Sunday, August 23, 2009

So. This, more or less, is the semi-censored, semi-true adventure of our last day and night in Thailand, our one more night in Bangkok. It started bland, just moseying through town, visiting all the spots we saw on our first couple days, back when it was new and we were vulnerable silly lambs, this time calloused with experience, cooly dismissing the suit-makers and frog ladies, hardly glancing at the dread-lock magicians, now savvy of our whereabouts and how-to-get-abouts, now knowing the grilled corn to be dry and unsavory, etc.

We did take a river taxi though, which was new, and fresh, and not that special really, but new. We then hit up the Amulet Market, which is a long sidewalk of people with blankets and little Buddha or Krishna amulets strewn, or King Rama necklaces maybe. Or big wooden penises, that sort of thing. We did a little shopping, and then glory behold I finally found my Thai thrift store! Which I'd been craving to find but had long since decided was a hopeless fancy. But there, on one of the spread blankets, heaps and heaps of dirty, torn, filthy, vomit and poo-stained clothing, scraps of material, all stuck in one humid, steaming heap. Glory joy! I dug right in.

Most of the items were pleasure for the sake of laughter, silky flared pajama or possibly dance pants, with feathers and crystal beading. All manner of slinky silky top-pieces, shreds of unknowable fabric! But, being open-minded, I tried on a good 4 or 5 items, receiving stares and whistles from the other blanket-lounging vendors, all encouraging me to buy, yes, look good, very nice, their fellow slumstress's wares. In the end, I was torn between two polos. One fit better but was plain other than some really terrific armpit discoloration, and the other was a bit sackish, but had a Thai insignia on the chest, so I went for it. No stains. Hardly a stink! I don't think very many Thai people are willing to engage in the muck-raking though, even to find the gems within. I didn't see any doing their own sorting, but while I flailed through the mess quite a few stopped and observed, watching carefully if I might uncover for them a particular satin gem, or perhaps a pair of billowy velvet trousers. But no, it seemed I was the only one willing to cough up 10 Baht for a blouse, and I'm glad I did. It was the last of my money, and it infuriated Kyle that I spent it.

Kyle thinks I am irresponsible on souvinir buying, and says I've been unfair in my personal spending, since we draw from one community pot of cash, and just keep track of our respective "discretionary debts." He said we wouldn't have money to last us if I bought any more stuff, but I just took more out of the ATM, no big deal! Besides, I only ended up spending ten more US dollars than him, pheesh! I spoke my piece though, and now it's over anyway, so hopefully no begrudgments left.

After our day's heartening romp, we hiked back to the hostel to freshen up for dinner. We dressed once more in our cleanest, decentest wares, remembering shoes not slippers this time, Kyle in his pink checkered blouse again, me sausaging my thighs back into those black acid-wash jeans that were accidentally AJ's not mine and so tight and not stretched comfortable, and with a peek-a-boo hole all along the back just under the left buttocks. Oh yes, Bangkok. This is all yours for tonight!

Alex has a friend who is currently living in Bangkok, who asked not to be named in the blog when I told him I'm writing one, so we'll call him Freckle. Freckle was Thai but spoke perfect English because he'd done boarding school in England, then dentistry school in Omaha and was working there until a Visa fiasco. So he was essentially killing time in Bangkok while his lawyer worked stuff out and offered to take us out, feed us some proper Thai food since he knew we'd been doing the village market thing. And, as it turns out, proper means insanely expensive and almost frighteningly well garnished, as well as delicious.

Freckle was a man of society, let me say! He took us to his friend's restaurant at a beautiful fancy hotel near the Red Light District, and which is in a restored traditional Thai house from last century, all plushness and incredible folded lotus decorations and inhumanly delicate carved vegetable and fruit garnish boquets on every plate. We shared a buffet of appetizers and then a buffet of entrees, with unlimited drinks to boot, and the owner gave us a tour explaining the refurbishment and a few of the antiques decorating throughout.

