Bangkok Buzz (Part 3)
It wasn't long before I heard the telltale tune of an electronic doorbell. With literally thousands of 7-Eleven stores throughout Thailand, you're never too far away from one.
The obnoxious ping that sounds as the door slides open had me conditioned to brace right before for the aggressive AC could slap me in the face. I left my sunglasses on in a sad attempt to hide how much of a degenerate I was that day while I wandered the aisles of prawn-flavored snacks.
I think the first wave of my hangover is crashing down right about now…
I grabbed a bottle of water and one of those packs of powdered electrolytes for good measure, but of course, there was a much more important element to the mission at hand. No hangover trip to a Thai 7-Eleven would be complete without acquiring the holy grail of pre-packaged breakfasts - the ham and cheese toastie.
I mumbled a sheepish Sawatdee-kah to the girl at the till. She smiled. And I know my Thai is not the best, but I’m pretty sure that look roughly translated meant, “Wow, you look like hot garbage.” She handed my plastic wrapped sandwich to the other guy to have it toasted up while I handed her the cash.
At the time, it felt like waiting for that tasty thing to cook was going to be longest five minutes of my day. Little did I know it wouldn't be the last of my unfortunate delays.
“Hello!” In my haze, I hadn’t noticed the young Thai man peel my grilled perfection out of the toaster and shove it into its little cardboard sleeve. I smiled a kahbkoon-kah to him, bracing myself once again for the extreme temperature shift as I walked back out into the sweltering daylight.
The infamous 7-Eleven toastie is easily the best third-degree burn for your baht in town. The heat seeping through the cardboard into my fingers should have been enough to remind me of this, but I’m impatient at the best of times, and I was extra hasty in my post-soirée stupor.
I took a generous bite and instantly regretted my decision.
A reflexive sharp inhalation was followed promptly by a choking cough. People stared and shook their heads as they walked past. They clearly had no pity for me.
I know, I know… I have no one to blame but myself.
I probably should have just spit that piping hot chunk back out into my bag, but what little pride I had left forced me to keep it in my mouth and accept my punishment. I stiffened my upper lip and wiped away my tears as that callous, cheese-filled, flaky pastry scorched its way down my throat. What’s more is that as I continued with my obvious struggle to eat and walk, I tripped over my own foot and stubbed my exposed toes on the sidewalk.
To say I was a sight for sore eyes might be a bit of an understatement.
Well, I might look like a total mess, I thought. But no one knows who I am here. So, at least I have that.
The directions Gabrial had given me seemed pretty straightforward. But when I finally started to rise above the fog of the night before, I realized I hadn’t even seen any BTS station yet, and the sneaking suspicion that I had gone in the completely wrong direction started to settle in.
Walking up the unfamiliar streets, I thankfully found a city map next to a bus stop on the side of the road. I stared at it endlessly while I nibbled tiny bites off my scalding hot sandwich. It took me way too long to figure out where I was in the world.
As a totally arbitrary rule, I don’t ever take the bus. You have to know which line, which direction, which stop... And especially doing all that in a foreign language? No thanks. I’m nervous enough asking for directions when I've got my wits about me, never mind when I’m a pile of steaming hot trash.
So, once I located myself on the map and which direction it was that I needed to go in order to find my way back to my guesthouse, I obstinately continued on foot.
I really have no explanation for the level of stubbornness I exhibited that day. It was hot as balls - Bangkok’s noontime sun was showing me no mercy for my wretched hangover. And I was definitely hungover as shit. Plus, I was wearing flip flops - not exactly the best choice of footwear for a cross-city trek. I could have turned around and made my way back to any Skytrain station to cover ground a lot faster. I could have just as easily hailed a cab, for that matter. But I was feeling cheap. And again, I felt like I deserved to be punished. Some lazy form of repentance in an attempt to absolve me of the ribbons of shame that come along with such an unforgiving hangover.
About halfway through my expedition, I realized I must have left my bottle of water and the electrolytes on the counter at the 7-Eleven. I literally face palmed myself then.
