Written onboard M/T Ternvik June 2011
Monday 19th of January 1998 and I arrived to Bangkok International Don Muang from Taipei in the afternoon. A taxi straight to Rompo Mansion from the airport. Well, 18th of January and my first pictures are from the 25th of March and it is most likely that I have lost my camera. For sure, there would have been pictures between 18th of January and 25th of March.
And I must have bought a new camera on the 25th of March, why would I have been running around Rompo Mansion taking pictures otherwise?
Wednesday 25th of March 1998 and this must have been the day the girl in the reception at Rompo Mansion recorded the Thai alphabet for me. I had bought books with the Thai alphabet and she recorded it on tape for me.
Yes, the girls working in the reception was very nice when I returned home from M/T Stolt Excellence. I was wondering why until my friend, also living at Rompo Mansion reminded me about my rent from Stolt. Before leaving for the ship I had asked Stolt Tankers in Houston to send money to the owner of Rompo Mansion, 6 months' rent in advance.
Obviously they had mixed up the currencies, I had asked for 60000 Baht or something like that. I don't know how much they sent and where they got the figure from. But the owner had told my friend that Aladdin had sent a lot of money.
- Well, he sent his salary
- He is making a lot
He showed my friend the bank slip and I had paid rent for 6 or 10 years in advance. Well, Rompo Mansion is a nice place with good owners and he deposited the money on my bank account. So if your looking for a place to live in Bangkok you can try Rompo Mansion, recommended.
Well, anyway, as this is Thailand there are no secrets so all the girls knew my salary and there was no end to the flirting. And the girls at the switchboard were listening to my phone calls when someone called me.
5 minutes after hanging up it knocked on my door or my phone rang.
- Who are you going to the cinema with?
One day I had one of the girls knocking on my door, I opened and she just rushed inside. She satt down on a chair and started to cry.
- What the ??
I was at least to say baffled and when she left 10 minutes later she told me not to tell the other girls in the reception.
- I promise!
Next time I passed the reception she was screaming liar after me. Of course, the girls were watching every movement outside my door via the CCTV and she thought that I had told them. Well, never mind.
Friday 27th of March 1998 and I left for Singapore in the afternoon. I was tipsy when boarding the plane and back then I was always travelling with my entertainment centre.
Today, as an old fart it would have been very embarrassing to travel around with a boom box. But when you're young and handsome it is no problem.
But as I still need my music I always use my iPod when travelling now a day. No problem, well, think again. I was flying to Singapore with Thai airways enjoying myself with white wine and good music in my iPod.
Yes, it was a very nice flight, and as always, very good service on Thai Airways.
Well, suddenly the Stewardess touched me on my shoulder and I pulled out my headphones to hear what she had to say.
- Excuse me Sir. But the passenger behind you is complaining about the music.
- What the
Yes, there is always someone that can find something to complain about. Well, anyway, back to Singapore Airlines back 1998. I went to the toilet with my boom box and i spent the whole trip at the toilet listening to my music and when I needed beer I just pushed the ALARM button and there was a Stewardess coming with a beer. Excellent service.
I also think that this was the first time for me living at Westin Stamford Hotel. I had obviously tried to check in at the Mandarin Hotel but they didn't want me there. So they had called a taxi and he had brought me to Westin Stamford.
How do I know all this? Yes, Singapore is a big city and there must be thousands of taxis in the city. But I got in to a taxi outside Westin Stamford and lo and behold! It was the same driver that had been taking me from Mandarin Hotel to Westin Stamford
- How did you like the hotel?
And he told me the story, so this is how I know.
When I woke up at Westin Stamford I had no clue where I was. Well, I knew that I was in Singapore, but not at what hotel. Well, I could see that it wasn't any hostel.
Coming down in the reception and they asked if I wasn't listening to music today. Well, Westin Stamford became my favourite hotel in Singapore and I always stayed there. Until Swissôtel took over and I found the service going down the drain.
I stayed at NOVOTEL last time in Singapore and this will be my new place in Singapore. Excellent location, just 1 minute walk to the nearest bar at the Clarke Quay.
I don't remember if I returned to Bangkok on Saturday or Sunday. But I was for sure don't staying for more than 2 nights in Singapore. My next picture is dated the 29th of March in the year od our Lord 1998.
Sunday 29th of March 1998 and it seems like we were busy partying every day back in 1998. At least from judging from my pictures.
And maybe I'm lucky I didn't have a digital camera back then. I don't know if I would have been able to stand watching more pictures of us wasting our lives having a good time back then.
Monday 30th of March 1998 and it looks like we had a few drinks in my room again. Must have been something wrong with the date stamping equipment on my Olympus Mju camera back then. Was it really part every day, well, most likely yes.
If I remember it right I had a friend visiting from Sweden and he was in love. The girl was applying for visa to Sweden and what I heard she was rejected. She had been to the interview and they had asked her what her boyfriend's name was.
- I call him darling
Visa rejected. I don't remember, but I have a friend knowing the guys at the embassy so he called them when we were having a few drinks in my room.
