Monday, April 28, 2008

Bangkok: On the Road

It was 5:00 AM. I was at an underground, illegal afterhours club somewhere in sweaty Bangkok. Hard techno was pumping. Thai people, wasted and sloppy, danced and ran around the warehouse frantically, with flashing white eyes and big Thai smiles. A full bar was set up. Huge screens played movies. The entire situation reminded me of a rave that Dillon and Brandon went to during an episode of Beverly Hills 90210. The Beverly Hills 90210 rave wasn’t a rave, really, and this certainly wasn’t a rave either, but it did affect how underground clubs are generally depicted in media, which is why I assumed it was actually like this – if it’s on television and in films, then it will eventually show up in south east Asia in some form or another.

A girl danced up to me. “Are you lady boy?”


“Are you the gay?”


“You dance like lady boy.”

“You mean I dance good?”

“No, I mean you dance like lady boy.”

“In the U.S. dancing like lady boy means good dancing.”

“In Thailand dancing like lady boy means you dance like lady boy.”

“Oh. Okay. Are you a hooker?”

“What is hooker?”


“No - Hey man, you rude.”

“You just asked me if I was a lady boy. You don’t think that’s rude?”

“Okaaaaay, okaaaay. It’s cool, dude. Want to be my friend?”

* * *
And all this time Dean was tremendously excited about everything he saw, everything he talked about, every detail of every moment that passed. He was out of his mind with real belief. “And of course now no one can tell us that there is no God. We’ve passed through all forms. You can remember, Sal, when I first came to New York and I wanted Chad King to teach me about Nietzche. You see how long ago? Everything is fine, God exists, we know time. Everything since the Greeks has been predicted wrong. You can’t make it with geometry and geometrical systems of thinking. It’s all this!” He wrapped his finger in his fist; the car hugged the line straight and true.

Jack Kerouac – On the Road

* * *
A shining, silent monk just walked by with his begging bowl – gorgeous and relaxed. It was hot today: 46/115 degrees. So hot, in fact, my sandals stuck slightly to the pavement as I walked. The monk walked barefoot, begging for his food.

* * *
I didn’t know where all of this was leading; I didn’t care.

Jack Kerouac – On the Road
* * *
Old, fat, white man, with a maniac leer and empty hairline took a young girl by the hand and walked down an alley. They are not related. They do not know each other. She is 12. He is 50. She will be paid $3.50 for her services. She will do this many times today. He will do this every day. She will go home and give the money to her parents. They will drink whiskey. She will be HIV+ by the time she is 16.

* * *
Naturally, now that I look back on it, this is only death: death will overtake us before heaven. The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death. But who wants to die? In the rush of events I kept thinking about this in the back of my mind. I told it to Dean and he instantly recognized it as the mere simple longing for pure death; and because we’re all of us never in life again, he, rightly, would have to do with it, and I agreed with him then.

Jack Kerouac – On the Road
* * *
I had been in Bangkok for 10 hours. Arriving at my hotel at 3:00 AM, I drank two beers and went to bed. I woke-up three hours latter. I wandered the neighborhood walking nowhere. It was 11 AM. I walked in ever-widening sweeping circles.

I felt good for having traveled for 22 hours. The three hours of sleep was sufficient.

I walked along side one of Bangkok’s many canals. Waterways used to be, and still are to some extend, Bangkok’s main arteries. Tucked back in a neighborhood, I saw a muted yellow, French colonial house surrounded by gardens and gazebos, all held by a high, stone wall. I liked the house. It called me.

I walked into the neighborhood and up to the main gate. Woven into the iron and brass a metal trident and double headed drum sat sparkling in the sun; both Shiva’s accessories. Something Saivite was going on here. I looked up at the sky, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me?, I thought.

No. I’m completely serious.

I’ve only been here 10 hours.

I know. It starts now.

The gate was open, and I walked through. The property was beautiful. Gardens. Lotus pounds. Gazebos and open -air halls. The main house was a French Victorian design – muted yellow with white trim. I wondered around the property. I walked inside the house and sat down.

After ten minutes of sitting there an older, Thai woman walked by, stopped, and looked at me. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“What sort of place is this?”

“This is a healing center and ashram.”

“I saw the trident and dhamaru on the fence, so I came in.”