And so, I walked.
Checking the maps that I stumbled upon every so often. Regularly finding that I was off the mark and having to backtrack to get back on trackanyways.
For nearly two hours.
And just when I thought I was going to be lost forever, I emerged at the other end of a street called Soi Kraisi and finally recognized my surroundings. I breathed a weary sigh of relief - I’m going to make it!
Turning the corner at the gaudy, bright yellow K-Bank, I finally found myself back at the familiar tree-laden Rambuttri footpath. As per usual, the gauntlet of shrewd Thai hawkers at the entrance to my little enclave was fully loaded.
“Eh, tuktuk? — Tuktuk!”
“You want ping-pong show?”
I didn’t even blink behind my sunglasses in response to the standard onslaught of heckling and tongue popping. The familiar stench of last night was still heavy on me; the touts knew as well I as I did that there was no way I was going to be their next customer.
I was totally exhausted, and sweating a bunch - I could feel my hangover's second wind picking up. Rounding the final corner, I could almost smell the quiet waiting for me inside my room just a little further down the path. Almost there...
A tremor of sheer dread rushed down my spine and out of my bare, bruised toes. Good lord, who could possibly know me here right now?
I did recognize the voice, but I was still pretty dazed, so it took me a moment to place the name, as well as determine where it had actually come from. He made it easy for me though — the speaker rose from his tiny folding chair in the shade of a nearby awning and walked towards me.
He was a tall, reasonably handsome young man not much older than me. The ends of his shaggy blonde hair were extra sun bleached, and his deeply tanned skin told stories of many a beach day. He hasn’t said enough for you to know yet, but he was Australian.
Just the total antithesis of anything that has ever come close to being one of my types.
But I did hook up with him about a year ago all the same.
It was okay.
“How are you?” he said, offering me a completely unnecessary hug.
Unnecessary because he went totally AWOL after our last encounter.
Ethan worked for an adventure travel company that guided groups of feisty twenty-something on trips through the notorious party culture in the south of Thailand. I am familiar with this culture because I was one of those twenty-somethings not so long ago; my introduction to Thailand and the subsequent love affair that ensued with the country had been a direct result of one such trip.
There are a handful of similar companies that cater to this young, thirsty clientele, and the guides who work for them tend to overlap quite often, forming an interesting micro-faction of the expat community. So, even though Ethan hadn’t been leading my pack, we crossed paths enough times during my stay.
At first, I was put off by him. Like I said, he wasn’t really my type. First of all, he was little too beardy for my liking. The way he toyed with the many girls who were all horned up on holiday juices, shamelessly encouraging their tactless groupthink flirtation, just turned me off even more. I'm all for healthy competition, but I don't really get off on being part of the hungry throng vying for a single piece of over-chewed meat. Plus, for whatever reason, I’ve never had a thing for Aussie accents. My pussy is a bit hipster like that.
But as time went on, and I sunk a little deeper into my own holiday heat, I found myself warming up to him. To the point that we fumbled through an unexpectedly pleasant poolside makeout session one night in Railay after just the right amount of Chang beers and flirty dancing at the aptly named the Last Bar. I was told that it was generally frowned upon for the guides to hookup with the travelers. But even though we didn’t have sex that night, I got the impression that Ethan never really adhered to that rule.
That said, much to my surprise and delight, his kiss came without any looming sense of sexpectation. Just a nice little bout of making out simply for the sake of it. Which was… Well, it was pretty nice. It was enough for us to connect on Facebook before I left anyways.
I had become so enamored with the Banana Pancake Trail vibes that I immediately set out to plan my return to South East Asia while I was on the flight back home, and only a few short months later, I was back for some deeper solo exploration. Although we didn’t make any major effort to stay in touch beyond the odd photo like or comment in the meantime, I reached out to Ethan shortly before my triumphant return to Bangkok. I do live for the thrill of solo travel, but it always helps to have a man on the inside. For extra tips on what to do, I mean! God, get your mind out of the gutter… It’s not always a sex thing.
