One Writes in Bangkok

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This blog entry about the events of Thursday, October 07, 2004 was originally posted on October 14, 2004.

DAY 355:  “Won’t you be relieved when you get home and you don’t have to move on anymore?” Liz asked me the morning I left Tokyo as we walked to the train platform.

“I can’t wait ‘til I don’t have to write anymore.”

MANY PEOPLE THINK THAT GOING ON THIS TRIP is a big vacation, but allow me to clear the air right now; I never in my mind considered this trip to be a “vacation,” even from Day One.  For me, it was a way to gain a personal spin on as many destinations as I could that interested me, so that I could have an angle for future articles to pitch to travel publications, in a continual attempt to “climb the ladder” in the travel publishing biz.  The efforts of all my note-taking and practice is seen in this here Blog, an entity that has personified itself in my mind as a nagging wife every time I fall behind. 

Going around the world is one thing, but going around the world and maintaining a daily Blog that can hold an audience is another. 

Pepe, the Dutch guy I met in Ecuador, had also kept a Blog of his travels through South America to impress newspaper editors, but at a certain point he told me he couldn’t keep up and said ‘Fuck it, I’m on holiday.’  He told me in an e-mail that he’s in awe that I’ve managed to keep the pace for so long.  I knew he could appreciate what I’ve been going through.

Imagine going to work 24/7 and having to write a 1,200-word report about every day, everydayBut you’re in exotic locations while I’m stuck at this desk you may think, and yeah, sure that’s right, but after a while the routine of daily Blogging becomes work.  Imagine the stress you get when you fall behind — and you can’t take a day off to take a break because then you inherently fall behind another day and give yourself more work.  With all the time I spend doing everything that I do on the road, and an average of three hours of work per entry, there really is no time to sleep.  (Since Mongolia my eyes have been red from lack of sleep, hence the wearing of my glasses in recent photos.)  I swear at times I’m more burned out than when I had a 9 to 5 job; I jokingly tell myself, “Man, I can’t wait to work a 9 to 5 again so I can get some rest.”  (Mind you that’s still a joke.  Nine to five again?  Puh-lease.)

I’ve received e-mails saying that I could just take it easy and just post pictures, but I say I’m in this too deep now — it’s over 300 entries so far and I haven’t skipped a beat yet.  When I’ve fallen behind, I’ve always sacrificed “play time” for The Blog and gotten things back on track.  Skipping a day is simply not an option; it’s not fair for one day to get treated more special than another.  (My God, am I personifying days now too?)  Besides I’d hate to give a bad impression to any of the new readers who still seem to be discovering The Blog to this day.  (If you are one of them reading this as your first entry, please forgive this rant and go read this one.)


I WAS STILL OVER A WEEK BEHIND ON ENTRIES when I left Japan’s Narita International Airport on an airplane with my 60 lbs. of baggage, more if you count the figurative weight on my shoulders.  The only thing I wanted to do was catch up; being behind kept me from looking ahead.  The bad thing was the fact that I was headed for legendary Bangkok, Thailand, renowned for his party scene and sex tourism.  As the 80s pop song goes, “One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster…  The bars are temples, but the pearls ain’t free…” 

My reason for going to Bangkok was for none of that (at least for the meantime); it was to arrange a cheap flight to Kathmandu, Nepal at the suggestion of Tandin, my travel agent in Tokyo.  The world would have be my oyster at a later date.


SIX HOURS LATER AND TWO TIME ZONES BACK, I touched down at Bangkok International Airport, landing point of an international array of backpackers, all in summer clothes to keep cool in Thailand’s hot, tropical weather.  I was also welcomed by Bangkok’s Friday afternoon rush hour — a one-hour bus journey took over two hours with the traffic.

I was dropped off in Bangkok’s party district near legendary Koh San Road (picture above), an area of cheap beer, cheap travel tickets and cheap accommodations — it’s no wonder it was a haven for backpackers.  I walked down the street with no hassles, presumably because touts thought I was Thai.  Every Caucasian person I saw walk down the same road was always called over to take a bicycle rickshaw or tuk-tuk (motorized tricycle) ride.


I HAD NEVER BEEN TO THAILAND BEFORE, but Thailand to me was what Harry Potter was to a lot of disgruntled people during the overhype around the time the first movie came out — people wouldn’t shut up about it.  Harry Potter this and Harry Potter that.  “Did you see Harry Potter yet?”  “Did you read the book?”  “The book’s a lot better than the movie.”  It got to be so much that the disgruntled people were so turned off, they boycotted seeing it altogether.  (On a side note, one friend I have was one of these disgruntled people and went to see it anyway under influence from his girlfriend.  He now tells people, “Harry Potter got me laid.”)

