â€œIâ€™m hungry,â€ said Randy, as we set up a sunset shot from the overpass near the end of our first day on the ground. â€œWe need something to eat.â€
â€œOkay,â€ Larry agreed. â€œIâ€™ll get street food. Thereâ€™s lots of it around.â€
â€œIs that safe?â€
â€œThis is at least my fifth trip to Thailand. Iâ€™ve never gotten sick on street food here.â€
â€œUnlike Mexico,â€ I put in, â€œor India, or Uganda.â€
â€œOr other places. I think everythingâ€™s very fresh here. When you buy something, itâ€™s usually been made just minutes before.â€
Larry crossed to the other side of the pedestrian bridge, past a mutilated street beggar, to one of several food carts there. We resumed setting the camera for a shot of traffic below on Sukhumvit Avenue near our Bangkok hotel.
Two men walked up and caught Randyâ€™s eye. â€œAre you people Americans?â€ asked the larger, more prosperous-looking guy.
I looked up from the camera as Rod adjustedÂ the focus for our shot and Conrad set up his mic. The strangers didnâ€™t look Thai. â€œWhy?â€ Randy asked.
He regarded us with a big smile and open arms. â€œWe are from Saudi Arabia. We L-O-V-EÂ you people!â€ The smaller guy behind him said nothing, but beamed a beatific smile.
Larry returned with a bag of stuff from the food cart. We looked inside. It was filled with golden fried spheres of something piping hot.
â€œTell me, my friend,â€ asked the larger Saudi man. â€œDo you have any of the new $100 bills?â€
Randy looked at him with a quizzical expression, then reached into the bag. He incautiously picked out a piping hot golden fried sphere and popped it whole into his mouth.
â€œWhy do you want to know?â€ Larry asked our newest friend. â€œI think thatâ€™s our private business.â€
Randy bit down onto the piping hot golden fried sphere, then huffed and puffed like a steam engine as the crusty ball exploded with flavor and nuclear heat.
â€œOwwwww, way too hot!â€ he gasped, gulping down water from a bottle.
â€œI just loveÂ American currency,â€ said the Saudi, â€œand I have seen only small photos of the new hundreds. They appear to be quite beautiful.â€
â€œWay too hot!â€ Randy repeated. â€œAnd sticky, filled with a sweet white paste. What are these?â€
â€œI dunno, just whatever the guy there was selling.â€
â€œTheyâ€™re jism balls,â€ Randy said. â€œHot jism balls.â€
We laughed. The larger Saudi saw an opening.
â€œSo can I see one of your hundreds? We do L-O-V-E you Americans.â€
â€œLarry,â€ Randy continued. â€œYou got us hot jism balls!â€
â€œYou were hungry, I got the nearest food. Should I look for something else?â€
â€œNo, theyâ€™re good. For jism balls. Want one? Let them cool off a little. And you, mister, we donâ€™t have any hundred dollar bills. Good luck finding them.â€
The Saudi guys left, and we passed around the hot jism balls. They were good. We wrapped our shot at dusk and headed back to the hotel.
I couldnâ€™t make this stuff up.