Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Bangkok Chronicle

Today I got up early, had a call with the office and then went for a run, which meant by 10 am I was no good to anyone, which meant my wife was a little disappointed that her weekend in Bangkok was going to be spent in our hotel room, listening to me snore and fart.

Through sheer force of will she got me out and down to the river, pass a man who got very angry when we declined his offer of a $100 boat ride. I've had a few run-ins with touts in Bangkok who have been economical with the truth: this chap told us a barefaced lie about the cheap ($1) boat not running at the weekends, but I'd be naïve to expect people not to view me as a walking wallet. We walked to the pier, and every hundred yards another offer of a tuktuk or a fantastic boat ride would have to be declined.

When we finally got on the boat, and had to struggle to pay anything, it was like we'd fallen into a parallel reality, with everything topsy turvy.

Where things really got strange was this afternoon, when we went to see Chronicle at one of Bangkok's many cinemas. The cinema in the Paragon mall is amazing: reclining chairs, earth-shattering sound, and about ten customers in a room that would fit 300.

Oh, and after half an hour of adverts and trailers, everyone stands up for the Thai national anthem, and you're shown photos of people holding framed pictures of the King, "Pride of All Thais."

You wouldn't get that in the UK. If everyone was told to stand up and look at Queen Elizabeth for two minutes before watching Human Centipede, who knows what would happen?

It was also odd to stand up. As there was one guy sat right next to us, my first thought was that he was getting up to leave (maybe he only liked trailers, like the Thai flying-fright-fest Flight 407). Lucky we realised and stood up too, or there could have been a diplomatic incident.

After all this, Chronicle was surprisingly good. It has a largely unsympathetic protagonist, some rubbish early special effects, yet is really funny, then exciting, then sad. Any film where a man abuses telekinetic powers to win at beer pong is not going to be bad, although the constant 'found footage' got to be a bit grating; more distancing than involving.

Went back to the hotel, had a free dinner with mindbendingly expensive wine. That wasn't free. Passed on ordering the $20,000 cognac. Will I live to regret that?


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