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I have not written to you all in a while because of the bane and obsession of the ex-pat community everywhere, visas. I entered Thailand on a 30-day tourist visa intending to convert it to a retirement visa (one year renewable) during those thirty days, the most common method of obtaining the RV. Unfortunately, I did not know that the change of visas requires 21 days. I applied with only 19 days left on my original tourist visa and therefore they could not process it in Chiang Mai. Last weekend, I flew to Bangkok because I was told that the 21-day rule did not apply there. All I got for my efforts was annoyed.

So now, I have to leave the country briefly to renew my 30-day visa. Normally that would not be much of an issue. For years ex-pats on a tourist visa would take the bus to one of the borders, cross it and immediately return with an additional 30-day visa.

Unfortunately for me, a few years ago in the fervor of anti-immigration patriotism that rivaled the frenzy of the GOP on the subject, the Thais changed their immigration laws so that a land border crossing gets you only 15 more days while flying in and out remains as it was. I will leave it to you to contemplate the rational, effectiveness and consequences of the change.

Anyway, I am now making plans to fly to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia for a few days to renew the visa. Stay tuned.

I missed my jungle trip as a result of this travail. Hayden went with some friends anyway. Today’s photo shows him with a tiger cub.

Joe…

—————————————————————————

FROM MY JOURNAL:

January 29 2010.

11am
I am on the Air Nok 10:45 flight to Don Muang airport BKK. I am going to see if Tai can arrange for my visa. I called this morning. She still has not gotten the information regarding the visa from her brother. This is the third day that it was supposed to be coming. That and the lack of response to my call to her this morning leads me to suspect that something else is going on. Maybe Natalie is right she is married to a policeman. After all, I have not been allowed to visit her apartment and she did not show up to the hotel as she promised the last time I was in BKK claiming the baby was sick and her phone was not working.

Last night I sat on the patio musing about how big a fool I have been with Natalie (and most women), believing what they say with my arrogant insecurities. I am doing the same with Tai as I did with her. Fuck, I am still an adolescent.

Spoke with Natalie. She accused me of going to BKK only to see the “bitch”. She prohibited me from visiting AVA because she did not want any “trouble” from her. I assured her I was coming to BKK only to resolve my visa problems and that if I cannot then I will have to go to Kuala Lumpur to renew my 30-day tourist visa. Am I any better than them? No, just not as good at it.

Cordt and Nikki are supposed to take Hayden to the Tiger Park and the other animal attractions outside of Chiang Mai. Cordt is to pick up Nikki at our house at 11 AM. As of 10:50 Nikki was still in the supermarket. Will Cordt wait for his return? Stay tuned.

Spoke with Anthony this morning. He told me Hiromi sold the dining room set to a used furniture dealer for only $300. Ann has the paintings and they will continue to try to sell them. They have almost paid for the car registration and insurance.

10:23 PM
I checked into the Swan Hotel near the river and across the street from the Haroon Mosque, near the Assumption School and church and the Oriental Hotel. The manager’s body oder made me gag. I could not help but think that at times I must smell like that. It embarrassed me.

Waited over an hour for Tai. Went to MacDonald’s in Robinson’s. Ordered a Big Mac meal. Tai said she was not hungry. She had put on about 20 pounds as a result of the pregnancy. On her, it looked good. The conversation at lunch was strained and mostly concerned Natalie.

I returned to my hotel and she went to check on the baby. I was becoming furious because she had not responded to me with any affection. What did I expect? I had gone to Chiang Mai for Hayden and had put her and her child off.

I took a shower and then spent about a half an hour trying to kill a mosquito buzzing around the room with no success. Slept for about an hour and a half, through many bites from the damned insect. Woke up and saw him lying on the bed enormously engorged with my blood and unable to take flight. I swatted him and my blood splattered on the sheet.

Waited for Tai then went to the lobby and called her on my cell phone. She said her uncle would not return until Monday and I would not learn about my chance of obtaining the Marriage Visa. I was greatly annoyed by this since she had almost a week to find out and I had traveled all the way to BKK to hopefully process it.

She came to the hotel and we left for dinner. She was wearing the same things she had worn earlier, jeans and a T-shirt with writing on it most of which I could not make out because it was printed in faded light blue.

While waiting for a taxi a European woman was almost struck by a taxi as she ran across the street.

We went to the Good View Restaurant on the river and sat at an outside table located at the corner of the balcony in such a way that it felt as though we were sitting on the prow of a large ship.

We ordered. Mine was prawns stir-fried in egg. I did not like the texture of the eggs and their color which was orange. I drank watermelon juice and switched to coke. Again we spoke mostly of Natalie and the conversation got so stilted that we stopped talking and stared over each other’s shoulder. I began to feel that the relationship was over.

In the cab, as we rode back to the hotel, I resolved to tell her that the relationship was over and blame my self for it. I realized that I was feeling sorry for myself and only trying to generate an emotional commitment from her as would any other adolescent.

