Virtual meanderings

Expat Party in Bangkok and my next destination

In the evening I headed to Sukhumvit to meet Kara. She had offered to take me to a party that a friend of hers was throwing. Kara was renting a nice three-bedroom apartment with two other expats. Splitting the rent in three made it a very reasonable sum.

At Kara’s place I met another friend of hers, who was just passing by through Bangkok. He was in his early thirties, also from the US, and had previously worked at Yahoo but had quit about a year ago in order to travel. It turned out that Brent (that was his name) had been to many of the places I was envisioning to visit (and a whole lot of other places that I had not even heard of). What is more – he had done most of the journeys travelling completely on his own, just as I intented to.
As it was only my third day in South-East Asia, I certainly lacked Brent’s experience and seasoned attitude – but instead commanded uncertainty and hesitation. So I told him that.

Han Solo, Indiana Jones


Myself, at that time

Myself, at that time

Brent brushed away any concerns of mine and assured me that it was “all going to be ok,” and there was absolutely no reason to worry. Writing in retrospect, I can confirm that he was right. But at that moment things were still blurry in my head. Yet, the very fact that in front of me was a person who had recently a travel similar to the one I hoped to do was a real motivator (and      a priceless source of information, needless to say).
And talking about information, let me revisit the most important bits and pieces that I managed to scoop from the people I talked to so far:

  • If transiting Bangkok, there were very reasonably-priced hotels right near the airport, no need to go to Bangkok proper. Source: two British girls on the immigration line.
  • Cambodia was not a place where dragons lived. Instead, it was a place where hundreds of hotels had been built (at least in Seam Reap near Angkor Wat) and the tourist industry was booming. Source: Karen (the British lady standing behind me at the immigration line).
  • Best way to fly around the region was with Source: Isaac
  • A good place to stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Laos – Spicy Backpackers. Source: Brent
  • Best source for traveling by train (worldwide): . Source: Kara
  • Somewhat arcane, but good to know: In Korea you could sleep for very little money ($5 to $7) at public baths. Source: Isaac

Along the journey I assembled many more of those (which I used to build up a series of posts that I will post later) that whould make the journey of anyone else following in my footsteps easier and smoother – transportation, obtaining local currency, English proficiency, laundry, internet & telephone services, food & toilets, hostels & hotels, and more.
The party itself was around the swimming pool in the inner yard of yet another gated community complex. Next to the pool was a gym. This was a residence for expats and upper middle class Thai people – with the usual security guards at the entrance who let us (the farangs) inside, no questions asked.
There were about thirty people at the party, all expats – Americans, Europeans, a couple of Indians, and one girl of a mixed German-Thai origin – everyone lived and worked in Bangkok. But one of the girls at the party had a strangely familiar face – but I could not understand why.
Then it finally dawned on me. Prior to my departure I had tried to contact that very girl through Couchsurfing. I had chosen to contact her because of her pretty face  university major (Psychology) and nationality (German). A Psychology major suggested interest in people behavior and culture. And – I like German people.
But I had never gotten a reply back (I still like German people no less, though).  Luckily, the second person that I had tried to contact through Couchsurfing was Isaac – who did respond.
Just to make sure I was not mistaken I asked Kara (a prominent Bangkok couchsurfing host herself) whether this was indeed that girl and Kara confirmed.
So I went and introduced myself  and asked her why she .
    Scratch that. I did not – after all, my Couchsurfing request for a meeting had failed to bring about a response.  On the other hand, I did not want to let such a fun coincidence go to waste. So, what I did was take a couple of “secret” photos of the German girl. I thought it would be a good laugh (for both of us), if on the following day I sent her a message with those and thank her for the good time we had had together in Bangkok.
But despite my original intention, eventually I did not do that either. On the next day I was already out of Bangkok. Then each new day offered enough interesting distractions and wasting time on such a useless prank was just not justified. It would only have worked immediately after the party. A week later was just too late. But it did give me and some people I told the story a good laugh. (On a side note, I got to meet and have a very good time with other Germans in Thailand, Vietnam and China that more than compensated for this one).

At some point at the party there was unanimous agreement between Kara, Brent and myself that another round of board games at yesterday’s place was a much better thing to do than staying. Which we did. The three of us played till 2:30 am, chatting about Thailand and sharing travelling tips. When I got back at the hotel, I craved some sleep. But largely thanks to Brent, I had made up my mind where to go next – Chiang Mai, and more specifically – a hostel in Chiang Mai going by the funny name of Spicy Thai Backpackers.


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