Day 24: Developing dice disciple
Hanna and I met up later in the day for lunch. Afterward, she took up the red die and promised to get rolling when she returned to Ethopia. Photo: Isaac Stone Simonelli
THE morning comprises restless bouts of sleep punctuated by the need to check if the Skype call Lindy has is a go. There's some issue with the internet on our side, and then some complications on the other side. After two hours of back and forth, they reschedule it for tomorrow morning.
I groan at the idea.
Suddenly, I'm aware of Lindy's breasts. They are strange things to have been oblivious to before, or only faintly aware of during our cuddling last night. Now, however, I'm like a 13 year old finally hitting puberty – I want to see them, to touch them to... whatever people do with them. Like nearly every man I've met, I have an undeniable fascination with breast. Of course, there are cultures where boobs are solely feeding devices for babies and have no sexual allure in the slightest. But I'm not from one of those cultures. I'm from a culture that led me to secretly flipping through the lingerie section of a Target magazine with my best friend, our eyes diving deep into the supple cleavage.
“So is that why we didn't kiss last night,” Lindy asks.
“Yeah. At least on my end, I'm really not wanting to write about this again,” I say after confessing to having just had a fling with Laura. Admitting that you've recently had sex with another woman is not the best way to see boobs. But honesty continues to be my best policy.
We talk more, my hands again lovingly running through her hair, though my eyes a bit more preoccupied with large, subtle curves under her gray T-shirt.
My fingers caress her soft stomach, slowly working their way up, lifting the T-shirt as they go.
“Wait, is this going to go in the blog?” she asks.
I pause, my finger tips brushing across her clavical.
“Everything goes into the blog,” I say with a devilish grin.
Lindy playfully pushes me away.
I pull her on top of me so I can give her a back massage, my fingers digging deep along the edge of her spin, working out the knots behind her shoulder blades. Turning her around, we both sit up so I can work on her shoulders for a bit.
A few caresses later and it really is time for us to get our days started. She has work things to attend to and I've got dice plans Hanna.
Walking back to the hostel, the ring on my left ring fingers starts to vibrate. I ignore it. The vibrations lesson and then increase.
I stop. Is this is what it's like to have super hero powers? When I was traveling alone in Egypt, a pair of bare wires in my dumpy bungalow took me off my feet when I touched them. I came too, thought that maybe touching the plastic part of the wires would – nope. Coming too on the ground again, I got up and walked the boulevard of Dahab for the rest of the day wondering if I would develop superhero powers.
Feeling the buzz in the ring, I'm again hopeful.
I take a few steps back and the vibration in my magnetic ring increase again. I'm standing next to a utility pole with high-voltage power lines jutting up from the ground.
Looks like I'll have to keep waiting for those superhero powers.
I freshen up back at the hostel and then grab a taxi to the Best Western Premier. Sitting in a chair in the lobby, I watch Hanna walk right past me. With elegant, fine facial features framed by a head of beautiful black hair that pans out like lion's main and vibrant skin, Hanna is a sight to behold.
She's also short. Really, really short.
Immediately, we fall into a playful banter as we preach to the chorus about the actual “utility” of flyby foreigner volunteers in third-world communities. She explains that one girl wanted to come in and “really make a difference” with a project Hanna was working on in Ethiopia.
Hanna opened the door to the possibility.
“What would you like to do exactly?” She asked. The girl wanted to come for one day and play with the kids.
There is still this lingering colonial attitude, even by the well meaning, where it is subconsciously presumed that the presence of a white person will somehow make things better.
Her story immediately launches me into a familiar tirade about people flying halfway around the world to help build a school in some remote village. There is nothing wrong with this. However, to get on a pedestal and talk about how you're helping people by building a school is just bullshit. The one thing most of these countries have plenty of is labor. They don't need a bunch of unskilled white hands building schools. So if you're spending that kind of money for a volunteering holiday, recognize it as exactly that – a holiday. You're getting a phenomenal experience, but you're not swooping in and saving a community. The community would be better off if the money spent on you getting their went directly into supplies, wages or even micro loans so at-risk groups could establish financial independence.
We are in agreement.
However, what we have failed to do is establish where we're going to eat – a more immediate problem
“Let's roll the dice,” says Hanna: 1) Italian food 2) Thai 3) Crazy Thai Street Food 4) Ice cream.
Ice cream for lunch should always be an option.
I hand the dice to Hanna.
“Where do I roll?” she asks.
“Anywhere, just toss it on the road.”
The die falls from her hand and bounces into a shallow, oily puddle. It's a two.
We recover the dice and start walking.
I know the kind of restaurant we need, something a bit more upscale and interesting than the plastic chairs, plastic tables situation.
We roll to see if we can take a cab somewhere. Nope, we're eating in this area.
We continue to walk.
We cross the train tracks and head up the stairs to the BTS station. It would be so easy to jump on the BTS and go to a part of town that I know has restaurants.
