This blog entry about the events of Saturday, November 20, 2004 was originally posted on November 23, 2004.

DAY 399:  “I hate it when [travelers] say you can’t get a real [Thai] experience in a big city,” I said to Paul as we rode in a souped-up air-conditioned taxi across town.  “What, like fake Thai people live here?” 

Paul agreed with me and said that there’s nothing out there that says a little village can’t evolve into something bigger.

We were on our way to Siam Square, the downtown area named after the Kingdom of Thailand’s former name, before the political decision in the 20th century to unify all country folk under the “Thai” label, which actually refers to the majority Tai-Kadai people.  I was feeling a bit rough after the night before — Carol told me I had a “Changover” because we had cheap Chang beer — and for Paul and I it was to be a day to just chill out and recover in the air-conditioned environment of a shopping mall instead of joining Carol and Neil at the popular, but crowded and sweaty outdoor weekend markets outside of town.

“Sunday.  A day of rest,” Paul said. 

LET’S GO DESCRIBES M.B.K. CENTER (picture above) as a shopping mall that “puts some Western shopping malls to shame.”  A huge seven-story shopping and entertainment complex, it is the retail commercial epicenter for real Thai people — and one “fake” one (me).  Walking around was a familiar scene for me having grown up in New Jersey, USA near five shopping malls, all within a five-mile radius.  (It’s no wonder New Jersey is the location of the Kevin Smith film, Mallrats.)  Paul and I walked through the never-ending halls of jewelry vendors, clothing shops, pants stores and electronics stores, and pretty much had a leisurely day of doing nothing.  At one point we ended up at a fancy upscale internet cafe with the most comfortable cushioned recliner seats for an on-line session and a short game of Battlefield: Vietnam.  But for the most part, we, as the Brits say, “did fuck all.”

The Thai mall experience was just like any one that would happen in the Western world; yes, “real” Thai people do go shopping, eating and loitering like Western Mallrats.  Of course there were subtle differences, like the fact that most things were written in Thai, and that the music I heard wasn’t just American pop, but Thai pop as well.  I swear twelve times throughout the day I heard the dance track “Dhoom Dhoom,” the English-speaking version of the song from the Bollywood film Dhoom, which was performed not by an Indian but by Thai Sony Music recording artist Tata Young, a teen singer-turned-sex-symbol, Thailand’s Britney Spears if you will.  (Have a look at the “Dhoom Dhoom” music video at her official website and you’ll see what I mean.)

Alongside more real Thai people and a handful of foreign-looking people, Paul and I had lunch at The Pizza Company, where we went not for its “Extreme Pizza” but for other items on the menu we hadn’t had in a while:  chicken wings and salad from the all-you-can-eat salad bar.  “Oh, this is good,” Paul the balanced-diet guru said.  “We’re eating like kings.”  The food filled us up until we walked on the covered walkway to the other big mall next door, Siam Discovery Center, a more upscale (and “metro”) mall with art galleries and an Apple store.  Paul browsed for a new VAIO laptop until we went up to the top floor to go to the movies. 

IF THERE’S ANY ONE NOTABLE DIFFERENCE between the Western mall cinema-going experience and the one in Thailand, it’s the option of VIP Class for a couple of bucks more.  “Gold Class Suite” service included heated, reclining massage chairs (the kind most people see at The Sharper Image or Brookstone and sit in but don’t buy), socks, a pillow and blanket, and complimentary drinks and a few sweets, brought over by waiter service.  Basically, it was like paying to be in First Class on a plane without going anywhere.

“What should we see?” I asked.  The three films playing in VIP class were Ladder 49, Taxi, and After The Sunset.

“Which one is longer?” Paul joked.

It really didn’t matter what we saw — we just wanted to get the VIP treatment that we had heard so much about — and just got tickets for the next film up, Ladder 49.  The firefighter drama starring Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta was pretty mediocre, but I especially enjoyed the part when the massaging vibrating nodes in my chair did this fast-trickling thing down my back.  “We’re really living like kings,” Paul reiterated.

Watching the movie, which takes place in Baltimore, USA, was a nice look into life in my homeland, but before all that we were hit with a big dose of Thai propaganda.  Right before the film started, the screen requested that everybody pay respects to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.  Everyone in the audience stood up like Americans pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America at a baseball game, and watched a montage of the King and all his accomplishments to the country.  Thailand’s people over the years have generally liked their monarch (even though they went democratic in the early 1990s) — Thailand proudly brags that it is the only country in southeast Asia that had never been colonized.

