The endless whisky
Everyone's dream is to find a bar where you order one drink, and where they insist on refilling that one drink for free, all night long. Tonight, that's exactly what I found: I ordered one whisky and coke; and the lady behind the bar just kept topping it up again and again. Not a bad deal! The place in question was the "quintessential dodgy Thai bar" — quite a sight in itself. Deplorable Thai pop music playing non-stop. Ladyboys hanging out on the benches. Rickety old pool table with awkward legs and chipped balls. And to top it off, a z-grade horror-slash-porn movie on the TV (monsters exploding out of the stomachs of naked women, every 2 minutes or so). Why don't we have places like this back home?
The place also doubled as a bookshop and as a second-hand book exchange. It was lined wall-to-wall with thousands of books — mainly in English, but also in other languages — and meticulously organised into genres such as crime, history and travel. Some of them were quite good, too — I've been noticing that, in absence of the usual hostel book exchanges (due to there being no hostels here, only guesthouses), Thailand boasts an impressive offering of cheap book-trading and used-book purchasing outlets (so don't worry about being short of books here). Ironically, the owner of this place can't read a word of English: you'd think she'd pick up at least one of the thousands of books that surround her every day, and have a crack at it, wouldn't you?
Good times at the bar tonight. Hung out for a bit with my endless whisky, and with the strange but interesting local patrons, and with a nice Quebecois couple that were lounging inside as well. Plus, plenty of interesting books to have a shmooze at.