Written onboard M/T Ek-River July 2010
India, Thailand and Japan
OK, you can forget about the first Copenhagen airport incident. When I was writing about my adventure in New York March 1990 onboard M/T Ek-Star in August 2010 I discovered the picture of the departing JAL flight. So obviously I have mixed both of these occasions. Sorry for that, BUT ITS 20 YEARS AGO!! And no, I have no clue what I did at Copenhagen airport 1st of January 1992. My last memory is from a New Year's party in Helsingør.
I'm not even sure I got to Copenhagen by train, and hell, the New Year's party can as well have been in Copenhagen.
My first memory of the 1st of January 1992 is from Kastrup airport in Copenhagen. I was sleeping outside the gate when a Japanese guy came running screaming. I understood f@ck all, but when I looked out the window I saw a JAL Jumbo jet leaving the gate so I guess that he missed his flight. I guess that he has to get on the next flight.
I was flying with PIA, Pakistan International Airline. And how the hell did I end up on this airline
Yes, I ended up drinking beer with my friend in Sweden last summer and we decided to go to India. I suggested Lufthansa or something like that.
But he wanted to do it cheap and we booked 2 tickets with PIA. Of course, he was one of those talking and talking and he cancelled his ticket. This is the kind of people I'm very impressed by. I think you know the type.
We made a stopover in Karachi and I got on the flight to Bombay and when we arrived I took a taxi to the Salvation Army and I got a bed in a dormitory.
Today it would have been impossible to live in a dormitory. I need a real hotel with a shower so then I can as well skip India. India was the place I went to meet people and to do the stuff we did in India back then. So living in a dorm was perfect.
You meet people and we kept company to the next city were you meet new people for your next destination. Excellent, you never had time to grow tired at someone.
Well, anyway, I choose the Salvation Army because I had stayed there before and I had meet interesting people back then. The Swedish consulate had put me at the Salvation army when I returned to the consulate for the second time asking for money. But this is another story from a few years back. But I will hopefully have time to update my web page with this adventure soon. When it's available just click the link bellow.
EXCITEMENT AND ADVENTURE IN SE ASIA!!
But Salvation army was quite nice, bed bugs and half meter of disgusting water in the showers. But it was OK back then, today I would have jumped off a train in 200 before even thinking about living at a place like the Salvation Army.
Locker service between 8 AM and 8 PM. Hell, I remember on e night and I needed money. Maybe 2 o'clock in the morning and no one around. So I just screamed until the old lady came and I could load my pockets.
I went to a disco and there were only 2 guys sitting there, well, my only time at an Indian disco, not very fun and I asked the taxi driver to take me to a nice place. I woke up 10 o'clock in the morning outside Bombay, most likely at a whore house. But they had had a cassette player and I had a tape in my pocket. So they music were on full blast while I was drinking beers.
I meet a British guy at the Salvation Army and he was going to New Delhi so I joined him on the train. My plan was to go to Agra, Varanasi and then Goa and from there to Bangkok. And New Delhi is the stop on the way to Agra.
We arrived to New Delhi without any mishaps, and I suppose that you have read about my adventures in India back in 1988 so you know what drama I had to go through last time around.
Last time I stayed at a dormitory, Metropolis Tourist home, up the Main Bazar Road, 5 minutes walk just across the Qutab Road from the railway station.
And while writing this I check the street names on the internet and our dormitory is marked on the map. Must be a famous place. Mu British friend had never been in New Delhi so he agreed with the plan to stay at Metropolis. My plan was to stay for a 2 days or something before going to see Taj Mahal in Agra.
I remember a British couple living in our room. The made a joint in the form of a tulip. A paper tube and they filled a big Rizla formed like a bag. Then they twisted the bag around the pipe so it looked like a spear and when they folded the surplus paper up over the bag it looked like a tulip.
Well, any way they lit up the motherf@cker and it took off like a smoke bomb. Yes, it was a real smoker. It was like the London fog in our dorm. I and my British friend left for something to eat and of course, when we came back there were 10 coppers in our room.
- What's going on? I asked
- They have smoked pot.
- I thought that was against the law, I said.
- Yes we're taking this real serious!
Obviously the management had complained and they had called the police. I was surprised they didn't call the fire department because it was smoking like the place was on fire. Well, the Police but the investigation on ice as soon as they had received some BAKSHIS.
I stayed for a few days before I left with the train to Agra to see the famous Taj Mahal. If I remember it right it was a 5 hour ride with the train.
- Hmm, or was it 7? Maybe 3?
I don't know, but it's very interesting to go buy train in India, if it's for about 5 hours. The 24 hours ride from Bombay to New Delhi is a killer and I was about to jump off after 12 hours. But a few hours to Agra is OK.
The whole of India is passing buy and the train gets full of beggars and people trying to sell you stuff at every train stop. Outside you hear the tea people screaming:
And there is people selling food within reach outside your window.
As you can see the quality of the pictures leaves a little to wish for. Old dusty slides I scanned,
but they are better than nothing. And as I mentioned before, digital cameras was nothing we could dream of back then.
