Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Freewheelin’ in S.E.A - Day 33: Superman’s Stag Party

Following a glorious lie in we awoke in each other’s arms around mid-day, stopping at yesterday’s football bar for a traditional English fry-up before heading into a nearby mall in search of some suitable footwear for the forthcoming wedding, due to storing my Chelsea boots at the Lub D hostel in Bangkok at the start of my trip. After strolling around and purchasing a few little bits and pieces for our future home, we went to a nearby market where I picked up some fake Birkenstock sandals for £4. That’ll do. We made our way back to our room, got showered and ready for the Stag and Hen parties, leaving our guest house around 7pm and taking a ten minute stroll to Alexa and Hayden’s fancy hotel, where all of the wedding party were gathering for drinks. It was lovely to see our soon-to-be happily married friends and being introduced to the thirty-odd family and friends who had flown over from England and Australia to this magical middle ground, to witness true love combined. I was introduced to Aimi, who was the female version of me in the sense that she was married to the best man, Richard, whereas the maid of honour, Sarah, was on my arm. Aimi informed me of Richards plans for all the guys to go and watch the Muay Thai boxing, and said he’d organised some VIP tickets for 2000 baht a pop if I wanted to join them. I jumped at the chance, it was something I had been interested in seeing, but there was no chance of going with Sarah who is not one for organised displays of violence. Richard took Hayden away after secretly distributing a bunch of Superman t-shirts to the six of us guys who had opted in for the boxing, and we all put on our kit for the evening. The groom and best man returned shortly after, Richard also wearing his t-shirt and Hayden in a full Superman outfit, blue spandex, red cape, complete with bulging padded muscles on his chest and the hugest cod-piece ever, stuffed down the front. Beautiful. We all cheered as he got straight into character, ready to save the world, or destroy himself trying. Sarah had been carrying a bag full of hen party accessories around Thailand for the past two weeks, and shared out an assortment of pink feather boas amongst the girls and adorned Alexa with a tiara and white veil, a garter belt, and a sash which read ‘Bride to be’. Despite the general tack of such things, she still managed to make it look classy.
Happy Hens
With an hour until the van came to separate the men from the boys, I decided to do Sarah and I the favour of going back to the hotel to get us more cash as I didn’t have enough to cover the boxing, let alone the boozing which would go alongside it, and Sarah hadn’t brought much either. We were still in the travellers’ mind-set and hadn’t considered paying for any extras. I found my way out of the mazy corridors at their hotel and started walking at a fast pace. After about a hundred metres, the skies opened up, a torrential downpour the level of which I had yet to be caught out in. I considered going back, but I hate turning back once I’ve set off for something, so instead I started running. The more I ran, the wetter I got, it was after all still thirty odd degrees so my clothes were acquiring water both internally and externally. I stopped at a market which was closing down, in search of salvation in the form of an umbrella to save my clothes from being fully drenched through, and after some panicked running around I found a guy who had them. I pointed to a crappy little one asking how much, “500 baht” he replied. I looked him in the eye with an expression of ‘as if it’s worth that’ before saying “give me the sunshine price”. He was playing hardball, but said he had some rain Macs, which he spent a few minutes looking for but couldn’t find in his mass of hidden boxes. That’s the thing with shopping in Thailand, it takes seconds to find what you want, but ages bartering over prices whilst they try and stitch you up for as much as they can. After what was probably nearing ten minutes in this increasingly flooded market, I managed to get him down to a much sunnier price, and darted off, arriving back to our hotel looking like a drowned rat. I grabbed a towel, dried myself quickly as best I could, took a few thousand baht out of our hiding place behind the fridge and shot back into the ocean-like street. Time was running out by this point so I tried to get a tuk tuk to take me back, but literally no one was willing to take me without first ripping me off, so I ended up jogging all the way back under my flimsy new umbrella. I arrived back at the hotel to be met with the pity of the others as I sat, soaked through next to a small fan, trying unsuccessfully to dry myself. By the time I knocked back a much needed beer, the minivan arrived. There was a couple sitting on the front row who found it very amusing to see eight Supermen loading in behind them, and they took a few photographs as we set off. We pulled up outside the place and were directed up a narrow stairwell with a policeman waiting at the top. Hayden was in front of me and was immediately stopped by the cop, who said “YOU SUPERMAN, WELL I POLICEMAN” and then grabbed a massive handful of his crotch whilst cackling like a deranged Lex Luther with a pocket full of kryptonite to take down our hero. We ran away, laughing at the sexual assault he had committed on our groom, but this was a stag party in Thailand after all, so you have to take the assault which a pinch of salt, a few tequilas, and then worry about the counselling a few years later.  I think it was mainly just his balls anyway, the balls are ok, I guess.

