Blog and Reality

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This blog entry about the events of Friday, January 21, 2005 was originally posted on January 26, 2005.

DAY 461 (31 days since last Thailand entry):  This here weBlog has become and integral part of my trip — more so than I originally thought.  Maintaining it not only has given me a sense of purpose in my wanderings of the world (and given my brother an unneeded second job), it has raised funds and connected me to many people that I never knew before.  (In fact, most of the commenters in recent months I’ve never met; you SBRs out there shouldn’t be afraid to “be a stranger” and break the silence.)

The Blog has evolved from a little travel journal I did for friends and family into a sort of international daily travel humor column and on-line reality TV show of my life on the road, i.e. “The Trinidad Show.”  As of late, I often treat it as a reality TV show, playing the role of producer and editor, all with the audience in mind.  The Blog, like reality TV programming that isn’t overproduced, doesn’t make up events or fictionalize anything; personalities and conflicts are created by the simple magic of editing.  People become “characters” by the simple inclusion and exclusion of their actions and what they say on screen.


TRAVELING BACK TO BANGKOK, I was keen to meet up with “recurring character” A.R.I.E.L. (the American Reporter I Encountered In Laos), who has remained anonymous since her introduction to the Blog since she was working undercover behind the Laotian government’s back when I met her in Phonsavanh.  The anonymity gimmick stuck in the second “episode” and it was apparent to me it could be an ongoing gag, like the anonymous “Mr. Big” character in Sex and the City.

However, behind the scenes, the savvy “Ms. Big” was sort of disappointed in my revelation of our one night in Bangkok; she wasn’t too keen on my public announcement (to over 40,000 unique readers) of our little make-out session and felt it was exploited.  (Concurrently, the comments from The Fellowship of The Blog only cheapened any romantic vibe.)  Why I decided to stray away from my “no tales of intimacy on-line” policy that one time I don’t know, but it irrevocably backfired on me.  Sometimes I forget that this isn’t reality TV and that I’m meeting real people — who don’t exactly sign disclosure agreements.

And so, in true Sex and the City form (sitting on a bed while using an outdated Apple laptop computer, picture above), we ask a question I’m sure Carrie Bradshaw never asked:

What is the difference between Blog and reality?

Despite the issues, “Ms. Big” was willing to meet me back in Bangkok, but unfortunately was out of town to investigate the violence in the deep south of Thailand near the Malaysian border, leaving that storyline “to be continued.”  The night wouldn’t be a total bust though — in fact, it would turn out to be a sort of Sex and the City-esque episode anyway.


MEANWHILE, ON THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN, a redhead going not by the name of Miranda but by the name of Noelle had sent me an email:

We are on the outskirts of Patpong… I’d really like to get my stuff from the storage place at my hostel and then go to dinner.

Longtime Blogreader Noelle had taken me up on my open invitation to appear on “The Trinidad Show,” packed her bags, and bought a ticket to Bangkok.  The L.A.-based events coordinator and fundraiser (most recently for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research) had quit her PR job to, for an indefinite amount of time, leave fast-paced L.A. society behind and live the life of a backpacker.  However, as we found out that night, Bangkok could be just as a part of jet-set scene as L.A. or New York.


FASHIONABLY LATE BY ABOUT HALF AN HOUR, Noelle appeared at the front of my guesthouse, in the flesh — out of her Blog commenter persona and into my reality.  Picking her out right away was easy; she was wearing The Global Trip t-shirt she had received when she pledged me the summer before.  There was no need for formal introductions; we started off with a friendly hug like we had known each other for years, even though it was our first physical encounter.  I told her how just seconds before I bumped into Manchester Paul before he left on an overnight train for Chaing Mai (another recurring character on “The Trinidad Show” from Nepal and Bangkok), and she knew who I was talking about almost immediately.  “This is great,” I said.  “I can just mention things and assume that you know them already.”