When we got to the hotel I did not speak. She led me back to my room. After some desultory conversation, she lay on the bed and said that she had to go pick up the baby since she had left him with a friend. I was furious believing that she had a lover back at her apartment. I tried to say what I had thought of in the car. I did not get far.  We embraced. She felt good. The extra weight made her both soft and firm. My dick hardened. I began to undress her. She said that the doctor told her she could not have sex until he examined her incision. Suspicion again. She told me to shower and said she will go and pick up the baby and return tomorrow. She promised to spend the night with me then since her auntie would return and be available to take care of the infant. I showed her my boner sticking up in my pants. She grabbed hold of it. It felt electric. We kissed and hugged some more and she got up from the bed and came around to my side and told me to undress for the shower so that she can leave. I did and my boner was as hard as it ever gets now. She asked for 1000 baht to pay the sitter. I gave her two. She stood there and leaned down and kissed me. Then she played with my cock. I wanted to cum. This went on until she pulled away saying if she stayed any longer she would not be able to leave. I got up and held her thinking if I go to Ke Sahn for a massage tomorrow would I still be able to get it up after the orgasm the Kesorn would elicit from me. She left and I took my shower and am now writing this.

3:00 AM
Cannot sleep, mosquitos. Lowered Temp. to 18C on theory mosquitoes do not like cold. Am lying in bed typing this waiting for the room to chill eating a KitKat and drinking water

January 30, 2010

12:30 PM (Saturday)
Woke up showered, dressed and called Tai. Spoke for moments and phone went out called back many times.No answers. Suspected she was with a boyfriend.

Called Anthony, Hiromi gave most of my things away to charity.

Called Nikki,. No answer.

Went to Starbucks. Ordered caffe latte and croissant. Tried to connect with internet. Could not because it required joining their system and then resisted all my attempts to do so.

Walked to Skytrain. Took it to NANA. Went back way to Ambassador and up to health club. Asked for Kesorn. Told she would not be in until 1PM. Left walked to Asia Books on Sukhumvit near Asoke. Saw new Hewson. Looked for a bird identification handbook. Could not find one. Decided not to buy. Left.

Natalie called. Did not answer.

Tai called. Answered. She explained phone was out of order. Agreed to meet up later.

Called Nikki. He found a barber and other shops across from the school. He also found out from maid info on electric bills and HOA fees. Said I could not access the internet for research on Laos and Cambodia visa requirements. He said he would do so. Asked me to say hello to Ke Sahn for him. Agreed to pick me up at the airport tomorrow morning. Returned to Ambassador. Drank a Pepsi float. Wrote this and went upstairs to the health club.

4pm.
Waited for Kesorn. She acted very excited to see me. She was still in her street clothes. She grabbed me by the hand and dragged me to the massage room. Hugged and kissed me. She started the shower for me and helped me into the tub and left. I showered, dried off and laid down in the massage table to wait for her to return. She came back with her massage oils and uniform. She stripped off her clothes and got into the tub to shower. Finished. Stepped out. Put on only her bra and tights. “No one will see”, she said. She then leaned over me and kissed me long and hard. Then I turned over and she began with her deft strokes on my back working slowly down my back to my buttocks where she concentrated for quite a while first with feather-like strokes of my asshole followed by stronger strokes. Then my dick and balls were oiled and stroked. Sometimes both my asshole and dick were worked at the same time. I began to moan and I felt the exquisite rising of my cum. This went on for a while and then she went on with the massage of my legs and feet. I turned over. She oiled my dick and began working on it. She bent over and began sucking on it as I moaned with the rising implacable orgasm. Again and again, I came. Then it was over and she washed me off and dried me and finished the massage as I drifted in and out of sleep. After, I invited her to Chiang Mai where she had been before. She gave me her number and said she would take the train. I paid and left.

Got on the Skytrain and spoke with Nikki on the cell. He said Natalie had called him asking if I were back yet. He said I was still working on my visa. I guess so.

Tai called. said she had not found a baby sitter, but hoped she could join me for dinner.

Returned to hotel. Ate Pad Thai and drank a watermelon juice. Went to my room then sat outside, lit up my cigar, watched the overweight tourists mostly women sunning themselves by the pool and wrote this.

9:30 PM
Just returned from dinner with Tai and some of her family. She called me before dinner, said, “come down to the lobby my uncle and brother are going to dinner with us”. I thought they were preparing to execute me for marrying and not supporting Tai. I probably thought this because they are Muslim and my conscience was not clear.

Instead, I was met with the Auntie with Tai’s baby, Tai’s sister-in-law with her two-year-old, Tai’s female cousin who works in the Chinese Embassy or some such. Went to a fish place, ate, drank coke and had a chocolate sundae. While ordering I was over-conscious of their being Muslim and did not order beer or pork. The men arrived later. I slipped Tai 2000 baht to pay for dinner (there were seven adults and two children and a baby). The bill came to about $8 per adult.

Decided to prepare budget for Tai.

I am now back in hotel waiting for her.

January 31 2010.

Sunday 8AM
She did not show up nor call. Once again I am the fool. When I was a child when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I usually answered, “a bum and a clown”. It looks like I will get my wish. When the Chiang Mai house is sold I will be a bum and I have more and more become Emmet Kelly. I am now at the airport waiting for the plane that will return me to..what?

February 2 2010

Tuesday 5PM
Well, she called eventually that day. Said she fell asleep with the baby and woke up at two in the morning and did not want to wake me up by calling. Do you believe it?

Anyway got back to CM, took a nap and saw Nikki off to the airport.

