Going home wasn’t just as simple as leaving Bangkok then tada home. In fact after the last post I spent another day hanging around in Bangkok with Alex. After arranging to pickup my suit I wanted to head out to meet a metal sculpture artist who’s card I got at the Chatachuk weekend market (massive array of outdoor stalls, 1000’s of people). There I had viewed some of his sci-fi sculptures. I was very interested in purchasing a few. Armed with an address, helpfully printed in both English and Thai script we hailed a taxi going through the usual routine of ignoring the expensive looking taxi’s, having one driver not understand the Thai script address (bad eye’s, illiterate, stalling while he thought of a expensive side route to take us? I dunno, 5 seconds was all I was giving him to start understanding) and finally have one say he knew but was far away. No problem when he agreed to the meter. Having been half way there before on the way to Morchit bus station I knew his estimate of one hour to be about right. That would be under ten dollars. After an age we got to the address. A typical house down a side street in a suburb of north Bangkok but definitely correct due to the metallic sculptures sitting outside the wall.
Now the guy I got the card off didn’t speak good English but I did suggest I’d go out to his studio the next day. He had no problem with that, all agreeable and whatnot. But standing outside his house (having expected maybe a shop or working studio) in a quiet side street sweating in the roasting midday sun and high humidity it seemed like calling ahead might have been a good idea. Ringing the bell brought no response. Out to lunch then or just a lazy artist? Yeah probably. Alex and myself then walked back towards the main road to look for somewhere to pass half an hour. On the way I pulled out the card and attempted to speak to the person on the other end of the number. Many people you meet when traveling will seem to have good English, but this is because of a trick of deception your mind and their experiences have played upon you. You want them to understand and they want to agree. They are saying yes in English, they are nodding their heads and they are picking up the odd word in the sentence that they understand then adding their bit of wisdom to the conversation, occasionally seeming to be out of touch and at other times seeming to be really insightful and wise. It’s like speaking to a really drunk guy in a loud pub, you just nod and say yes occasionally hoping that what you say matches whatever weird line of thought they have taken. This conversation was like that. All I was trying to do was tell the person I was at the studio, at that point in time, while he wanted to arrange to meet in central bangkok two hours later and the understanding went no further than that.
So we went back to the house again, just in case someone was in. This time Alex took no chances with the door bell and gave a good rattle. Surprisingly a girl showed up and answered. Her English was much better. Turns out her brother was involved with the whole business. This was a show room and there was another. The sculptures were done elsewhere. And the person I’d met at the market was also involved but someone else completely. So she would handle the viewing. Inside air-con on and armed with a can of coke we got to check out some awesome pieces. The pictures, when I get them uploaded (some probs with this) will show this the best. Obviously the massive life size sculptures are extremely impressive. I think buying and shipping one will set you back around 8,000 dollars or there abouts. They are made out of anything metallic, themed around machine parts like spark plugs, bike chains, spanners etc and plenty of welding. I wanted to get three items, two smallish predators and one medium alien. They were not too pricey but when a courier woman was called in to do the pricing of them all together I got a tad worried. The price to ship that she gave me was well over the price of all three things put together. So in regret the alien had to go and I would carry to two smaller figurines through four airports all the way home. The original woman selling the items looked a tad disappointed, perhaps more used to big customers out at the house, but what did she expect calling in an expensive courier company rather than arranging the much cheaper postal shipping. I suspect she would have got a bit of commission for working with the courier company but in this case it was all a little to cosy and expensive for me.
The rest of the day was spent adding more presents to the pile of stuff already arranged to take home and trying to get our hands on some sedatives for some nasty plane trips home. A small detour to the hospital to get a doctor to prescribe some Valium (which is just ace! I’m told) may have happened. That night, in dreams, I had some nasty premonitions about having prescription drugs without prescription, class c in Thailand and so not wanting to risk one year in a Bangkok prison (hell on earth) I dumped the few Valium tablets I had the next morning. We got out to the airport and I said goodbye to Alex after customs. I bought Atarax at this point having made it past the customs and as I will describe later they worked pretty well. Several hours of flying later and I was in Hong kong. There was plenty of time to waste and so I set out for the city for the day. Here I mostly spent time up on Victoria peak eating, buying even more presents and checking out the cool views. Actually for the nerds reading, there I found an EA play booth, the sort you’d find in E3 or something, promoting all their games and there was even a poster signed by Will Wright. Then I made it back in time my 1am flight out.
On the plane I got a fairly crap seat. The spacing was just too small. This was using Oasis, a cheap Hong Kong based airline that will fly from Hong Kong to London for as little as 220 sterling, taxes included. Apparently it was set up by/for pilots over the age of 50 who would be automatically retired from Cathay Pacific, but still pretty capable of flying for another 10 years. Most of what they do is cargo runs, but they also have seating. Anyway, I waited until after the dinner and then attempted to sleep, throwing the Atarax tablets into me. After about an hour and a half of dozzing I woke up a little cramped and thought “oh crap, same as always, now I’m going to nod in and out for an hour or two and be awake for at least the last seven hours with a creak in my neck”. But surprisingly the tablets then kicked in and I woke up with one hour to go and no aches or pains. This is in a seat with a leaning angle that Bus Eirean would easily put to shame. Sweet.
In London I had pretty much the same day plan as Hong Kong because I booked a 5 quid flight with Ryan Air in the evening, with me arriving in early morning. I took the train into Victoria and walked down to Buckingham Place were plenty of tourists were looking on with royal lust in their eyes. Dreams of becoming dead princesses or elephant faced dukes never appealed to me so I walked on before some horse parade trampled more ideals. The weather was really good.. and omg, so fresh. Not humid at all. This is what good weather is about. So yeah, it rained for about 10 minutes, but then I was able to sit under a tree for two hours and pass time along the pleasant lake. I then walked down towards downing street to see how that was laid out. You know, it’s a bit like that time I was in Manchester on the set of Cornation Street. It’s totally fake. You know how they present it on tv as this sort of typical London street with rich houses and reporters casually waiting stories out front and ministers casually walking to and fro or showing up in a chauffeured car. Well it’s more like a prison block, the end of the street gated off with Police and everything done by appointment. I bet Mr Brown doesn’t even live there! So there you go, myth busted shocker. After that I walked across that bridge which was supposed to rock from side to side, up along the London Eye, into a pub for an attempt at a Guinness and then back to Victoria station.
After the train back to the Airport I got on Ryan Air, which is beaten hands down by TAM of Bolivia and arrived in a slightly dreary Dublin after 9 months away. BAM, I was home.