|To put the snipers at ease: these are not the actual subjects of my post today.|
I'd done no research on the area whatsoever so had no idea what I'd find there, but I know a dentist in the Thonburi area and I figured I could always call him if I really ran into a problem, so I thought I'd just go with the flow and see what happened. Leaving the station I made mental note of some of the taller buildings around me for reference and then set myself on a course away from them.
I spent the next four hours or so happily lost.
Wandering around what seemed like several miles - but was in reality no more than a dozen blocks in any given direction - I stopped numerous times to sit and people watch, take pictures or just rest. It was a fine afternoon, but I was still at my furthest point when my recently injured knee began to remind me that it was still in charge, and having long since gotten out of the line of sight of my reference buildings I was soon hobbling in what I figured was the direction of the Wong Wian Yai station.
At a corner of one of the intersections was a small canopied stand that served as a motorcycle taxi station for what I assume was a rotating bunch of guys. There were eight or nine of them sitting there in their bright orange vests; either on some nearby steps, one of those ubiquitous plastic chairs that may well be holding half of the Thai population at any given moment, or on their cycles. Most of them were chatting amicably, a couple reading the newspaper, several smoking - and two younger guys off to one side, talking to each other.
Of the two, one of them hardly looked old enough to be out of his school uniform. The young man next to him didn't appear to be much older, but he wasn't a driver. Dressed in snug jeans he wore an equally snug black tee-shirt, decorated with small rhinestones in the pattern of a rose. His hair had been bleached and carefully coiffed. The two of them were talking softly and smiling, leaning towards each other, almost forehead to forehead. Hoping one of them was indeed a student that might speak some English I asked them if they could point me to the BTS station. Immediately several of the other bunch there perked up, anticipating a fare. The orange-vested half of the couple didn't understand the question, but he caught that I wanted to go somewhere. He stood, picked up his passenger helmet and held it out to me.
"No, thank you," I said, mimicking a person riding a motorcycle "No motocy, mai ow, thank you. I'm walking to the BTS." He looked a little puzzled, and another driver clarified my clumsy reply for me from his seat at the stand, and then as an afterthought added "He's busy now with his boyfriend, anyway!" and a couple of the other guys laughed, saying something in Thai that I couldn't understand. The young driver and his friend dipped their heads shyly and smiled, so I took the comments to be just gentle teasing and not mean-spirited.
Although I sometimes feel a little silly talking in the broken English that's often better understood there I gestured at the one in the black tee shirt and asked the youthful driver "Boyfriend you?" He dipped his head again and nodded "yes" and I smiled back. He thought a minute, then pointed down the street to my right, held up his fingers - one, two - holding his hand sideways with a chop to show two blocks, then a point to the right again and a couple more motions to direct me to the station.
"Thank you," I said, reaching into my pocket for one of the twenties I'd stuck in there after getting a soda a few minutes earlier. Handing it to him I leaned in to the two of them and not wanting to say the "G" word just said "You have boyfriend? Mai pen rai... it's OK." Pointing to my chest I said "You, me - same same - it good!" and I gave them the thumbs-up gesture, smiling at them. The other drivers laughed at my comment to them, but laughed with us, and not at us.
I asked if I could take their photo, and they agreed, posing somewhat like the two guys in the photo up top today. One of them wrote an email address on a piece of paper I gave him and I emailed them the photo a couple of weeks later.
My knee had decided to give me a temporary reprieve, so I turned and headed in the direction my never-to-be-seen-again friend had suggested and made my way back to the station, the train, and home.