On Monday morning Hayden wanted to take his bicycle to school. After a few blocks, he asked me to bring the bike home with me after getting to school. Told him could not. He then wanted to bring the bike back to the house we did and drove to school. Got a shave, 50 baht. Gave 50 baht tip.

Tried to buy tickets to KL. Debt card not accepted.

Used Skype to talk with Nikki.

This morning Hayden decided he did not want to shower and made the maid and I chase him around the yard laughing. Caught him, carried him up the stairs to BR

After shower and dress, I drove to school.

I drove to US consulate. Broke my left side mirror as I passed too close to someone on a motor bike going the other way. Do not know if I struck him or he struck me with his hand for getting too close.

Parked across the river from Consulate, talked, experienced security entered the inner sanctum, got my notarized document and fled.

Went to Central, parked waited in Starbucks for the mall to open, went to ATM, denied. Drove home in a panic. Called BOW straitened things out. Natalie called said she was coming up while I went to KL. Thought about this called Tom arranged for additional 7 days on current visa. Picked up Hayden, drove to Big C, got 5000 baht from ATM, ate donuts. Returned home called Natalie, said I was not going to KL until next week. Suggested she did not need to come to CM. She agreed.

Called Tai told her to try again to get visa in BKK.

COMMENTS:

From Irwin:

joe – it seems more than somewhat ironic that a person such as you who spent years dealing with, manipulating and often overcoming stringent government bureacracy and regulations to find yourself having to sojourn for 1/2 week in parasitic filled malaysia due to a visa screw up – not a place i would want to visit right now; come to think of it i don’t visit anywhere at the moment, i am in my isolation period having cancelled all my luncheon appointments with relatives (one) and former collegue political operatives (three) and worrying about not cancelling a date previously planned for next week with my younger son (one) to attend mexican wrestling (“sexo y violencia”) at the mayan theatre in downtown los angeles. speaking of “younger son”, hayden appears to be a good looking young chap obviously resembling the good looks of his mother and probably doesn’t even care for scampi.. please take extra precaution while in kuala lumpur remembering not to speak hebrew or to stare in people’s eyes, particularly those wearing turbans and the like.

although i am in isolation, i still take my daily walk. on it i pass two churches. today’s photo is the more curious of the two. the building does not have any windows. i’m not sure if it’s to keep their god in or out.

take care!

Joe’s response:
Irwin, you may be remembering me from the days before my psychiatrist put me on Prozac. Since then I have been happy but worthless in any professional or personal endeavor that requires any amount of aggressiveness or cynicism. The choice was to retire or quit Prozac. I tried going cold turkey and found out what that means.
ciao

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From Irwin:

well, the last two emails from you are from the cuz joe that i enjoy =
hearing from. methinks you have conquered facing the storm of the last =
few weeks and are now on your way to calmer days and nights. happiness =
may be just around the corner;of course there could also be a speeding =
truck.

i know better than to volunteer to aid you with the children’s tales =
as much as i would like to be of assistance. although i have been =
informed by more than one person that i have a “simple mind” i fear =
thinking like a child (which is what is needed for proper editing) is =
not in the cards these days – i am thinking more like a mad man than a =
five to ten year old. you can ask my grandchildren who were here all day =
today and will be with us each day next week. this of course in no way =
means that my behavior is not childish at times, so say’s my last wife, =
repeatedly.

for a reason unknown to my subconscious i seem to have slept better =
last night than i have for weeks (albeit i had several short dreams of =
an unpleasant nature but nothing painful). i’m trying to think if it had =
to do with something i ate or didn’t eat. or maybe it was a matter of =
attitude. actually i suspect that it had to do with ham transmission =
that was so funny i laughed out loud for at least 1/2 an hour and maybe =
even ventured a giggle and guffaw. that probably made me forget my =
misery and thus i nodded off without much tossing and turning. it would =

be nice to repeat the scenario however nothing funny to hear at least =
not yet. then too, my schedule for tomorrow calls for completing the =
2009 federal and state tax organizer for the pretty lesbian accountant =
who handles my yearly taxes so my thoughts as i drift off to sleep may =
have to do with how am i going to come up with the tax money (i’m still =
paying off 2008). now that i think about it, tonight for dinner i cooked =
(for four hours) a sixteen pound turkey – perhaps the tryptophan i have =
ingested will bring me a good evening’s repose.

swimming in a pool is good exercise. try to spend at least thirty =
minutes doing so. of course if those big breasted nazi ladies show up =
poolside again you may accidentally swallow some water and fall out of =
stoke rhythm. by the way speaking of lesbians and of massages is the =
pool water in thailand safe for an american to swallow?

Pookie’s response to Irwin:

I would find life insufferably odd and boring without events like those that occurred in the past few weeks.

Anyway, right now I am still basking in the glow of the four hour massage. (what the hell is it to bask)? Only an hour or so was spent in the penetration of orifices and the ebb and flow of bodily fluids. The rest of the time I was semiconscious.

