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Bangkok walkabout

Social Chaos: Bill's Briefs

Khao San Road, Bangkok at night | PHOTO: KEVIN POH

Ignoring the rumors of unrest amongst the locals, we have arrived in Bangkok for a few days before heading north to quieter and cooler Chiang Mai. As usual, we soon skip the tourist areas and wander around the ordinary neighborhoods. At our age we often have to stop for a drink or ice cream. Business is business and with gestures we get our refreshment every time. We are careful not to take photos since it is invasive to many residents. The result is a very friendly atmosphere. People understand we are interested in them, their crafts or a special local sight. They then want us to take pictures.

We take precautions to be sure; no venturing into an obvious slum area or into a maze of tiny alleys. We stay on the main streets near the train, bus or subway station and we have the business card from the hotel. At night we stay near the center of things where the atmosphere is decidedly not ordinary. In fact, in certain areas beautiful and handsome young people are especially friendly inviting us into their quaint cafes for “special shows.” We are polite, but keep walking. The more aggressive ones follow us showing photos of the culturally diverse services offered. Etiquette demanded we at least look at them. Strangely, to my partner’s amusement, they invariably show him photos of girls and me of young men. Why?

Friday night gatherings

Soon the gals will be heading to their new, but old, favorite hangout and the guys will surely find a new early Friday night scene. To the dismay of the seniors, however, in both places things will be as usual. We, the older group, will sit, look and kibitz among ourselves. The younger generation will drink and chat among themselves. The twain will never meet. But, as this column often suggests, let’s mingle a little. Seniors have great stories to tell: We saw (and some of us knew) the legends – Elvis, Marilyn, Marlene, Martina, Bette; and we were there: Woodstock, Stonewall, Vietnam. So ask.

Be brave and chat a few minutes with an older guy or gal. It is up to you, however, to start the conversation. If we do, it is assumed we want to drag you into the alley and engage in unspeakable acts. Not so (usually). Many of us just want a chance to get an idea of what the younger generation is all about. How to begin? “Do you have a match?” doesn’t seem to work anymore. Try a simple “Hi,” followed by “Is this anything like the first gay/lesbian bar you were in?” As easy as that. Conversation will soon follow. If it doesn’t, the person is probably in shock from being spoken to. Keep trying.

You are not trapped. After a few minutes, just say, “Got to keep mingling. Nice talking to you. See you around.” Remember, some day it will be your turn to be standing in our shoes.



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Posted by on Jan 30, 2014. Filed under Bill's Briefs, Bottom Highlights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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