Over dinner Freckle asked us if we'd be interested in seeing a bit of Bangkok's freaky side, perhaps something along the lines of those shows we'd heard about but couldn't believe last time we ventured to see the infamous area. He said we were close to some interesting hot-spots, and he'd take us for a drink and a sight-see, if we were interested. I was. Oh yes. Why not? Gotta do it, I always say. Especially if generous Freckle is footing the tab.

I quickly and expertly coerced Kyle through his shy anxiety, then we took our complimentary after-dinner liqueur shooters, and were off.


There are no words (especially because I don't want to tag my blog for adult content) for the sights we laid witness to over the next couple of hours, but let me say one scenario involved a train of lady-boys mock-penetrating a howling man, and in general there was a good deal of stunned blushing speechlessness on our part.


Thankfully, after Freckle showed us what he showed us, he knew we could use a giant martini. So we walked to the fanciest hotel around, asked the doorman if Bamboo Bar upstairs was still open, to which he shook his head no, but Freckle insisted he let us at least have a look around the lobby. Freckle then led us into the elevator and up to the ultra modern, ultra-expensive looking top-floor bar, where he smoothly cajoled the bar maiden and her staff of cheerful waitresses to serve us their famous foot-high martinis with blue-cheese stuffed olives (as mentioned before), as well as some spicy Thai cashews for munching. Needless to say we quickly recovered and it was time for dancing!

But when we got to the disco, it was insanely crowded and Freckle was tired and it was late, and Kyle was tired too, so they both decided to head home and leave me to my frenetic, seizurous choreographies. A few hours later it was 5 in the morning! And I'd met an incredible and hilarious little gang of English speaking (at various skill-levels) Thais. Kaew and her boyfriend BingBing (who spoke flawless and unaccented because he'd lived in the US for 14 years, and looked just like a little hipster with his bowtie and puffed bang), and then Kaew's little brother Art who was the only one who didn't speak English, but who had a phone to show all of the Chihuahua puppies he breeds and sells. I pray it's a small family operation, not a full on mill, but either way they were sweet little dears in pictures. And then a boy named Boy! Really? Yes. And a few other wacky, funny friendly people. They asked me how old I was and I said 22 in a week, and they all went crazy and started screaming a frantic chorus of Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday from a group of amazing strangers in the middle of wet, grimy alley-way outside a crowded disco in Bangkok's Red Light District. Yes. Who, honestly who, could ask for anything more.

We walked to a little noodle vendor and they bought me soup, and we talked and laughed for another hour. It turns out there are these dolls people have, called Blythe dolls, and you can dress them up in crazy ways, and this little posse of friends has monthly themed contests for dressing their dolls! And last month's winner determines this month's theme. Kaew, who was thirty, had won last month's "Rio Diganero Carnival!" theme and selected "Me in My Room" for this round. Yes! Yes of course! Her doll's name is Rie, a Japanese name she informed me. Boy's doll's name is Fay. Bing is one of the judges, and I'm going to be guest judge this month via the photos they'll send me of all the entries! Kaew described in detail her plans for Rie this month, a garden scene, with the doll in a gazebo... painting a picture! Oh Oh it's so good so good. I cannot wait to see it.

Eventually it was pretty much morning so we all exchanged emails and names and everything, and then they helped me find a good taxi, and helped figure out how to get me to my hostel, since I only knew the name and not the street, and Art even rode along to talk to the driver and to make sure nothing happened since they were worried about me not having a phone. Beautiful beautiful people.

I finally got back to the room at 6 am or so, flopped onto to the bed for 45 minutes, woke up and packed the bag for the last time, jamming my stinking, moist articles into the gaping gorge and happy I won't be wearing most of them again anytime soon. Then off in the swindling taxi to Democracy Monument, public bus to the airport, and up up up and away. So long Bangkok. So long Thailand. What a miracle and a wonder and pleasure and a pain and a treat and feat to taste and see in three short weeks! Oh! Thailand! A servile and luscious guest you have been! What forbidden fruits we've suckled together in the loins of my velvety hospitality. We must again soon, we must we must!