With Noelle were her Thai friend and former schoolmate Suthee and his wife Wendy, who had taken her around town that day, off the beaten backpacker path away from the Khaosan Road district to a more cosmopolitan side of Bangkok.  They had come to pick me up and bring me to that side that night for dinner.  Suthee asked if I had any preference for food and I told him I could pretty much eat anything.

“[Noelle is always asking what things are before eating it,]” Suthee said (to the best of my memory).  “[I tell her don’t ask before you eat it.  Just try it first and see if you like it, then ask what it is.]”

“Yeah, don’t ask questions,” I seconded.

Noelle was a tad more particular about her food than I was — mind you I’ve had dog, snake, horse, whale, and butterfly larvae — and she drew the line before McDonald’s.  She was not only anti-McDonald’s, but anti-KFC since she knew someone who used to work there and knew some of the things that went behind the scenes of the Colonel’s secret recipe.  “Oh, I could enlighten you [about what they put in the food at KFC.]”

“I don’t want to know,” I said.  “This is why I don’t ask questions.”


THE CITY OF BANGKOK IS ACTUALLY a really cosmopolitan place once you leave the “Backpacker Hell” scene of Khaosan Road.  Like New York and other international cities, it sparkles in the night with its skyscrapers towering above the trendy establishments below.  Prada graces its presence on Sukhumvit Road by day while trendsetters abide by the dress code by night at one of the hottest nightclubs in town, The Bed, where, like in New York, people mingle and drink on mattresses.  Bangkok also boasts many cuisines other than the Pad Thais and banana pancakes of Khaosan Road, to cater to the movers and shakers that keep the buzz of the city alive.

Suthee took us across town in his VW Golf with leather interior and GPS device to the Good View restaurant, a trendy place about twenty notches up from any American fast food chain.  A fairly swanky-looking place with nice wooden furniture overlooking the Chao Phraya River, it was once the place to go for the savvy Bangkoker.  “When it opened, there was a one-week waiting list to get in,” Wendy told us. 

It was the perfect place to continue the Sex and the City-esque angle of this Blog episode, serving fancy colorful cocktails and fine Thai food — spicy soups, pork rind dishes, spicy papaya salad, and other things that we found out what they were after eating.  The four of us sat at the table — Suthee and Wendy on one side, me and Noelle, the self-proclaimed “Red-headed Vixen,” on the other — over drinks and conversation, listening to the live band that was playing on stage, a really good local band that could perform classic Motown songs along with modern hits from the Black Eyed Peas and Maroon Five.  However, unlike the Andean band I encountered in Cuzco, Peru, they denied my request to play the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.”

“I’ll have another one of these,” I asked, ordering a Good View Dreamer cocktail.  Noelle had the same, while Suthee repeatedly tried to order some mineral water from an unattentive waiter.  Another waiter made up for it by making sure our glasses of water were full at all times to keep us happy.  With the Good View came good service, good food, and good company.


SUTHEE AND WENDY DROPPED US BACK OFF to the Khaosan Road area and wished us well.  Noelle, my redheaded “Miranda” of the night, accompanied me, the writer from New York, in the continuation of the night at the trendy-looking Wild Orchid bar on a side alley way for more cocktails and conversation.  “So what’s going on with the reporter?” she asked me.  I revealed to her Ms. Big’s real name.

“She’s off reporting about the violence in the south near the Malay border,” I said.  I continued, “She’s sort of upset of my handling of everything.”

“But you didn’t show her face.”

“Yeah, I know,” I answered.

“Well, [what would have happened anyway?]  You’re in New York and she’s here.”

The night went on and the cocktails went down smooth while Noelle gave me a much needed American pop culture update and I filled her with more details behind the scenes of “The Trinidad Show.”  It was great to spend time with a pre-established friend, for the very first time out of the Blog and into reality. 


FOUR DAYS LATER, I finally got around to writing this Blog entry in Noelle’s presence.  “You’re making me sound glam,” she said. 

