CHAPTER 1. ROUGH LANDING
The flight to Bangkok was excruciatingly long. 13 hours in total with a stopover at Muscat airport in Oman. I must say however that Oman Air is a pretty sweet airline to fly by. I was a bit worried at first when we got on the plane and the pilot started praying in Arabic but if you must be stranded helpless above the clouds for 13hrs, you can’t go too wrong with them. The food was good and plentiful, the movie selection was pretty awesome, the air hostesses were hot (in their own Arabic way), not to mention that I was never once worried about terrorists hijacking/blowing up the plane. I mean, why would they? It was filled with Arabs like them, very few Americans to kill. I would imagine that if a terrorist suggested it at their annual terrorist convention (I assume they have one) he would be boo-ed off stage and pelted with rotten fruit. (Plus, I was rocking a pretty sweet beard, I could blend in and pretend to be one of them if I had to 😀 )
When the final announcement came that we were over the skies of Bangkok, I smiled. I had been reading ‘The girl who played with fire’, watching movies, sleeping, eating, tickling my friends and going to toilet for the past 13hrs, I couldn’t wait to get off. Once off the plane, we all went to border clearing where once again, I was reminded of my misfortune to have a Nigerian passport. The dude at the clearance said those of us with Nigerian (and most other African) passports needed a Yellow fever clearance certificate.
Yellow fever? Oh yeah? Dude, Really?! I’ve lived most of my life in Nigeria and I don’t even know anyone that has ever had yellow fever so I was a bit miffed about being accused of being a potential Yellow fever vector. To make matters worse, the guy in charge was as ugly as sin and barely spoke English. After a frustrating 20mins during which I had to say “we flew in from LONDON, not Nigeria” over 30 times, he finally asked us to pay 10 baht before he stamped our passports. Ah! There it was. He wanted a bribe of some sort. His soul was as ugly as his face. Waffi no dey carry last, highest we go play draw- We refused, and another 10mins of frustration followed until, at long last, the guy gave up, stamped the passports and let us go.
We, the unfortunate ones Nigerians, then rejoined the group and headed to the coach that would take us to the hotel. As I stepped outside the airport, the heat took me aback. I was all like “whoa, whoa, whoa, wetin be this? what is up with this hot weather? I mean, Nigeria is hot but this is just ridiculous!” My friend “Hidy” informed me that this is how Thailand is usually and assured me that I would get used to it. I would later find out the scientific reasons why it was so hot. I accepted his assertion, got on the bus and promptly fell asleep.
When I awoke, the bus had stopped and I could have sworn I was on Lagos Island! It looked just like Lagos. Throughout the trip, I would never get over how much many of the urban parts of Bangkok look just like Lagos.
Our hotel was located in a part of Thailand called Ratchadapisek and the hotel was called Ratchada resort and spa, which I believe was some kind of inside joke. Hotel? Yes it was and it was a pretty ok hotel. But resort and spa? TROLOLOLOL!!! Nah. No way. Someone was stretching their imagination when they named the place that. Anyway, it was what we had booked so we moved in. (I have been told that in ‘the hangover part 2’ they ended up in Ratchada police station. This was within walking distance of our hotel and I saw the place a few times. Okay, yes I know #ThisIsNotWhyWeAreHere, moving on…)
The first thing I did was change into shorts and slippers. The heat! And then I and a small group of friends took a walk through Rachadapisek (henceforth referred to as THE ZANGA). That place was a slum mehn! Just like some parts of Lagos, smelly, dirty, with diseased dogs walking down the road, people selling food along the street, music blaring, you know, all the beautiful ugliness of a modern urban slum. But despite all that, it was still friendly and had a fun vibe; there were young girls walking around at 12 midnight, people smiling, it was peaceful and safe. This was a recurring theme throughout the trip. On a side note, I remember that immediately we walked out of the hotel, a man appeared and showed us pictures of naked girls asking if we wanted to come to a “show”. Obviously, we knew what this was and we did our best to ignore him.
After the walk, we joined the rest of our class for dinner at some buka along the road for local Thai food. The food was pretty nice, cheap and full of flavor. I hadn’t eaten such tasty, cheap food since I left Nigeria. I could tell I was going to like this place already. It possessed all the roughness, cheapness and hustling nature of Lagos combined with the structure, safety and organization of London. A true urban jungle.
Throughout this trip I ate a total of 7 times at “Mama Ratchada” buka. One of my friends “Lil D” kept trying to pick-up one of the girls that worked there even though she spoke barely two words of English. Safe to say his standards were (and still are) pretty low. To my knowledge he never did succeed, but that is neither here nor there. Anyway, after the meal, we were very tired and suffering from jet-lag. Personally, I felt burnt out and burned by the Thai heat. I retired to my room, connected to the internet via the hotel wireless and tweeted the folllowing…. “First tweet from Thailand :D”
The fun was just about to begin.
To be continued
Coming next…CHAPTER 2: THE BURN