One night in Bangkok

Written by Jane Harris No Gravatar

Actually these images are an amalgamation of three great nights in Bangkok. The first was spent exploring the night markets of Chinatown (see previous posts). The second saw us sixty-four floors up in Bangkok’s famous Skybar – with Bladerunner-like views of the city below. Before we set out on our trip, my sister handed us a wallet of travel money along with illustrated instructions as to the local drinks on which it was to be spent – Cloudy Bay in New Zealand, caipirinhas in Brazil, pisco sours in Peru and so on. India’s designated drink was a gin and tonic but our intention to pass a few pleasant hours in alcoholic homage to the last days of the Raj never quite materialised.

And so it was that I came to order one in Bangkok.  But this wasn’t just any gin and tonic.  This was Skybar’s signature spicy gin and tonic – with added red chilli, salt and pepper. Delicious. I say I came to order ‘one’ because prices at Skybar are almost as high as the venue itself and despite Ruth’s generosity the drinking fund didn’t stretch to a glass for Stu – who had to put a hand in his own pocket for a red berry martini. We considered whether to order a second round but in the end the ability to afford to eat for the rest of the week won out and we headed instead to Bangkok’s red light district – where we learnt, if there had ever been any doubt, that pussies do the funniest things.

The third night in Bangkok was spent at at a local Thai boxing match. The high-kicking blows of the contestants were impressive but what really made the night was watching the ringside betting.  We’d opted for the cheap seats and  found ourselves in a hub of complex gesture-based communications between bookies and punters – not unlike the communications between bookies and their aids at race courses in the UK.  In Thai boxing a single punter may place different stakes on different odds at different points in a match with different bookies sitting in different parts of the crowd.  Many a computerised system would struggle with simpler transactions. What’s more, no money changes hand until the match is over and there is no documentation of what is owed and to whom. “Where is the process and governance”, I hear you cry. I can only imagine that the bookies have their ways of persuading everybody to cough up.

During the fifth match, Stuart managed to drop a silver ring, that he had spent all day hunting down and purchasing, between the slats of the stadium seats. This prompted such frenzied gesticulation on Stuart’s part that I feared we may end up inadvertently betting thousands on the fey-looking fighter in fuchsia. We decided to call it a night and after a quick Chang beer in China town, got to sleep around one-thirty am – at which point, I’m sure, the city was just starting to wake up.

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