So yeah, I’m at home. Doing stuff on the computer is the best thing to keep me awake at the moment. I drove out to get lunch, but on my way back sleep was creeping up on me. I could feel it in the back of my head. So, the local grocery store was my last stop instead of Trader Joe’s as I originally planned. I didn’t want to fall asleep at the wheel.
Brace yourselves kids. This is going to be a long one.
The flight back was pleasant all together. Minutes after we landed in Hong Kong, it rained and thundered. After we are all board the plane, we were told our flight was also delayed because of the back up in flight queue due to the storm.
Hong Kong airport has quarantined the end section of their airport for flights to the U.S. They thoroughly search your carryon luggage. If you have small vail of liquid on you, they ask that you test it for them. The lady next to me had to use her eye drops. And for myself, a few sprays into my nose.
The flight was full. No empty seat in the economy section. With my slightly bummed kneews, I suddenly missed the comfort of the larger seat and a wee bit more leg room of THAI Airways direct flight BKK-LAX on the new Airbus. Remind me next time not to dance on the bench with heels a few nights before getting on the plane. More on that later.
Let me start back where I left off in the last entry from Bangkok.
Wednesday morning was spent with mom and the afternoon with dad. My new dentist turned out to be an English bookworm. She saw my copy of “Reading Lolita in Tehran” I had with me and struck up the conversation. At the end, I left her a list of books I’ve enjoyed recently and she left me with a filler. Later that afternoon, I went to get some contact lenses and dad nudged me into buying another pair of glasses. He hated my geekylicious thick framed one I currently wear. LOL. I got the same New Balance brand but wire frame. We also bought a new suitcase for me and did some more browsing around at another mall. We had dinner at home and Pueng couldn’t be happier! Haha. I told you she loves spoiling me to death.
Thursday was all about mom. I barely went anywhere, just down the street to buy some lunch. And that was it. We ended up doing family dinner that night with my brothers and their ladies because my brother Onk may be going to Dubai on business for dad on Saturday. Since I haven’t had Peking duck (that’s crispy duck skin served with tortilla like flat bread and plum sauce) in a very long time, we took a trip down memory lane to dine at Great New Shanghai restaurant on Sukhumvit Road, next to the Emporium. We used to eat there on special occasions growing up and haven’t really returned there in years! We had a great time, but I don’t know if anyone else feels the significance of mom’s absense.
Friday, now this was the day to remember. I went over to mom first thing in the morning as always, and I left again to see my dentist like Wednesday. The cavity filling had to be drilled down a little more. After that, I walked over to pick up my new glasses and contact lenses. (Only 5 pairs of 1-day lenses just so I could go to the award dinner in October with no glasses. My insurance only covers one eye exam a year and that is not until after the dinner. So, there you go.) On my way back, I made a quick stop at the Erawan shrine to pay my respect to Brahma statue and then I went back to be with mom.
Lily came to pick me up from the hospital and we headed to my house to hung out and get dressed. We left the car there and took the SkyTrain to Na Na station and walked to Kinnaree Gourmet Thai. We ended up with a small group. Again. Joy and her husband were stuck in traffic and they decided to just eat somewhere closer to the club. Note, the restaurant owner, had to close that night and she was also waiting on VIP guests so she couldn’t go dancing with us or hanging out with us much for dinner. Sam didn’t forget this time but was running late. The rest of the folks who said they’d show went AWOL.
So, Tong, Lily and I enjoyed our appetizers-for-dinner meal with a few cocktails. Tong was dashing out the door to meet Joy and the rest of her friends (a 30th birthday party) at the club when Sam arrived. Not wanting to run off so soon, Lily and I hung back with Sam so she could eat dinner and enjoyed her drinks and then, in Sam’s car, we headed down to Gigabite in Soi Tongloh (Sukumvit 55).