PAUL AND I COULDN’T GET THE IMAGE of The Pizza Company’s “Extreme Pizza” out of our minds, so we went back for dinner to dine on pizza so extreme that the crust was filled with sausage, cheese and bacon.  Tata Young’s “Dhoom Dhoom,” was still playing, followed by the American standards of Britney and Beyoncé.  Afterwards, we took a tuk-tuk (auto-rickshaw) back to Khaosan Road.  Later that night we watched a bootleg of Team America World Police, shown in one of the restaurants nearby.

At the end of the day, it was a pretty plain but relaxing day whether you are a real Thai or a fake one.

Next entry: Moderation

Previous entry: Thai By Night

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Comments for “Mallkings”

  • Wow, I’m only one day behind now… 


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  04:21 AM

  • hey, I am first! seems like I’ve been bitten by the I-am-first bug.
    how did you like Team America? I so want to watch it.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  05:41 AM

  • damn funny movie, it is so very Obviously made by the south park boys

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  11:38 AM

  • V.I.P. ohhh yeahh!! “oishii” is there too an ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT- SUSHII buffet !! bringin’ back too many memories ... seriously you should check out ” ROUTE 66” at “RC” quite an experience like no other ...

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  12:34 PM

  • The walk down memory “mall corridor” continues!

    I agree with Paul. What is the “real” Thai experience anyway.

    Just because you’re not squatting trying to drop the kids off at the hole in the ground while being pestered by farm animals and fire ants doesn’t mean that your not getting a “real” Thai experience.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  01:07 PM

  • Remember standing up for the national anthem before the movie started??!! I think I even remember when people smoked at the movies.  I want my theatre to install some of those massage chairs darnit!

    Posted by Liz  on  11/23  at  01:13 PM

  • poor choice of movie!!! should have seend After the Sunset for the obvious reason of Salma Hayek!!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  01:28 PM

  • Nice relaxing day!  My living room sounds less comfortable than that theatre!

    Erik, I received your post card yesterday!  Thanks, it was great to get the Everest card, as I just finished watching the Canadian Discovery Channel’s Ulitimate Survival: Everest Expedition!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  03:25 PM

  • LIZ:  You mean you had to sing the national anthem before a movie started?  Oh, Canada…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  04:57 PM

  • AARON:  The “Rent” parody was HILARIOUS!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  04:59 PM

  • Hey, I just saw “SuperSize Me” for the first time in a lounge here…  I’m going right to the McD’s tomorrow to “Go Active!” raspberry

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  05:17 PM

  • MARKYT:  I had no idea what either movie was, we just went for the one starting in ten minutes. 

    So far I’ve searched all the bootleg stands for “Harold and Kumar…” but I don’t think it was ever released internationally…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  05:20 PM

  • If for some reason I can’t post another entry up in the next 24 hours, HAPPY THANKSGIVING AMERICA!

    (I almost forgot it was here; I had to ask another American couple I met if it was tomorrow or next week!)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  05:34 PM

  • HAPPY THANKGIVING to you, erik!!! go have some turkey. and i am thankful for your blog to keep us at eSchool entertained while we sit in windowless cubes. thanx!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  06:07 PM

  • I got my Nepal postcard too! Thanks!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  08:44 PM

  • Did you stand up for a 7th inning stretch in the movie theater? ha ha.  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/24  at  12:38 AM

  • ALICE:  My room at the Sawasdee House has no windows either; I love it… you can close the door and take a nap whenever!  (You should do the same at the office.)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/24  at  04:06 AM

  • Erik - Americans didn’t stand up and sing the national anthem at the theatre?  Like 20 years ago?  At the beginning of every movie there used to be the national anthem (you just stood, only the rare person sang) with a movie showing cool places in, and scenes of, Canada.

    Posted by Liz  on  11/24  at  04:53 AM

  • LIZ:  Nope, doesn’t ring a bell… No anthem before “The Secret of Nihm,” “The Dark Crystal” or “The Muppet Movie.”

    Oh, you crazy Canadians!  wink

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/24  at  05:20 AM

  • Sporting events are really the only times we do anthems, right?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  04:52 AM

  • NOELLE:  I believe so…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  08:33 AM

  • Okay, that was a SUPER blonde comment from me… HA!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/30  at  07:02 PM

  • That pizza looks like it had hotdog in it. eww. But they say any pizza is good pizza.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/03  at  10:28 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 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.

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