Transitioning From Web Developer to Comic Book Author:

Happy House

It’s not even midnight but Lena has been asleep almost an hour. As the last two nights have shown, my affinity for the night has a faster acting recovery method than hers does. Of course, tonight, I too would be nearly napping without a bottle of Thai Red Bull spiking my mind with rapid thunder.
Our new nightly squat is closer to the busy action of tourist Bangkok, in the Banglampoo district–not on Khao San road but close. Cars screetch past frequently, bleepity-bleeping and randomly skidding to a halt as they avoid collision with pedestrians and feral animals roaming the night. Every attempt to cross a street in Bangkok is also an attempt on your life. Cars don’t have to avoid pedestrians but it might ruin their day, which is the only reason they avoid you.
The lobby of Happy House is packed from dawn to dusk with tired farang (what the Thais call western foriegners), all sipping beer or fruit smoothies while fix-eyed to one or more of the many television screens, which show the pirated movie of the moment.
Now, I too have moved downstairs but all the farang have left. The televisions are now playing Thai news and the street seems void of tourists. The Inn staff is all sitting around a table chatting away. One comes over to ask if I want anything and I order a bottle of Thai Lipton Ice Tea. The label is all in Thai and the bottle has been recycled many times. I pay the 15 Baht right now. It’s too easy to get street vendors to take your money but when it comes to paying for food, restaurant staff vanishes when it comes time to take your cash. The culture here is strangely trusting for one that is full of so many tourist scams. The fruit stalls and jewelry booths are frequently unattended. At night, you can walk down a busy street and, if you needed to, snatch up almost anything you can imagine without being noticed. I guess tourists thieving is just not common here.
I feel like I should be smoking, sitting here on the edge of the street, writing in my moleskin about the Bangkok night. The ciggarette smoke, foul as it is, would hide the pestulent stench of the Chao Praya river. The humid monsoon season weather makes the polution in the air stick to your face, stabbing at your eyes.
At the end of the street, I notice tourists popping in and out of a travel center, hoping perhaps to find paradise in a weekend tour. A cart wheels past with a large sign in English, “Mango Sticky Rice”. I’m momentarily tempted to stop the cart pusher and for 20 Baht (US$0.59) get my own 15 minutes of paradise.
I’m trying to absorb as much of the city as I can before we overnight bus our way to the tropical islands of the south–and certainly, with this humidity, I will be ocean-bathing Bangkok from my pores for weeks.
Turning to news, I’m curiously amused. In a country with a population of 62 million, with 80% being farmers, the television news is as sensational and crime-story driven as it is in the US. Now a bull has run loose and chases after a dozen people before being shot with a tranquilizer arrow and lassoed to safety. Now a girl has been attacked and raped in her own apartment and robed at knife point after that. A dramatic reinactment tells all as the victim gives her tale, the camera only showing the bottom half of her face for anonymity. Now Several People are having siezures in the street while 3-4 other people to each victim attempts to restrain and comfort the fallen. Now it looks like epilepsy but there are 3 victims, a man a woman and a child. Now it looks like heat stroke in the hot afternoon as one volunteer fans the shaking man. Now the victims are chanting and the fallen man stands up to dance and clap. Now it looks like a religious revival. Now another woman is being carried by four people while she kicks and screams in short, loud bursts.
Now a commercial, an anti-graffiti advertisement. The cafe across the way is blasting French lounge music with a female vocalist who often chooses to sing in English. Each passing motorbike sprays the air with soot.
The news distracts with its transition animation of a red orb that looks too much like the eye of the HAL 9000 super computer, all flashed up with mesmerizing flickers of rotating red around a glossy center, a rapid whoosh sound accompanying a sudden glow.
The tea and red bull are wearing off. If the air were more breathable, it wouldn’t be difficult to stay up all night, but my eyes are burning.
Time to retire, retreat, reboot.

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