Anyway, back to Thailand.  Thailand to me is like Harry Potter.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m in contact with a lot of backpackers and divers, but everything I’ve heard is Thailand this and Thailand that.  “Have you gone to Thailand?”  “I love Thailand!”  “I have to go back to Thailand.”  The recent mass interest of the southeast Asian country has given Thailand the biggest boom in tourism than any country in history it seems.  But with all the overhype I was turned off from going there — but alas, it was inevitable.

However, being in Bangkok I finally got a taste of what all the fuss was about with its energetic vibe and ability to seemingly do whatever you want.  Wow, this isn’t so bad at all, I thought.  Sure it’s no longer an authentic exotic location with the entire area overrun by Westerners, but hey, most of the female Westerners are wearing hot-looking halter-tops.  I resisted though, The Blog nagging me to stay in and catch up.  Work before play, The Blog nagged me in my head.  Just catch up and then go back to your normal life.  You’re not in Bangkok to play just yet, this is simply a layover en route to Kathmandu.


FINDING A CHEAP ROOM in a decent guesthouse was easy — there’s no shortage of them in the Koh San Road district — but finding one with a room with an electrical outlet for my laptop was another thing.  It took me a while, moving from guesthouse to guesthouse, but I eventually found one for a little bit more (five bucks USD instead of the usual $3-$4). 

And so, I locked myself in and wrote on my laptop that “one night in Bangkok [where] the world’s your oyster…”  That is, your oyster, not mine — not yet anyway.






Next entry: One Night in Dhaka

Previous entry: Farewell Surprise




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Comments for “One Writes in Bangkok”

  • E - fixed the “this one” link..

    confucious say - climb mountain first, bangkok later…

    hahah

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  04:48 PM


  • this blog has become to me like a daily chapter of a novel.

    it’d be a pitty if you stop writing.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  06:16 PM


  • i was expecting you to have a link to the murrayhead song somewhere on this page. =P

    heh, heh, bangkok. he said kok.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  06:20 PM


  • I love Bangkok ... Erik, make sure you get back to Thailand LOL

    Posted by Liz  on  10/13  at  06:34 PM


  • I’m addicted to your blog - thanks for writing it!  It is like a novel.  I’ll go boozin’ in Thailand with you in December if you’ll be passing back through before Christmas.  I may do thailand-laos-vietnam-thailand over three weeks.  I’m thinking maybe Luang Prabang for MY Christmas.  (Anyone been there?..)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  06:44 PM


  • stop your bitchin, you choose your destiny!!

    smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  06:51 PM


  • I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again…

    Your blog is so many things to so many people. Based on my experience of trying to keep a daily journal on a 6 week trip, I can see how maintaining daily entries complete with multiple pictures has become a ?job? to you. Not just a ?job? a ?Big Job!?

    But think of it? This could very well be one of the most rewarding jobs you?ve ever done.

    Not only have you allowed countless BHs and SBRs to travel with you? You have also created a sort of guide book for all of the places you?ve visited. All of us would love to recreate almost anyone of the entries. I say almost because I?d give ?The Good the Bad and the Ugly? a skip!

    But most of all, this amazing year that you have spent exploring our planet would be a mere comment, instead of a vivid, illustrated recounting when you tell your grandchildren about it.

    When you get back, you will have a detailed daily account of everything you did on your trip. How many RTW alumni could say same? Plus you won?t have to spend weeks organizing millions of pictures. Also you have built an enthralling portfolio flaunt in the Travel publishing world. The work you are doing now will make your life easier in the future!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  07:34 PM


  • well said, td0t!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  07:42 PM


  • TDOT - so when’s the next 9-5er piece from you?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  09:12 PM


  • Everybody should take a vacation at least once a year.  I think its time for you to take yours.  I think you should take a couple of weeks off and see some part of south Asia.  There will be no blogs entries for those two weeks.  Ever.  Maybe future short stories, but no blog.

    Everyone will go into withdrawal, but they’ll get over it.  You will come back refreshed, and ready to tackle the next six months.

    It would be a shame if you came home from this trip without a vacation.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  09:25 PM


  • E - quite you’re whining…LOL you write because you have to write…

    and if you don’t write i got nothing to QA, and just play blog spam police…

    and for a BTTF reference…it’s your “density” i mean you’re “destiny”....

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  11:02 PM


  • erik, basically you have become “Travel God”. 

    having said that….dont place upon yourself too much pressure to not let down hundreds (probably thousands) of people !!


    lol,
    j/k

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  11:09 PM


  • Td0t:  Couldn’t have said it better! 
    Erik:  Take deep breaths, stop and smell the roses and pleeease keep writing!! I don’t know what I’m going to do when your trip is over! LOL

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/14  at  12:55 AM


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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:
One Night in Dhaka

Previous entry:
Farewell Surprise




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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