A friend of mine has tasked me with a few specifics. I think it’s an attempt to promote interspecies breeding or something. I have failed at the first objective – kissing an Orang Utan, but Joe has taken it upon himself to fraternise with elephants in Bangkok, without any prompting. You know that skinhead at nightclubs who grabs you, dances with you, and then finds a stage to moon the crowd from? That’s Joe.
Bangkok nights are not limited to western men, ping pong balls and lady boys. Enterprising Thais have taken to torturing elephants for the benefit of tourists. A baby elephant is paraded around the streets, starving hungry and cute as can be. Drunken tourist staggers out of nightclub, bottle of Heineken in hand. Looks both ways for homicidal tuk-tuk drivers and does a double take as they are confronted by an elephant walking toward them, sometimes playing a mouth organ. Drunken tourist pats elephant, elephant does cute things like trying to get at the bottle of Heineken. Elephant handler appears, brandishing nourishing elephant food in handy sized bags. Tourist is dumbstruck, buys elephant food from handler. Elephant whips food from tourist’s hand, then goes back to trying to get at Heineken. Tourist is dragged off by friends, sick at abhorence of making baby elephant grow up on streets of Bangkok.
Thats what normally goes down. But last night was different, not least because we found a bar called B52. This bar was to be our salvation, after going to the Dubliner several hours late. The Dubliner, as Irish as any pub with Thai waitresses can be, managed to omit the grand marnier from the B52 we ordered there. But not to worry, we’d clocked a bright neon sign proclaiming ‘B52‘ on our nightmare taxi ride to the Dubliner. They’d surely be able to help in our quest for triple-tiered drinks and a rapid descent into depravity.
Indeed they were of assistance. We had B52s. We had Kamikazes. We had Thai whiskey. I got beaten at Connect 4 by the ka-toey bartender. We had more whiskey. Jim and Wan spotted one of the customers from their restaurant. Joe had met a young lady, and was beating her at Connect 4. Things were going a bit Pete Tong, as we were never going to make it to the Ministry of Sound to get in free, and time’s winged chariot was being dragged by wild horses towards midnight.
Hawkers hawked to us, peddlars peddled. I’ve had knives pulled on me before. I even went to hospital after a fight involving a knife at college. Admittedly it was a knife in my own pocket, but that doesn’t sound quite as hardcore. But I must admit, I was genuinely surprised when a small girl peddling lighters, pulled out a knife and put the business end into my chest. I don’t think I had time to be scared, perhaps it was because I was outside an open air bar surrounded by Jim, Wan and Joe (plus ladyboy. plus Joe’s new friend). She jabbed it a bit, not enough to break the skin, and asked, “You want to die, or you want to say?” I didn’t understand, and told her as much. As often happens in these situations, my mind went a little sideways, and I started thinking of the possible blood, and how blotchy my chest looked already from the days waxing. I asked how much it would cost to die. “One million baht!” I didn’t even bother trying to figure out what that was in Sterling. “Two million!”, I raised the price, spurred on no doubt by the whiskey. She withdrew the knife and then lunged at my neck. Again, my mind went sideways, and I recalled that during a cut throat razor shave a few days before, I had completely entrusted by life to a complete stranger. She drew the blade across my neck, and walked off. I turned to Joe. We were both surprised. No blood was drawn.
Elephants. We left the bar shortly afterwards, a little the worse for the booze and rampant heat of the city. Jim tipped the bartender for beating me at Connect 4. Joe said goodbye to his new friend. Unpredictably enough, we were greeted by a baby elephant outside the bar, crossing the street towards us. Jim, Wan, and I moved past – I had temporarily forgotten my mission to kiss an elephant. Joe however had decided to do one of his party tricks in front of another young girl, standing at the corner of the street. The elephant must have been about five feet tall, but this didn’t put Joe off getting out his John Thomas and slapping the elephants head with it. Elephants are big and strong. They have long trunks. They can lift trees and knock down buildings. Personally, I wouldn’t put my family jewels too near an elephant’s face. And after Joe’s performance, I don’t think I’ll kiss an elephant’s face, either. Well not that elephant anyway. Sorry Alia.