Saturday, July 25, 2015

Twenty Years Ago Today: An Evening in the Soi

As I'm a bit busy on a holiday in the Ukraine at the moment, mainly in trying to keep Crazy Bob from getting arrested, here's a random journal entry from twenty years ago. In 1995, I'd been in Bangkok for a few months already after starting my first teaching job.

July 23, 1995

At about 11:00pm T and I went back to Banglumphu and cracked a pint of Mekhong whiskey at a little sidewalk food stand in the gritty soi near his guest house on Samsen. We also had sticky rice and a beef and chilli pepper dish that he explained was called "waterfall" because blood fell out of the beef while it was cooking. 

T chatted away in Thai with the various shady types skulking around in the dark alleys. One skinny little Thai man had a home tattoo of Mickey Mouse holding a giant hypodermic syringe. He shook my hand and laughed heartily. 

A cute little girl of about 16 or 17 wearing a Sailor Moon t-shirt joined us; T talked with her for a while and translated for me. She said I was very handsome. She seemed to be a whore, but was a bit vague about it. 

The guy with the hypodermic / Mickey Mouse tattoo and some other guys were sort of hanging around the fringes eyeing us.

"Are we about to get bushwhacked, T?" I asked.

"Oh no. They know me. The worst that will happen is that they'll beat us senseless and take all of our money." 

We had a drink to that. 

It eventually happened that a young floppy haired guy on a motorcycle came up. "My friend," explained the girl. The guy kept talking with T, always smiling, and then walking off and coming back. 

"What's he saying?" I asked

"I'm not entirely sure, but I know it's rude."

"What are you saying back?"

"I keep asking him if he's from Laos. It's a big insult to them."

The guy didn't do anything though, and we finished the pint and I walked back to Khao San road alone, leaving T with Sailor Moon and her boyfriend. 

He was still alive the next day so it must have been a good day.

* * *
I wonder what happened to my old mentor English Teacher T. I went by the Mall where we used to work at and the school didn't seem to be in there anymore. Wouldn't surprise me at all if he were still in Bangkok somewhere, though, sitting a soi drinking beer and eating pork. There are worse fates.

I don't see him on this barebones website for the school, (Although -- somewhat frighteningly -- there are several teachers there who have been there since the 90s.)


Anonymous said...

The teacher photos amd bios just must be a hoax? Too close to all the cliches to be true.

Chris said...

What cliches?

vch\ said...

omg, they have a retirement home at that school, Prob very good teaching in some classes, but wow

Anonymous said...

All male
All older and been there for donkeys years
All look like they like a drink and would struggle to find work eslewhere
All saying they make teaching fun
Pretty poor writing in the self-written(?) bios

Maybe I've got it wrong and they are a bunch of committed professionals?

englishteacherx said...

Yeah, I can reveal that I worked there, now that I've decided to leave it off my resume completely. It used to be the largest chain language school in Bangkok, doesn't look like it made the transition to the 21st century very well.

Jug Jugette said...

Boy, that website looks like a testimonial as to why any self-respecting potential student should run a country mile.
Very wise to expunge the evidence, X - I should speak to Google.

Anonymous said...

I recently made the transition from ESL to a blue collar job. I'm in my late 30s. I was on and off again in the ESL industry from 2000-2014. So far I can't believe how much better I feel in an 'ordinary' gig in a Western land. Union, overtime, don't really have to talk a lot of rubbish everyday. For me it was agongy teaching reticent students whose real wish was to sing Kareoke with me. I have to say it, those who like teaching ESL are usually weird windbags. I guess it's a bit puerile to knock something just because it wasn't for me. I miss the weird, old mostly male types I met when I was first in ESL...they didn't have great morals or social skills, but they were knowlegeable and the latter half of my tefl carrer I taught with young people who couldn't get a job back home and were far too serious about the whole thing...were into hlidays to the beach and shit like that(!)

I reckon X is a guy who can survive well without ESL...Bogs speed my man.

Although goes without saying my interaction with good looking girls has fallen 10-fold since leaving the industry...that IS a bummer!

englishteacherx said...

What's this great blue collar job? I actually have my next gig lined up, I'm going to wait to write about it though.

Anonymous said...

Job is the same one Bukowski wrote his first novel about i.e. you deliver correspondance and a shit load of magazines and packages from China.

englishteacherx said...

Drop me an e-mail at if you want to do a "repatriation chronicles" interview.