Mobi – Babble
As “Mobi’s bar weeks” go, this past week has been relatively uneventful.
No drunken fights – well almost none – no screaming alcoholics and no incidents of note –well… except possibly one. Read all about it in this week’s ‘Tales from a Bar Fly.’
There is little doubt that Mobi’s business will be adversely affected by the football World Cup. The early games start at 11 pm local time with a majority starting in the middle of the night, and I think many football followers will adjust their sleeping /waking routine to accommodate the unsocial hours of the games.
More than one customer has told me that I probably won’t see him for the duration of the world cup which is about 1 month.
There’s nothing I can do about it and I can only hope there are a few non-football fans out there who will decide to give Mobi’s a try as we will make it be a football ‘no-go zone’. – a brief ‘haven’ for football- haters.
We will still show other sports, and in particular we will be covering the Wimbledon Tennis fortnight from the start on Monday 23rd June.
I must make a correction to last week’s blog when I wrote about the Thai Junta’s early attempts to bring some kind of order back to Thailand.
In that piece I wrote that according to the Ministry of Finance, the losses from the disastrous rice pledging scheme to farmers was in the order 500 million Dollars.
Well an eagle–eyed reader has since pointed out that the losses aren’t 500 million dollars, but are actually 500 BILLION dollars.
These losses are big enough to bankrupt many a developing nation, and Thailand can consider itself fortunate that it is able to withstand such a massive financial write-off, which is only thanks to some other positive aspects of the Thai economy, i.e. industrial manufacturing,(auto-mobiles, trucks, computer hard disks and so forth), tourism and a still buoyant export market .
Thailand is also blessed with an abundance of natural resources and has always been totally self-sufficient in food production.
However, any more full-hardy policies of a similar nature could well put their economy into a tail spin from which it could take many years to recover.
A TRIP TO THE BIG MANGO
Last Friday morningm Noo and I woke at the horrendous time of 5 a.m. – given that we didn’t sleep until after 2 a.m. – to drive to Bangkok.
I had an early morning appointment at the British Embassy and a late afternoon appointment at Siriraj hospital; so I had decided to stay overnight rather than join the chaotic Friday evening rush hour out of Bangkok, when half of capital’s motorised residents take their weekly ‘run for the hills’.
The drive into town went well until we hit Sukhumvit Road, where traffic had ground to a total halt. I wasn’t too concerned as we still had plenty of time to get to the embassy, but a much bigger problem had surfaced – the need to relieve ourselves.
I had drunk a full thermos of coffee and Noo was also bursting. The traffic hardly moved and I seriously contemplated peeing into a small water bottle.
I had one but it was full of water, so I emptied the water into the empty thermos, and seriously considered going ahead with my plans.
There were two problems:
I wasn’t too confident that I could manage to pass the urine safely through the narrow necked bottle without my efforts ending in total disaster. And on top of this, Noo informed me in no uncertain terms that if I did attempt to relieve myself in such a manner, the sight would surely make her wet her knickers…..
She also added that the passengers in the bus alongside me in the traffic jam would have a ringside view of my urine extracting ‘operation’.
At that time we were near Soi 24 and our destination was hotel Chateau De Bangkok, in Soi Ruamrudee, some several kilometres down the road, past Asoke and Nana.
How we both made it there without doing ourselves a serious internal injury I’ll never know, but made it we did, and I still had plenty of time for my appointment at the embassy.
These days, the little piece of ‘Britain in Thailand’ is more like Fortress Embassy.The Ghurkha guards even took my mobile phone off me, after telling me to turn the power off. Noo was refused admittance and had to wait out in the street.
I was in the embassy for well over an hour and not having anticipated the confiscation of my phone, I suddenly realised how addicted I had become to the bloody thing – checking my emails, messages etc and reading the news updates on an almost non-stop basis.
I confess I sat there bored out of my mind and couldn’t think of anything to do to pass the time. I read all the notices on the notice board, collected a load of take away leaflets and even became a self-appointed embassy facilitator, helping perplexed visitors who didn’t realise they had to take a queue ticket from the touch screen ticket machine before they could see anyone.
In the days before smart phones were invented, I would have taken a book or newspaper to read, but now that smart phones have taken over all those functions I was quite troubled by my lengthy wait. God knows what I would do if I was put in jail or was in some way separated for a lengthy period from my beloved means of communication with the wide world.
Having finally obtained the embassy chop on my pre-prepared document for a whopping fee 3,100 Baht (about 60 quid), I returned to the long suffering Noo, who had been waiting outside in the heat, and we walked down Wireless Road to seek out a translation office.
A Thai man accosted us on the street and offered to do the translation at a cut- price rate.
Noo said, ‘Why not?’
I said, ‘Because, my love, we don’t know this guy from Adam and how can we be sure he won’t just do a runner with my money along with my precious document.’
She said, ‘Yes, I suppose so, but he looks so nice and trustworthy….’
A suitable translation office was duly located, and we returned to Chateau de Bangkok for Breakfast and a brief rest before setting off for Siriraj hospital, which is located on the other side of the Chao Phraya, in Thonburi.