In one of your emails you asked me the meaning of chronic. My specialized research reveals that, chronic comes from Chronos the father of the gods, who was killed by his beloved eldest son Zeus who cut off his beloved fathers dick and testicles and shoving them down his throat before beheading him. Now you may be wondering what would cause a beloved son to set upon his beloved father so. I suspect that one day Chronos gathered all his children (later to be known as the gods) and announced to them,”now I know you all are defective, maladjusted, greedy creatures who like nothing more than fighting with each other and raping whatever turns you on whether god, human or beast, but thanks to me you get to live forever”

Now old Chronos invented time, which is another reason he should choke on his own testicles. Remember who you have to thank for the interminable slowness of time as you sit in the waiting room for your doctors appointment.

Now chronic as in chronic pain, I believe, means the slowing down of time while you writhe in agony after all what use would it be if time speeded up in those circumstances. Yea, Zeus.

Irwin responds:

many thanks for the greek-gods history lesson. i now understand that pain. decades ago i was in greece and spent the evening at a country fair (where a band played greek music and one rendition of hava nagila) almost missing the last bus that would return us to the city. just when i was putting my right hand on the floor of the bus and my left hand on a map of that area of greece orally struggling to convey to the driver in english and sign language where i was and wanted to go, a dark car pulled up and a man with slicked-back hair got out. he asked me in english if i needed help. i explained the situation and he spoke to the driver. we were returned to the plaka in central athens where we had a bottle of ginger ale and stumbled back to our hotel room.

i think the personage with slicked-back hair may have been one of the gods, or a messenger thereof. but i’ve wondered ever since that time, for what was i saved?

Pookie’s reply:

He could have been none other than Mercury messenger of the gods as well as their pimp, sneak-thief, hit-man and all around scoundrel, Mercury is also probably gay. He has been known to sometimes leave presents for those he favors before he does them in. He supposedly can bring good health but can also bring bad. Did you notice if he had little wings on his ankles? He probably saved you for this email correspondence. He is known for doing things like that. He likes practical jokes.

Irwin’s comeback:

come to think of it, he was wearing some rather large-looking footware and it probably was to either, (1) suggest to women onlookers that he had a long shlong; and/or (2) that he indeed had wings on his ankles and was hiding them from my view lest i uncover the practical joke – although i thought that the guy with wings on his ankles was brad pitt in some sword movie.

today i dozed off in an uncomfortable chair three times. the first was when my granddaughter was on the internet before me, the second was when my grandson was on the internet, and then finally when my granddaughter was once again on the internet; however, i am still sleepy. i have taken no drugs (except a baby aspirin and a no-doze antihistimine) and swollowed no alcohol.

perhaps i was bored/ i don’t think so. i bet that there is a santa ana (winds) condition in our immediate future…those always play havoc with my sinuses and could be what mercury had in mind..

Pookie again:

The freaky thing about this particular correspondence is that I recall either reading a story or seeing a “Twilight Zone” like episode in which a traveller in need (I believe an automobile breakdown)is befriended by Mercury. I seem to recall that it all ends badly for the traveller.

Irwin one more time:

partially right. i think the twilight episode was that this couple were driving in a 1956 mercury when it broke down. the couple never survived,

From Irwins blog sent to me on April 4:

SUNDAY, APRIL 4, 2010
Email To Psychiatrist
to: shrink@nuts4us.com
from: goofy@whitsend.com

.
Got your email. Thanks very much for the prescription. I’ll pick the drugs up at the pharmacy this Sunday after I take care of my mom – when I see her she always ask who I am. Like mother like son.

I may be a fool, but I am not stupid. You didn’t have to send an email to me and write that your recommended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (“CBT”) won’t work if I don’t believe in its “potential” to help me. Duh! As to the merits of CBT as a form of treatment for anxiety-ridden and mostly depressed folks, having taken CBT sessions in the past I know first hand of its beneficial value. I just think that in my case I need one-on-one mental health attention of a different nature and not group therapy. Also, the licensenced social worker therapists you mentioned who handle the group, Jason and Judy, may be as you have written superior to you at leading CBT sessions but I question whether they possess a psychiatrist’s medical education, training and analysis abilities; it is from the latter qualities which I believe I would most benefit, rather than sitting around and hearing from women going through menopause and a confused man whose fiance will no longer talk marriage because even though he passed the bar he decided not to practice law – besides I am not going to remark to Judy and in front of other group members, especially female, that I sometimes feel as if my penis is going to fall off even though my past CBT training and of course common sense tells me it won’t. At least I think it won’t. Shouldn’t I?

I am trying to follow your recommendations. Please cut me some slack.

More from Irwin’s Blog:

I Went To The Doctor
I went to the doctor for a check up. After extensive tests the doctor told me, “I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. You only have six months to live.” I was dumbstruck. After a while I said, “That’s terrible doctor. But I must admit to you that I can’t afford to pay your bill.” “Ok” says the doctor, “I’ll give you a year to live.”
I Went To Another Doctor
I went to the doctor. He said, “I can help you, but it will require many sessions.” “O.K,” I said, “how much is this going to cost me?” “The twelve sessions, without drugs, will cost you two thousand dollars” replied the doctor. “Oy,” said I, “I’m not a wealthy man, doctor. Couldn’t you make it less?” “Well, as a favor I could do it for seventeen hundred dollars” replied the doctor. I told him, “It’s still more than I can afford doc. I’m out of work, my finances are in terrible shape and a Jewish wife to support. Besides, she wants to go on an expensive vacation before I die.” “O.K.,” said the doctor, “how about fifteen hundred dollars?” I told him it was still too high. “I lost all of my clients and I haven’t paid last year’s taxes.” “Alright already” said the doctor, “I’ll do it for one thousand dollars.” I said, “Thanks doc, I can accept that.” “Good,” said the doctor, “But why did you come to me for treatment when you know I’m the most expensive doctor in the area?” “Well,” I said, “you have a marvelous reputation and when it comes to my health, money is no object.”

Somemore from Irwin:

joseph – wow! was it tough to get up this morning. all the muscles in my body seemed frozen, like a popsicle. can’t imagine physical labor might be the cause as all i did yesterday was wash the dishes and watch seven episode of “house”. perhaps i need an appointment with your specialist masseuse; although i don’t think i want any of my orifices touched at the moment nor have the desire to touch anyone else’s. it’s too cold.

in a few minutes i will start completion of the tax organizer notebook for the year 2009. when filled in to be transmitted to (i think i mentioned in previous email) lesbian accountant. once this is done, my next big project will be to arrange to have the house tented before it falls down from forty years of termite infestation. i expect to accomplish this by the first week in may, if i live so long. somewhere in between i will also have to face going to the dentist.years of neglect plus the radiation treatments have left me with three or four molars which now all hurt; the rest which i was born with have long since departed like a lesser known jack nicholson film.

given the nature of this morning’s historical meaning, i am eating for breakfast some unleavened bread left over from the last supper. i have also smeared onto it some very bad tasting margarine which i had to defrost in the microwave and i suspect was derived from old goat’s milk. i hope my lunch prospects are better.

it’s now 10:25 am (sunday) and i have already managed a last gasp effort to issue a new post on my blog “oy1’s omissions” (http://oy1.blogspot.com) hoping that it means i have accomplished something, perhaps what you call “work”. in the event you find your beginnings today to be somewhat of a struggle, remember when it comes down to it probably no one cares, except for me of course and maybe an elderly aunt in up-state new york if you have one.

crush your enemies.

Irwin commenting on an article in the NY Times about Toscanini:

joe – i wish i had the musical understanding and analysis reasoning expressed in this article. but then again the author is italian and i’m not and he probably is also musically schooled – but then jan peerce was jewish; he even sang in the synagogue. i’ve always felt a sympatico relationship with many italians and things italiano, which doesn’t necessarily explain my facination with pookie of phuket.

Following Irwin’s sending him a news article regarding a possible tsunami hitting Pookie responds:

I went to the beach as soon as I got your message, but no tsunami.

Since then my masseuse from BKK arrived to add some spice to paradise and I have been far too…busy to write. Today, in spite of my objections, she persuaded me to spend a few hours on the beach. I have included a photograph below of us at the beach. Tomorrow she has to go back to BKK. I think it might be a good time to return to Chiang Mai and retrieve some of my things especially my cigars and my remote hard drive since my attached hard drive I am sure will be flaccid by this evening. So, I will probably accompany her to BKK and fly on to CM from there.

As luck would have it, just as my masseuse arrived and got down to business, I received a telephone call from the 25 year old wife, begging me for forgiveness. I told her I was busy and would get back to her in a few days. Do you think she is looking for money? I expect the story will be that her mother, the one who was dying, needs an operation to save her life.

Irwin comments:

joseph – i am so very happy for you that you were able to spend some “relaxing” hours at the beach with ms. funny hands. thanks for the picture. i have saved it along with the others you have emailed to me and am contemplating producing an indie-travel-picture-book in which photographs (i’ll cover male faces) will likely stimulate sales – also, i have a perverse liking for pictures of those things i am missing particularly when they are being shall we say thrust upon one of my better acquaintances.

i dunno what to make out of the telephone call from your wifey; however, notwithstanding things called genuine affection i suspect that you are correct in your assessment of her motives. so, oh, play it for all it’s worth – but hold the pursestrings ever so closely. tell her you have faced a financial calamity of unseemingly momentous proportions (i’ll draft a fake dunning letter from schatzman and schatzman, esquires) and ask her for a loan to tide you over. whatever you do don’t put anything in writing, unless it’s a lie that will hold up in divorce court. suggest euthanasia as the best treatment for her mom, and ask if the mother has a will and any funds. tell her that. by the way the doctor has told you that you have a social disease and she should have herself checked out at the doctor even tho’ they report that kind of thing in bkk and certainly wouldn’t ever let her into the usa even if she is the wife of an american citizen.

i leave you to your women troubles. i now have decided that i have an abscess in one of my remaining very few molars. through the pain i was feeling sorry for myself until today when i took the grandkids to mcdonalds (“welcome to mcdonalds, may i take your order? big mac, curley fries, soda pop, apple pie.”). i don’t eat there. well, maybe i’ll have a coke. anyway sitting in the next booth was “mr. fabulous” – he who use to perform feats of prestidigitation at the now defunct and shuttered for years “magic island” once located in cannery village in newport beach – a cousin of the magic castle in la. magic island was my delight and that of my clients for whom i spent big bucks and transported in large white limos. unfortunately between the drugs and an unwise expansion into a franchise in texas dear old magic island went bust (sigh. the only private club of which i was ever a member and groucho marx notwithstanding enjoyed every moment of it – jews were allowed unlike the jonathon club, which wasn’t nearly as much fun anyway even if i could have joined). i found magic island and laughter. aside from a play “el grande de coca cola” i saw in a bar/club in la at which the now dead comedian dick shawn was laughing like crazy at the table next to me, it was that evening and the evenings at magic island where i busted a gut at the jokes of the comedian magicians and thought i would surely die i was laughing so hard. can you remember the feeling? poor dick…poor me.poor you. but then again now having to dine at mcdonalds is mr. fabulous. poor him, most of all.

More from Irwin:

someone from Cote D’Ivoire visited my website. i don’t even know where Cote D’Ivoire is except i’m guessing that france had something to do with it. maybe it’s the ivory coast of africa. too bad they didn’t leave a comment i could have emailed them back (trying to recall one or two words of swahili) and found out more. now don’t be a smart ass and look it up on the internet and try to one-up me. i could look it up too, but i don’t wanna’. i’d rather dream about some mysterious place where words of mine were seen rather than find out it’s either some seedy village of impoverished and malnurished hiv natives or a wealthy enclave of blond haired men bordering the wine drenched sea. i could use a new friend today.

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I arrived in Bangkok, the city of the “Sidewalks of Death.” Should one stroll about the town one might: find the sidewalk beneath of him suddenly open up, plunging him into the fetid miasmatic water below and carrying him off to the equally pestilential waters of some ancient canal, there to drown — trip on a crack in the pavement sending him tumbling into the street where he is maimed or killed by hoards of crazed bikers trying to beat the traffic light — be attacked by rabid soi dogs and sewer rats who gnaw off his ankles — be abducted by an evil tuk-tuk driver and disappear forever — be set upon by a group of manic ladyboys pouring out of an alley who either ravish his body or beat him senseless and steal his money. I love this city.

 

The flight from Rome to Bangkok was uneventful except during the leg from Kuwait to Bangkok where the young man sitting next to me, who appeared to be a religious of some sort, insisted that I listen to a recording of incessant chanting by some Iman or something. That was OK because there is nothing I prefer to sleep through than chanting.

 

Bangkok is hot (but not as hot as is parts of California right now). It rains every afternoon and evening— often big grumbling thunder showers. So, I go about whatever I go about these days in the mornings and lie in my bed and stare at the ceiling or tap away at my computer in the afternoon and evenings.

 

Thailand is billed by the Thai Visitors Bureau as the “Land of Smiles.” Thais have at least 15 types of smile, none of which means I’m pleased to see you — except for of shopkeepers, grifters and bar girls who unfortunately see you only as an ATM machine.

 

In the morning, as I walk from my apartment to the health club, I check to see which of the denizens of the street I have come to recognize over the years are missing since the last time I visited. The massive homeless young man often seen sprawled in a stupor on the sidewalks of Soi Nana or wandering in a daze down the street seems to be gone. The one-legged “king of the beggars” as I named him because of his handsome features, meticulous trimmed hair and beard who I now and then see entering for lunch some of the better restaurants on Soi 11, has resumed his post on the sunny corner of Sukhumvit and Soi 5.

 

My part of Bangkok continues to change and disappear. The old buildings with the cheap restaurants, go-go bars, and nightclubs get torn down, replaced with gleaming silver towers boasting that they contain the greatest award winning condominiums, or offices, or the finest of the three or four other luxury hotels with the same name in the city. The people who lived, worked or played there move out and new people move in — the ongoing migration of a vibrant urban area. The extent of pain and dislocation caused by it is usually a function of how rapidly it occurs.

 

One of Thailand’s major preoccupations is with massage. It is ingrained in the religious and cultural subconscious of the country. The Thais even developed their own brand of massage that is taught in the most prestigious temples throughout the nation. It consists of vigorous application of the hands, elbows, forearms, and feet by the masseuse to various points on the customer’s body accompanied by periodic sudden stretching or wrenching of his joints. Although a Thai massage can make you feel great after it is over, many people find the process too painful. As a result foreigners often, after a brief flirtation with “the real thing,” eventually turn to more traditional massage with its vigorous rubbing of the body with oil, with or without a happy ending. Many “legitimate” massage establishments do not provide happy endings (it is, in fact, illegal).

 

Speaking of legitimate massage in Bangkok, I would like to make a pitch to those who may visit the city to try Silk Spa on Sukhumvit Soi 13. It is rated by several travel magazines as one of the best massage parlors in Bangkok. My old friends, Gary and Pui, own the place. Gary is Canadian. He plays ice hockey in the Thai ice hockey league. The Spa is located on Soi 13 about 50 yards off Sukhumvit. Inside, it is a little gem of a place. Gary spends many days designing and building the interior. The evidence of his craftsmanship is everywhere, from the handsome gray slate floor and attractively painted walls of the massage rooms to the marvelous two person sauna with its shining blond wood. I go there three or four times a week after I finish my mornings at the health club.
Pasted Graphic

 

Although I like Bangkok a lot, there is one thing I despise. That is when I am riding the bus or the Skytrain and hanging onto the strap because it is crowded and I see someone, who I am convinced is older and more decrepit than I, get up out of his or her seat and offer it to me. I usually reject the offer somewhat coldly, unless of course, I am very tired. Then, I take the seat and sit there mortified (a word not often used anymore) on the one hand and relieved on the other. It is these internal conflicts that…Hmm, I think I’ve gone on about this long enough.