And I'm not sure if this blog is done. There's still the roadtrip from Seattle to Lincoln, the mad rush to class by Tuesday at 11, and certainly plenty more time for revelations and upheavals.

Oh, and I forgot, I agreed to give Kyle a chance to write a post on here, so he can have a word in edge-wise. So that'll be coming tomorrow, followed of course by my stunning rebuttal.

Oh, dear reader, it has been fun, hasn't it. It has.

One Night in Bangkok

Oh yes. White blazin' glory. That's it. Yes.

A Few Quick Nuggets of Thaiglish,

for your reading pleasure, dear reader.

These are all from one menu at a little outdoor eatery just behind the bus station in Sukothai. There was a pet rooster on the tables and among us as well. These three sets were separated on the menu, as if clearly belonging to distinct categories, and they were written in Thai accompanied by the following translations:

- Whole poker neck.
- The entrails roasts.
- The tongue roasts.

- Minced fish fierce meat.
- Mix total up sea friend.
- Cook spicy a domestic fowl.
- Cook spicy a frog.
- Cook the vegetables totals up.

- A traditional Thai lettuce dish, with frog, beef, onions, salad.
- Another traditional Thai dish.
- Another one.

Can I have a plate of your Another one. please? It sounds like just what I'm looking for, non-specific, possibly traditional, impossible to know. If you're out I'll take a poker neck sea friend combo platter.

I think

there are fleas in this airport. I itch all over. I'm gonna go get my free meal now. Kyle won us free vouchers just by asking if there was an earlier flight! What? There aren't a ton of flights from Taipei to Seattle daily? Alright, voucher please! Badabing!

I've gotta hurry so I can come back before the flight out and tell about my couldn't-have-been-better last night in Thailand, a lecherous and bourgeois romp through Bangkok!

Teaser: Giant martinis with blue-cheese stuffed olives!

I hope no one steals my sittin' cart.

finishing up...!

So, let me finish quickly the tale of the trek, so I don't have to be Thailand blogging back in the states...

I think I left off at the European breakfast, which was immediately followed by more casual rice whiskey shooting. Then, we participated with Tee and Yao (the Shaman) and another man whom we were told to call Papa Monkey (a name Tee also used for Jacob and Sergev at times), in a Animist prayer ritual. Which is technically the reason they make the rice whiskey. But you only use one bottle for the ceremony, and each batch produces five or six, so there are extras for sipping and sharing! Kyle said he could really get behind a religion that's prayer consists of sitting in a circle taking shots.

(Damnit another obscure Taiwan airport interruption, but I just have to report that the women workers here are wearing little bowties and miniature bowler hats, and that a man just delivered me a shopping cart to sit in while I use the computer.)

Back to the ceremony: The Karin people are originally Animist, but now some have converted to Christianity, though a lot still participate funnily enough in Animist prayer. The first and last sip of the bottle are poured out for the Anscestral Spirit, and there's a careful code for who passes to whom, who pours each shot, how much is poured each time, whether you finish the whole thing or sip and pass. It's pretty elaborate. Or maybe Tee was just bullshitting us so he could drink some more. Anyway, it was fun.

After that we had to venture back out of the dark, cool, coal-lit hut and into the dazzling heat and sun to tour the village and then trek back. Sergev, who as I said was tall and a little fat, went to the edge of the "terrace" as he called it, to hang a bit of clothing to dry, and fell through the floor board! Oh! It's the funniest thing, though, you cannot apologize or make any sort of big deal about it. Tee insisted we move instantly away and not look at the hole, and the whole family were in an uproar asking Sergev if he was okay, okay, okay? He was fine, the precious tiny hut was not.

Later, when we visited Grandma and Grandpa across the way again, to see the chew stuff made and say hello, Jacob and Sergev both broke a board on the little porch landing at the bottom of their step ladder! Oh! The delicate village, and we the devastating foreign pillagers. A classic scenario.

