but it was over in a second or two. The split-second physiological change had me buzzing. My lifeforce was returned, and I remained high the rest of the day.
I ate at a truly rare McDonald’s. The girls working there were all young and cute and in skirts, and they gave me a free order of french fries.
That night I went out for a drink, to whatever happening place the taxi driver dropped me off at. There were bars all along the street, girls danced on stage in two pieces, their asscheecks hanging out, and old, fat, and grey men were hooked arm and arm to young prostitutes.
It was all so tempting, but after the last three experiences in these women, I decided to take it easy.
I made friends with a kid from Burma, bought us some beer, and we sat on a curb. He worked in a suit shop and slept three to a small room and bathed outside. He was Burmese Indian who didn’t eat cows. “Cows plough the field and give you milk.” I didn’t envy him.
As the night grew later, I’d never seen so many prostitutes on one street. They were everywhere by the hundreds, if not a thousand. Beautiful orcs, they were. And when I made to leave, walking down the street, they swarmed me as if I had the one ring to rule Middle Earth in my pocket. They didn’t care how disgusting I looked, that I was a mutated red lobster with dead skin hanging off my face like I was inflicted with leprosy.
“No thank you. I’m fine. I’m good. So beautiful but no thanks,” I said, as I darted left and right, never stopping. They never stopped coming, but I stuck to my guns and made it to the end of the street where I hailed a cab.
I returned to Bangkok and sat ringside to a Muay Thai fight. 13-year-olds kicked the shit out of each other.
On the day I was to fly back to America, at the worst possible moment, my ATM card stopped working. Seeing charges from Thailand my bank thought it was stolen. A hotel lady gave me an international calling card, but for some reason it didn’t work. For some cigarettes and enough cash to pay my cab fare to the airport, I sold my PSP to the lady’s husband.
Back in America my Japanese girlfriend cried to me. She had went and cried to my mom while I was away, worried that when I’d return I’d give her HIV. During my trip I’d stupidly posted to Facebook about some of my experiences.
I told her I never had sex with a prostitute, that I’d only had a bubble bath and a hand job, which wasn’t cheating, and that I’d spent my time in Thailand snorkeling and riding elephants.
I did worry that I had HIV. The paranoia killed me even though the internet reassured me how difficult it is to catch HIV from heterosexual sex, especially for men, and especially if a condom was used, but it was knowing I’d finger-banged a menstruating prostitute while I had a hangnail that haunted me.
The HIV test gives a positive result based on the presence of antibodies, not the virus itself, and it can take anywhere from nine days to three months to develop these antibodies. I couldn’t wait any longer than a month.
The results came back negative. My mind was at peace, and I went on with my life. But sometime around four or five years later, when I was living in Baton Rouge, the fear returned. What if my test wasn’t accurate? I couldn’t shake the thought, so I had blood taken and analyzed and sent away again.
Negative. I’d recklessly survived Thai hookers at 21. From then onwards, besides a trip to Europe, I stuck to Japan and played it safe.