Thai camp is not all that different than camps back home. Of course, they aren’t calling it “Thai camp” here. I said that just now in a flimsy way. You know. As a means to describe what I call the Thai version of “Ali-gadi”. I think naming your stuff after your nationality is a pretty German thing to do. Off hand I don’t think the Thai’s are idolizing the Germans. Then again theres always this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgAPVqdm_fQ&t=3s Anyway, on the agenda: Day 1; take a bus to Kanchaniburi. On the way, there is a giant statute, and, for some reason, they gave us a police escort. Teenage Thai girls take selfies, so I’m ashamed to say, I did a few of those. At the resort, it was blah blah blah; blog talking stuff; unpacked, grabbed lunch, then, finally, we took off to the main event: the boat ride.
The boat might of just looked like a platform with a rather tall roof on it, but let me assure you it was much more than that. A tug boat billowed smoke as it lead the charge down the muddy river. Pulling our rafts behind it, the tug stopped twice to refuel at random float stations along the river. Everyone was content at their tables, and aside from our fumes, we gave little to the environment.
When we boarded the vessel, though tired, I very astutely noticed, at the front of the run, an enormous dance floor; equipped with stage lights, a bar table, booth and an empty stand. I scanned the “room” for a chair and asked one of the old Thai teachers how long the ride was.
“It about three hour” She said solemnly in her plastic chair, sat like a Don offering her half hearted condolences.
I found my own picnic chair and sat at a table with one of the British teachers. When we got to moving, I headed toward the bathroom. As I approached the small shack, which basically amounted to a hole in the floor of the raft, I was met by a man. No. Let me say that again more respectfully. I was met by a Thai…legend; a corner store ghost, a pool hall prostitute, a back ally dentist giving back alley what-nots. I was met by the stuff that made this land not just a land of smiles, but a land of greatness and opportunity. It was then, at that movement, that this legend, and his little friend, blew open the door of the bathroom shack and sailed past me toward the floor.
I tell you this now, with all I have, all I know. My life was boring before this man. Maybe it was the glitter residue on his outfit, maybe it was his fidora and indoor shades, whatever it was, I never gave a second thought to them exiting the bathroom together. Still to this day, it seems perfectly natural. Maybe, this was their dressing room? Maybe they were rehearsing Dj stuff? Was I obliged to be in here I thought? In retrospect, given what was to follow, they were most likely doing blow in there, but sometimes, when I later reminisce fondly, I like to think they were simply performing untold miracles in there.
I was in the can all about 5 minutes (trying to figure they layout you see) when I heard the first cymbal crash and record rip of the night. Then, a moment of silence, a jumble of quick shot Thai ramble, then finishing, distinctly in English, the rising pitched words floating to my stall: “Dj Dr. Yai”.
This is exactly what my life has been missing, I thought. And it was here, on a mid afternoon boat ride through the sweaty Thai marshes, came the self appointed “Doctor”, the “Man”, the Legendary Yai to jumpstart my heart from the bottoms of my soles. In that moment, I’m embarrassed to admit this, but in that moment I was so excited I almost pissed myself. I ran from the bathroom to see what all the commotion was about and when I blasted open the door, and returned to the now psychedelically charged dance floor, there were… at least…4…students…rocking out to the slow jamz of the Yai city blues.
At the foot of the floor, beyond the absent crowd, stood a lone character like a sparkling mirage on a gloomy day. He had one, sheik white, professional-style headphone propped against his top-right temple. I assume it was trying to make love to his ear. Then, another pale white bud, flung over his forehead, lazily, carelessly, but also as uncoordinated as a blasted chick trying to mount a horse. I watched it sag down a few times, like a dead leg to his forehead, but then, almost effortlessly, he would kick it back with a horses snap and a keen flick of the neck.
I’d say by the first hour there were at least 10 people on the dance floor and it was clear by this time that the Doctor had a method to his madness: increase the volume, increase the people on the floor. Thus, in the second hour, we could only marvel at how the equation played out. Of course, the insanity level escalated, and of course, I couldn’t understand the meaning behind any of the screaming Thai techno mashups, I could tell by the expression on his face, that he was killing this set.
There were two time-budgeted tactics that I was in awe about. The first: in about 2-5 minute intervals the Dr. would either scratch the record player a few times like a tweaker with a bent leg so that he could artfully displace the music over his voice-ins. The second: like clockwork, every quarter hour, I noticed his little thai companion would step down from the DJ booth and disappear behind the adjacent bar. Then, in a moments falter, he would return with a lightly yellow drink in hand. Though my head was pounding from all the insanity, and though most of the students were now wandering around the dance floor like 3am drunks do the Soi, I could make him out talking casually over the pulse of the room. At first, I thought, it was to his penis, but then later realized it was his small friend.
It was at this point, nearing hour 3, that I was having so much fun with everything, that I decided to lay myself down at the front, behind the speakers, to bump my energy level up and to get ready for round 3. I approached the old Thai teacher from before. She had positioned herself at the stern. Around her, there was makeshift confetti on the ground. It seemed that she had ripped up some personal napkins and stuffed them in her ears. She’d stitched the same look on her face as before: stoic, sincere, ready to party. I wondered then why I hadn’t thought of making my own confetti.
Probably because there was none in the bathroom, I thought.
As I laid down in exhaustion next to the old woman, I could feel my head bumping against the wood like the smooth empty vibrations in a happy glass of water. And through the afternoon sun, heat and fog, I rolled white paper scraps in my finger tips and watched her watch the sun go down. Her expression reminded me of those leaving the Dr’s office. And that discomforted me immensely, except from the upside down floor angle, of where I was resting…I could clearly see that she was smiling.