Still drunk the next morning, I somehow salvaged something from the day by making the effort to try and track down the real city away from all the neon touristy hype. I found a bus to take me out to Siam Square, an intense central hub of enormous shopping malls and outrageous traffic, all hemmed in claustrophobically by the overhead Skytrain light railway. Siam Square had blown me away on my one previous fleeting visit, a nighttime excursion to MBK Mall where I went with Benz to the cinema to see a film called 300, featuring the Spartans glorious in defeat against the Persian Empire. Enormous and glitzy in the dark, it had to be the size of a football stadium and suffice to say that the cinema was on the 7th floor. I couldnt imagine that even London had anything to compare to this. Off the bus I aimed for another neighbouring plaza this time which was perhaps even bigger, certainly more upmarket, and I saw an interpretation of standards which was new to me, perhaps what the best parts of America look like. Entering into the massive food court, I found edibles of every possible description from all over the world with such fantastic presentation that it might take you your whole lunch break just to choose it. An army of cooks and stallminders were immaculately dressed in starchy kitchen whites and the checkout girls at the adjacent supermarket were like models in business suits. And all just to sell me a bottle of 7UP. Sensational. A brief foray around the store revealed an incredible foundation of wealth, with a whole gleaming floor dedicated to cosmetics for example, staffed by girls quirkily costumed in apparel only Gaultier could have dreamed up. Bangkok is certainly not a walking city though so I just settled for that, it was enough to blow me away already.
Then on a whim I realised that I wasnt so far away from Patpong, and being a good excuse for taking the Skytrain for the first time, thats where I went. The Skytrain immediately had me thinking of the Monorail in Kuala Lumpur, though this one is a proper light railway. Unlike KL however, the city panorama is still unfortuantely partially obscured by towering architectural wonders hemming it in. Being Bangkok's most renowned red light district, I quietly hoped that Patpong would be the stereotypical full on debauchery after underwhelming Phuket, and I suppose I wasnt disappointed. With one strip for straights, another catering for gays and a third offering lady boys with a bit of fetish thrown in, I walked up and down the ranks of girly bars getting constantly hit on by girls and touts thrusting pictures of nude "massage" and a menu listing a smorgasbord of numbered delicacies, every one beginning with the word pussy. I began to tire of the attentions and so bumping into young French curio Anthony I suggested we hook up for mutual support. As the sun went down the heat turned up and we were able to peep through the doorways to see nigh on naked girls dancing on the bars, the full shabang. Prolific offers of "Free show, no cover charge, beer only 100 Baht!" were too good to be true and reminded me of a golden rule I had once learned the hard way in Paris. Never ever go in somewhere where there is no guarantee of getting back out again. Way too intimidating and a perfect setting for clip joints, the pavement was as close as we got but I think we got the idea well enough! On a parallel street full of bars with rooms, massage parlours and straight on pay by the hour hotels, maybe 100 girls lined the pavement, more elegant than sexy, with some dressed in ball gowns, some even in kimonos to cater for the sizeable Japanese clientelle. Pooling resources, we splashed out on a taxi back to Khao San where I gave new boy Anthony a whistlestop tour of its more mundane fleshpots, only to bizzarely get hit on by a local hotel cleaner trying to set me up with a repugnant Israeli heifer with a bad attitude and fantastic tits. Man, what a fucked up place.