“Aww, you know Shiva?”


“My guru, the master of this center, is an avatar of Shiva.”


We talked for a bit. She told me her story. Buddhist; studied with monks. Met the avatar, and he introduced her to Saivite practice. Now she runs the center. It seems to be one of those oneness-of-all-religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, sort-of-teachings.

“Why are you in Bangkok?” she asked.

“I’m here teaching.”

“What are you teaching?”

“Yoga stuff. Enlightenment stuff. Stuff like that. It’s really not that interesting.”

“It seems very interesting. Very important. You are special. You must meet master.”

“I’m not special. I’m just a guy – The Dude.”

Master was in Chiang Mai. She wanted to show me something, so she led me outside. We walked through the garden. She talked about Buddhism, Saivism, and Christianity. She said Buddha and Siva came from same source. She talked about how badly the world needed enlightenment. I smiled and nodded. I looked up at the sky, really?


We walked onto a dock and into a small floating house. It was their shrine. Adorned with many Shiva and Buddha statues. Many Shiva and Buddha pictures. Incense. Burning ghee lamps. Small stupas with the ashes of earth-retired monks. A large lingam. Half of the small houseboat was the puja.

“Shiva brings wisdom to the ignorant.”

“Shiva is wisdom and ignorance.”


“There is no need to make the ignorant wise. Shiva is all things. All things are already, always awake and free. Believing that something needs to wake-up reinforces your own delusion.”

“I want to be enlightened.”

“How do you know you’d like it?”

“It’s oneness with God.”

“I doubt it.”

“What do you teach?”

“Nothing. I say what I need to say when I need to say it. I don’t have an agenda. I in all honesty couldn’t care less if another person becomes enlightened on this planet. Because everyone and everything is already, always enlightened. It is the nature of things. To think that there are enlightened people and non-enlightened people is a great way to remain in delusion land. That’s Maya’s tricky game, and she’s a sneaky bitch. I don’t enlighten people. I destroy them.”

“I want to study with you.”

“We’ll see, I suppose.”

* * *

“Who is this?” said Carlo. We pondered it. I proposed it was myself, wearing a shroud.

Jack Kerouac – On the Road

* * *

I had been in Bangkok for two hours. It was three AM. I walked down an alley near my hotel. Not being able to sleep, I decided to buy some Thai beer to kick back and hopefully become sleepy with. Large rats feed in piles of trash. One looked at me, darted out into the alley and ran across my foot. It was big; about the size of an opossum. It stopped just past my foot, its’ tail still touching my big tow. Thoughts of rat bites, disease and my lack of health insurance floated across my mind. “Well, how about it?” I said. The rat ran off into the night.

* * *
It made me think that everything was about to arrive – the moment when you know all and everything is decided forever.

Jack Kerouac – On the Road

* * *
The night before I left, I returned to the Saivite ashram. The guru was supposed to be in from Chaing Mai and we were supposed to meet. The gate was open and I walked in. The lazy dog that I met on my first visit was sleeping in the same spot. Another, much more hyper and unruly dog began ferociously barking and lunging at me. I walked past it towards the door. The dog made a lunge for my leg and bit into my calf. He didn’t bite hard – he didn’t break through my jeans. I bounded up the stairs and, luckily, the door to the main house was open, and I ran in, slamming the door behind me. The door was glass. The dog was outside, and I was inside. Outside, the dog barked, snarled and lunged at the door. I walked around on the main floor of the house. I called out. No one was there. Either everyone was in another building on the property, which didn’t seem likely, or they had all gone somewhere. The dog still snarled, and was now slamming itself against the door. I sat down in front of the glass door looking at it. I was not sure what to do. Spending the night inside seemed like an option. But I had to leave for the airport at 5:30 AM.

I walked around the first floor again. The lights were out, but I found another door. I ran out the door, leaving it open, for fear that stopping to shut it would give the dog time to make it around the house. I ran towards the stone wall. In one Jackie-Chan-style-running-push-off-the-wall jump, I flew over the top and landed in an alley. In front of me was an outdoor bar. There were lights, Thai music, and lots of Thai kids drinking whiskey and eating. I walked in.

“Beer, please.”
* * *
Life is life, and kind is kind.

Jack Kerouac – On the Road

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