The night trains pulls into Bangkok in the early hours of Saturday morning. I’ve booked a hotel close to the airport but will use Em and Helen’s room in the city during the day so we can have some quality “girl time” together (read pampering) before we say a final good bye. It also enables me to rendezvous with my friends Elle and Fei, who if you remember I met in Vang Vieng!
Elle and Fei pick me up for lunch and inform me we are going to visit the floating market with a stop for lunch on the way. We are delighted to meet each other again and spend time hugging and catching up. We pick Ging, a friend of Elle’s and another friend Ploy meets us at the lunch restaurant. They have taken me to a place which is one of their favourite local haunts and I let them order the food which we share in traditional Thai fashion.
It is yummy and tasty but then I haven’t really come across any food that isn’t in South East Asia! While the floating boats have long gone (they are only around in the morning) the water market is in full swing and there are more varieties of food here than I have ever seen in my life.
We browse the markets, try more food and ice cream and head back for Kho Saan Road where we will meet up with Raf, our mutual friend from Taipei, who we also met in Vang Vieng. As luck and the Universe would have it, he is in Bangkok on the same day as I. I lag behind as Elle and Fei as they greet him and then walk over casually. The look on his face was priceless and I wish I had captured it on camera! Raf is really delighted and amazed I am here and after more hugs all round we go find a cafe for dinner.
The soccer is on and the bars around the main road are all chockers with soccer fans watching the Netherlands play Japan. Elle and Fei lead us down an alley and into a local haven. A big screen with the soccer, out door seating in a beautiful environment and peace and quiet. The joy of making friends with locals is unbeatable when travelling. They order more food..I had no idea my Thai friends could put away this much food and we chat and laugh about how good it is to be together again.
Ploy and Ging are excited to meet us. They don’t often get to meet international travellers and are happy and a little shy at this chance to practice their English. Our mutual friend Miller had also visited a few weeks previously and they’ve met him too. They wish they had similar international friends…and Elle promises to take Ploy to back to Laos soon.
We chat over dinner and Ploy tells me she has been reading my blog. I am flattered. I know that friends and family of my fellow travellers are reading my blog..but this is the first time I actually meet one of them! She loves the chance to read about places and people she dreams of visiting and meeting herself one day and says she enjoys my writing.
Ploy is 23 years old and has known Fei since middle school days but only became close friends at University. She too is an accountant and plans to get a double major in International Business. She has studied accounting because it enables her to find a job but she doesn’t find it interesting. She dreams of opening her own clinic one day having being exposed to the medical world by her dad who is a doctor. Her passion is too travel though and she has already travelled to China, Singapore, Malaysia and Burma. She says she will continue to read my blog and dreams of doing something similar one day.
Ging has majored in English and shows me the book she is reading, The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell. Who would have thought that Sex and the City would inspire a Thai girl to read but there you go! I encourage her in her pursuit of perfecting her English and she tells me her story.
She met Elle in middle school and they have been firm friends since then. She is working currently as a secretary in a company that provides air traffic controllers! This is rather difficult for her to translate in English so I hope I got that right. She travelled to Ohio after she was applied and was selected to be part of a program that promoted travel through work. She worked at Pizza Hut at the Ohio airport but was fired after inadvertently breaking one of their rules. She ran out of change one day, and used her own to pay a customer and then replaced the money once the till was full. Someone saw her with her hand in the till and reported her without bothering to check her story. The poor girl was fired even though her supervisor believed her.
This goes to show us there are inflexible people everywhere and her experience of another culture must obviously have been marred by this unfortunate occurrence. However, she displayed the spunk of a solo traveller, called her uncle in LA and spent the rest of her time in CA, turning a negative into a very lovely positive for herself.
She too is dreaming of opening up her own business but she wants to move to the countryside and leave behind the bright lights of Bangkok.
Both of these girls are excited to meet me and discuss their chances of travelling around the world one day. I encourage their dreams but caution them to start small first...maybe explore Asia together? It has taken me a long time to get here and these girls are nervous about travelling alone.
While we are talking Ging changes her status.
“Nothing to be scared about”, she writes and I feel happy I have inspired her to be brave.
We chat and laugh and talk more about their future, their dreams of finding a man they can share their life with and the difficulties in finding such a man amongst their age group.
It is finally time to head back. Netherlands have won the soccer and the party has spilled out into the streets. Soccer mania is at fever pitch tonight..
We hug and say goodbye once more. I am not sure when I will see my friends again but technology these days enables us to stay in touch a lot more easily.
Fei and Elle drive me to my Bangkok hotel for my last night in South East Asia. Ploy texts us as we drive…her mum is reading my blog and would like to access the archive…how do they do that?!
I have struck gold with my final stay. I found this place on the internet and it is idyllic. I have spent the whole day writing..and it is now time to leave for my flight to Colombo. Till my next post…
“To dream anything that you want to dream. That's the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.” – Bernard Edmond