A few weeks prior to departing for my last big trip of the year, Thailand, I decided to do “a first” and post my travel plans on the social networking site ASmallWorld.net. Not being a fan or participant of online dating, I’ve found A Small World to be pretty legit, as I maintain very few personal contacts in my network, so if I do receive a contact request, they’re usually quite easily verifiable.
This time around, I was putting myself out there a bit, posting a vague timeline of my trip in order to receive suggestions from locals and well-heeled travelers in Bangkok and Phuket, my two scheduled destinations. Just before hitting the Go button on this Geolocator function, I slightly cringed, hoping that I wasn’t about to open up a can of worms, ie…numerous “not quite solicited” date requests from random guys.
“What the hell” I thought, at this point, I was ecstatic, having just booked my flights and hotels, and was overly eager to start planning the finer details of the trip, although I had yet to confirm which friend would be joining me on this journey. So, I hit Go, submitted my post soliciting suggestions and thought to myself, “worse case scenario, I end up traveling solo and perhaps meeting up with some like minded people for drinks and a laugh in Thailand”… I mean, how bad could that possibly be?
Nearly one week later, my lovely friend Carmen confirmed that she’d be joining me for this Thailand adventure and she being slightly more active than myself on A Small World suggested we post on there. At this point, my posting had yielded a hybrid of responses from great suggestions to yes, the undesired “pick ups”, so in the interest of my overly hectic schedule, I let Carmen take the social networking over from there, however, although I considered removing my original post, I did not…just didn’t feel like being bothered basically and somewhat forgot to log on and do so.
As she gave me the abridged version of her responses so we could mutually narrow down the options together, my first impression was that this site was full of international playboys, many of whom were trying to hit on us both at the same time. I already encounter more than my share of this type in person with my lifestyle, so wasn’t exactly trying to seek out this “Game Playing Beast” online as well. However, I guess there’s something to be said for keeping your options open when traveling, and to this creature’s defense, we were playing a very similar version of their game, selecting the offers that we found intriguing and kindly declining those who did not quite make the cut.
Throughout this all, there was one who contacted me a bit late in the game, after I had begun to refer all others to Carmen for the pre travel socializing / weeding out process, one who somehow seemed to stick out in my mind.
Who really knows why I replied to his message, but I noticed it while reviewing emails on my Blackberry one morning, seated at my kitchen counter eating cereal. I replied to his message that had come in over night and instantly he wrote back, striking up a conversation with me while I enjoyed my breakfast. By the time I had finished my bowl of cereal and my morning tea, we had scheduled to meet up, of course as a group for a fun night out, and he had managed to slightly earn my trust, or at least create a façade disguising any “International Playboy Tendencies”. I guess this whole A Small World thing wasn’t so bad after all!
Fast forward a week and I was stepping off of my plane into hot and humid Bangkok, with quite possibly one of the largest smiles I’ve ever sported across my face. I was on my way to meet Carmen at our hotel, the Plaza Athenee Royal Meridien, begin our fabulous girls trip in style with a day of pampering and exploring, and I already had a welcome message from my ASW friend.
After the blissful hours of being human putty in the hands of a Thai massage therapist at Asia Herb Association, I finally felt like I could concentrate on the true task at hand, resuming my messaging conversation with this charming and funny guy, who against my better judgment, was starting to grow on me.
We confirmed our plans for tomorrow’s night out, his last in Bangkok, so certainly a Rock Star night in the making, and I had to decline his offer to meet up that first night as well due to Carmen’s and my plans already with another ASW contact whom we’d deemed legit.
The messaging however continued and I wore an almost constant grin and often had to stifle a laugh from his witty comments. At the end of the first night and a fabulous dinner rooftop at Long Table with excellent company, the only thing that I found missing was meeting up with my new found friend in person, this curious Jordanian, Ali, who’d clearly planted a seed of interest in my mind.