We walk down the stairs on the other side of the BTS station. Meandering down an unpromising street, I'm mostly just enjoying the conversation, though becoming a bit worried we'll run into my deadline.
I need to be at the Myanmar Embassy to pick up my visa at about 3pm.
Down an even smaller soi with street vendors selling what appear to be a number of delicious dishes, there is a sign for Baan Glom Gig restaurant, which has potential.
We continue walking. I hate walking.
Finally, we arrive at an empty apartment building with a security guard standing in the drive-through drop-off area.
“Baan Glom Gig?” I ask.
It's next door.
Though it's a family affair, Baan Glom Gig is a lot more posh than I am shooting for. I cringe at the prices on the menu as the waiter ushers us to our seats at a table dressed in a white tablecloth, but with a glass top over it.
I've not even looked at the menu yet.
I only have a thousand baht on me, so it seems as if we'll be splitting this one.
Inside the menu it explains that the place was opened by TV host Kiat Kitcharoen, also known as Sumo Gig, with his mother, Khun Sucha.
The die did well, though perhaps should have consider my bank account.
Hanna is trying desperately hard to be responsible while here with her father, but the allure of a bit of afternoon drinking is right at her finger tips with some custom cocktails: White lady Glomgig, Captain Glomgig, Strawberry Glomgig. The list just goes on.
She's teetering. After last night, I don't need another drink, but... fuck it.
Evens we have a drink. Odds we don't.
Evens it is. With the decision made, we guiltlessly order drinks. Hanna orders the Strawberry Glomgig and the die order a Captain Glomgig for me.
I select a few dishes from the menu for Hanna and I to share.
The small 4x6 family photos surrounded with miles of white mat before finding the picture frame are creepily intimate. The blend of the old photos with the way they are displayed makes allows us to pry into the private moments of these people's lives.
The morning glory tempura with a fresh lime and minced pork sauce is stunning. The massaman and chicken cashew are both good, but probably not worth the price tag.
“Okay, we need to head back or I'm going to miss my chance to get my passport back,” I say.
I vaguely wonder if I can just pick up my passport tomorrow, which is the exact attitude that took me so long to drop the passport off at the embassy in the first place.
Uncomfortably full, I walk Hanna back to her hotel.
She wants to keep playing dice games. Not just here, but back in Ethopia. I hesitate, then reach into my pocket and remove on of my red casino dice.
I put it in her hand. I don't want to get into the habit of passing out dice, but she seems to have the itch.
We quickly hug, before I head back to the BTS station.
A wrinkly, old man with a sewing machine and an enormous pile of a million unrecognizable bits and pieces has set up shop on the sidewalk under a tree. Given the closet-sized pile of stuff stacked against the wall along the walkway, it's safe to assume that he's staked out the area. (I wonder how much he pays police to keep this little bit of soi to himself.)
I've been shot down some many times when it comes to fixing the tank bag that I almost don't ask, but I have it with me, so I do.
Without hesitation, he gives me a nod. He finishes making an adjustment to a pair of jeans for a woman, before getting started on the bag. With a thick coarse thread he gets to work. There's no hesitation as he digs out two zippers and fixes the bag. Rubbing some wax on the teeth of the zipper, he triple checks the fix and then hands it back to me.
A hundred baht well spent.
After a long BTS ride, I hike to the embassy. The pick up area is almost entirely empty, except for a couple foreigners sitting in the school chair-desk combos laid out in messy lines on the off-white tiles.
Peering through the bars at the woman behind the counter, I pass her my slip for the pick up.
She returns my passport.
Inside is a shiny silver visa with my ugly goatee toting face grimacing at the camera.
Boom! That's what I came to Bangkok for. Maybe not that particular picture, but the Die's Will is one very real step closer to being served.
With passport in hand, I confirm with Lindy that I'll be able to make the foot massage at Dr Foot, which allegedly boasts the best foot massage in Bangkok, far superior to anything a person can wrangle up in Chiang Rai. Then again, maybe Lindy is being a bit sentimental.
Dr Foot, directly across from Sumitivej Hospital, looks like most Thai massage parlors with big comfy chairs in the front room for foot massages.
We book 45min reflexology foot massages and 15 minute massages on the shoulders.
“So what goes in the blog?” Lindy asks again. She really doesn't like the idea of all this being documented.
“Everything,” I say.
“Will this foot massage go into the blog?”
The woman working on me, who is sporting braces and braided hair, starts on my shoulders and arms. My body crumbles. Hunched over, I do my best to endure the pain. It's such a deep, rewarding pain that I'm afraid to tell her it hurts – I don't want her to stop.
The Thai girls can't get enough of Lindy. They turn her around and start brushing her hair, which hasn't been brushed for days now.
It seems that Lindy has become a magnet for being doted on. They put a French braid in her hair, just in case we were planning on taking some horses out for a trot now that the rain has stopped.
Outside Dr Foot, we part ways.
I crawl into bed at the hostel. I know I should do some work, but before I can even think about grabbing a die to sort me out, I'm asleep.