Everyone had their rice dumped out on mats drying in the sun, because it had rained and if the stores sprouted they'd all be ruined for food use. Such labor! We saw the primitive de-husking log pounder. We learned how they make fires on the inside of bamboo huts without burning down the village. And then, we hiked. And hiked and hiked and hiked and it was ghastly hot and unendingly upward, but finally eventually it was over and we had lunch of noodles wrapped in leaves with on-the-spot made bamboo chopsticks and then a pleasant shaded stroll to a different village's little school elementary school.

There was a kindergarden for kids 3 through 6, and then up through the 6th grade. The Thai government sponsors these schools in all the Karin villages, provides buildings, materials, teachers (modest provisions but still), and allows only the Thai language to be taught. Children aren't supposed to use Karin there at all. I don't know how I feel about that. None of them ever learn to read or write Karin unless their parents decide to teach them, and I can't imagine that's immensely common. But still, in the city there is no free education and parents have to pay to send their kids even to elementary school, so it's something. The kids were all running about mad, and I wasn't sure if that was standard procedure or they were on recess. It looked fun anyway! Tee said the government's stance was that the Karin people didn't necessarily have to be totally literate, but they should at least know how to read and write their names. How generous of them!

Last time the teacher had asked Tee to bring a soccer ball, and he had, and the uproar was delicious. Sixty kids fizzing with excitement about a flat dirty football pulled out of a purse-sack. Good fun!

Then it was just a matter of trucking back to Chiang Mai and interrogating Sergev in the back about being an Italian director. I'm hoping he'll take on the project I'm working on, the film about this experience, where I'm played by Oprah. Sergev thought I was a dancer because of my posture, and who better to play a dancer than Mdme. Whinfrey her-graceful-self? The Queen of Thailand is retired from theater or I'd have asked her to understudy.


Here I am and we are in Taiwan's airport its very self, doing the 6 hour layover boogie thing. If this trip were a baby chick it would be totally fried and ready for dismemberment!

I've got to clarify one thing quick, because I don't want to leave an ugly portrait of anxious dad floating around the blogiverse. That is, I was never particularly abused or ill-regarded by anxious dad as a boy and so, upon talking with Alex who is wise in such things, and reflecting, I've come to think of the awful dad dreams (which were only 2, not so bad!) as not necessarly referencing real dad himself, or my relationship with him. Because he wasn't even in the first one, and in the crazy screaming one he wasn't really himself, he was just dad archetype. So, I think what maybe is going on is some sort of dream-reflex more related to fatherly....


Okay here comes a staffperson. My god. The thing is wily. It's running away. It's gotta be at least three inches long. Shudder. Shudder.

Alright, so, anyway, as I was saying, I think dad conflict in my dreams is related to patriarchy/fatherly affiliated things, like responsibility, and the stress of constantly having to be responsible for myself, look after myself, make a thousand decisions every day. Granted a lot of those decisions are actually silly, but some are big!, and they all seem completely pivotal at the moment, when the sweaty fat woman in a head-dress is staring at you just inches away, stroking her noisemaking teak frog toy with such pitious and pleading melancholy, whimpering again and again, "Okay you touch, okay you touch." No thanks, but I'm sorry! You and all the others indistinguishable from you are very sweet!

And then there's always those inevitable regrets, when soon after one such decision it becomes all to clear that, made in haste or even carefully weighed, it turned out to be premature and not in good judgment. As per, when I made a purchase several days ago at a Night Market in Chiang Mai. I hesitate to mention this, because it happens to be about the souvinir I bought for anxious dad, and I feel he's suffered enough, but I'll go ahead anyway. It was saffron, alright, baggies of red saffron, big baggies, like a sandwich bag, not stuffed fat but flatly full you know, full of saffron for a very reasonable price. I asked myself, ever the cautious shopper, "Is this really saffron? It can't be, but it does look like saffron. Doesn't saffron come in tiny vials at obscene prices? And this is a lot of it for not an obscene price. But at the same time, the price doesn't seem totally ridiculously cheap, it must have some quality. It's probably a much commoner weedy saffron strain, but still dad loves to cook and when would he ever buy saffron for himself? And I've heard of saffron rissoto, which he likes to make, and maybe he'd enjoy trying to prepare it, and he could just use more than normal and the flavor might be similar?" After about thirty seconds of deliberation, I bought a little envelope of the red stuff for 100 Baht or so.