Hindi: ताज महल [taːdʑ mɛɦɛl]; Persian/Urdu: تاج محل) is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
The Taj Mahal (also "the Taj") is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Islamic, Indian and Persian architectural styles.
In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In a project that attempted to update the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, popularity poll was led by Canadian-Swiss Bernard Weber and organized by the Swiss-based, government-controlled New7Wonders Foundation considered Taj Mahal to be one of the present new seven wonders of the world.
While the white domed marble mausoleum is its most familiar component, the Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures. Building began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, and employed thousands of artisans and craftsmen. The construction of the Taj Mahal was entrusted to a board of architects under imperial supervision including Abd ul-Karim Ma'mur Khan, Makramat Khan, and Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer.
I had imagined Agra as a quiet and peaceful place. But I was in for a surprise. This must be one of the worst places I have ever been to. And that includes arriving to Bombay 2 o'clock in the morning. Coming from Bangkok and landing in this shithole. First time in India and 2 million beggars outside the terminal, nice.
But getting off the train in Agra was worse, and by now I have been plenty in India and I should have got used. Millions of people that wanted to sell you stuff.
- Guest house!
And they never gave up, and this was only the railway station. It got way worse when I got down to Taj Mahal. OK, it got better as soon as I had paid my entrance fee and got in to the Taj Mahal area. Obviously they were not allowed inside, good.
I knew that Taj Mahal was considered to be one of the 7 wonders of the world so I was pretty disappointed.
- What's so special with this?
- Oh, it's so beautiful!
- Beautiful, yes. But nothing special.
- OH! You have to see it in a special light.
- DO I HAVE TO SEE IT IN A SPECIAL LIGHT??!!
- Yes early mornings it's very beautiful.
- Early mornings??!!
- Yes, then here is plenty people taking pictures.
- What the ? Do I have to come here 3 o'clock in the morning?
Well, I spent 20 minutes at Taj Mahal and then I went to check out the Red Fort. If I have to come early morning and to stand on my hands with a colour full hat to be able to see the magic with Taj Mahal I will give it a skip. One thing is for sure, I will never come back here.
Agra was a pain in the arse. But when I was here I could as well go see the Red Fort.
Actually the Red Fort was more impressive than Taj Mahal. And I heard that it was the same guy that built the Red fort so he could spend the rest of his days watching his dead wife grave.
Coming to the Red Fort with a motorcycle rickshaw and there were millions of people trying to sell me stuff. And it was not like they tried to sell something you could find any use of. Pure scrap and they didn't take the first 15 no for an answer. You had to tell them to bugger off.
I finished the Red Fort and I was pretty happy, I could leave Agra for Varanasi and I would never have to see Agra again. I don't remember how long I stayed in Agra but I meet yet another British guy in the evening and we got drunk. But he lived in Australia and he was more like me.
- Taj Mahal, f@ck it! Let's have a beer.
This was a long time ago and I don't remember very much of Agra more than it was a pain in the behind. But I remember that me and the Australian was sitting in a motorcycle rickshaw in the middle of the night plunging down the dust roads in Agra in 100km/h. I and the Australia guy wee sitting on the back seat screaming off laughter.
- What the hell is going on? I screamed to the driver.
Yes, you had to scream to be heard over the terrible sound from the motor. The rickshaw was jumping and bouncing on the dirt road and we were half beaten to death in the back.
- We're chased by the Police.
- OK, step on it!
We were pretty drunk and we didn't gave a shi* about the Indian police. Well, anyway, I don't know for how long we stayed in Agra. But I took the train to Varanasi with the Australian guy.
If Agra was a pain in the behind Varanasi was very relaxed. The holy city along River Ganges where people are coming to die. So it was not a party city. But as you understand they need to have something in a city with so many holy men around.
So to help all this holy people to get in contact with their Gods they had licensed BANG shops. Bang is hashish and these shops were located around Varanasi and if you had a permit you could buy hashish in those shops.
I don't know what was required to get the hashish permit. But I guess that you had to be proficient in witchcraft and hokus pokus to get your permit to go shopping at the BANG shops.
So you need hashish to get in touch with you God, I guess it helps if your audience is stoned senseless when they perform their hokus pokus.
- OH! LOOK! HE IS BAKING BREAD IN HIS HAT!!
We lived at Yogi Lodge, obviously a famous and well known place. I had been recommended this place in New Delhi. When we arrived to Varanasi train station there were hundreds of people trying to convince us to come and stay at their place.
- Yes, we're the famous Yyogi Lodge.
- But I'm going to Yogi Lodge. Not the f@cking Yyogi Lodge or the f@cking Yyyogi Lodge.
I could never have imagine that it would have been possible to come up with so many different spellings of Yogi Lodge. But this was a sign of Yogi Lodge's popularity. All the other guesthouses had changed their name to something similar to Yogi Lodge. But Yoogi Lodge is not the Yogi lodge so F@CK OFF!
It was a nice place with a good atmosphere around it. And on the roof top we had a good view over Varanasi. But we had to keep an eye out for the monkeys. They were known to have attached people and to have stolen stuff from the guests sitting at the roof top.
