“You not fat,” Noom – my bar boy friend and current love of my life – told me.
Such a sweet guy.
Generally in Thailand if you are fat, have a long nose, big ears, or a weird birthmark on your face you can expect it to be a topic of conversation. Thais are not big on observing the social niceties we do in the west. They are not above talking about the elephant in the room. The elephant is Thailand’s national symbol; Thais love elephants. So you can expect them to talk about elephants even if the one they are talking about is the one whose stomach you are carrying around.
We were down the street from The Rose Hotel having coffee at a place that wishes it were a Starbucks. Coffee, or at least caffeine, is an important part of my morning regime. That’s not a good jones to have if you are staying at the Rose. They offer a free breakfast. Begrudgingly. You get a plate with an egg, a few pieces of mystery meat, two slices of toast and a cup of see-through coffee for breakfast at the Rose. No seconds on the food. No refill on the coffee. Unless you want to pay extra for it. And it is hardly worth its initial price of nada.
I’d abandoned the Rose’s restaurant after the first morning’s disappointment. I took a pass on day two in favor of staying in bed and sent Noom down with two breakfast coupons so he could at least get one meal out of his journey. By the third day, we’d both given up and headed a block away for some real coffee. My dilemma was with a full menu of primarily sacchariferous offerings to choose from to go with the coffee; the idea of starting the day by consuming a few thousand worthless calories might not be a good idea. No matter how tempting they were. Not that I have a problem with adding sugar to my caffeine intake in the morning. The double rush to your system not only is a great kick start for the day but gets every nerve in your body and synapse in your brain all atwitter. Still, the poundage was worrisome.
But Noom has spent enough time around falang to understand their odd addictions to unhealthy lifestyles. Plus I think he was trying to make up for the Rose Hotel thingy. My stay there was at his suggestion. On my previous trip he’d brought the hotel up.
“Why you no stay at Rose?”
“I heard it was a dump filled with sex tourists.”
“No. Good hotel. Cheap.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement in my book. But then I’m always willing to try a new hotel in Bangkok. You never know when you’ll hit upon the perfect place. You will know when you haven’t though, and The Rose sounded that note clearly.
Noom had made the same error in judgement many gay guys make regarding location when selecting a hotel in Bangkok. Patpong is where all the actions is. So the thinking is that a hotel in or near Patpong is the ideal choice. It’s not. Some, like The Rose, have their good points and bad points. For some, like The Rose, the bad points outweigh the good points. The fact the hotel squats at one end of the zone matters little. Sure it is within walking distance to the bars and clubs. But so is a taxi. And the taxi will be an even shorter walk.
Taxis in Bangkok are so cheap it is a sin not to use them. For the price of a room at The Rose you can upgrade venues and rooms by moving over to Sukhumvit. The taxi ride to Patpong and back will total out at about five bucks. Or, for 25 baht – less than a buck – you can take the BTS to Saladang and be blocks closer to the Soi 4 pubs than you would be at The Rose. From the BTS to Soi Twilight, where the majority of gay gogo bars are, is a bit more of a walk. The Rose is closer to the gay gogo bars, which means it is further away from the BTS station. And that works against its location in my book.
I use the BTS system a lot while in Bangkok. Walking several blocks to catch a ride somewhere just doesn’t make sense. So I tend to book hotels as close to a BTS station as possible (unless close means the trains rumble past your room’s window by a mere few feet). The Rose is not close to the BTS station. Nor to much else of interest to me either. And at night, I’d rather step out of an air conditioned cab and stroll onto Soi Twilight fresh and rested, than walk from several blocks away in Bangkok’s heat and humidity.
Strike three for The Rose was the shower. It’s an older hotel so the shower is one of those added on to a tub. Showers are almost as important as caffeine is to my system in the morning. A different kind of drenching but still one necessary to fully engage my mind and body for what the day may bring. Confined in a narrow tub for a morning shower is not my idea of a good start to the day. Sharing your shower cell with an wide, and growing, assortment of mildew and mold spores hanging out in grout lines is not a good way to greet the morning either.
But then you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Which on this particular morning worked to my advantage. The Rose had offered a singular cup of weak coffee instead of cake, so I figured I was entitled to eating a slice for breakfast at the local coffee house. Besides, Noom had just given me permission by telling me my weight was of no concern.
He’s been around me enough to know that an off the cuff comment like that will get filed away to be puled out and used as necessary until the day the world ends. Noom’s body is his temple. It’s one I worship at frequently. He is careful to only make offerings to his temple worthy of the honor. He may not be familiar with the word calories, but is with the concept. It’s not so much that he avoids high caloric foods, but rather makes sure he eats a balanced selection. And a slice of black forest cake for breakfast doesn’t exactly fit his idea of a balanced breakfast. Nice though that he was giving me a waiver this time around. Usually he is not so generous.
Not me, but whatever sugary confection it is I’m eyeballing on a menu get that cry of disgust. I could lose ten pounds according to the official optimum weight for my size, age, and gender. Five pounds if I don’t want to look like I have an incurable disease. I can get away with chowing down on fatty foods as long as I don’t make a habit of it. Noom feels it is his job to make sure that I do not succumb to that addiction. But ever since that morning his attempts have been foiled by his own words.
“No, you said I wasn’t fat,” I’ll tell him as I go ahead and order whatever it was he was warning me against. He lets the matter drop. But only after offering up a disgusted sigh. I don’t blame him. It must be a bitch earning your living by getting down with a succession of falang touri, many of whom would be considered fat even by American standards.
Maybe Noom’s suggestion of staying at The Rose was about location, but not about convenience. Maybe he’d thought the walk from The Rose to his bar was a good idea. Maybe his goal wasn’t about the best hotel but rather a nightly chance to burn calories that hopping into and then out of a taxi would not provide. Maybe, if you’ve been losing rounds in the battle of the bulge, The Rose would be a good choice of hotel for you. You certainly won’t be adding many inches to your waistline by eating their free breakfast.
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