We continued wandering the market, eyeing silks and watches like grandmother gypsies out for a stroll, until we came upon an indoor mall-like area, with non-tent stalls, but real rooms from which similar goods were being sold. And there, no freaking kidding you, were bags and bags, heaps upon heaps, of the saffron we'd just bought in a comparatively tiny amount, and these bags at even MORE reasonable bulk prices. Purple with disgust, I turned to hurry out of the stall, bumping into things in my mania and rage, and I kid you not, just as I was about out, just as the nightmare of shame was almost over, I glanced down at my feet and saw a garbage bag of the stuff. A garbage bag full of Thai saffron. Just think of all that risotto!

So, the long short of this post is, sorry again, pop!

Friday, August 21, 2009

the trek, finally, hopefully

It all began by Kyle and I sleeping in and thinking we'd missed the goose. We were supposed to be at Pooh's place by 6 am, and I stumbled out of bed looking for the time a half-past seven. Poor Sergev'd been waiting the whole time! But luckily Tee wasn't mad. We ate some fruit and coffee, hopped in the truck and began the 2+ hour drive away from civilization, stopping at a market on the way for cooking groceries and beautiful hiking loafers for Sergev.

We started hiking sometime in the afternoon, set off down a pleasant dirt trail, the sun on our backs, plenty of water in our packs. Almost immdiately Tee began rattling off his wealth of interesting knowledge, from everything edible and how to find out to how many kilos an elephant can lift with its tusks. We were passing a lot of poo from the cows that roamed from the nearby village, and Tee told us about the Buffalo Dung Beetles, which we've all seen and heard of, rolling their little poo balls and laying their eggs inside. But then we saw something new! How to locate the mothers, the big ones, in their dens, and dig them up. Tee started plowing in with his giant knife, a foot down til we could hear the hissing wail and see the ebony glint. He fished her out, the size of a pool-ball, and showed her to us. The babies grow up in the poo balls and come out fully grown as big as her he said.

The next part was funny, because the slogan of Pooh's trekking is Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and kill nothing but time. Tee explained that the dung beetles were excellent to eat and tossed the noisy glossy little beast into his purse bag "for later." Along the way Tee and the other two guidemen with us located and ousted a few other little snacks from their places of residence. We were shown a rotted looking bamboo, and Tee told us it was because of maggots. So, his associate went and hacked it down, and brought it to us to see. We were all expecting those little nasty white writhing worms that eat dead stuff, but this was only one maggot, doing it all by himself. He was as big as two thumbs, undulating and blobbing in Tee's fingertips, helpless and fat. These were even better eats, Tee explained, because they were all meat and no skeleton. Oh yes. Like scrambled eggs he said.

Soon we came upon a Bamboo Elephant Beetle, milking a fat stalk of bamboo with its yes, very trunklike, probiscus. One guide walked to the bottom and said, ready? Tee nodded and lightning fast the guy broke the bamboo and the top came smacking against the path. Tee grabbed the dazed beetle before it reorient, and he proceeded to explain the these beetles were given as gifts, like toys, by parents to their children. He tied a string to one of its long tusk-like projections, then told us how tried to fly away, and the child can hold the string and carry it around like a little balloon. Then when it gets tired and stops flying, the child cooks it over the fire and eats it!