As it happened, he had a little time off from the guiding grind around the time that I arrived, and was “happy to hang.” And once we found ourselves alone together without the prying (or jealous) eyes of other group members, we were able to dig a little deeper.
He was more intelligent than I'd first given him credit for, and the conversation over our spicy steamed chicken rice flowed as smoothly as my Singha beer. I learned that he had completed his undergrad in biochemistry, and had been on track to carry on in the same field with grad studies when he suddenly realized he actually had no desire to follow that path and hopped on a plane instead.
I could obviously sympathize.
It turned out that he had a lot more to offer than that archetypal Aussie babe thing going for him anyways.
Or maybe it was all just an elaborate ploy to get into my sweaty shorts. In which case, it apparently worked.
It was completely dark by the time we had finished our street eats and made our way down to Khao San Road. That’s where we found a number of his coworkers along with a sizeable travel group already planted on their plastic chairs outside a classic Thai bucket stand. It was the group's first night in town, so chances that things would get a little weird were pretty high.
I recognized the faces of some of the other guides. But I knew none of them would remember me; Ethan's quick introduction of me confirmed my suspicions. I tended not to make the most splashing impression when I was lost in a sea of loud, drunk personalities like I was on my inaugural journey through Thailand. Which suited me just fine - it’s easier for me to disappear whenever I feel like it that way.
After hours of drinking in the street and sweaty dancing at The Club across the Road, the night began to cull the less serious partiers from the herd - I was decidedly amongst the weak. Still a little jet lagged, I didn’t really feel the need to go all out because, as my passport can confirm, this wasn’t my “once in a lifetime” Thailand adventure.
When he wasn’t right next to me, Ethan had been watching my movements from across the dance floor all night. “I’ve got some beers back in my room,” he suggested in the end. “You’re welcome to join me.”
I knew it was our Bangkok equivalent to Netflix and Chill, and by the time I got the invitation, I was totally down. “Yeah. Let’s do that.”
And so, leaving the messy crew of wasted fledgling adventurers behind, we weaved arm in sweaty arm through the Khao San bustle all the way back to his place.
With help from his trusty little travel speaker, Ethan set the mood by playing a quieter version of the electronic dance beats that had been thumping at the club. We kept the lights off for added effect; the glow from the street lamps outside was enough to highlight our features. I swayed lazily along with the rhythm as he grabbed a large Chang beer from his mini fridge, and pried off the top with his ring.
“Very impressive,” I teased. “Is that how you get the girls to like you?”
“Yes. But I’ll have you know that it’s not my only trick.” He waggled his eyebrows as he took a swig, and passed the bottle to me. “Don’t worry. I don’t have cooties, I promise.”
“I hope not,” I said, accepting his offer.
I let the bottle hang down in my hand, feeling the cool glass against my skin as I continued to dance in place. Thanks to the AC, the brown bottle didn’t get sweaty nearly as fast as they had outside on the street.
He moved in towards me and placed his hands on my waist like we were at a high school dance. “It’s really good to see you again,” he said as he looked down at me and tucked a lock of stray hair behind my ear.
“It’s good to be back.” I raised up on to my tiptoes in an attempt to meet him on his level. “God, I forgot how tall you were.”
“Well, we were sitting down last time we did this.” Ethan bowed in towards me until his mouth connected with mine. His tongue was still cool from the beer as it gently slipped in between my lips. Even despite the scruff of his beard, his kiss was pleasantly soft. I rested my free hand on his waist, and our hips swayed together to the whispering house music.
His hands moved carefully down my body and cupped under the flesh of my ass. I squealed a little and wrapped my legs tight around him when he hoisted me up without warning. He carried me over way to the bed, which was, in fact, two single beds pushed together to make one big one. Leaning us over, he laid me down gently across the mattress and brushed me with kisses me from ear to ear. Surprisingly, I didn't spill a drop of the beer before I was able to put it down safely on the bedside table. With both hands free, I scratched under his beard and noticed he must have used some kind of oil on it — he smelled like fresh grape seed and spicy bergamot.