I also meet a Danish couple at Yogi Lodge that I had meet on the flight from Copenhagen to Karachi. Of course, they were the ones to recognise me.
- Hello, are you here as well.
- We meet you on the flight from Copenhagen
They were in Varanasi to learn how to play sitar.
Well, I don't know about that. When I saw them they were sitting around in their bed strumming on a sitar they had bought. He told me that they were taking courses at a guy in the vicinity.
Well, during my time in Varanasi there were no improvements on the sitar.
I really like Varanasi. we were on the river Ganges during the days and as there were no night life we had to stay in the lodge playing chess during the nights.
Well, we're in India so I had not expected much of the night life. But sometimes I really wished for some night life, my bed, well, it was like sleeping on a board. Impossible and at 4 o'clock in the morning they started to scream from loudspeakers at the mosque next door.
OK, to get up early is good, we have time to do plenty during the day and I'm dead tired in the evening and it makes it a wee bit easier to sleep on the darn board in my room.
My own room, yes, at Yogi lodge I had my own room, nice.
Well, anyway, I won all the time when we played chess and when I lost my Australian friend asked if I had been around the corner drinking BANG milkshakes.
I don't understand why he thought that I spend time at the restaurant drinking BANG milkshakes.
- Hmm, maybe because they were coming out to say hello to me every time we passed.
But since when is it against the law to be a nice guy. I can't help that they want to come out for a few words with me.
- No milkshake today?
- No, I'm on diet
That's pretty much how we spent our days. Going around the city and spending the nights at Yogi Lode. But we tried to find some night fun every night. We ended up at a hotel, were they supposed to sell beer in the bar. Well, we were alone so we returned to Yogi Lodge and our chess game. But instead we had the more times to discover things during the days.
It was quite nice to go for a tour on Ganges with a row boat. To see Varanasi and all the people swimming and bathing was quite a sight. How can the people swim in this water.? I even saw people brushing their teeth in the filth.
One day on the river we passed a big doll floating in the water, at least it looked like a doll until we came closer. It was a dead baby floating in the river. Very nice, and 30 metres away people were brushing their teeth in the water.
I don't want to call it ships, but there were bigger boats discharging wood along the river. I think this was the place where they burned most of their dead. Wood is expensive so the poor people could only afford a little wood for their funeral pyres.
So instead of ashes they got a half burnt corpse to throw in to the holy Ganges. But when we were in Varanasi they were in progress of building kilns for the poor people. But I guess they still want to use wood instead of fuel oil in the kilns.
Maybe a difference in how they will be received in the next world so wood was preferred even if the bodies only got half burned.
Varanasi, a holy town and this is the place to die in. Hell yeah, people are even walking to Varanasi. The can walk for 10 years just to come here to die. Well, nothing surprises me in this country, they even have people sitting in a treetop for 125 years. So walking to Varanasi is not the strangest thing I have heard.
We saw numerous funeral processions passing through town bound for the funeral pyres along Ganges. The bodies were covered in yellow flowers and people carry the body on a board. They don't use coffins around here. And that's strange, that would be a little extra wood for the final fire.
So all kind of religious people hanging around here. I remember a Hare Krishna guy that I was running in to, almost every day. One day when we came down the Ganges he was sitting on a pillar meditating. well, I think the guys that are drinking the milkshakes are on to something.
Who wants’ to spend 125 years in a treetop when you can drink a milkshake?
So we never had to run out of stuff to see in Varanasi, but after a few days it got boring. And we were not exactly the kind of guys that picked up a guide bock to check out what was worth seeing.
We were going up and down the river Ganges in a row boat and we got more and more desperate for some night life and a few good beers. Good beer in India? Good luck!
Luckily enough there were 3 or 4 girls from Canada living at Yogi Lodge. And they were really busy finding out all the stuff to see. And they wanted us to join them
- SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN!
They had been at a university and they had been promised a guided tour of the university. Well, at least it's something different so we joined them.
It was not like a Swedish university, actually quite different, but it was interesting. for about 10 minutes and then, well, I wouldn't have minded getting the f*ck out of there.
Varanasi, very nice, but I had enough so I decided to go back to Delhi and get a flight to Goa. Back then there were no flights from Bombay to Goa, only bus. The ferry service had been down since a few years back if I remember it right.
But who wants’ to go on a ferry in India? I had heard horrifying stories about the ferries between Bombay and Goa. Yeah, like it's better to fly with Indian Airways!
So I said good bye to the Australian and the Canadian girls and I returned to New Delhi and one night at Metropolis Tourist home on Main Bazar Road.
Well, the British guy was still living in our room. The British couple had left and there was a new guy in the room. He was also British and he was in deep shit.
He just came back from Agra and he had invested all his money in stones. 2000£, all the money he had for his trip to SE Asia. He was reading a book about stones and I asked him why.
- My only chance to get my money back is to prove that I'm an expert on stones. Then I can tell them that the stones were of a bullshit quality.
- Good luck with that!
He told me the whole story about his investments in a racketeer from Agra.
Yes, it's worth reading, you might learn something.