So, yes, the next evening finally arrived and we met in person. Ali taking Carmen and I on a slight “walking tour” from the meet up point of a hotel lobby to the local gem of a restaurant, Ban Chiang. Intros were easy and natural and walking along the way the conversation flowed, catching slight hints of flirtations from his boyishly cute side smile and sideways glances, while trying to joke off any frustrations of Carmen’s and my trying to maneuver the rugged sidewalks of Bangkok in platform stilettos.
All was well once seated at the restaurant, and my main goal of the night was to have a blast in the company of a friend who knew Bangkok nightlife better than a Lonely Planet guidebook, but really…who am I kidding, there was also a significant underlying attraction. This attraction was put on the table the moment Carmen stepped away to use the bathroom. Hmmm…soooo… I went with it, sweetly smiling with my eyes when his hand brushed my leg, and allowing him to sweep my hair out of my face and just linger in the moment. So now I had a secondary goal of the evening, make every effort for Carmen to not feel like a third wheel, because I knew this chemistry would not be contained all night.
Dinner was followed by drinks at the rooftop lounge setting of Q Bar, one my favorite nightlife haunts of the entire trip. Sitting on couches amongst a chic crowd of locals, expats, a few tourists and even some select lady boys, we downed a bottle of Grey Goose while chatting, laughing, playing a bit of “Never Have I Ever” and of course sharing the inevitable first kiss, again, conveniently as Carmen was off in the bathroom, but this time, it was too sweet to unlock lips until after she returned.
We carried on the party dancing at Bash, a small club a few blocks away, where within a relatively short amount of time or relatively copious amount of alcohol, it was becoming impossible to not brush lips every time we came into contact. So after a couple more hours of these charades, Carmen tapped out first, leaving for the bathroom then messaging me when she was already in a taxi heading for the hotel minutes later.
Perhaps she was just tired at the end of the night or maybe she knew me all too well and was aware that I wouldn’t let her go home in a separate cab alone had we all departed the club at once. Anyways, with Carmen safely on her way back to the hotel, the window of opportunity was created, and merely minutes before Ali and I could have become that annoying PDA couple in a bar, we came up for air and decided to “get a room”, well, his room.
The next day, as it was time for me to depart for my sightseeing tour around town and he for the airport, I couldn’t deny the feeling of the lump in my throat, but hey, the trip must go on, and luckily I had many distractions along the way, ie…picturesque longboat rides through the canals, tasting the fragrant and spicy street food and daily spa treatments.
Carmen and I later ended up cancelling plans with other A Small World contacts, opting for a much more rare and “small world like” coincidence of being in the same town as a friend’s brother in law from the UK, who just happened to be looking for some good mates to hang with in Bangkok.
Together, the three of us tried some of the best restaurants in town, Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin and Vertigo, while making sure to accomplish sky high drinks at Moon Bar and Sky Bar at Lebua, rounding off our list of rooftop bars in Bangkok. This coincidental friendship was sealed at the end of our last night with an intensely competitive drinking game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors”, where I ended up being the world champion, and really, there’s an iMovie recorded out there to prove it.
As Carmen and I left our third amigo behind, to continue on to Phuket, I was already contemplating on returning to Bangkok in a few months, after attending a friend’s wedding in Hong Kong. This city had amazed me so far and I had a world of exploration still ahead of me.
In the airport, just before boarding the plane for Phuket, I felt so inspired by my time in Bangkok that I did a rare photo post on my personal Facebook page of the three of us out on our last night.
By the time we checked into the Westin in Phuket a few hours later, I already had multiple comments on this photo, a few from my friends in Hong Kong, who notified me of their family in Bangkok! Wow! What a small world, I thought!
From these comments, the conversations have begun for plotting my return / extended stay in Thailand, the virtual contacts are being created, all of whom I’ll meet in person during my friends’ wedding festivities, and my return to Bangkok is becoming a reality, not to mention, all having happened within 6 weeks of deciding to take this last minute trip to Thailand initially.
Now, with old friends tied to this town and new contacts easing my return, as well as someone who I can certainly claim that I’m “In Like With”, who visits Bangkok frequently, it truly is a small world after all…even when the reality of the logistics are 30 hours of travel to return home.
At least I own a great neck pillow to aid my sleep on the journey!