Storm in Bangkok

The thunderstorm that just rolled through was one of the most violent we’ve seen, and in Bangkok, that’s saying a lot. Rain poured down in sheets so thick we could barely see the Baiyoke Tower from our apartment on the 18th floor, on the other side of Petchaburi Road.

The wind, like Homer Simpson and an unwatched pie on a window sill, swept my swimsuit off the drying rack and pulled it into the air in front of the balcony, holding it still just long enough for me to scream an internal “Noooooo!” before sweeping it off into the great unknown. I can’t help but think of it landing square on someone’s face, like a tired gag in a tired American comedy.

As usual this time of the year, the storm dissipated as quickly as it began; weather has no memory here. The sun is shining bright, and the scorching midday heat is helping smog up the city again. Dear old Bangkok could probably benefit from another bath later today, actually.

Last night we met our friends Joy and Trevor at Sawaree Terrace. As soon as we arrived Joy promptly ordered a tower of Heineken beer for the table, as well as a few bottles of Chang just to, you know, make sure we had enough. We were soon joined by a friend of Trevor’s, Yorg, along with his Thai girlfriend. Standing about 6-6 and thin as a beanpole–he reminded me of Stephen Merchant–Yorg arrived in a flurry of exaggerated hand gestures and a long list of grievances, a list which only grew as he realized he had our undivided, bemused attention.

Sawaree Terrace

Yorg’s day in Bangkok began with a trip to Bumrangrad Hospital to have a worsening case of itchy scalp looked at. (I’ve been there a number of times myself; it’s rather pleasant if you ask me, at least as far as hospitals go. I can only imagine how many nasty sexpats with nasty health problems those poor doctors and nurses must see every day, which isn’t to say Yorg is a sexpat; he definitely isn’t.)

Yorg didn’t understand why he had to surrender so much of his “personal data” just to see a doctor, but relented after a short argument with the staff… a staff which was surely horrified at his public display of semi-aggression. Unfortunately, after all that consternation, he decided the long wait wasn’t worth it and left; his scalp would have to go on itching, and his personal data would have to languish unscrutinized.

Afterwards, his ongoing search for a tailor specializing in shirts for 6-6 German beanpoles ended emptyhanded once again. He went home to find his girlfriend still feeling sour: she had been “grumpy for maybe 2 or 3 days” since he had lamented about how slow and directionless she walked on the sidewalks; clearly, he wasn’t yet aware this practice was not unique to her. All Thais are slow and directionless on sidewalks. The bellyaching was all in good fun: Yorg clearly loves living here.

Life is Sweet

After drinks at Sawasdee we walked with him and his girlfriend down a nearby soi, us bound for a local bar he’d recommended, them to a small market to fetch fruit for their muesli in the morning, then to the only 7-11 in the area he claimed had the exact size milk carton he needed. Yorg is truly a nut, but the endearing kind of nut.

We grabbed the one outdoor table in front of the bar, Sweety’s, and settled in for cocktails: my girlfriend a pina colada (which she swears was the best one she’s ever had in Thailand), me a whiskey sour. The soi was pleasantly empty. There was little more sound than the faint voices of Thais belting out karaoke from a small bar across the street, and the far-off crank of motorbikes on Phaya Thai. It was as close to dead quiet as it can usually get in Bangkok.

Intoxicated by the moment (and, okay, the drinks too), we ordered a jug of “Blue Hawaiian Beach”, which was served with a small ladle and two shot glasses and had the consistency of a watery slurpee. It was available in the following strengths of liquor: light, medium, hardcore, hardcore plus, or hardcore + shot. Take the guesswork out of how strong your mixed drink will be and simply pay for how drunk you want to get–brilliant! We’ll be back.

On the way home, half past midnight, I bought a som tam and bag of vermicelli from one of the late-night food vendors on Petchaburi. It’s going to rain again later. Tomorrow too. Fortunately, tropical storms here make for great theater. After nearly 8 months, my flight back “home” to New York the first week of July looms ever larger. It’s June 2; I’m not ready. Not ready at all.