- I arrived to Agra and as soon as I stepped off the train the asked if I wanted to by stones.
- Yes, I know, pretty the much happened to me, I said.
- They took me to their shop.
- Yes, and they offered you tea.
- Yes, and they told me that it was a very good investment. Actually it was a once in a life time opportunity. I could sell the stones with a 100% profit back in London.
- Good ol' London, I said with a tear rolling down my cheek.
- They told me that it would be very easy to sell the stones back in London.
- Yes, and they showed you letters from all over the world from people that had made a fortune selling stones they had bought from this guy.
- Yes, and they told me that they would not deduct the money until I was back home.
- Very kind people, I said with a tear rolling down my cheek.
- So I bought stones for all my money. I sent them home to my mother for her to sell. Then she could deposit the money on my credit card. 4000£
- And you actually sent your mother to make a fool out of herself. They will laugh at her!
So he was sitting without money in New Delhi. Of course, as soon as he had left the shop they took the money from his credit card. He had been at the Police and the only chance he had was to prove that the stones were fake. And thus he was reading the book and he had 2 days. So the chances are less than slim. Well, 2000£ spent on stones that he could not even give away back home in England.
I don't know how it ended, I left Metropolis 4 or 5 in the morning with a taxi for the airport and my Indian Airways flight to Goa.
It was fog so the flight was delayed by several hours and when we finally took of all the trolleys came rolling down the aisle. Well, this is an airline that I will try to avoid in the future. I remember there was a passenger, obviously an Indian Airway pilot, with his new wife. Honeymoon to Goa and the Pilot was announcing this in the PA system. When we were taxing out on the run way. Applause, singing and cheering.
- What the ??!! It's more important that you prepare the plane for takeoff.
Arriving to Goa and I meet 2 guys from Germany and we decided to go to Anjuna together. So we took a taxi outside the airport, well, first we bought a couple of beers.
Then we took off towards Anjuna in Northern Goa. No one of us had ever been to Goa and the German guys had an address to a hotel. Someone they had meet in Nepal recommended the hotel.
We never been here before, we didn't know where to stay, but never mind. We were soon drunk and then there was no problem.
We had to pass a river with a ferry. I think it was in Panaji, but when I was back next time there was a bridge.
Well, I'm not sure, this is a very long time ago. Well, when we had crossed the river it was road all the way. OK, much of the road was a dust road but never mind.
We made stop all the way for more beers and when we finally arrived to Anjuna we could not find any hotel. But we were pretty tired of going around in a taxi looking for a hotel. So we paid the driver and we went in to a restaurant/ bar and ordered more beer.
If you look carefully behind Tomas sitting on the left on the right hand picture you can see the SMILEY on my weekend bag.
This bag has been around for many years now. And the only thing I have in the bag is snus and Swedish cigarettes. Travelling light, that's how I like it.
As I said, we got pretty drunk. Well, very drunk is a more correct description. I remember when we got off the taxi in Anjuna, but from there it's pretty much nothing I remember. But according to my photos we were on the beach. And I also found a few pictures of Indians tourists passing by. Goa is a very popular with people from Bombay.
Yes, no doubt, they must have been pleasantly surprised to find 3 Europeans dead drunk on the beach. Charming!
When we woke up the day after we didn't had a clue where we were, or how we got there. But we found out that we were living in Calangute. Smack on the beach, just out the door and we were on Calangute beach.
My new German friends lived in the room next to mine. We started the day on the beach, swimming and lolling around.
The beach was full of huts were they served food and drinks, a paradise. Well, it would have been if they had real beer. Kingfisher, terrible, and the Canon 10000 we drank in the taxi. This beer did not even remind about beer.
Going out from my room, if I turned to the right I ended up on the beach. A 5 minutes walk to the left and I ended up at a small dust square. There was a restaurant called King's Store, exciting. There were guys that rented us motorcycles. OK, motorcycles might be a wee bit too much to call it. 100 CC mopeds.
We had our breakfast at King's Store. I had the same every day, steamed rice, omelette, ketchup and soy sauce. Yes, that's it, and I was never sick during my stay in India.
After the breakfast we went to the beach or we took off for adventures with our rented MCs, well, it was mopeds. Most of the time we drove to Anjuna and further North, via Baga. The road ended at Baga Creek, a tidal estuary. we had to cross a small bridge.
Goa, famous for Rave party and it would really had been a nice place if there was real beer to drink. Kingfisher, a terrible beer. Hmm, maybe good, I drank water with lime most of the time.
They sold beers at Anjuna Flea market. I bought a few Carlsberg, but they tasted like .
Someone told me that the back packers brought them from the flight and sold them here.
- Who the goes through the trouble carrying around a can of beer or two to make a buck?
Yes, when I'm thinking about it I remember it like I was drinking water with lime most of the time. But when I review my pictures it seems like there is a beer in front of me all the time.
Well, not on the picture of our breakfast above. There we can see my water bottle on the table.
We had our evening meal at King's Sore and I had the same every day, steamed rice, omelette, ketchup and soy sauce. A bottle of water with some fresh lime to make it a little more exciting. In the evening we drank beers and there were quite a few people gathering at King's Store.
I had a tape we played at King's Store and one of the guys working there asked if I could make a copy for him. well, it's not like I have a recording studio in my weekend bag. But I told him that I would bring a tape next time around. And I really brought a tape when I returned at Christmas.
There were people from all over the world and it was nice. We meet an Italian guy, he lived in Calangute and we hang out with him almost every day. He was at King's Stores every day but he never joined us on our mopeds, actually, I never saw him go anywhere. Well, I guess he was in India for his very own special reasons.
I don't remember how much we paid for our mopeds. But it wasn't much per day. India, and it was impossible to spend any money.
Well, except when my friend ran in to an old lady. He had to pay her and the day after we had to go to repair his moped. As I remembered it they didn't try to rob us blind for their broken moped. Well, how did all this started.
We were leaving Anjuna Flea market and we were on the way to a place on the beach. Yes, Shore Bar, this was the place to be to watch the sun set. Watch the sun set, yes, exactly how fun is that?
Of course, 9 out of 10 people were on drugs. Dropping acid and eating mushrooms and then any sun set will be spectacular.
We were 3 or 4 people on my moped when we left and my friend never arrived to the Shore Bar, so I guessed that he got lost. Of course, I should have been going back looking, but I never thought of that. Accident was the last thing on my mind.
We were up all night driving around the bars on my moped. God, I really wished they had had some nice beer. But vodka orange is not bad.
I didn't meet my friend until the day after and he told me that he had run over an old lady on the way to the Shore Bar. So we spent the day going to a work shop repairing his moped.
Shore bar, I remember when I was leaving the place one night. The Police was always hanging around stopping people for BAKSHIS, tea money. They had long sticks they use to beat poor people with. Of course, they did not dare to hit any rich and influential people.
And that's even if they broke the law.
Well, they were screaming after me when I left the place. I stopped and they came running after me. When they came closer I took off and I stopped after 50 meter.
- What do you want?
They came closer and I drove off for about 50 meter again.
- Do you want something
I repeated myself for a few times and I grew tired and I took off. Thinking about it today and I break out in sweat when I wonder what would have happened if my motor had broken down.
Well, Indian Police, good at beating BAKSHIS out of people, but when the shit hits the fan they are crying for the military to come help them.
OK, Goa was nice, but time to move on. So I went to a travel agency and I bought a ticket from Bombay to Bangkok. I tried to get a plane ticket to Bombay, but there was only bus.
- Yeah, fat chance I will go sit on the bus!
I had a return ticket back to New Delhi. But I really don't remember how I got back to Bombay. But it was not on the bus. And I remember the hotel owner driving me to the airport while I was on the floor sleeping back in the car. Yeah, early morning.
But I was off to Bangkok, I meet a British guy and we were going to meet in Bangkok. I had met several people in India and they were all recommending Khao San Road in Bangkok.
- Plenty relaxed guest houses and good fun!
I don't remember how I got to Bombay, but I lived at Salvation Army again. I was just going to stay for one or two nights and then I was off with Cathay Pacific's morning flight to Bangkok.
Salvation Army, just around the corner from Taj Mahal Hotel and Gateway of India. I used to eat at Taj Mahal and I took some pictures of Bombay from the hotel. But I was surprised when I was lying in my bed in Bangkok 2009 watching the news. Terror attack against Taj Mahal, a luxury hotel in Bombay
Luxury hotel??!! Well, they must have been doing some serious work on that hotel since I was there. OK, back to Bombay 1992.
I went for my lunch/ dinner at Taj Mahal and there was a fashion show. Well, it was the rehearsal for the show. But I'm not sure.
Well, anyway, I went to check it out and this was fun for, hmm, maybe 2 minutes before I left.
And next door is an Indian Brothel. I passed and I heard the music so I went inside. I had no clue that it was a brothel. They showed me to a table, it was pretty full. I ordered a beer and the waiter was coming with a girl and a young guy. He asked if they could sit at my table.
- No problem!
I had a few beers and I got tipsy while talking to the guy and the girl. I was under the impression that they were a couple so I was very surprised when she started to play footie with me.
- What the ??!!
I went to buy a few bottle of wine and I returned to my dormitory and the guy from France. He had spent a pretty long time at the Salvation Army. He spent his time smoking heroin. From early morning to late evening. He was only sitting on the floor or lying on his bunk.
I opened the first bottle of wine and we had a chat. He was in India only to do heroin.
- It's so cheap.
- How do you manage to give it up when you go home.
- Oh, it's easy!
- Well, let's hope so.
But he doesn’t look like a guy that was going to give up heroin very easy.
Sad to see, wasting your life on a dirty floor at salvation Army in Bombay.
I finished my wine and I left the Salvation Army. Lo and behold, I ran in to one of the Italian guys I had meet in Goa. A pleasant surprise. We decided to go for a few beers, this was my last day in Bombay. I was leaving for Bangkok tomorrow morning.