 

I spent a couple of delightful hours with my friend the Old Sailor. He is a kind man who has lived a fascinating life as a sailor, commercial deep sea diver, treasure hunter, and the like. He lived most of his life on or by the sea in South Florida (Key West), the Virgin Islands, Easter Island and French Polynesia (Bora Bora). He now resides in a second rate hotel in Bangkok. The walls of his room are covered with photographs organized by year. When I asked him about that, he said that he was beginning to have trouble remembering things. He had, he went on, an interesting life and he did not want to forget any of it before the inevitable dimming of the light.

 

One day, at a nearby Italian restaurant, in the course of our rambling conversation, he began a sentence with the words, “I sailed the Windward Passage three times.” It seemed to be an interesting story was in the offing and I was right.

 

One time, he either worked for or partnered with the Captain of a boat docked somewhere in South Florida. The Captain was having a dispute with someone over money or ownership or something like that. So, in the middle of the night, he and the Captain took the boat, leaving with no money between them and almost no gas to power the engines. So, they broke into a nearby refueling dock during the dark of night, refueled, and set off for wherever. Needing money, they stopped in the Virgin Islands and found a gig towing a large sailboat through the Windward Passage south of Cuba to Jamaica.

 

Somewhere near Cuba, a storm came upon them. At that most inopportune moment, their engine decided to quit and the boat slowed down. Unfortunately, the large sailboat did not and it smashed into their stern grabbing onto it like a shark grabbing onto a seal. Even more, unfortunately, the bowsprit of sailboat broke off and began thrashing back and forth across the deck making it impossible for the two adventures to get to it and untangle the lines and separate the boats. So, they spent the night hoping they would live to see the sunrise. The tale stopped there. Obviously, at least the Old Sailor survived. I do not know what became of the boats or the Captain or whether whatever he was fleeing from eventually caught up to him. I see in this a potential Hemingwayesque novella, “Captains Not So Very Courageous.”

 

A few years ago, some travel magazine commissioned a poll in which people from many countries of the world were asked if they thought it was ok to cheat foreigners out of their money. The citizens of no country responded with acceptance of such callous amoral behavior anywhere near 50% except for the Thais, over 80% of whom could see no problem in that conduct.

 

On Wednesday, I had lunch with the Gemologist. He is also a well-known ethnologist (The Vanishing Tribes of Burma), artist (sculpture and painting), adventurer, writer, businessman, raconteur, and man about town. I have written about him before. He has recently returned from several trips into the hill country of Burma where he photographed one of the hill tribes in their traditional dress and re-established his trading connections with the Gurkha miners and gem merchants working there. He has resumed trading high-value rubies and sapphires and showed me photographs of several beautiful examples (in the one million dollars and up each range).
IMG_1181
A Million Dollar Flawless Sapphire Recently Sold

 

It is always a pleasure spending an afternoon with him. We spoke of many things, mostly our disappointment with the political situation in America and the rigors of getting old.
IMG_2952

 

Read Full Post »

 

I arrived in Bangkok, the city of the “Sidewalks of Death.” Should one stroll about the town one might: find the sidewalk beneath of him suddenly open up, plunging him into the fetid miasmatic water below and carrying him off to the equally pestilential waters of some ancient canal, there to drown — trip on a crack in the pavement sending him tumbling into the street where he is maimed or killed by hoards of crazed bikers trying to beat the traffic light — be attacked by rabid soi dogs and sewer rats who gnaw off his ankles — be abducted by an evil tuk-tuk driver and disappear forever — be set upon by a group of manic ladyboys pouring out of an alley who either ravish his body or beat him senseless and steal his money. I love this city.

 

The flight from Rome to Bangkok was uneventful except during the leg from Kuwait to Bangkok where the young man sitting next to me, who appeared to be a religious of some sort, insisted that I listen to a recording of incessant chanting by some Iman or something. That was OK because there is nothing I prefer to sleep through than chanting.

 

Bangkok is hot (but not as hot as is parts of California right now). It rains every afternoon and evening— often big grumbling thunder showers. So, I go about whatever I go about these days in the mornings and lie in my bed and stare at the ceiling or tap away at my computer in the afternoon and evenings.

 

Thailand is billed by the Thai Visitors Bureau as the “Land of Smiles.” Thais have at least 15 types of smile, none of which means I’m pleased to see you — except for of shopkeepers, grifters and bar girls who unfortunately see you only as an ATM machine.

 

In the morning, as I walk from my apartment to the health club, I check to see which of the denizens of the street I have come to recognize over the years are missing since the last time I visited. The massive homeless young man often seen sprawled in a stupor on the sidewalks of Soi Nana or wandering in a daze down the street seems to be gone. The one-legged “king of the beggars” as I named him because of his handsome features, meticulous trimmed hair and beard who I now and then see entering for lunch some of the better restaurants on Soi 11, has resumed his post on the sunny corner of Sukhumvit and Soi 5.

