Its 6pm and the city around me is alive. Rush hour traffic makes me glad I’m on my push bike and not in a cab and the smells of food being prepped is intoxicating, I decide not to eat here (Khao San Road) but eat closer to my house. I’ve just come down here to pick up six pairs of Raybans for a friend in Australia. Jobs done and its time to head home.
As I cross Rama VIII suspension bridge, riding on the foot path, I spot crowds of people sitting on the waters edge my side of the river. Pulling my bike up I get a better view of it all, families, friends, colleges, all gather in small groups either sitting on the steps that go down to the waters edge, or on common all purpose plastic mats. Its picnic galore. The sun is setting giving the scene a soft, delicate light. I want to draw or paint the scene in times to come but know that this moment is perfect as it is.
Again this week has been art filled, this week being mostly graffiti and body art orientated.
On the thursday we went down to Pattaya in a hired van, with us we took paint, props, six dancing girls and an audio visual duo (WetCarpet Media). My body painting partner had sorted this job out and it was a big one. The location was Pattaya hilton where a big corporate function was being held, our job was to entertain. Vinni had planned a full theatrical dance routine for the girls.
This is how it went down:
The music stops and a phone rings over the sound system, 300 people stop talking and wonder whats going on. The phone call is someone ordering something from a delivery service.
There is the sound of packing boxes, van doors shutting, then a van driving off.. shortly after the van noise is back again. The crowd hears van doors opening and shutting then foot steps.
Thats our cue. Vinni and I stroll to the function room dressed as delivery men, we are carrying a big box between us. We load the box on to the stage and jog off to retrieve another. We place six boxes on stage, acting out that they are heavy and troublesome. We leave and the lights dim.
Music and lights burst on as six dancing girls emerge from there boxes and start their dance routines. We had previously painted these girls in full silver body paint and UV florescent paints, black lights places around the stage made the UV paint really bright and was quite an effect on the dancing girls.
All of a sudden there is a crash and crunching sound over the speakers, all the girls stop their dancing and freeze on stage. A phone call played over the speakers and the delivery men are called back to stage.
We walk on looking confused at the goings on, checking the girls all over to see whats made them stop moving.
Vinni grabs a microphone and explains that the girls are broken and we need a specialist to help us fix them, we call to stage the man this night is dedicated to.
When he is on stage we show him an Ipad with instructions on how to fix the girls, he links their arms together and we wrap a clear hose around them all. At one end of the hose is a pump submerged in UV paint, the power is flicked on and the hose start filling with radioactive like green goop, winding is self around the girls on stage.
Once ‘powered up’ we walked the girls off stage to a big applause.
The girls did a few more dances during the night, we would paint them more and more each time they went on stage. It was a blast.
A friend of mine Mister Bows, gave me a call on the saturday and asked me to come paint under a bridge that all the river boats pass under. This is the result
Graffiti here in Thailand is so relaxed, its almost like going down to the park and playing footy with mates, cops don’t care, locals don’t care, monks don’t care.. if fact they stick around a while and watch. It’s so much better this way because you can take your time and make something nice.
When I was traveling in Europe a friend and me (ill call him James for the sake of this story) were doing a bit of graffiti around Belgium. In Europe, like a lot of countries Graffiti is illegal and police enforce it by fining artists and/or sending people to jail. So the act is to be done quickly and in the dead of night.
James and I had found a spot along the rail way tracks leading to Brussels so woke up around 1am and made our way there. The spot was under a motorway went over the railway. The pillar holding up the motorway was a 40m long wall, rail way on one side and a hanging walkway, so people could cross under the road on the other.
I was a lot younger when this happened and we had just been to Amsterdam, so we had a big bag of weed and were smoking while we painted.
The pieces we were doing were quite big so took quite some time, I was zoned out, concentrating on my work with my head phones in when James called my name. I look up to see someone walking up the stairs at the far end of the walk way, they had walked right by with out us noticing them. We say a few words to each other to decide if we should leave or not, but end up staying to try finish out pieces.
