Power outages in Bangkok tend to be an almost regular occurrence; generator explosions, deafening booms which leave my cat hidden in the bathroom all day. Maybe we live in an unlucky area but it does seem to happen a lot, more than you’d expect from a swank central area of Bangkok. With today’s power outage we are at least given prior warning ‘Temporary Suspension to power between 08.30am and 16:30pm’… ‘upgrading the high voltage system’… Anyway, we have eight hours no electricity so what are we going to do for 8 hours. There is one iPad between two of us and for either of us to hog it, it will only end in a fist fight. We decide neither should get it and instead set it in the corner with the radio “Coool Fahrenheit!”. Anyway, instead of looking at the power outage as a hindrance we accept it as a challenge, 8 hours no electricity… we can do this. We raid the local 7/11 for snacks (before their lights also go out) and hole into the condo. The obvious discomfort is no air-con but we are fortunate to have a unique detached wall design at our condo which circulates air and cools the rooms etc. Unfortunately, this requires wind to achieve and today must be the stillest I’ve seen to date. We sit in sweat. The swimming pool a potential route for escape but the entire condo a similar idea and it is quickly littered with sweat and sunburn. With 8 hours ahead we explore ways to survive power outages in Bangkok.
Normally we’d play jigsaw to kill time but not having predicted an 8 hour power outage they were all handed out to some needier kids. What we are left with is scrabble, a game I’d never played before coming to Thailand (Xboxs and Playstations are more fun). So we make words from plastic squares and while it is kind of fun, I did lose every game we played, to Fanfan who doesn’t speak English as a first language. Actually, I find the game kind of stupid (not being a sore loser). I was putting together some beautiful words 6, 7 letters then a quick 3 letter word would dwarf them. I’m still not sure if JEG is even a word. Stupid game. So while not quite on par with Call of Duty or Halo 3 it does help kill time. After 20 minutes of humiliation I concede.
Scurrying through drawers of junk I uncover a souvenir terracotta warrior set which we’d bought during our travels in Xian. Originally I thought the kit was to make our own miniature Terracotta Warriors, from clay or something, but it turns out to be a cheap excavating kit with a metal replica warrior hidden in a block of plaster. Fun? This task could have easily been completed in minutes, just throw it on the ground… but we play fair. We begin excavating, chipping away at the plaster block, sweeping away the dust with the tiny brush, “Can I throw it on the ground…” It is only a one-player game as well so to speed things up I grab chopsticks from the kitchen and start jabbing away. “Can I throw it on the ground…” After roughly 20 minutes we complete excavation and our Terracotta Warrior has been unearthed… “Can I throw it on the ground?”. Forty five minutes down, seven hours and fifteen minutes to go.
“What now?”, “I’m going to paint your face…”, this was in no way a joint decision this was a mind made up. Fanfan would paint my face whether I liked it or not. In fact she has an odd obsession with painting my face, it is far from the first time she’d decided on painting it, only before there was electricity to distract her. To continue with the Chinese theme I will have my face painted like the Monkey King from the Chinese fable Journey to the West. “Can I use the iPad while you’re painting?”, “No, sit still, don’t talk”. If you’re considering similar, and don’t have purpose face paints, we find that best results come from poster paints. Water colours are little more than useless when your’re sweating. Twenty minutes later and I look like a miserable monkey king. Note this was by far the least fun of activities. On the plus side we had completed the first hour, only seven more to go.
We spend 95% of each and every day within meters of each other and this hasn’t changed in 3 years living together. I can safely say we have talked about almost everything worth talking about. Therefore conversation takes off to things which aren’t worth talking about. As always it focuses on our cat Moo Ping and how fluffy she is. The conversation then veering even further off track. “You think cats have a sense of humour?”, “What, you mean like there’s the funny cat in the neighbourhood?” “Yeah, like there’s one cat that everyone knows e.g. look there’s Ralph… that cat’s a total geg”. Pointless inane ramblings closer to mental illness than boredom. “Did we not talk about this yesterday?”. “Yeah, maybe”…
Less than two hours down and more than six to go. The power outage was getting the better of us and with ideas exhausted we have little, to no, option for survival. Either we go out into the real world or just stay home, get drunk and see if we can wait it out. We opt for the drunk option. After a quick and cold monkey shower my face paints are removed and I’m on the streets scurrying through shops in search of electricity. Success. Roughly 500 meters I find a Family Mart, not yet looted and selling alcohol. “You have tequila and triple sec?”, “Tequila and what?, “Meh, just give me that cheap ass vodka with some fried chicken to go”. Back to the condo, sweatier than ever, we throw together ‘vodka cocktails’ (vod and lime Schweppes). The conversation starts again “if you were a neighbourhood cat which would you be?”, “The funny one of course…”. I lose more games of scrabble. I play with my terrac0tta warrior toy “can I throw it on the ground?” Hours feel like minutes and the electricity is soon on again. Mission complete.