Sitting next to someone’s empty Leo beer bottle, I uncomfortably rest on a tree trunk stool outside a closed Rasta bar on the seediest street in Chiang Rai. When I hear my geezer neighbors talk about how much they pay for women, I know they come to this street. Old white men roost themselves in bars in the rising heat of the day; smoking, coughing, you know that gurgly cough and looking lonely. A tattoo needle is buzzing. That Thai guy strums some tunes on his guitar.
Noisy tuk tuks and blue songtaews belch by interrupting the otherwise quiet street. It’s hot, but cloudy today. Bar Chicken. Dragon Breath Bar. Peacehouse Bar. Jet Yod is a thoroughfare for busy traffic and leisurely tourists. It’s not a long street, nor a straight one. A woman talks in loud rapid fire Thai. It’s the street expats avoid, unless of course, you are one of those expats whose compass is set on bar girls, company in the comfort of crowds, and alcohol.
It feels tired because there are so many bars, but that’s what gives it its character. Bamboo is cooking. It’s a pungent and distinct smell. Ladies offer me chestnuts. I decline. Traffic piles up because someone has parked their fancy new car and old lady in one of the lanes of the two lane road and cars/motorbikes have to wait to scooter by. TRUE red satellite dishes raise their faces to the sky. I guess that’s why they are so red, they’ve get too much Thailand sun. There is a repetitive bang-clanging noise.
One of my former students drives by on a motorbike. She doesn’t see me because she’s behind an dirty white dump truck perfuming the road with its dusty contents. She shields her face. Her nickname is Gift. Cat Bar. Shawadee Bar. Non’s Bar. Paradise Bar. Coconuts Bar. R and B Bar. I’m sure I’ve missed a few bars.
For Day 2 of WP’s Writing 101 course, we had to write about a place and since descriptive writing is not what normally I do, I decided I better take up the challenge (I hate this challenge). As an expat, I originally thought I’d write about a place back in the States, like Hawaii (where I am from) or the SW (which is incredibly beautiful), but since I had to go to town today, I thought, why not Jet Yod? Why go towards pretty? Why not ugly, unsavory and undesirable?
Now, I do realize the next challenge is for me to go back to Jet Yod and write about it at night…Dear god, don’t make me do it. Okay, fine, buy me a beer.