The next voice I heard was one yelling in Flemish
My head rips to my left to see 3 police men up on the walk way, one has just bound over the hand rail and taken the 3m drop, he is now on down on the ground with us. We snap into action.
James knows whats going on and although closer to the police man who is now recovering from the drop, James has his bag in his arms and is running towards me. I scoop up some spray cans and start running as I try to shove them into my bag. I had a feeling this wasn’t going to end well.
James and I sprint down the side of the rail way tracks, the fist sized gravel making every step a hazard. I look behind me to assess the situation.
James is a little slower than me but in the distance I now see that the three police are down on the ground and the one that bounded over the rail is in hot pursuit. He seems totally committed and is running smooth and fast, like the liquid metal robot from terminator 2. He looked like a machine !
I get back to running noticing that being stoned and clutching my bag in front of me gives me a huge disadvantage. Shrubs and trees to our right clear and a fence becomes visible. The other side of the fence looks like bliss. The suburban streets with minimal street lights and lots of places to hide and run opens up before us only the fence keeping us from our next attempt at escape. I throw my bag over the fence and it lands with a clunk and rattle as cans spill from the top. I throw my self at the 2m fence and get over as quick as I can. Now on the ‘freedom’ side I turn to see whats happening to James. He has just reached the fence but I can see the police man right behind him. James also throws himself at the fence.
He is half way up when the policeman slams into him. I hear the air pushed out of James as he is ripped backwards and thrown onto the gravel.
I am by myself in the suburbs looking through a thin barrier at my friend getting pressed into the in the gravel face first. A knee is pressed into his back roughly as handcuffs are drawn.
Totally gilt stricken I can’t leave my friend here, I slowly climb the fence to join my friend, the other two police are here now and rip me from the fence. Im thrown face first next to James, the gravel isn’t soft. Now both handcuffed and with cops knees on our backs and hands pressing our faces into the rocks things look bleak. We are getting yelled at in flemish. A language that is aggressive sounding at the best of times.
Speaking to them in english they switch to our native tongue and start asking ‘YOU LIKE RUNNING FROM POLICE !?!’
The police seem to calm down a little and start talking away from us in their own language. I look to my right and whisper to James
“Have you still go the weed?”
His face scrunches in a sudden realization of stupidity.
“Yea…” He saids reluctantly
“Get rid of it man! “
His hands are tightly cuffed behind him but the weed is in his back pocket, he starts to slowly inch the bag out with his left hand. Just as it emerges a police man stomps his hand, crushing his fingers. He bends down and snatches the bag of bud.
“Is this yours boy?!?”
James and I realized we have just made things a lot worse.
We are dragged up by our handcuffs that are cutting our wrists, walked down to where we were painting and then awkwardly, painfully, lifted up onto the walkway with by our restrained arms.
The drive to the police station was silent and before we were shown our individual jail cells, our pockets were searched and shoes and bags taken.
Now in a 2x3m concrete box with a bed, I start to wonder what will happen next. We are in a foreign country and have committed a crime .. but worst of all … we got caught. We have no idea of the consequences or implications this could have on us or our visa’s.
We also have work tomorrow morning.
Ten or so minutes pass and a police man comes into my cell and shuts the door behind him. He tries to put the fear on me by asking if I like my new accommodation. There is a small silence and with a strange smirk he tells me he needs to search me for drugs
“Take off your shirt”
“Take your pants off”
I do… Now standing there in my underwear, I starting to feel a little uncomfortable being in this concrete room while a man tells me to undress in a thick flemish accent.
“Ok… now I need you to drop your underwear to the ground, face the wall, then put your hands on the wall above your head… once you have done that I want you to squat down slowly… three times”
I almost laugh at the suggestion until I realise he is serious
“….No fucking way… “ I say, still standing there in my underwear but now looking him in the eye