We started by taking a boat tour and I think the boat left from gateway of India. Hell, I don't even remembered the boat tour until I started to watch the pictures when writing this on the web page. OK, it's almost 20 years ago when I write this (2010) so I had not expected to remember it all. But I remember the general picture and when I'm looking at the pictures I remember specific moments. Like the fashion show.
But I will never forget the hooker playing footie with me. Imagine my chock when I'm sitting there talking with what I think is a couple. First I thought it was a rat running over my feet.
And I remember screaming at two Police officers outside the brothel. I was a wee bit tipsy and I told them exactly how much respect I had for them. Yes, as you guess the experience with the Police in Goa didn't impress me.
Now, after a few beers, I thought that it would be wise to tell them.
We were pretty drunk when I dropped my Italian friend at some hotel at 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning and I left for the airport.
I checked in and I felt a sleep. when I woke up the gate was closed.
- I need to get on the plane!
- It's too late...Blah-blah-bla...
- Yeah-Yeah Blah-Blah..........
I had to run over the luggage belt and I made it onboard and I woke up when we landed in Bangkok. Back then they weren't very much for safety. Running over the luggage belt, waking up across 3 seats when we land. I woke up lying over 3 seats.
I raised my head looking out through the window and I shat myself.
- WE'RE LANDING ON A GOLF COURSE!!
Don Muang, it's strange, they just opened the new airport (2006) and even though I have spent many hours at Don Muang I have forgotten how it looked like. But I think we passed Immigration, down a ladder (Or escalator) to the luggage claim areas. Then straight out through the Custom.
Then we turned right, if you turned left you came to the far end of Don Muang airport. Not so crowded, but if you wanted transportation to the city you turned right. At least this is how I remembered it.
During the years they rebuilt don Muang, but it was pretty much the same. Back then there were no taxi meters (I think I saw my first taxi meter in Bangkok 1992 or 1993 and that was the best thing ever happened to Bangkok) and I remembered it like you had to take a van to the city. And if you found a taxi it was a Datsun or Toyota from 1962. They had to drop you from a helicopter in order to get in to the car.
20 years ago and you paid more for a seat in the van than for a taxi meter today. Well, anyway, I meet a girl from Switzerland and she asked me where I was going.
- I will try Khao San Road, I heard a lot about it in India.
She asked if I wanted to share a ride with her.
- OK, I said
- We can share a room, she suggested.
Well, I guess she must have felt safe with me and I was still in my Indian mood so I said yes. But as you will see my Indian mood soon worn off. And back then Thai people really didn't have much good to say about the back packers on Khao San Road. They called them “Farang Banglampu” and this was not an epithet that impressed any Thai girls at the discos. But it was also good, many times when I wanted to be left alone I just told people that I lived at Khao San Road and you were soon alone.
Tuk Tuk drivers avoided you, so even when I stayed at Sukhumvit I used to say that I lived at Khao San Road. But today it's a different story. When you say “Farang Banglampu” they just looked puzzled.
- Hmm, well, sometimes it can be used when speaking with old people, they just laugh.
But if you say that you live at Khao San Road today they just say “Good, a nice place” and I must agree. There have been some remarkable changes and now a day it's one of my favourite night spots in Bangkok. But back then, no way!
Back to 1992. Yes, Khao San Road and I had expected it to be like India, living in dorms having a good time. But Bangkok has a lot more to offer regarding the night life than India so you're better off with your own room. I came back to my room 4, 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning and, of course, the girl from Switzerland woke up. She started to interview me about what I had done and where I had been. The paper walls in the guest house what not sound proof by any means and it didn't take long before they started to scream at us from the rooms around us.
- SHUT UP!! WE'RE TRYING TO SLEEP!!
She also tried to get me to go to the Floating Market when I came home. But no thanks’, would be nice. But I prefer to sleep.
I stayed at Khao San Road for a few days, 2 or 3 days before I moved to Sukhumvit. I had been on my way to move since day 2. At all the places people were watching videos drinking water, 1 bottle and 5 straws. Yes, we like to travel around the world on a 50 dollar budget. I mean this was nice to do in India where there was nothing to do, but in Bangkok!! Night life supreme! But what made me turn around and go back to pick up my weekend bag at the guest house was an Australian guy. He was on the side walk playing guitar begging for money. OK, the screaming every morning helped to decide, well, I'm out of here.
I meet the British guy that I had meet in Goa. He stayed at Atlanta hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 2 and I moved in. And seriously, I don't know if it was much better than Khao San Road. But you had your own room and shower. I remember the gloomy owner from Germany, obviously I had been embarrassing him and every time he saw me he looked at me very angry.
- This is not a home for party people.
First day when I woke up at Atlanta we decided to take a tour on the river. My friend had to go to the General Post Office, close to the River Chao Phraya.
We got on the boat and it was darn hot. Well, I just have to survive this one boat tour and I will never have to do it again.
We left the jetty at the General Post Office but I don't remember where we got off the boat. Well, it was a tour I could have lived with out, but we saw a Thai Police boat and something that looked like a floating Chinese restaurant.
And of course, the locals were happy to see us milling by on the boat.
Well, we stopped at every stop to let off and on people and we really saw the daily life of the Thais living along the river. When we finally got off the boat we agreed on that it was beer time.
