Not many pictures from yesterday, but an interesting day nonetheless. Yesterday was supposed to be ‘get a Burmese visa’ day. My flight out of Thailand to Yangon was booked for 7am this morning (Dec 11) so it was imperative that I get the one day visa, which is quite common and easy to do….that is if the embassy is open. I got up early and headed to the Myanmar embassy for 8:30am (it opens at 9am) only to see this sign on the front door…yep. December 10th is apparently a national holiday! Embassy closed:(

Needless to say, I was dumbfounded, which quickly turned into stress. My ‘one day to get a Burmese visa’ plan just went down the drain. Plan B was quickly hatched: head back to my guest house (where there is free wifi) to book a later flight (it was too late to cancel/change the flight with AirAsia). $1000 baht later (roughly $30) I have a new flight to Yangon which leaves at 7:30pm tonight. Phew!

The rest of the day was a mix of wandering the streets, visiting with my friend K-san whom I met last year during my time in Bangkok (owner of Bonita Cafe & Social Club and a barefoot runner) and sleep. In fact, I slept away most of the afternoon – apparently I’m not over jet lag yet.

That left me wide awake at 7:30pm with lots of energy for my night’s plans made the night before: head back to Oasis Lounge to meet up with Robert’s wife to see a ping pong show. I showed up at Oasis around 9:30pm for dinner, chatted with Robert who told me that his wife’s aunt was sick and couldn’t come to the restaurant to sub in for her, so she wasn’t able to join me after all. For the second time yesterday, my plans were altered. Boo! Instead, unbeknownst to me, Robert had called a fellow Canadian, David, who recently moved to Bangkok to be my date for the night. Haha, my second night in Bangkok had just turned into a blind date!

David, it turns out, just moved to Bangkok a few months ago from Seoul, where he was married for 7 years to a Korean woman. He now teaches English in Bangkok and works as a freelance graphic designer. Robert met him when he commissioned David to paint a mural in Oasis Lounge (which is quite good!).

By 11pm David and I were on our way, first for a drink at the Pink Panther, and my second night of the boxing show (I really enjoyed it the night before!). And then, as any good date does, David took me to a ping pong show:) No pictures or video are allowed in the ping pong show, so I’ll have to describe it…. there are many bars boasting shows of this nature, but the one we were told to go to was a 500m walk away or so, down a dark alley with about fifteen men sitting around the outside of the building (presumably waiting for the tourists they brought to come out so they can take them back to their hotels safely….but really I’m not sure). As we headed into the lobby area we paid the 400 baht cover charge ($12-15) which includes our first drink. We entered the main space, it’s dark with strobe lights and top 40 hits blaring. We headed straight to the bar for our requisite drink and grabbed one of the few empty seats close to the bar: barstools that were a few rows from the stage but had an excellent view;)

There was one girl squatting onstage with a bra on and what looked like a garter belt around one leg who didn’t seem to be doing anything. The music was loud, but on the beat there was a loud whistle. It took a few moments to realize what was going on…yep, you guessed it…she was the one with the whistle, ‘blowing’ into it on every beat. Ok, interesting. Turns out this is the tamest trick of the night. Over the course of and hour and fifteen minutes, one by one, about 15 women took turns up on stage. The routine was pretty much the same for each; the woman would come out of the back room with bra and thong on, go up on stage and dance around the four poles with varying degrees of enthusiasm for 3-5 minutes. Then she would remove her thong from one leg and tie it around her one thigh (hence the garter look). Then she would prepare the stage for her unique trick. Preparations often included wiping down the stage (who knew they would be such sticklers for cleanliness – I was impressed!;)). The tricks included (but not limited to):
-‘blowing’ a whistle
-lying on the ground and shooting a dart through a long straw/tube to hit balloons (great aim!). Then using that same tube to one by one blow out candles on a fake birthday cake
-pulling a 50ft glow in the dark ribbon (and then proceeding to dance with it around the poles and stage as an artistic gymnast would
-pulling a 50ft string of glow in the dark flowers (and then dancing around similarly to the previous girl with the ribbon)
-pulling a 50ft string of bells…etc. My first thought was: how does she keep them from tangling up in there?!
-pulling a 10ft string of razor blades out, then using them to cut up a piece of paper to demonstrate how sharp they are: deadly!
-one woman came up on stage with a glass coke bottle full of water and an other one that was empty. She then proceeded to drain the bottle of water into her (using the poles on stage to leverage her body upside down). She then got up, walked to the other side of the stage (no leakage!), squatted over the empty coke bottle and filled it….only not with water, but with a black, coke-looking liquid. It was a magic trick!
-another woman got up on stage with a blank piece of paper and a magic marker. Sure enough, she squatted, holding the marker securely and proceeded to draw the audience a picture, while squatting and gyrating her hips to draw from the paper on the stage. It took about 10 minutes, but at the end she held up her creation: a Bart Simpson-like face with the words written above it: ‘Welcome to Thailand’. Now that woman has skill!
-Finally the ping pong trick was up: with a pail of ping pongs, the woman proceeded to shove one inside her at a time, and then ‘drop’ it, and with a thrust of her hips, bounce it across the stage into an empty pail. Honestly, this was the least impressive trick of the night. I had heard stories of women being able to ‘shoot’ ping pongs out and across the room – this was was lame in comparison.
-The next show was more interesting and not at all what I had been expecting: a naked woman went up onstage followed by a naked man, fully engorged. Yep, this is where the ‘schlong’ comes into the story. Before I had a chance to wonder what was going to happen, it did. Yep, for about 10 minutes the two proceeded to go through the entire kamasutra repertoire. At one point the man actually swiveled upside down to a head stand bracing his feet on two of the stripper poles to leverage his now-upside-down thrusts. Seriously impressive. It was like seeing a car accident – as much as it made me uncomfortable, I just couldn’t look away. Yep, I watched two people (professionally) have sex. I’m still in shock.
-And then the whistle woman returned and that was our cue to leave.

It was 12:30am and I was still wide awake so we went to a place that David knew had cheap beer (50 baht or $1.75 for a pint). It also happens to be a go-go bar (in other words, scantily clad women ‘dance’ waiting for men to pick them up for the night…yep, seedy for sure, but harmless and provided great people watching!). David told me he goes to these places to sketch people – they are, after all, live nudes, in a sense. And one of the highlights of the night for me was when my blind date drew a sketch for me of one of the women up on stage:

Walking me home at the end of the night, and with a chaste kiss on the lips, my blind date with David was over. Oh, so many memories!

… And so I sit at the Bonita Cafe and Social Club this morning, eating my vegan breakfast, recounting the events of last night as I write this blog, waiting for my Burmese tourist visa to be ready this afternoon. A day late, but everything has now returned according to plan. I leave for Burma tonight.