- WHY DIDN'T SHE GET HER VISA?
- YOU HAVE TO FIX THIS!!
I don't remember how it ended, but I think she got her VISA so she could go to Sweden. If they are married today, or if they ever got married. I have no clue. Yes, love and so much distance between you and your loved one, can't be easy.
Tuesday 31st of March 1998 and obviously we were at Hollywood on the 2nd floor at Nana. There was a Filipino Manager and he always let us play our music.
I don't know if this place exists today, I have not been in the area since most likely 1998 or 99. But I was walking down a shopping mall in Pattaya when we were there for snorkelling in 2010 or '11. I heard someone screaming “Jävla Fyllegubbe!” behind me and I turned around. There he was and now he was a manager of a hotel or resort on one of the island.
He was in Pattaya on a tourist fair or something promoting the hotel or resort.
Wednesday 1st of April 1998 and seems like we continued the party. Where did I find all the money for this. And today, hopefully older and wiser I regret wasting all this time drinking. Just imagine if I had started with the Muay Thai back then instead of in 2011.
I had started my Thai school with a private Teacher coming home to me, but honestly, most of the time when the Teacher was knocking on my door I was sleeping so it turned out to be a waste of money.
Well, better late than never to get started, but I see it as 10 lost years with my Thai studies and 16 years of lost time with the Muay Thai.
And the 1st of April and we were having a few drinks in my room again and I can see that we had the Manager from the massage place on the second floor over for a beer.
I don't know if there is a massage on Rompo Mansion today, but back then there were a massage and karaoke place on the 2nd floor. What kind of massage service they provided? I don't know.
I only stopped for a beer or two on my way to or from my room.
Thursday 2nd of April 1998 and I can't imagine me suffering from any hangovers back in 1998. Because we continued the party, and according to my pictures we were spending the afternoon at Soi Ngamdupli. But I must have been at the laundry service shop at Rompo Mansion before leaving to meet my friends at Ngamdupli.
We knew a guy running a guest house on Soi Ngamdupli with his girlfriend. But he had left the country 1998 and the guest house was managed by his by then EX girl friend. Soi Ngamdupli was a special place, at least back then. I have not been there since, well, 1999. And I can't say that I miss the place. It is not like it is the high end tourist area of Bangkok.
Khaosan Road had all the back packers and Soi Ngamdupli gave the impression of being the preferable area for junkies and drug addicts. Cheap guest houses and you could really see some strange characters there.
Today you can buy Beer Chang everywhere in Thailand, quite popular. But back then they came in jumbo size bottles and they were cheap. Soi Ngamdupli was the only place where I saw people drinking Beer Chang back then. They have made a remarkable (spent a lot of money) advertising campaign since then and now you can buy ordinary size bottles of Beer Chang at restaurants and bars.
I will always have the picture of a guy spending his last money on a big bottle of beer Chang. Sitting on a side walk at Soi Ngamdupli drinking finishing his money on the cheapest beer available when I'm thinking of Beer Chang.
And I didn't drink my first Beer Chang until Songkran 2010. Khaosan Road and the water throwing party were in full swing. I bought a beer one beer and they handed me a Beer Chang, I refused to accept the beer.
- We only have beer Chang!
So it was beer Chang or nothing so I choose the Beer Chang. I was already tipsy so never mind, but it didn't taste good.
And I will never forget when I was flying from Manila to Bangkok with Thai Airways about 2 weeks after my first Beer Chang experience. Yes, on the 30th of April 2010 I had my second Beer Chang in my life. Heineken is not a good tasting beer, but it is drinkable if I add ice to the beer. I had worked my way through their complete stock of Heineken beers.
I asked for yet another Heineken.
- Sorry Sir, we're out of Heineken.
- What do you have?
- Beer Chang
- What the ? On an airline?!
Well, so I guess there is no more embarrassment involved in drinking Beer Chang. But San Miguel light or Tiger Light is my favourite beers and if they have any of these I would not even consider tasting the beer Chang.
Well, back to Soi Ngamdupli 1998. Many of the people hanging in the area didn't have very much money or any money at all. I remember one day sitting at our friend's guesthouse.
Yes, there were some odd characters hanging at this place as well. It was fun, but one day there was a guy (turned out to be a Swedish junkie that had spend all his money on food, no, drugs it was) sleeping on the street.
There were one lady boy living in the area and we brought this guy to (his or hers) room next door from the guest house and he could sleep over night.
The lady boy went to buy food for him so he was taken care off. Yes, the people in the area told me that this was one of the very few nice lady boys, not making trouble to anyone and it was impossible to see that it was a boy, otherwise it is quite obvious. He (or she) even came in to Taerme, the ultimate lady boy test. As soon as the Waiters at Taerme could sense the presence of a lady boy they got kicked out in order to avoid trouble and fighting inside.
And thanks to my camera I knew that we were eating (and drinking beer) at Kobune's MBK branch. But I after that I don't know where we went.
