M.M.B.B. (the Many Meetings Back in Bangkok)


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

DAY 429 (18 days since last Thailand entry):  It kind of feels like I’m going to my second home, I thought as I flew over Cambodia on my way back to Bangkok.  It was to be my third landing in Thailand’s capital city, one of the region’s major transportation hubs.  As I stated once before, on the independent travel circuit in southeast Asia, “all roads lead to Bangkok.”

Each previous experience was different.  The first time I simply caught up on writing during a one-day layover en route to Kathmandu.  On my second time, I did the “backpacker thing” of beers and banana pancakes with Manchester backpacker Paul.  This third time would bring another kind of experience, one I was really looking forward to.  As the saying goes, “The third time’s the charm.”

“IS THIS THE MYSTERIOUS JOURNALIST?” I asked over the pay phone to the woman on the other end of the line.

“Uh, I’m not sure.  I can try and find that person…” said the familiar voice with the non-regional diction.

“No, I think I’ve found who I’m looking for,” I said.

This particular “one night in Bangkok” before heading off to the Philippines for Christmas would bring a meeting with the American reporter I met in Phonsavanh, Laos, on a day full of active minefields and ancient limestone jars.  If you recall that entry, I kept her identity anonymous to protect her from blowing her cover as she was a journalist traveling in Laos unlawfully without certain red tape requirements.  For this entry, I will maintain her anonymity for “security reasons,” which is something I put in quotes because it’s really just an excuse for an on-going literary gag.  For an additional literary gag, I will entertain my penchant for making up acronyms and invent a few along the way instead of using her real name.

A.R.I.E.L. (the American Reporter I Encountered in Laos) told me to meet her at a train station on the other side of town from the Khaosan Road area where I was.  It was rush hour at the time, with traffic as active as a parking lot, so I hopped on a motorcycle taxi that weaved in and out of slow-moving cars to get me to the nearest B.T.S. (Bangkok Transit System) station in record time.  From there I took a train to our rendezvous point at Asok station. 

T.A.J. (The Anonymous Journalist) and I wouldn’t be alone, at least not initially; our meeting would also bring an opportunity for me to meet her colleague and good friend Nirmal, an Indian/German newspaper journalist covering the same beat. 

“There he is.  The reporter,” called ARIEL’s voice from across the way, taking my attention away from my notepad.  In my zone, I had failed to notice that Nirmal was already by the turnstiles looking around for me.  TAJ, Nirmal and I exchanged greetings and introductions and then head off to an Indian restaurant for dinner. 

Just as the I.W.O.M. (International Woman Of Mystery) said to me on the phone, Nirmal was a really decent guy, one of those decent kind of guys that you actually have no qualms with using the adjective “decent” over and over again to describe how decent he is.  Not only was he a top-notch journalist, but a wildlife conservationist and filmmaker whose self-proclaimed “calling” was to bring awareness to the problems of endangered wildlife.  He had left a five-year post in Manila and had relocated to Bangkok about the same time as TAJ, where they became good friends both in and out of the world of journalism.

With a decent guy came a decent apartment — hell, it was a real babe magnet lair — a huge place with exotic furniture and decorations he had collected over some time.  It was there we ended up after dinner to hang out with a bottle of really decent red wine under candlelight. 

“So it’s really great seeing you again,” the IWOM said to me as we drank our first glasses of wine.

“Well, I was in the area,” I said.  I told her I’d go from Bangkok to the Philippines for a month but then come back, then go to Cambodia for a week or so and then back to Bangkok again.

“Oh, so you’ll be around?”

“Yeah, I’ll be in the neighborhood.”

Nirmal was sitting on his decent sofa with his decent pipe, continuing the streak of the adjective “decent” so much that it’s starting to get tired now.  Second glass of wine conversation went into exploring the possibilities of his do-good personality, i.e. his love life, which will of course remain confidential for all intents and purposes on this Blog.  This of course spawned a conversation about the balance of independence and relationships, which led to a discussion about the definitions that boggle most people in pseudo-relationships, the definitions of “dating,” “courting,” “seeing,” and “going out.” 