Alright, alright, I’ll admit it — he was a pretty charming dude. And the beard wasn’t so bad after all either.
With the weight of his midsection gently pressing into me, his lips continued to explore the path from down my neck and across my clavicle. He stole a kiss before pulling my top off overhead and nuzzled into the space between my breasts. I closed my eyes and giggled as I weaved my fingers through his thick, sea-bleached waves.
I guided his head back up to me and kissed him again, while my hands ran the length of his torso and sneaked up under his light cotton shirt. I felt the ripple of his spine as he gyrated softly into me, and slowly pulled his shirt up over his head. We held each other close, skin to skin; his warm, sun-kissed body was a stark contrast against my significantly less tanned complexion.
He planted a trail of kisses down my chest towards my belly button and tugged at the edges of my shorts. I lifted my hips, inviting him to pull them right off for me. He knelt on the ground at my feet and spread my knees open so he might nestle himself between them.
Ethan's touch was so soft, so conscious as his hands moved and squeezed along the length my legs, up my body, and back down again. He leaned the warmth of his cheek into my inner thigh while his fingers continued to skirt around my new spaces. His ginger strokes evoked a shiver that started between my shoulders and pooled behind my knees, and I melted a little deeper into the mattress with every shudder.
He kissed and nipped down that sensitive line of my inner thigh, inching closer to my fiery core until his hot breath hovered over my underwear. The tension roping through my body grew until he replaced his mouth with his palm, pressing my hunger back into me. My back arched spontaneously and the softest moan escaped through my nose.
The scruff of his beard tickled my edges as he flirted closer and closer to my flesh. He tugged my panties to one side and pressed his mouth to my lips. I swooned into him, surrendering to the long-awaited introduction between me and his tongue. He teased me with soft flicks and hard kisses until his tongue, wet and diligent, had conducted a full investigation of my pussy.
He separated my lips with the wet flat of his tongue and traced all the way up to my clit. My inner walls had all but collapsed when he homed in on my swollen bud. He lapped slowly at first, up, down, and around the hood, sending mini shocks up into my center. While he traced the periphery of my clit, sultry and consistent, his scruff brushed my labia in a curiously enjoyable way. He then introduced the pad of his thumb to the edges of my entry, massaging around the pool of wetness swelling just past the gate without actually every penetrating my threshold.
The boy had some serious skills.
This deliberately laid-back play he was orchestrating for me sent me through an agonizingly delicious ascent to my impending release. He never rushed, and never wavered; my hips rose with his unshakable rhythm until the slow, burning build of my orgasm washed over me. My hips bucked haphazardly into his face, wet with our lust, as I gradually cooled and came back down.
He slowly pulled away, not hurrying me through my pleasure. He stretched himself down alongside me, softly stroking my arm while I stewed in my glow, savoring the aftermath of my release.
After an indeterminable amount of minutes had passed and I regained control over my breath, I heard him softly say, “Should I grab a condom, love?”
I was straddling a parallel dream world. Without opening my eyes, I leaned over and pulled his face in towards mine. I could smell the remains of me in his scruff. “Mm, yes,” I cooed. “Absolutely.”
He kissed my nose and left me for a moment. I stretched on my back like a disoriented cat while he rummaged around in a bag somewhere in the dark. Before my skin had a chance to cool in his absence, he was back on top of me. The comfort of his weight pressed into me once again, and he slid easily into the source of my wetness.
His movements were… Well, I don’t know. Because “lazy” is not the right word for it. Every move was full of intention. Essentially, Ethan made slow, sensual love to me that night. Like we were old partners more than first time lovers. Definitely not your average one night stand, at any rate.
Though this part of the story admittedly didn’t last too long — his excitement had obviously been building throughout the entire rise and fall of my own — it was more than enjoyable.