 

My part of Bangkok continues to change and disappear. The old buildings with the cheap restaurants, go-go bars, and nightclubs get torn down, replaced with gleaming silver towers boasting that they contain the greatest award winning condominiums, or offices, or the finest of the three or four other luxury hotels with the same name in the city. The people who lived, worked, or played there move out and new people move in — the ongoing migration of a vibrant urban area. The extent of pain and dislocation caused by it is usually a function of how rapidly it occurs.

 

One of Thailand’s major preoccupations is with massage. It is ingrained in the religious and cultural subconscious of the country. The Thais even developed their own brand of massage that is taught in the most prestigious temples throughout the nation. It consists of vigorous application of the hands, elbows, forearms, and feet by the masseuse to various points on the customer’s body accompanied by periodic sudden stretching or wrenching of his joints. Although a Thai massage can make you feel great after it is over, many people find the process too painful. As a result foreigners often, after a brief flirtation with “the real thing,” eventually turn to more traditional massage with its vigorous rubbing of the body with oil, with or without a happy ending. Many “legitimate” massage establishments do not provide happy endings (it is, in fact, illegal).

 

Speaking of legitimate massage in Bangkok, I would like to make a pitch to those who may visit the city to try Silk Spa on Sukhumvit Soi 13. It is rated by several travel magazines as one of the best massage parlors in Bangkok. My old friends, Gary and Pui, own the place. Gary is Canadian. He plays ice hockey in the Thai ice hockey league. The Spa is located on Soi 13 about 50 yards off Sukhumvit. Inside, it is a little gem of a place. Gary spends many days designing and building the interior. The evidence of his craftsmanship is everywhere, from the handsome gray slate floor and attractively painted walls of the massage rooms to the marvelous two person sauna with its shining blond wood. I go there three or four times a week after I finish my mornings at the health club.
Pasted Graphic

 

Although I like Bangkok a lot, there is one thing I despise. That is when I am riding the bus or the Skytrain and hanging onto the strap because it is crowded and I see someone, who I am convinced is older and more decrepit than I, get up out of his or her seat and offer it to me. I usually reject the offer somewhat coldly, unless of course, I am very tired. Then, I take the seat and sit there mortified (a word not often used anymore) on the one hand and relieved on the other. It is these internal conflicts that…Hmm, I think I’ve gone on about this long enough.

 

I spent a couple of delightful hours with my friend the Old Sailor. He is a kind man who has lived a fascinating life as a sailor, commercial deep sea diver, treasure hunter, and the like. He lived most of his life on or by the sea in South Florida (Key West), the Virgin Islands, Easter Island and French Polynesia (Bora Bora). He now resides in a second rate hotel in Bangkok. The walls of his room are covered with photographs organized by year. When I asked him about that, he said that he was beginning to have trouble remembering things. He had, he went on, an interesting life and he did not want to forget any of it before the inevitable dimming of the light.

 

One day, at a nearby Italian restaurant, in the course of our rambling conversation, he began a sentence with the words, “I sailed the Windward Passage three times.” It seemed to be an interesting story was in the offing and I was right.

 

One time, he either worked for or partnered with the Captain of a boat docked somewhere in South Florida. The Captain was having a dispute with someone over money or ownership or something like that. So, in the middle of the night, he and the Captain took the boat, leaving with no money between them and almost no gas to power the engines. So, they broke into a nearby refueling dock during the dark of night, refueled, and set off for wherever. Needing money, they stopped in the Virgin Islands and found a gig towing a large sailboat through the Windward Passage south of Cuba to Jamaica.

 

Somewhere near Cuba, a storm came upon them. At that most inopportune moment, their engine decided to quit and the boat slowed down. Unfortunately, the large sailboat did not and it smashed into their stern grabbing onto it like a shark grabbing onto a seal. Even more unfortunately, the bowsprit of sailboat broke off and began thrashing back and forth across the deck making it impossible for the two adventures to get to it and untangle the lines and separate the boats. So, they spent the night hoping they would live to see the sunrise. The tale stopped there. Obviously, at least the Old Sailor survived. I do not know what became of the boats or the Captain or whether whatever he was fleeing from eventually caught up to him. I see in this a potential Hemingwayesque novella, “Captains Not So Very Courageous.”

 

A few years ago, some travel magazine commissioned a poll in which people from many countries of the world were asked if they thought it was ok to cheat foreigners out of their money. The citizens of no country responded with acceptance of such callous amoral behavior anywhere near 50% except for the Thais, over 80% of whom could see no problem in that conduct.

 

On Wednesday, I had lunch with the Gemologist. He is also a well-known ethnologist (The Vanishing Tribes of Burma), artist (sculpture and painting), adventurer, writer, businessman, raconteur, and man about town. I have written about him before. He has recently returned from several trips into the hill country of Burma where he photographed one of the hill tribes in their traditional dress and re-established his trading connections with the Gurkha miners and gem merchants working there. He has resumed trading high-value rubies and sapphires and showed me photographs of several beautiful examples (in the one million dollar and up each range).
IMG_1181.jpg
A Million Dollar Flawless Sapphire Recently Sold

 

It is always a pleasure spending an afternoon with him. We spoke of many things, mostly our disappointment with the political situation in America and the rigors of getting old.
IMG_2952

 

Read Full Post »

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