The Super Stags
Little kids warming up
We were lead to our seats in the small, brightly-lit arena to rounds of applause and cheers from people in the crowd, and were shocked to see that by some stroke of luck Richard had scored us the front row. Now when I say front row I don’t mean five metres away with a railing separating you, I mean we could actually use the ringside as a place to rest our beers. I was at one end next to Richard, Hayden was beside him, then Bob, Alexa’s father, followed by Hayden’s old German friend Borg, Alexa’s seventeen year old brother Easton, Hayden’s good friend James and finally his older brother Darryn, who completed our motley crew of mainly Aussies and Englishmen, being served constant beers and chain smoking cheap cigarettes as we waited for the fight to start. There was an announcement being played on loop, repeatedly saying “TONIGHT! MUAY THAI BOXING. TONIGHT. 9’OCLOCK. TONIGHT” which wasn’t in the slightest bit annoying. The announcement stopped and the first fighters entered the ring. As I was on the end, every fighter in that corner had to walk right by me, up the metal stairs to my right and over or under the ropes, depending on their size. I was aware that young kids always fight first, but I was pretty shocked and surprised to see a little boy in my corner and a little girl in the other, both of whom couldn’t have been older than eight years old. It was an uncomfortable first fight, it felt pretty wrong to me, even though there’s nothing to say girls shouldn’t fight if they want to, seeing such a young little thing going head to head with a boy just wasn’t that enjoyable to witness. I was urging her to win, and she gave as good as she got, but I think the little lad just pipped her to it. Between each round a fighter would come back to my corner and I’d get splashed by the ice buckets and water being poured over them, a great addition to the experience. It also made for some great photo opportunities of capturing the tired fighters in their brief moments of rest before going straight back into trouble. The boxers got progressively older as we got progressively drunker and more into it, making a few bets with each other and the local bookies there, who were clearly more ‘in the know’ than any of us drunken foreigners. I took a trip to the loo to piss away some cash, and went to wash my hands at a sink where five or six young Thai lads in shirts and trousers were waiting. As I turned on the tap, one guy gave me some soap and another stood behind me and started slapping my back with cupped hands, which made a strange popping noise as he went along my spine. It felt good so I left him to it for a few seconds, then he put his arm up and underneath mine and cracked my whole back sideways to the left, then to the right, then straight, making my spine pop numerous times and leaving it feeling wonderful. Another guy gave me a towel for my hands, and then used another one which he quickly whipped up underneath my Superman t-shirt, wiping my back, then chest before I could even realise what he was doing. Another guy came from behind and pulled both my ears downwards simultaneously, causing an unusual crack in them which I’d never experienced. At that point I started to back away whilst handing over a tip, a flurry of thirty seconds or so had seen me attacked at all angles and I left the toilet feeling fresh to death. Richard was watching on and found it all too amusing, I told him it was the best value £3 tip I’d given in a long time. There was a really good fight between two teenage boys and I could see it going one way so I decided to shoot some video. Within one minute, I’d captured the knock-out blow. The other kid laid watching birdies tweet for a few seconds then came to. His opponent came over to make sure he was ok and gave him a hand up. It was a nice moment in amongst the madness; respect within battle always shines through.
Every fight was accompanied by a couple of live musicians who created atmosphere which some repetitive, engaging beats on their tablas, backed by a guy laying down some atmospheric flute which danced in-between each hit. The fighters seemed to sway, bounce and attack according to the steady rhythm that filled the hall. They were like the snake charmers of the affair, except when they played, people would fight. The main event saw an Australian guy named Victor against a French guy called Anthony and we were all cheering on the Aussie to the point of losing our voices. It was pretty back and forth, but Victor edged it. They all left the ring, and we clambered up to get a few photographs of our gang, before going down to congratulate Victor the victorious and get another snap with the sweaty lad.