The plan was to take the Sky Train to Thaksin Pier and then take the river boat ferry from Thaksin pier to Siriraj Pier.
The Sky train trip to Thaksin Pier required a change of trains at Siam Square. We made it without incident to Siam, and then rushed over the platform and jumped on the waiting train but I quickly realised it was going in the wrong direction….
I made a quick exit back onto the platform, only to see my little Noo disappearing into the distance ….going the wrong way….
Six phone calls later, Noo finally made it back to Siam and we then proceeded to embark on the correct train.
At Thaksin Pier we embarked on the river ferry for the 20 minute journey to Siriraj pier.
This was a wonderful little journey and evoked memories of my journey along the River Thames last summer from London Bridge to Greenwich.
The Chou Phraya River is not unlike the Thames in terms of width and also in terms of being the nation’s premier waterway, although I will say that the shore line scenery was in marked contrast to the sights we saw on our cruise along the Thames.
My photos below will provide a good idea of the incredible mix of luxury 5 star hotels, condominiums, and so forth, all mixed in with broken down wharfs, ancient slum housing, and historic edifices. In many ways teh Chou Phraya shoreline is a microcosm of Thailand; the incredibly wealthy and the unbelievably poor – co-existing in an oriental ‘melting pot’.
The specialist at Siriraj hospital was so pleased with my progress thatI don’t need to go back for another 4 months and he has suggested a gradual reduction in the many meds I am taking to keep my troublesome stomach under control.
For some unaccountable reason, the return river trip was a lot quicker than the outgoing leg, even though, by some incredible coincidence, we boarded the very same ferry that had taken us earlier that afternoon, (we knew, because it was the same conductor – who also recognised us), and we were soon back on the Sky Train that should have taken us back to Siam Square .
After we had passed 4 stations, it suddenly occurred to me we were going the wrong way….again…
Back on the platform, down a long flight of stairs, and back up another long flight, a somewhat exhausted Mobi and Noo finally alighted on the correct train on what was now a much longer journey back to Siam and thence to Ploenchit.
I really must take some lessons on how to read the Sky Train map; after all, there is only two lines and one interchange, yet we still managed to get on the wrong train twice on our two journeys.
Well after all… it was Friday 13th… but I didn’t mention it to Noo for fear she would rush to the nearest Wat to obtain some good luck charms to ward of the evil farang spirits that are out and about on such an inauspicious day.
We had a very tasty Japanese meal that evening in a delightful little bistro-style restaurant, just down the soi from the hotel, and as all the other customers were Japanese, I felt reassured that the food would be good.
And so it was, (see pic below), and we had our fill, including some delicious, locally made fruit drinks. The total bill was a modest 1,400 Baht. We pay more than that in the Fuji Restaurant chain in Pattaya.
We were pretty tired, but still determined to make a trip to the nearby Nan Plaza and show Noo how the bars work in the Big Mango.
It was the first night that the curfew had been lifted and we found Nana road and the surrounding environs positively heaving with girls and punters. I don’t think I have seen so many girls in one place for a very long time.
The bars on Soi Nana were jam packed with working girls and even the roadsides were full of women,(part time hookers), awaiting a kerb-side punter to whisk them off for a ‘short time’.
We decided to try out one of the go-go bars in Nana Plaza and ended up in a busy place on the second floor where four naked women lay on the tiny dance floor, writhing and caressing each other with copious soap suds.
I confess that there must have been a time when I might have derived some pleasure in watching such provocative antics but these days such sights leave me absolutely cold. Their exertions looked positively unpleasant and seedy and I couldn’t wait for the performance to end so that we could watch some ‘main stream’ go-go.
Much wiping and cleaning of the floor and the metal poles followed, and then the bar’s entire complement of go-go girls climbed onto the tiny stage. How they all managed to stay on there without falling off the edge was a minor miracle. There must have been at least 20 women up there.
The sight of so many scantily clad girls – who came in all manner of shapes and sizes – all trying to wiggle their bare bottoms in time with the excruciatingly loud music, was not doing much for either of us, so we decided to pay our bill – a whopping 260 Baht for two orange juices – and call it a night.
In spite of the supposedly exotic and exciting attractions, we were falling asleep.
We awoke at 9 a.m. and were on our way home by 11. When we reached Pattaya, I suggested that we take a quick swing by the bar and see how things were doing and also to check the previous night’s till.
We arrived a 1.30 p.m. and found all the ladies were sitting at one of the customer tables, eating Thai food and drinking from four large bottles of Singha beer…….
There is little doubt that trying to knock this bar into some semblance of order and ‘persuading Noo and the girls to work in the way I want them to work and behave is not going to be easy.
Running a billion dollar international insurance conglomerate was a piece of cake by comparison….
But I haven’t given up…. not yet anyway….
At the restaurant:
On the Chou Phraya River:
Siriraj Hospital environs:
Back on the river:
Views from 10th Floor, Chateau de Bangkok: