Clubs are a new phenomenon in Kunming (exactly why someone who spends their day
hauling bales of hay on their back feels the need to work out after they punch
out, I’ll never know). But I got a club membership at the cat’s meow of health
located in a shopping center with all of the franchises that made Americans
fat: McDonald’s, KFC, DQ, Pizza Hut, Haagan Daz.
The club has more than hula hoops and jumping ropes.
Imagine Chicago’s East Bank
Club without toilets, but pristine Kohler squatties instead. However, Oprah
and her twelve body guards don’t work out here.
It offers me a piece of sanity for a few sweaty hours each week. I
forget that I’m in a country where it’s OK to drive on the side walk and wear your pajamas in public.
where the pharmacists prescribe horny goat weed or cows’ gallstones.
health club is huge, with private training rooms, a women’s gym, co-ed work-out
room, a smorgasbord of classes, various life cycles each with its own
individual TV offering CNN and BBC.
Getting thirty minutes of western news is incentive enough to jiggle it off at
yes, it has cliché members: the steroid junkie with biceps bigger than his head, the rich wife
dripping in jade in a pink sweat
suit. And now, the token white member. Me.
decided to attend a Body Jam class for the sole reason that it featured American music. The instructor reminded me of
a Chinese Billy Blanks: gobs of energy packed into a little bitty bit of
spandex. He knew a few commands in English: Left, Right, OK, and Excellent!
those of you who know me, know that I trip over my own shadow. Still, the Chinese women who attended the class thought
that I must know what I was doing since I was from the west where aerobics and
health club fashion was invented. Body Jam turned into Chinese Twister.
was skidding around like thumper on ice to Taylor Swift tunes, the fake wood floors supplying no
traction to my non-bootleg Nikes. Other attendees, not wanting to lose face or break face, just watched. The instructor gave up, just having us
march in place fifty five minutes, waving
our arms like Marcia and Greg Brady’s Sunshine Day song and dance routine.
don’t know if I burned off the DQ Blizzard I had prior to attending class, but I
survived and will be back for another class.
not on Wednesdays. That’s belly dancing.
There’s a wild side to Bangkok, the one that you see on
Locked Up Abroad.
Welcome to Phra
Arthit. Located off of Pier 13, past the touristy temples, way past the Grand Palace–approximately one
stop short of the Cambodian border– it’s or full of hostels where good hygiene
is optional and a nest of mangled dreadlocks is a must. Prha Arthit is a humid hybrid of Amsterdam and
Bangkok. Sex, drugs and cool t-shirts.
And slot machines. Wait! That’s a
We walked around and parked our bums at one of the Bang-bistros
for a cool Chang, trying to guess who would be mule-ing what. We bet money that the guy with the pasty white
legs was trying to hustle some sun block.
Then, a young girl from the Midwest sat next to us, her
body being a human passport stamped with tattoos from different worldly
She worked as a baggage handler for a major airline.
My imagination took off, thinking that she was on a
Bangkok holiday for things other than a colonoscopy. She was probably employing
her knowledge working the security scanners to transport contraband into the Midwest.
She’d be sinking heroin packets into her
shampoo bottle. Strapping baby crocodiles around her ankles.
Hiding durian in
I studied her face in case I’d ever see her on a future
episode of Locked
That would be better than ending up at the Bangkok
Hilton, the nickname of the bang kwang central prison
that drug smugglers and people who
steal hotel towels go to.
They don’t put free mints on your pillows. They serve you
recipes from this cook book…
The living conditions are notorious. Rats the size
of dogs. Insects the size of rats. And
the real scary thing: no wifi access. People who have life time reservations at
the Bangkok Hilton rely on donations from loved ones to buy food from the
prison canteen so they don’t end up looking like this unfortunate tourist.
Jeff and I left Amsterkok and returned to our hotel.
We cooled off in the pool then ate expensive poo-free
snacks from our mini bar.
Yes, Jeff and I went to Bangkok for a spring holiday. Since
we are no longer spring chickens, the things we do in Bangkok are not the same
as scantily dressed twenty-year-olds. We vacate in Bangkok for one -reason:
midlife tune-ups at Bumrungrad
hospital. Mine included a colonoscopy.
The night before the fun procedure, I
had to my weight in colon cleansers to help vacate the premises.
I’m sure one of these buttons on this public toilet could have done the same thing.
Or eating street food could have cleaned me out in a jiffy, too.
Jeff, on the other hand, got the executive
tune-up. While I was flushing away everything that wasn’t nailed down–including some juicy fruit gum that was inside me since the second grade– Jeff’s doctors wanted him to save a sample and bring it in.
They gave him a little cup and miniature spoon, similar to one you’d get at Baskin Robbins. Jeff
stored his flavor of the month in our hotel refrigerator.
Speaking of american food chains, here is the sign of the female restroom at a McDonald’s in Kunming.
Doesn’t her hair look like French fries?
McDonald’s does supply toilet paper. Most establishments make you bring your own roll.
And one final picture. This is the hospital we go to in Kunming.They are tearing it down but the International Clinic in the rear is
still open. Now you know why we love Bumrungrad so much!