Happy hard-nuts
We left the venue feeling elated, with around an hour and a half before we’d planned to reconnect with the hen’s who had been off for dinner, before moving on to some sort of gay man’s sex and karaoke show. Borg walked us along the dodgy street that Sarah and I had been down the previous evening, and we were all getting a lot of attention. The women were not shy about grabbing at our crotches as we walked past every bar, I suppose it’s a cheaper way to advertise than printing flyers.  We were led into some strip club which had two long platforms forming an L shape and televisions everywhere showing the live match between Chelsea and Liverpool. It was a strange juxtaposition of football and pussy in one, a bar built purely to satisfy the needs of typical men. I’m sure they would’ve had food to gorge upon along with the constant booze, should we so desire, although most of the dudes in there looked hungry for something else. I found myself amused by my urge towards watching the game, rather than the women, but every so often a pimply little arse would pop in face, vying for my attention, and money of course.  The line ups were ever changing every few minutes and each girl was numbered, so you could pay a bar fine in order to have the girls company. It was like a vending machine, except you type the number into the waitresses head and out pops herpes. I’d rather have a Kit-Kat. The match ended 1-1, a decent result for an Arsenal fan, and we vacated the premises after emptying our glasses of rum and beer, only to go straight into another bar, except this time it was a ping pong show. As I walked in, there were a few punters onstage with balloons held between their knees and a girl bent over in front of them with a straw held in her Minnie Mouse house. With one blow, all three balloons were popped and I spotted our girls all sat along the opposite side of the stage laughing. I went over to reunite with my favourite person in the world and we shared one of those passionate kisses where everything around you falls away and only you remain, just two figures, floating through space and time before being warped back to the here and now. Magical. We couldn’t believe the coincidence, of all the ping pong shows, in all of Patong, we had to walk into the same one as them. Perfect timing. I remained on the girls side (where I’ve been for most of my life), whilst the guys were getting harassed by the feverish working women of the night across the other side, and they filled me in on their evenings exploits. The next thing you know, Hayden is onstage, sat up with a woman laid down in front of him, shooting half of a banana out of her own makeshift fruit basket, urging him to catch it in his mouth. We stood there screaming “NOOOOO”, whilst the bride’s Mum and Grandmother looked on in stunned disbelief. It was priceless. Luckily he is a smart guy, and only caught it with his hand, although when he cheekily popped it back in I felt a collective cringe. Good job he was marrying someone with a great sense of humour or he’d have been in the dog house before even saying ‘I do’. I walked back over to gather the guys so we could hit the Banana Bar and Disco (no relation to the showgirl) we’d heard about, and looked up just in time to witness the new girl onstage drop something from her insides into her hands. Then I saw movement. Then all of a sudden, the spreading of wings. It was a LIVE BIRD! My jaw hit the floor, it was too much. Almost speechless and fully disgusted, I returned to the girls and Aimi said that it was the first time she’d seen a real life ‘pussy’ eat a bird. I cracked up and told her I would write that down. Done.

I ran a little upfront and blagged the club manager to let Hayden and Alexa in for free, and then hit a few shots of tequila with James, Richard and Superman, bonding further with my new brothers. Every one of the gang were such open, great people, and I knew that we were in for a good few days in each other’s company. I have no recollection of the music which was being played, but I remember dancing along pretty happily with our joint forces until the older members of our crew were nearly falling asleep and the younger lot perfectly paralytic, and ready to drop. We left our family and ended up getting lost, wandering aimlessly for twenty drunken minutes, away from the direction we were meant to be heading in.  Ready to collapse, we jumped onto a passing tuk tuk and were swiftly dropped off, only a staircase away from sweet sleep, where we laid to rest and let another day die.

The Last Shot

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