“Don’t worry.  It goes with the theme of the entry,” I responded.

To answer this episode’s question, there is no difference between Blog and reality.  Nothing in this entry is made up; it is simply treated with the magic of creative writing and editing.  And so this is why, just like with unknown foods and the real secrets behind KFC, I don’t normally ask any questions.

SAVE THE DATE; DAY 503 IS COMING.  MARCH 5, 2005, NYC.
DETAILS AND TRAILER COMING SOON…






Next entry: Same Same But Different

Previous entry: Return To Normalcy




Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Comments for “Blog and Reality”

  • First! Wow!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/26  at  11:00 AM


  • Hey it’s great to put a face on a fellow blog reader!  Have a great time Noelle.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/26  at  12:06 PM


  • This is one of my favourite entires!!! I nearly fell off my chair when the question was spelled out letter by letter, in Times New Roman no less!

    And you showed me a side of Bangkok that I didn’t get to see, since I didn’t have enough time to climb out of Backpacker Hell.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/26  at  12:38 PM


  • remenicent of Doogie ... btw “Sorry about the backseat” .. hahaha

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/26  at  01:36 PM


  • nice flash pop-up for the SATC effect….

    just eat the food, no questions asked…

    anti-KFC is a sin…. so do you think KFC is still open?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/26  at  01:54 PM


  • I love the SATC references.  One of my favorite shows…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/26  at  02:02 PM


  • In keeping with the SATC theme, Eric, I feel duty-bound to report the conversation I overheard in our Agra guesthouse this morning:

    “No, no ... didn’t hear any of the religious rites going going last night. Too much stuff going on in my own head - I dreamt I was the wanton woman who came between Carrie Fisher and Mr Big on Sex and the City!!”

    OMG - too much going on there for a 7am breakfast revelation, methinks. But the Carrie Fisher Freudian slip really made it somethin’ special smile

    Posted by Tiffany  on  01/26  at  02:05 PM


  • And I should learn to SPELL! Apologies for the errant C that has slipped into your name above! Cheers, T.

    Posted by Tiffany  on  01/26  at  02:08 PM


  • wow, nice text typing effect! you should come back and work for eschool since all we do now is copy and paste text. =P

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/26  at  02:15 PM


  • TIFFANY:  Are you new here?  Welcome aboard!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/27  at  12:41 PM


  • SATC FANS:  Glad you all like effect…  Ah, the wonders of Flash exporting animated GIFs…  No “sad Macs” here—nor is there a TekServe.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/27  at  12:43 PM


  • that episode just replied on HBO!!! haha!  but maybe i saw it on On Demand… i don’t remember…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/27  at  12:50 PM


  • Greetings NOELLE, nice to put a face with your comments! BTW, nice shirt!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/27  at  07:21 PM


  • I was trying to be incognito, but someone recognized me.
    Damnit.

    I don’t like fastfood - so sue me… and KFC is definitely fast food!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  09:35 AM


  • I was trying to be incognito, but someone recognized me.
    Damnit.

    I don’t like fastfood - so sue me… and KFC is definitely fast food!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  09:37 AM


  • Hey y’all - I was trying to be incognito, but someone recognized me, damnit!

    I hate fast food, almost more so for the corporate BS than for the food… although the food does gross me out! So sue me!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  09:56 AM


  • Hey y’all - I was trying to be incognito, but someone recognized me, damnit!

    I hate fast food, almost more so for the corporate BS than for the food… although the food does gross me out! So sue me!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  09:56 AM


  • Sorry everyone - this connection said it didn’t work! :(

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  10:46 AM


  • someone has a impatient post button….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/28  at  01:25 PM


  • Erik: Not ‘new’ per se ... more like a lurker come good!

    Posted by Tiffany  on  01/29  at  12:10 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Same Same But Different

Previous entry:
Return To Normalcy




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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The views and opinions written on The Global Trip blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official views and opinions of the any affiliated publications.
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