Gigabite, according to my brother Ake and his wife who are both social butterflies, used to be a cool club. Now, it’s still cool for the younger crowd. The 30+ are hanging out elsewhere now, they said. And it is true. Gigabite was filled with college age younguns! We felt ancient in the joint, but that is just how Tong likes it! Haha.
“Young grass for the old cows,” she said, playing off of a Thai saying “Old cattle and young grass” usually implies the old man and his much younger girlfriend/wife/mistress.
The main seating arrangement at Gigabite was cafeteria style, wooden table-benches. It’s the thing to do to dance on the benches. Not quite the table because that is where the whiskey and mixers are. Oh yes, the typical club alcoholic fare, Johnny Walker Red Label whiskey and assorted mixer of water, soda, and cola and a bucket of ice. If you have more money, the whiskey could be other brand. But JWRL is the cheapest thing to drink before hitting the local (read: low class) brands. That alone filled the table, no room for you to dance on, hence the bench. Heh.
For a few unfortunate souls who like to drink, just not whiskey, you’d have the choices of Heineken or Barcadi flavored malt drinks. I did see bottles of vodka and gin on the shelf but I really am not sure if the “bartenders” could fix anything for you with those.
See? This is one thing I like about BED, they have more beer. Probably a few clubs in town that actually have Guinness and Foster on the menu. BED is the watering hole for mostly foreigners, so the music selection is usually of the international persuasion and therefore I’d know them.
Not so at Gigabite. The night was mostly DJ’ed until 11:30 when the live house band came on to rock out. The DJ’ed part was fine for me. It was a mixed of local pop dance and hip hop I don’t know (or recently come to hate–the newer and sexier Tata Young and her goddamn “El Nin-yo!”–yes it’s the bastardization of El Nino–and thanks Gnarly Kitty for the comparison video post) and American pop dance and hip hop hits. This is pretty much where I danced my ass off. Later on, after the band, the exodus began. The DJ played 2 more tunes and Tong and I were going nuts on the bench. It was “Jump Around” and “Crazy In Love” and nobody to look up to see me holding up a very drunk Tong as we danced. No we weren’t trying to do the sexy girl-on-girl dancing thing. I was afraid Tong was going to fall off the bench!
The house band was REALLY good. They rocked hard and sounded awesome. 100% local fare with only a few songs I actually know plus the punk version of “I will survive” with a guest female singer thrown in for good measure. I did try to get into it out of necessity because it’d look to stupid to be standing still around the dancing drunken fools. But, as I said, I did get my share of bench dancing in. Joy, her husband and his friend left around midnight. The rest of us marched on until 1:30 when the club closed. (Oh yeah, this early closing curfew thing SUCKS!)
Despite all of that, we had a few fantastic moments with the band. As a song request for the birthday girl, the band played the classic Thai folk song titled Sam Sib Yang Jaew which translates to “Still hot at 30”. To our surprise, aside from our group screaming in delight when the song came on, there was another group across the corner of the club screaming in support as well. They were celebrating someone’s 30th too!
Following that song was another classic pop ballad, Chan Mai Chai Pu Wiset (I’m no magician…pretty much the song says I don’t have much to offer you just my heart). Suddenly, that other “old cows” corner bursted into manic screaming. The word travelled through the club that someone had just been proposed to! A few minutes later, we found out it was our classmate who got proposed to and their group had more of our classmates in them! LOL! Talk about super small world!
I mentioned holding Tong up on the bench because she was quite toasted. Let me continue on telling you about our wonderfully outgoing Tong who got completely and absolutely fucked up.
I mean, she was keeping a pretty good composure, insisting on driving back to the birthday girl’s house to spend the night. Her other Thai friends were taking her words for it, but I wasn’t about to let the broad getting in the car after watching her slamming her whiskey and cola all night and stumbled around the way she did. Tong fought us a bit based on a very Thai principal of Kreng Jai–something equivalent to being courteous. The “I didn’t want to bother you” mentality we have. I told her it’d really be a bother if I have to change my flight and stay for her funeral if she drives drunk and crashes. So after a few minutes of arguing, she handed her key over to Lily.
