My first meal in Thailand was at a small restaurant, not much more than a cart with a few tables, across my hostel. Duck was the speciality. Duck with rice, duck with noodles, duck soup. So, jetlagged and sweaty in the June heat, I ate duck.
An awkward plastic folding table on a side street with Thailand’s ubiquitous jar of pickled chili peppers. The Thai mother and her family who ran the restaurant were used to foreigners, sitting across the street from a large hostel. I ate my duck with leeks and rice, a month in Thailand ahead of me and nothing pressing.
I fell asleep early that night, still tired from the long flight through Hong Kong. Around two in the morning I was woken by someone turning on the lights in the dorm room. This Australian was digging through his bags, looking for cash. Someone else asked him what he was doing. His friend was under arrest, he needed cash to bail him out. They had been in a bar, drinking, and his friend wanted to know if their waitress was a ladyboy or not. He took the direct route and grabbed her.
She was not.
She bashed him over the head with a beer bottle and he was arrested. His drunk friends came back to the hostel, found their cash and set off. I don’t know what happened to him, I fell back asleep. For all I know he’s still in some Bangkok prison.
Australians, beers and idiotic stunts were a common theme in Bangkok. Nearly every day I watched or heard them do something stupid. A few days later, another Australian staying at this hostel was arrested. Partying on Khao San Road, he had finished his whiskey bucket—which is exactly what it sounds like—and placed in on a passing police officer’s head, as a hat.
The officer, clearly used to drunk Australians, took it off and placed it on the ground.
But for this Australian, that just wouldn’t do. He picked the bucket back up and placed it on the officer’s head once more, apparently not realizing that “Bangkok Hilton” is slang for prison and not actually somewhere you want to spend the night.
His friend recounted this tale through fits of drunken giggles.
A third tale. I was in one of the hostel’s lounge rooms with a few other Americans, relaxing. We heard a loud crash come from downstairs. Another drunk Australian had slammed his entire body against one of their sliding glass doors trying to catch the taxi his friends were already in. The hostel had him arrested and the rest of us fought off mosquitoes the next day.
Hostels are enjoyable for the people you meet. The UN with bunk beds.