But this one wouldn't fly, so Tee and Long started shaking it around, then breaking off its legs, to make it fly. But it wouldn't, so they broke off all its legs, then its tusks, and finally its wing covers. Game over, little friend. Long popped its butt in his mouth and bit off everything but the head, and crunched it down his throat. "Tasty!" he grinned, with a heavy accent.

We worked our way down through the various levels of forest until we arrive at a cave entrance, The Bat Cave. Hiking up our shorts we plodded on in. We'd be walking through and in the river that flowed through and had created the cave, with only three burning torches to guide us. I was worried at first about getting soggy feet, knowing we had so far left to go, but it turned out we'd be in and out of the river, crossing again and again to reach better trails, for the rest of the day, so there was no hope of staving off the wet. The Bat Cave was certainly a bat cave, and we could hear and see them all above and among us, in droves, angry at our intrusion, but all talk.

We met another trekking group, of 7, at a bamboo hut by the river where they'd be staying. (We were doing the same thing they were doing, except backwards and in two days instead of three.) They had a fire going for supper so Tee brought out the maggot and beetle and proceeded to roast them up for all to share! We passed around the beetle first, each taking a bite of its stringy meat. Jacob was the only one to pass, a true blue vegetarian. The texture was alright, the flavor smoky, meaty, but hard to describe. Like Tee said, you can't describe it, you've just got to try it. Soon the maggot had stopped hissing steam and Tee brought out his knife to slice it up. We each got a little maggot disk, creaming inside, almost like runny eggs yes!, and tougher on the skin, almost like the skin of a sausage. The flavor was meaty again, but closer to eggs, plus smoky from the fire. Sergev was really into it, and Kyle liked it pretty well too. Sergev fantasized about the maggots, fried with a very crispy outside and the inside even softer and creamier. Oh yes.

We continued on down the river, Tee showing us a leaf that can be snapped open and its sap blown into bubbles, and then up, up, up, endlessly up the huge green mountain-hills to the village's rice paddies, up more, up to the village itself. Just outside of it, Tee produced from his underwear strap a tiny baggie of mah-ree-wanna, which he said we could roll ourselves and smoke secretly in the outhouse later if we were intersted. It all happened so quickly, one by one, asking us, do you want it? do you want it? Everyone shook their head a sober no thanks. So he unwrapped it from its plastic and tossed it into the bush. Cheers!

As it later turned out, there would be no shortage of intoxicants in the village itself!

We arrived at Yao, the village Holy Man's, bamboo house, met his wife and two youngest sons, and unloaded our gear and took a rest. Almost immediately, the rice whisky was produced and shots were being passed around. The stuff is unbelievable smooth for home hooch, and tasts a lot like sake. Cheers!

It got dark quick, because it gets dark so early here, and more and more other villagers came and joined us for whiskey and laughs on the little porch area. We all started cutting and snipping and preparing food for the meal. Tee drank the most of all I think, because he officially postponed all questions for the morning. He didn't want to tell us something wrong because he was drunk, and because he had to focus on cooking the meal, which was incredible and vast. While we watched and waited and helped where we could, we sampled some day-old roasted mouse that was staring blackly from about the small far, rigid on its bamboo spit. It was mostly smoky and tough, a lot like the beetle actually. Weird!

It's so nice to not be in the minority as a vegetarian! (If I can call myself anything like that still.) Sergev got his own little bowl of chicken stuff, but the mail courses were all veges, to share we had a green curry soup with potatoes, mixed vegetable stir-fry, and another tofu fry with chili paste. And bottomless rice the mother kept frantically shoving onto our barely cleared plates, literally by the fistful.

After our enormous dinner, more rice whisky was brought out and dispersed, and the arm and leg-wrestling began. And playing with the cameras! All the villagers, especially the little boys, were thrilled by our tiny TVs, and wanted to take and look at themselves in a million photos. I had the strangest warm feeling, watching the mother look at herself in a picture, almost forty years old and and seemingly genuinely surprised and intrigued by what she saw. It struck me, how possibly little their faces and bodies were attached to any concept of ego. Do they see themselves, their bodies, as a function, as a tool to use and hope it doesn't wear out? Once they're married do they ever think about their appearance again?

