After my unexpected dinner with Noi it was getting close to 8:00, opening time for many of the clubs on Soi Twilight. I suppose what I’ve been told is true: I’m easily amused. I enjoy watching the evening foot traffic pick up along the soi about 7:45, as well as the pace of the guys arriving for work. The closer it gets to 8:00, the faster most of them are moving, doing their best to be on time in a land where schedules often mean less than nothing. You know what I mean, right? Thai time, tropical time, tourist time [insert ethnic or specific group here] time – it means “it happens when it happens” and you’d be wise to just go with the flow.
However, some of the clubs will dock a guy if he’s late. Some guys I’ve talked with say if they’re not there on time they don’t get paid their 100 baht for the shift, and many times that’s all they’d make on a night in slow season, anyway – if nobody invited them to sit with them, bought them a host drink and/or took them home – so it’s to their advantage to show up on time and get paid.
A couple of interviewees who are money maker club “stars” – that is, they have regular offs and put money into the club’s till via the ways mentioned above – have shared that they aren’t penalized if they show up late or want an evening off, but admit that they’re exceptions and not the rule. When I told Noi at dinnertime I’d be going back to my room alone he’d asked if I’d buy him a drink and seemed OK when I said I could do that much for him, anyway. The guys almost always get a cut of the drink price, and their “spiff” for one averages about 50 baht per drink.
As the time approached 8:00 I began to see a few shuffling quickly along, some at close to a run. I watched until around quarter-past eight, finished the bottle of water I’d been nursing along after dinner, motioned to the waiter for the check bin, settled my tab and got up to wander along the soi myself. Noi held out another flyer for me, laughing, and then pulled it back, reminding me that I’d said I’d stop in to see him later as I waved back over my shoulder, planning my course though the maze of touts ahead who had already spotted me.
It was my plan to get some night pictures taken this evening, but leaving me be to do so wasn’t on any of the tout’s “To Do” lists and they were more aggressive than they are some nights. I took the photo of Classic at the bend of the dog leg soi and then just walked to Rama IV and made a right, figuring I’d walk until I was done taking pictures. Rama IV Road itself was fairly dark and deserted, pedestrian-wise and there wasn’t much that seemed worth photographing as I made my way at a leisurely pace back towards Suriwong.
“Hey!” came a shout from a woman, running towards me across Rama IV road, seemingly oblivious to the horn-tooting traffic she blindly hurried through. “HEY! FALANG!!” she shouted again, as if I’d just stolen her purse. She had her hand out, and as she reached the sidewalk ahead of me I could guess by her wild eyes and disheveled appearance why she was running through traffic with such abandon. I kept moving.
“Ten baht!” she insisted, hand still stretched out toward me. I didn’t break stride, but did make the mistake of making eye contact with her. “Ten baht!” she said again, pantomiming as she said “Eat!”. I shook my head and kept walking. Pointing to my extra poundage she said “YOU have!” and I had to laugh at the humor of her comment, but I still didn’t give in to the urge to give her money that would most likely have gone to feed her yaba (methamphetamine) addiction rather than her stomach.
She was winded by her running and didn’t follow me, but stopped to speak to an equally disheveled man sitting in a doorway. From her bitter tone it didn’t sound as though she was saying “what a swell guy!” and I kept moving to Suriwong. As I turned right and again headed West I heard them both erupt with raucous laughter and patted my stomach, chuckling again myself at her comment on the slightly obvious.
Tomorrow: Checking back in with Noi at the club...