“What do you think?” the IWOM asked me.

“There really aren’t any rules,” I said.  “When you have something, you just know it.”

Third glass of wine conversation went into ARIEL’s romantic history, which will also remain confidential of course, but she did mention one of her requirements in men:  “They have to be at least thirty,” she said. 

“And how old are you?” Nirmal asked me.

“Thirty,” I replied.  “I just made it.”

LIKE MY TIME SPENT WITH ECONOMIC TIMES REPORTER CUCKOO in Mumbai, India, hanging out with the two Bangkok-based journalists was a nice change of pace from the trite introductory inquisition of “Backpacker Hell.”  It was quite educational to, hearing the inner workings of the field, the real field of journalism that is, with the jargon terms like “journo” and “fixer.”  It was also fun to hear about the subtle rivalries between different types of journalists — print, radio, television — and the ethics of getting news leads.  Earlier in the evening, Nirmal had gotten a call from a TV journo from TV Asia who wanted to touch base with him for some advice.

“Call her up and invite her,” TAJ said.  “She’s TV, so she has to be pretty.”

Nirmal debated it but thought it was best to just finish his holiday shopping before having to leave town again.  He tagged along with us to do so when we headed to the Khaosan Road district, which, so they told me, wasn’t just for backpackers anymore; young Thais and ex-pats had started to frequent there as well. 

We walked passed Gulliver’s Tavern (a bar that they also had issues with), found an outdoor impromptu bar and sat outside and with a round of drinks, waiting around for the next meeting of the night, the one with IWOM’s two Thai girlfriends, Náam and Joy, that she hadn’t seen in close to six months.  Náam and Joy finally found and joined us, and the three girls caught up on their love lives which, let’s stick to the pattern here, will also remain confidential. 

Nirmal went off holiday shopping, leaving the rest of us to drink and party the rest of the night away at a couple of hip-hop dance clubs in the vicinity (picture above).  At the first one came yet another meeting of the night, this time with an Australian backpacker who started putting the moves on ARIEL, beginning with a foot massage since her feet were up on an ottoman beside him.  I never got that guy’s name, so we’ll just refer to him as the A.S.S. (Australian Student from Sydney).

Anyway, so this ASS starts up with the usual flirtations, which she giggled and flirted back with the way girls do — and to be fair, why not, a foot massage is a foot massage.  The IWOM motioned me to go off and dance with Náam and Joy so she could see what was up with him.  That ASS continued with his pick-up lines and what not, until the IWOM called me back and held me by the hand to speak with me out of his earshot.

“He’s twenty-three,” she told me.  “It’s pathetic, really.”

Twenty-three, I thought.  I did the math in my head:  2004 minus 23… yeah, uh huh, carry the one…  Aha!  1981.  One of the infamous 1981ers.  Of course.

That ASS’s come-ons were incessant — the IWOM was quite the catch, after all — but we eventually ditched him and went to another club where the music of the Black Eyed Peas and Thai pop-star Tata Young filled the dance floor.  We hung around the bar, danced and had another round.  After some time, Náam and Joy decided to call it a night — it was a weeknight after all — leaving me finally alone with ARIEL.  It was then that the final meetings of the night came, the meetings of my lips to hers in the back of the club. 

How about that? I thought.  No mistletoe necessary either.  Must be these thirty years under my belt.  (Oh, and quite possibly the alcohol we had tonight too.)

BECAUSE OF SOME LAW, the clubs in Bangkok close around 1 a.m. and so came the ending of our “one night in Bangkok.”  TAJ and I strolled down Khaosan Road, passed the glowing neon signs, the drunken 1981ers, and the balloon vendors, to the main road where the row of taxicabs were waiting for fares.  I escorted ARIEL over to an available car, opened the door for her and the new shiny blue balloon I had just gotten for her.  “I’ll see you again,” I said.

