Remarkably I arrived ahead of expectation despite some folk having used the express bus as a local service, it hadnt even hit 6am upon arrival back in the City of Angels. Predictably the first word I heard was taxi, but I didnt even plump for a bus back down to infamous Khao San Road. I must have hoofed a sweat saturated 3Ks or more with my bag, allowing the city a chance to wake up by the time I reached bedsitland. It seemed it had been the first time that I had gleaned an insight into the real living underbelly of the city, with pavement stalls and food carts already alive to catch the early morning commuters. The notorious early rush hour traffic was intense, the canals stank of piss, perhaps not all due to the wild dogs moping around, and the noodle stalls made me gag again with the last things in the world I would want for breakfast. Ever popular Banglumphu district proved to be especially full upon investigation, I must have checked out 7 places before finding an available single at an acceptable price and standard. Perversely in spite of my previous soul wrangling here my initial sentiment was of relief, it was just a pity that I would only have 2 days to relax in now familiar surroundings.
I had planned on hitting the Thai Air Force Museum that day but fate conspired against it. It lay out by the old airport and though some flights still operated from it, it seemed that the elusive bus service from Banglumphu had to have been axed. I could have got a train there instead but the onset of another downpour quashed my resolve to hoof the considerable distance to the station. The inevitable retreat into a large bottle of Chang beer for the want of a better idea led me to sleep, and then by the time I woke up it was time to go and do it all over again. My improving mood was scuppered again by bumping into a rare Scottish guy on a mission to get laid, not fancying my chances I resisted his invitation as he walked away with 2 unlovely birds he clearly knew, and I wasnt sure whether to regret it or not. This city was messing with my head all over again. And then I went to default drinking den cum meat market Gullivers, where true to form and somewhat predictably I saw Benz, and proceeded to watch her from afar. Yet another western guy pranced around her thinking he had hit the jackpot, but she seemed to be just going through the motions, calculatingly perhaps, certainly she had dressed much more exquisitely for me. Though she passed right by me upon leaving and her eyes may have momentarily passed across me, if there was any recognition it was not betrayed. Maybe she hadnt seen me, maybe she wanted avoidance or maybe I was already forgotten. Thankfully I certainly didnt care, I was able to look upon the scene with a new maturity which sadly made Benz look very ordinary. Tiring of young Irish guys predictably full of bullshit getting wrecked on shots whilst setting up their live female entertainment for the night, I worryingly shifted towards an older crowd instinctively, they werent such a test of patience.
The compulsory skinfull meant that I wasnt even aware how late I got to bed that night, but it somewhat regretably served to scupper my last day in Bangkok. With no time for the Air Force Museum or Royal Palace as I had threatened, I redeemed myself eventually by being super-efficient in performing some important final preparations. Though it hightened the worrying rate at which I was now draining money, I traded old guide books for new, topped up my supply of anti-malarial tablets and secured a bus ticket for the airport. No messing about, I just pushed for as good a price as I could get at the first joint and made sure of picking up the relatively rare Lonely Planet Indonesia in mint condition for whatever it cost. The pills were a real bonus too. I had worryingly left it very late to secure them, not even sure whether you could buy them over the counter or not, but the first small pharmacy I hit obliged me with 80 uncoloured tablets, just as required, for less than a tenth of what they had cost me back home. Amusingly, the pharmacist lady tried to push some Viagra on me too for good measure, with an intangible degree of seriousness. I joked with her that I would have to find a willing victim first and not being that kind of man, that could prove a little tricky in this neighbourhood. For once I knew she would have no reason to disbelieve me when I told her that I believed in love and so was evidently in the wrong place! Perversely, she was just the kind of woman I should have tried my luck with, she was a real lady.
Rewarding myself with a Chang beer in the one cheap spot on Khao San, a pleasant cafe compromised entertainingly by the dichotomy of music emanating from the opposing bar competing with the fake CD sellers on the pavement outside. If you didnt like one song you just concentrated on the other! Then in the street I saw a strange sight, a western girl sat in the middle of the road with a local guy, sporting one of those so very Thai lemon polo shirts. She was pretty and so admittedly it was an excuse to approach her, but I thought that she might better be able to satisfy my curiosity as to their significance. Lo and behold, Nicola was from Edinburgh and saving her from the attentions of some sleazeball old enough to be her father, tragically I was forced to have one more beer, savouring good honest company with an accent which provoked relaxation and unrealistic fantasies. It was almost laughable however, certainly regretable, that after 8 months of travelling, spookily the same as me, Nicola was flying home within a matter of hours. She was too young for me and had a boyfriend, but Khao San still sneakily found a way of messing with my head. A Scottish girl was one thing, but Edinburgh tomorrow was another. It was remarkable though in that that short touch of humanity took me back to that other cheap travellers institution on Rambuttri (Road), the Gecko Bar. Here you could buy your cheap street food and take it across to the pavement bar which proferred the cheapest beer around, with a great vista of the street scene thrown in. I managed smiles and winks when as if by magic, seemingly suitable single females suddenly began to glide past in droves, all of a sudden I was full of confidence but out of time. This denizen of pleasure was a fucker. Still, I was entertained by 2 American guys debating amongst themselves (skeptically) whether Scotsmen really did wear anything under their kilts, an unpretty lady boy who I rebuked only to learn that he/she actually worked there, and then I went to Lava, the one club on Khao San I was comfortable with and saw Benz again. I was reassured again by just how ordinary she looked.