We never set foot in a boat again, neither did we any more tours. We spent the whole days at Soi Joe Buckskin under the highway bridge. I guess that we had intentions to do something during the days, but after a few beers at Joe Buckskin it was more like “why bother” go see the sights in this heat.
No it was not a very fun place, but it was close to the hotel so it was kind of convenient. I was searching on Joe Buckskin on the internet when I wrote this. I found the following and it kinds of describes the place. And I agree, I don't miss the place.
I don't remember how long I stayed in Bangkok, but I soon grow tired of the place. So I bought a weekend trip to Tokyo. The original plan was to stay for 3 days, but due to my naive attitude to alcohol I found myself staying longer in Tokyo. Well, more about this later.
First of all, it was hard to get a ticket to Tokyo and I had to fly with Air India, nothing you do with a smile on your face. JAL and ANA and other airlines I considered were all full.
Air India, of course, they made some mistake at check in so they had to put me in Business class. When we took off the Air hostess came and she told me that they had found a seat in monkey class. So imagine me (drunk) and the Air host coming running down the aisle when we took off. I could not believe it, at least they could have waited until we had reached cruising altitude.
Arriving to Narita, this was pre internet days so I had to go look for a hotel. Taxi, yes, great idea. I had to change taxi every third block or so.
- Sorry, I don't know this area.
The drivers didn't spoke English and when I said hotel we took off and 30 minutes later it was the same again.
- Sorry, I don't know this area.
I became desperate, but I remember that we stopped at a place. The driver pointed at a building reminding me of and East German concrete block.
Great, just what I dreamt off and luckily enough they told me that I had to be in my room before 10 o'clock in the evening.
- Well, I have planned to stay out all night long, I said and left.
I had spent more money on taxi than I would have spent in a few weeks of heavy party in Bangkok when we finally stopped at a hotel. I checked in and I went out to get drunk.
I had the taxi fares fresh in mind and I had expected to spend much more money than I did the first evening. But most of the places, I was the only foreigner, the played some games with the fingers with me every time I asked for my bill.
- You win, beer is for free.
It continued like this and I felt uncomfortable. I don't like free drinks and I want to pay. And for sure, it didn't make me feel better when they continued with the finger game until I won. I ordered a beer.
- How much?
- Tjinken, Chinken and Tchanken!
Tjinken, Chinken and Tchanken, obviously this was the name of the game. When I lost they smiled.
- No good, we play again!
And they continued until I won. I really did not understood what was going on.
I remember one morning on my way back to the hotel. I stopped at a club and a guy opened the door.
- Just a beer!
I went in and before they had a served me the beer I had felt over a karaoke machine and two tables. Beer bottles and microphones all over the place. Needless to say, they never let me stay to finish my beer.
My last night in Tokyo and I was walking around town looking at the sights. My flight was early morning so I had planned for a soda water or two before returning to my hotel. This is the only reason for me having my camera with me. God, I wished I had my small Canon digital camera back then.
I passed a place, no way that I could see that this was a party place only by seeing the Japanese signs. But there were a lot of youngsters outside, not dressed like the ordinary Japanese. So I went inside. Down in the basement there was a rock concert.
Of course, how fun is it at a rock concert without beer. So I started to look for the bar. NO BAR! They told me that I had to buy beer from the vending machine. I took a seat on the floor and I popped open my first beer. 4 beers later I gave a shit about my EARLY IN THE MORNING flight.
Next to me was a girl and she told me that her friend was studying Swedish at the university and when she left there was 20 empty beer cans on the floor around me.
- Take it easy with the beer, was the last thing she said to me when she left.
When the concert was over the band asked if I wanted to join them for a few beers.
- Of course! By then I was pretty drunk and I was invincible and my EARLY IN THE MORNING flight to Bangkok was nothing to worry about.
We went to a restaurant and the band's manager collected 1000 ¥ from each one of us. 1000¥, eat and drink as much as you like. Very cheap, if you went to a bar you could not get a beer for 1000¥.
- Hmm, maybe if you went to a place with only truck driver and stevedores.
More beers and now I really couldn't care less about Bangkok and my flight. And it was great fun, plenty people and plenty beer. I don't remember how their English was, but I guess it was pretty good. And I developed a sense for Japanese while drinking so talking was no problem.
But that's the same every time you have had a few beers. Of course, it's a totally different story when you wake up the day after.
And by the looks of the pictures it looks like we were sitting on the floor, seems to be a Japanese thing to sit on the floor where ever they go. And it is considered rude to pour beer in your own glass. Someone else has to do it for you. And when I poured beer for someone else:
- OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! THANK YOU!
And when you poured beer for one of the girls:
When in Tokyo do as the people from Tokyo do and it will work out just fine. And after a few beers you really don't notice how uncomfortable it is on the floor. Hell, I have been sleeping in much worse position than sitting on the floor. Sometimes I have wondered how it had been possible to fall asleep when I have wake up.
We had a good time, but after a few beers it's nice with music.
I don't know for how long we stayed at the restaurant, but now we wanted music and we went to a disco.