He collapsed next to me and held me close in the darkness. Our chests heaved together as the cold stream from the air conditioning unit across the room licked at the sweat drying in every corner of our woven bodies.
I fell asleep even before he pulled away to toss the condom and come back to tuck us in together. At some point in the middle of the night, I woke up still fully immersed in his bear hug embrace, his nose buried into my neck. Between him and the light sheet partially covering our bodies, it seemed we had achieved the optimal position — no sticky sweat, no sleeping limbs, all cuddles. I drifted back to sleep with ease.
The entire experience was much like the first time by the pool in Railay. It was all just… really nice.
Okay, so yeah, maybe I lied earlier. The whole thing with Ethan was more than okay… At the time.
I was just a little miffed that he did a total 180 as soon as it was over. Because the following afternoon, before the sun-kissed dust of our lazy lovemaking even had time to settle, he sneaked away with his new tour group. Without so much as a warning or a simple goodbye. And despite obviously having seen the Facebook messages I had sent in the days to follow, he never responded to any of my attempts to check in after our little tryst.
And that brings us back to why that hug in the middle of the Rambuttri footpath was so bizarre and unexpected.
“Where ya coming from?” he asked, releasing me from his friendly embrace.
“Oh man, like… The other side of town.” I pretended to think. “I forget the name of the area. But it was a long walk. That’s why I’m extra sweaty right now.”
He furrowed his brow, noticeably perplexed by my answer.
“No, I meant… Weren't you... I thought I saw on Facebook that you were somewhere else in the world.”
“Oh, yeah.” Duh. “I was surfing in Sri Lanka for a few weeks before getting back here a couple days ago.”
“Very nice!” He seemed genuinely impressed. “That’s awesome. How long are you back in Bangkok for?”
“To be honest, I’m not sure. I haven’t figured that out yet.”
“That’s the way to do it,” he said. “Well, we should definitely meet up sometime while you’re here.”
I glanced at the girl who he’d been sitting with. Neither of them had made any move to introduce her to me.
“Yeah, sure. Maybe.” I was over the exchange. “But anyways, I’ve got to go for an afternoon shower and take a wicked long nap now. Shoot me a message later if you hear of anything worth doing tonight.”
Once I turned around, I laughed to myself about the whole thing: taking two hours to complete my hungover walk of shame after a comprehensive exploration of Bangkok's underground club scene with a group of total strangers, accidentally running into someone I actually knew, someone I've been naked with no less, in the middle of the streets of such a massive city, and having a totally banal conversation with him while another girl he either just fucked (or is probably about to) just sits idly by.
The guesthouse lobby and adjoining restaurant was pleasantly shaded. I gathered my key from the front desk and when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror on the wall as I climbed up the stairs to my room, I found that I looked surprisingly less disheveled than I expected. Definitely a plus, especially considering the encounter I'd just had.
Even when you’re that sweltering hot, the cold water takes a moment to adjust to. But once your scalp gets past the initial shock, there’s nothing better than a cool rinse in the middle of a sweaty Bangkok afternoon.
Gently washing away the night before with a light lather of some soap (that may or may not have had some kind of whitening agent in it because I couldn't read Thai labels yet), I gently scrubbed around my sensitive nooks. In doing so, I felt the tender little reminders of my early morning stretch with Gabriel and smiled again.
But as I rinsed him away, all that was left was the fierce glow of Alexa's neon eyes, her soft fingers, her sweet treacle skin.
Hair still damp, wrapped in my towel, I fell to the white starchy sheets on my single bed. Right before I rolled over to nap away my epic schlep across town, I checked in with my old friend, the Internet, and found a Facebook friend request from Alexa herself.
I obviously accepted.
[TO BE CONTINUED...]
More by Queen Jayne:
The Birthday Bash
Comings and Goings
Diamonds and Pearls
The Edge of Glory
Expressions of Grief
For Dommestic Use Only
Strangers on a Train