Monday, May 17, 2010

Paint chips

The paint is chipping on the ceiling. It's only in one corner. My mom would point that out as being a flawed characteristic to this hotel. It just seems to be fitting.
The air conditioner is rattling to my relief, I wouldn't have it any other way at this point. Hopefully I'll get used to this heat.
I can still see Walking Street, clear as day, women in high heels, their hands intertwined with men three, four times their age. Or the image of a young boy wrapping his arms around the waist of one of our leaders. What is it like to have a school boy offer you sex? They keep waving cards in our faces, listing off the things offered in this massage parlor or bar. Some bars have women calling us from the street "Sawadee ka!" they shout. I just learned these words a few days ago. They mean "Hello." So why do I feel so dirty?
It's only the first day in Thailand. We took a 13 hour flight to Taipei, 2.5 hour lay over, 3 hour flight to Bangkok, 1 hour of waiting, finally a 2 hour bus ride to Pattaya. Guess what this town is known for? Sex tourism.
We settle into the hotel and decide to try and find Michelle a watch. Instead we encounter bars and massage parlors. We aren't even in the red light district. I thought the hotel my be a respite until I find the pool surrounded by old men in tired speedos, joined by their "girlfriends."
The only thing that gives my eyes a break is the Tiger beer and Tom Kah Gai in front of me. I don't even have to use my eyes for this. I can close them as the coconut milk infused with Thai peppers sears my tongue. It doesn't even hurt, it soothes. It soothes my hardened heart that won't let these images in. It erases the ideas of bondage and fear. It makes me forget for two seconds that girls are locked in rooms right now with strange men. Instead it just reminds me that there is something good in this world. And it reminds me of Stella Artois, with a Tiger beer cozy wrapped around it. This may be the first beer I really actually enjoy.
Gary Haugen says that they evil in this world shouldn't surprise us, that the Bible tells us how evil our world is. I've got to agree with him. So I try to observe Walking Street, to see it for what it is. I try to see women working as hard as they can to pay their pimps. I try to see men looking for an easy quench to their lust. But all I see is pain and flashing neon lights. There is no joy on Walking Street.
But that paint chipping on the ceiling... it reminds me of hidden joy. I want to peel it away. I want to see what is underneath. It reminds me of stories uncovered. So I'll probably be returning to Walking Street, to see what joy lies beneath caked on make up and six inch heels.

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