Japanese disco and, well, it was decorated like a normal disco.
But with the difference of the karaoke machine on the stage. So while people were dancing the band's manager was on the stage singing Run DMC.
I don't know what time I returned to my hotel, but I remember waking up in the afternoon just to realise that my flight was half way to Bangkok. Of course, not so fun. But what the heck, it had been fun yesterday.
What to do? I had to find Air India’s office in Tokyo and when I was there it was the same problem as with JAL and ANA, flights are all full. So I had to spend a few extra days in Tokyo. I didn't mind, I had a very good time.
Missing the flight, I have missed several flights in my days. No problem!
- Hmm, OK, I remember one time in Berlin. I woke up on the sidewalk 9 o'clock in the morning with two fire fighters looking down at me. By then my flight had already arrived to Copenhagen and I had to stay in Berlin. FUN!
Well, anyway, back to Tokyo. If I had not missed my flight in Tokyo I would have missed a very fun Hip Hop club. I was walking around in Tokyo, I had no clue where I was. Stopping at different pubs. Of course, I poured beer for the guys in the bar. (I'm quick to learn how to behave in new cultures)
- OHHH!! Aladdin San!!
And of course, they had to pour my glass full and, yeah, sometimes it was just to return to my hotel. But one evening I ran in to a Hip Hop club. It was me, the DJ and the bar tender. I guess Hip Hop was not too popular back then. So it was me and the DJ playing the music while the bar tender poured drinks for us.
I don't remember, but I think it was 4 or 5 days later and I got a seat to Bangkok. I went to bed early and I took the early morning train to Narita airport. I meet a Mexican couple at the train station and we kept company to the airport. A wee bit delayed but I was on my way back to Bangkok.
we landed at Don Muang in the late afternoon and I meet a Swedish guy arriving with a Lufthansa flight from Manila. We had met each other before in Bangkok so we recognise each other.
Yes, we had to ride with the van again. Me and my friend was going to Sukhumvit and three back packers sitting in the back row were going to Khao San Road. Should not be too hard for the driver to find, at least not to find Sukhumvit. Straight from Don Muang and you were on Sukhumvit.
I and my friend were talking about the good ol' days when I discovered that we were driving down Silom for the second time. Motherf@cker, we were just driving up Surawong and down Silom. And every time we plunged down Silom our driver looked more and more desperate.
When we were going down Silom for the sixth time me and my friend was screaming of laughter. The back packers were in the back with eyes big like saucers.
OK, I know that it was not nice of us to laugh, but we could not help ourselves. What the ??!! Taking a job as a driver and you can't even find the way from Don Muang to Sukhumvit. When we passed Surawong for the eight time we asked the driver to stop.
- We take a TUK TUK!
- Do you know where we are? The back packers asked.
We took a TUK TUK to Atlanta on Soi 2 and my friend took off to his hotel.
- OK, see you in 30 minutes, I said when he left.
After a hot shower it was time for beer again. Back then there was no Marriott and at the corner of Sukhumvit and Soi 2 there was an undeveloped piece of land fenced with corrugated sheet. And the sheets were having gaps and at one gap there was a guy. I remember him walking around in pyjamas and his hair must have been 2 meters long. He had a place where he sold drinks and there was seating available if you didn't mind sitting on the ground.
I don't know how long I stayed before I got back to Bombay and my flight to Copenhagen via Karachi. I stayed at an airport hotel in Bombay and I had my supper in the restaurant, steamed rice, omelette, ketchup and soy sauce. I was sitting there when a rat, bug as a cat ran over the tables. Very nice and I didn't finish my meal.
I had a morning flight to Karachi and I had to spend 1 night at a transfer hotel before my flight back to Copenhagen. Air India, PIA, Aeroflot and the like. Never mind the safety. When we approached Karachi the passengers realised that they had to fill up their immigration cards.
So I had 50 Indians all over me asking for help to fill up their cards when we landed in Karachi. The Air hostess, well, they didn't care.
One night in Karachi and we were leaving for Copenhagen the day after. We took a hotel shuttle and we arrived to a hotel and the room was leaving a lot to wish for. And the buffet, must have been an all time low. Nothing to do and one day waiting was enough to drive you up the wall. especially when you are in a hurry to get home.
There was a swimming pool at the hotel and that was about it. The time turned very slow.
I don't remember how I got back home from Copenhagen to Göteborg. Via ferry from Malmö or Helsingør. But I remember 2 of my friends waiting for me at the train station in Göteborg. 30 minutes later we were drunk at a bar. I really don't understand how we could keep up back then.
Well, the few days I was home before joining my next ship followed the same old pattern with beer and party. But I guess that we didn't had anything else to do back then.
I don't know for how many days I had been home when I left for Kalmar on the 24th of March 1992. I will join a ship on the 25th when they are passing Kalmarsund and I will spend the night drinking beer with my friend the Motorman from Dala Corona. He studied to an Engineer at the Kalmar Maritime College.
I signed on M/S Breant 25th of March 1992 when they passed Kalmarsund. This was the first time I signed on a ship as Navigation Officer.
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