Saturday 4th of April 1998 and my first picture from the 4th of April is from Kobune at MBK again. I was eating there almost every day. They had an excellent Karreudon and I used to walk from Rompo Mansion to MBK for my dinner. Both exercise and good food. Yeah, back then I used to walk to Khaosan Road or to Lad Prao every day. A good constitutional and I stopped at MBK on my way to Khaosan Road.
So I knew the staff very well, and I was even out drinking with them after they closed the restaurant in the evening. And I will never forget when I was flying to Portugal July 2008. At Nero Cafe on Suvarnabhumi Airport. By then almost 10 years since I had been at Kobune, but the girl at Nero Cafe told me that she knew me.
- Kobune, you were always eating at Kobune
- How do you know?
- I worked there.
Hmm, something fishy here. She didn't look very old, for sure not like 28, but you're never sure in Thailand. And back at the end of the 90's there were no one working at Kobune that looked to be around 18. Next time I meet her I asked how old she was and I think she was 24 so I doubt it that she was working at Kobune when I used to go there. My theory is that she had an older sister working there telling her about the handsome foreigner using to eat there every day.
And I really don't know how I ended up at Kobune the very first time, I'm not very fond of Japanese food so it must have been by accident. Or if I saw the Karreudon on the menu when passing one day. Curry soup is good, never mind if it is Japanese or not.
Or maybe it was the boats with food going around and around. Not that I ever found anything tasty on the boats. Curry soup was my standing order at Kobune.
Well, one thing is for sure, I was not on a constitutional back on the Saturday 4th of April 1998. We were drinking beer and hot sake.
And judging from the last picture from Kobune we were the last guest t leave the restaurant. And this was not the first time they had to more or less kick us out from there.
And I remember this evening very well only for one reason. Our friend had to pay the bill and he was always reminding us about this event. He paid one bill and he try to live on this for years to come.
- Now I had paid one bill so now you have to pay the rest!
2 years later and dare us if we have forgotten about him paying the bill at Kobune.
- I paid the bill on Kobune!
- Oh, I'm sorry! How could I have forget?
Well, Kobune, we had many good times there drinking hot sake. And the staff was very friendly. I have not been there for ages, but I went back in 2008 or 2009 when I had met the girl at the airport. I went for a Karreudon and they have rebuilt the place. Now Kobune has a blue logo and I'm pretty sure it was green before.
I didn't recognise anyone working there, but one guy recognised me and I think it was the guy we can see on the picture above pointing at one of the girls.
I also remember that we left for Tapas on Silom Soi 3 after Kobune. Took us a few minutes in a taxi to get there and we were soon having a cold Kloster beer in front of us. Yes, Kloster were still available back then. The best beer in Thailand and it was not fun going to the pubs drinking beer when Kloster was gone.
It took quite a few years before Tiger Light and San Miguel light came on to the market. At least so you could buy them at the pubs. And now I don't think about Kloster beer anymore, San Mig taste much better.
My last pictures for April 1998 were taken at Tapas so I have no clue where we went after that. But I was flying back to Sweden just a few days after that. I was home for around 2 weeks before joining my next ship. And the only thing I remember from the spring of 1998 in Sweden was that it was nice weather. I also remember that I rented a car and my friend and I drove to Landskrona to finish some business. This must have been on the Friday 24th of April because this was my last party in Go:teborg before leaving for my ship.
I was driving and my friend wanted to drive back to Göteborg. Ok, I don't like to drive so I really appreciated that he wanted to drive. I asked him to stop at one of the TRUCK STOPS.
- Back up to the restaurant and be STAND-BY to leave quickly. I'm going in for a few beers.
Sweden back then was a little like East Germany, at least when it came to alcohol. Nothing you were joking about, expensive and hard to find unless you were at a restaurant or pub. And it was a big NO NO to take the beer out from the restaurant. But as always, I had a plan, a really great plan.
I would go inside pretending that I would drink the beer at the restaurant, of course, I would grab the beers and dash out of there in a jiff. TRUCK STOP and it was a self service styled restaurant. I filled a try with beers. I also put a sandwich on the tray to make it look good. I went to pay.
- You must open the beers
A minor set-back but nothing I was worried about. I opened my beers and I walked towards a table. They were looking after me, I think the suspected something. 12 beers and a sandwich. I put down the tray on the table pretending to prepare myself to sit down. I made one of my Super Man moves, I grabbed 12 bottles of beer, not easy, and I ran out of there. Leaving the screaming staff and the darn sandwich behind.
F@ck the sandwich, this was only a decoy. But the staff, screaming and I could not believe my eyes when they started to run after me. I threw myself in to the car.
- Step on it!!
- What's wrong with you? STEP ON IT!! They are coming after me.
Finally we got moving and we got away with our beers and I was a wee bit tipsy when we arrived to Go:teborg and we could go visit some pubs on my last day at home.
Saturday 25th of April 1998 and I left Landvetter International bound for Singapore via Frankfurt to join M/T Asian Progress. Nice to leave, but I remember this spring and it is never fun to leave for a ship during the spring time. But money is needed.
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