“I’ll follow you on your Blog.  I’ll be interested in what you write about tonight.”  She kissed me goodnight and then entered the cab.

“To be continued,” I said to her and closed the door. 

The taxi took off down the streets of nighttime Bangkok for her to get back to her journalist grind, and for me to get back to my grind and to my flight the next morning.  And so ended this episode of me and the R.A.K. (Really Amazing Kisser).

One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster, indeed.

Next entry: Excess Baggage

Previous entry: Mekong Enterprises

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Comments for “M.M.B.B. (the Many Meetings Back in Bangkok)”

  • its good to be the KING !!! ...

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/22  at  01:59 PM

  • you kissed and told wink

    Posted by Liz  on  12/22  at  03:07 PM

  • A.R.E.L, I.W.O.M., R.A.K. or whatever your name/acronym is… Don’t let this one go… he’s a keeper, and he’s over 30!

    I’d ask you to wait for me, but I wont be 30 for another 7 years. yes… I am one of the notorious 1981ers.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/22  at  03:09 PM

  • Oh Erik,

    I’m a loyal reader but I think I’m going to quit now.  I’m absolutely torn apart by the 1981er idea.  Is it inevitable that anybody born after 1981 is just a complete asshole?  Do I have to be an asshole because I was born on November 1st, 1981?

    If you have a spare moment, take some time a check out my blog.  I leave for my RTW on Jan 6th.

    By the way, I still have a b.s. full time job for another 2 weeks, so I’m not going to quit cold turkey—that’s a lot to ask.


    Posted by Nathan  on  12/22  at  03:39 PM

  • Nathan: I was born just a few days before you, in the infamous year of 1981. Feeling the same way you do, I once asked Erik the same question. He told me that 1981 is the swing year, of thoes born in that year some are “cool” some arn’t. He also said that there are exceptions to every rule. So don’t worry, you’re probably exceptional.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/22  at  05:22 PM

  • nice R.A.K.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/22  at  05:33 PM

  • YES, 1981 is the swing year… If you’re a reader here, you’re already on the cool side.  smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/25  at  11:34 AM

  • 1 am and the club closes?  WTF!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/26  at  02:56 AM

  • awwww!  that was a good entry.

    I’m in Hoi An right now Erik.  I had to get away from all the motorbikes in Hanoi.  what a nice little chilled out, though touristy, town!  I like it. 

    I had a really strange massage in Hanoi.  I think that place does more than massages…  I was used to the ones in Thailand!

    anyone else travelling through SE Asia right now?  I was supposed to go to the thai islands next week and I’m not sure what to do.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/26  at  08:27 AM

  • NATHAN:  I said it once and I’ll say it again:  There are exceptions to the 1981er Rule.  I would like to make note that Sebastian was one of the coolest travelers I had met on the road in TGT2, and he’s a 1983er or 84er…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/28  at  09:40 AM

  • Erik,

    Are you planning to return to BKK at all?  You oughta give this ‘81er a chance… we can learn the charms of Bangkok Soi Dogs ultimate frisbee together.  Did you know that ultimate frisbee was invented in New Jersey? Now you HAVE to play.


    Posted by Nathan  on  12/28  at  08:13 PM

  • NATHAN:  All roads lead to Bangkok.  Yes, in the words of Gov. Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back.”

    Ultimate Frisbee rules!  I rocked that in high school.  We played Ultimate in one of the Tanzania entries…

    What’s your itin?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/30  at  01:01 AM

  • Well it’s about DAMN time! Finally my boy gets a little lovin’! Woohoo!

    And for ARIEL, he’s a keeper. Although he’s crazy-insane for daring mountains, strange foodstuffs, and other wacky things. But, we count those as “pros” not “cons”.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  01/02  at  09:34 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:
Excess Baggage

Previous entry:
Mekong Enterprises


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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