Showing posts with label thailand. Show all posts
Showing posts with label thailand. Show all posts

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Night in Phuket



'Massage, massage, massage,' a skinny teenage boy, in plain white shirt, delivered his pitch, in accented English followed by some unintelligible Thai. He was standing at the open gate of Bangla Road alongside three other persons -- a plump lady, a slim lady, and another boy wearing the same white shirt -- uniformly barking out Thai massage, their business.

I raised my hand for the young boy to stop, gently declining the offer, and proceeded to the road drowned in bright neon lights, music blasting from everywhere, and people -- locals and tourists -- sprawling across the street.

Bangla Road, a four-lane street that is barricaded off at both ends when nightfall comes, is the pulse of Phuket's so-called vibrant international nightlife. It will give you the shock of your life if your eyes aren't trained to see not-so-wholesome or rather sexually explicit shows that better be well tucked inside closed circuits or the four walls of nightclubs. Everything was just made public. How on earth was that possible? Left and right, it was screaming that Phuket could never be a family destination. Go away, father, mother, and child.

Caught in the rising temperature of the red light district, at twenty-seven, I was in for a treat, for all that's sleazy imaginable in one night, that is. It's eye-opening knowing that a place, such as Phuket, exists, at least in Southeast Asia, devoid of morality as the holier-than-thou would claim.

All around me, I had a dose of incessant chatters, billowing clouds of cigarette smoke, EDM booming out of loudspeakers, strutting, writhing, and pole-dancing snakes in human skimpy clothes, unlimited booze, obviously heavily made-up erstwhile men with herculean boobs and arses and luscious curves in flashy feathery costumes, muscle and tattooed men, flimsy-framed boys, poking fingers, indecent stares, PDAs, and equally familiar eyes lost in a daze.

Truth be told, I was not prepared enough to get a glimpse of how liberated a small island in Thailand could be. It is unlike the whole of the Philippines at all. Our country dons a conservative skin. Thanks to the moral guardians preaching to the masses, where, ironically, a quarter of the latter are actually getting sicker, spiritually and morally and financially, every single day. Thanks to the influence of modernity and to rampant desperation across the nation -- our moral fiber is degrading. And big thanks to politicians, for the phoney kind of love for country and their people, for their perverted minds, and for the frequent bickering over nonsense. Philippine society is just being superficial now, all for show, in limbo, and has to have thick skin to survive. It is invariably barely there. Thailand may be as blunt as wearing two-piece or thong on the busy streets of Phuket, by showing stark carnal truths, but it has reached tipping point past just surviving. See, it can single-handedly feed hungry mouths in their homes.

I left the pervading confusion and noise in the street, and walked to the road that runs parallel to Patong beach and back and to the main thoroughfare of the town. It was unusually quiet there compared to the din of the crowd I had just been into. But its silence was broken when a pale girl, with red lipstick on, outside a doorway called out in the dark, 'Massage, massage, massage.' She did it calmly and melodiously, as if whispering soft tones to increasingly warm ear, convincingly teasing.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Over a Bowl of Thai Beef Noodle Soup


Block 183, Toa Payoh Central, Singapore. An old man, with silver mustache and beard trimmed to an inch long, spilled out his beads of wisdom at the hawker centre. It was him and his audience of only three, and then there was me seated at the far corner of an eight-person, elongated table, across, one seat apart from a young man, overhearing their discourse. They were done with dinner. Their mess all cleaned up save the man's cup of coffee, half-full. Black coffee it must have been, spelling a whole lot of luck to a much-needed goodnight sleep for the aged.


I had just started with mine, a Thai beef noodle soup from a newly-opened stall. This one's better than its Vietnamese brother at Block 177, I confess.

It was half past eight. Really, I was starving and could concentrate less on anything, except for food, of course. But I had my ears pricked up, anyhow.

And now the host was on a roll.

Old man: I started smoking at a very young age. It was in my secondary years. I am cleaner now, hopefully. Finally, I bid goodbye to smoking.

Young man: Did somebody tell you to stop smoking?

Old man: No one did. It was my body who did it. It almost gave up on me. And, oh, dear God, the Holy Spirit struck me in the head!

Young man's mother picked her excited hands, clapping several times. But hands barely touched each other. Such discreet hands.

Old man: No cigarettes for 10 years now.

Young man: Wow! After 50 long years! What an achievement!

Wife, sitting beside the old man, kept on smiling with beaming eyes.

Then I started with my mental calculations, wishing I had the sharpest of concentrations.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Stranded in a Beginning


Chants storm their way out of dog-eared pages of books, and succumb to being every inch sensitive to ear. No way loud, no way muted, they are nothing but the seraphic hums that fill the soft air, in frequencies that calm the tempest raging inside a restless warrior. They are a prelude to a chorus to be repeated a thousand times over, like a prayer, and it knows no folly forever. And finally, the prized hope plucked from the very core out to the mantle of skin meets its beginning, a new life set before its cold feet.

The long journey resigns from its countless twists and turns. It now rests at the bosom of comfort, still, but discards stagnation. Drafted at the onset of a willing mind, it catches up with freedom brought forth by the red machinery riding on the crests and troughs inside the left rib cage.

Called upon through the silence of intention, attraction, charm, fascination, and trance, contour the landscape of a soul moved to finding its sole pair. The soul is made kinetic, knocked down by its own medicine, where doubts and reservations are cast to a thousand folds of oblivion, tossed upwards, and disappeared.

As soothing as any word uttered by your first kin, and as dulcet as the song on replay, the sweetest emotion forms out of mouth and is frozen in delicate time. It is the force behind the present state of the soul.

The future is up with bounty hidden in the garden of optimism. And will it ever be found in this lifetime? There begs to be no definite answer.

Luck compares itself to treasure buried beneath the deep trenches of the sea, or washed up on the unguarded, empty shore, shining under the harsh sun, on the loose, awaiting to be seized or repossessed. May it be found, may it be stranded, in the soul’s new beginning.

Image: Phuket, Thailand