The mother had no sense of looking at herself in a mirror every day and making judgments and assigning value by what she finds there. She probably knows herself better by her hands than her face, let alone by when she sees her whole body in a photo. The old people too, with their black teeth from the stuff they chew, seem completely oblivious to the fact that they are, if not toothless, black toothed, and with black lips, black juice running out the edges of their mouth. It doesn't matter because it's not all wrapped up into that idea of an ego, of a self, a self that very much includes appearance, but also the books you've read, the movies you've seen, the people you know. I wanted to know, I wanted so badly to sit down and talk with that mother, to ask her, who do you think you are? To find how she regards herself, her self? As a tool for completing tasks, as a collection of experiences, as eyes that see and exist only in the present moment and perform what is presently necessary?

I wondered how much any of the villagers live in the present moment, how far do they think to the future and what kind of plans do they make? They're subsistence farmers. Are they just worried about this year's harvest? Next year's? It seems like so much of their lives are laid out before they can ever make any decisions. Do they ever learn how? I don't want to oversimplify their lives, their minds. They are completely and fully human beings, but their dailiness is filled with so little stimulation and such a limited range of experiences, I know their view of life must be so totally different from mine, and I'm curious! But I'd have to learn the Karin language to ask. Woe.

When we ran out of rice whisky, Tee had Kyle and I go to the mother's parents house 20 meters away and request more! It was a very awkward encounter, because Tee was drunk and hadn't really told us what to do or say, anything exept making us memorize the man's name! So we go trucking up their miniature steps and into their little hut, and there they are, ancient and wrinkled, lying down for bed on their little mats! Kyle and I looked at each other, terrified, confused. How do you just barge into a situation like this, and then give no explanation other than to say the man's name?! But the old woman understood without our help, reapplied her head turban and went to the shelf in the corner, bringing down two gleaming bottles of rice whisky, which looked to be capped by little clear condoms! (Tee later explained that a custardy street food comes in those plastic things, and they save them for caps, but still, very condom-like in appearance.) The whisky was even smoother than the last, and topped our night off swimmingly.

Just as we were growing tired, and mother was yawning suggesting the party come to a close, Yao produces his little white bottle of Chinese remedy powder, with its U-shaped metal tube nose applicator. He loaded me up a hit, and I put one end of the U in my mouth, but before I could load the other end into my eager nostril, I coughed and blew the sweet load into my eyeball. Stinging at first, I quickly recovered and realized, say! that's not so bad. Load me up another! Which he did, twice, one for each nostril, properly blown all the way deep into my sinuses, and then later one more, for my left nostril, which felt like it needed a little bit more. Sergev and Kyle did it too, and of course Tee, and in the end we still weren't sure what it was or what purpose it was supposed to serve. To clear the sinuses maybe? It sort of had the partly sweet and bitter taste of a pill, if you let it sit on your tongue too long before swallowing, but dribbling down the back of your throat instead. So good.

We pretended we were all gonna get addicted, and be begging for more in the morning. I manically asked the guys if they felt like dancing, I feel like dancing! I said.

But instead we set up the mosquito nets and sleeping bags right where we'd been having jollies a minute before, and went off to bed. By 4 am, a few short hours later, every family's roosters were violently being throttled, or else cockadoodling, and so it made for a short night of restlessness, but absolutely worthwhile.

For breakfast, we were treated to "European barbecue" according to Tee, or toast and jam, eggs with tomato and peppers. And hot tea!

Oh! I'll have to finish telling the tale another time. Thought I could make it but I've gotta get back to the bus. We're leaving in a few minutes for Bangkok. I can't believe Thailand is almmost over, the deed is almost done! School starts in three days, with or without me...

But it's not over yet! Let's see what else I can put in my mouth before this thing's over!

And let's see about getting rid of this pesky manhood before it's too late!

Sawatdee khrap!