Little Miss “No, I can drive. Really!” was in the backseat, puking into the bag withint the first 5 minutes of us leaving the club. Then she’d alternate passing out and dry heaving for the rest of the trip. It looked to us she had gotten this getting too drunk to drive down to an art. There’s a plastic bag in the backseat and a packed overnight bag in the trunk. Good going, wayward alcoholic. When we got to my house, it took us a good 15 minutes to get her out of the car and another 10 minutes to get her inside, up 2 flights of stairs to the bedroom. Lily left once we got Tong settled in. Tong woke up once the next morning to throw up. I fed her aspirin and made her drink water. She didn’t know that hangover is caused by dehydration.
Oh yeah. There’s a few things Tong doesn’t know about drinking. One of them is when to stop. It’s good to know your limit. Sam and I both have our shares of being completely drunk off our asses and therefore know our limit. Lily only drinks socially and never really gotten past lightly buzzed. Sam and Lily had a few drinks themselves earlier that night, but they were sober by the time we left.
Tong’s binge drinking worries us. Lily fears she may ended up getting taken advantage of by her guy “friends” or worse by strangers. All I could do is emphasize to her that she needs to learn to drink responsibly, learn to find her limit. The rest is up to her.
Now, Saturday morning I went to hang out with mom. Dad was at an all day seminar and P’ Onk was mostly busy getting ready for the Dubai trip he was taking that evening. There was no parking at the hospital lot so P’ Ake and his wife picked me up and treated me for lunch at Thien Dong, the French Vietnamese restaurant in the Dusit Thani Hotel, across the street so they could also park their car. When we got back just past 1 p.m., mom was in the middle of her physical therapy session. P’ Onk was already there. (and when he left the house around 1, Tong’s car was still in the garage.) We took a picture with mom for the first time! Since the feeding tube came off a few days ago, she finally felt “presentable”, mom said. Haha!
Pun was also there, the Thai masseur and nail lady we use for 15 years. Aunty Or dispatched for her the day before and she cleared her schedule to come see me and my mom. I got my nails done and a good kneading. The massage surely helped my sore knees! Pun also rubbed mom down pretty well. She has provided massage therapy to paralyzed patients and elderly before. She even gave my mom’s sister a few minutes of foot massage!
Mom was moved into the corner room with wonderful views of the southwest Bangkok. They moved everyone around already to do repairs on all the toilets on her floor. Mom was the last one. She doesn’t like to have the blind open on the west side. It’s a new thing. And mom has become fearful of new things since the stroke. We’ll have to slowly introduce her to the new component of the otherwise same room.
I spent more time with mom as she dosed off when dad came to get me. I said my goodbye. I told her to be good and to be strong and that I’d be back soon. She insisted that I don’t need to come back because it’s a waste of money. She hugged me and asked if I had washed my hair. LOL. Oh yeah, the cigarette smokes from Thai clubs gets in everywhere. I washed my hair 3 times and you can still smell a faint whiff. Mom’s scent of smell has become very acute since the stroke. Funny how the stroke could take something away and enhance something else. We were almost out the door when she asked to hug me again. She had forgotten we had just said goodbye.
If this was to be the last time I’ve seen mom alive, it’ll always be known that her last word to me was “Your head is stinky.”
Overall, the trip feels a lot less of a vacation I have had in the past. It wasn’t the same with mom being around the house, healthy or otherwise. Spending time with mom at the hospital is nothing like laying around the house with her and watch TV like last time for her chemo. Going out with other people during the day where mom is mostly awake makes me feel guilty. Hell, being away from her now makes me feel guilty. It wasn’t 10 days of vacation but more like 10 days of necessary errands. Coming back to my real life feels almost like what a vacation should feel like. It’s crazy.
I will talk more about mom and my visit with her in more details in the next installment.