Paradise found

Posted: October 30, 2011 in Travel and Adventure writing

A miserable forced Friday night’s stay in the water-soaked streets of Bangkok turned downside up when I met Ingrid, a social worker from Austria. I went to have a drink at the Rooftop Bar, this really cool 3rd storey grunge bar across the road from the fleapit where I live.  Had the most boring 10 minute conversation with a vacant guy who talked non-stop about himself – really. It’s ok, in return I tried to smoke as many of his cigarettes as possible. When he left I started chatting to Ingrid and within half hour were both talking the same time. It’s peculiar how some people just gel. We ended up running up and down the streets of Bangkok buying a wicked painting and gobbling up fresh pineapple and water melon for the street vendors. She said to me she has only met 4 South Africans and they were all blond. And so I had to explain a bit of South Africa to her. She was fascinated. It is unbelievable how the news overseas depicts us. Next minute we were joined by two guys from South Africa (Jozie and Cape Town) and their Nigerian friend. Her mouth just fell open. It was fascinating for her to meet, for the first time, black people – three of them – from South Africa. And other people around us were taking photos of them! ~ Which had us laughing and we said we are charging 350 Baht (cheap) per photo – that’s about R120.00.  The guys took all the attention in their stride – especially Mr Jozie who loved it and used each shoot to see if he can woo a girl to his side – and we had a fat laugh with them.  We danced on the pavement and posed for cheesy photos for the tourists. It is like magic happened inside Ingrid’s head. She asked the guys a million questions.  Some had me squirming ~ but they loved the exchange.  We sat at the noisy bar until the sun came up and parted from our new friends and Ingrid determined to visit South Africa.  Then the two of us spent the next day wandering around the beautiful Buddha temple grounds burning incense and candles and sending prayers out to our loved ones. She took me to this groovy Israeli bar where she normally hangs out with her friends and I met a whole string of lovely Israeli peeps who gave me their number and asked me to join their group ‘cause they were also going South.  The sign above the bar is Israeli and Ingrid explained what it means, “It is not where you go that matters, but the people you share it with. Israeli to English direct translations always sounds a bit off but we get it. Then too quickly it was 6 and Ingrid ran with me back to my ‘hotel’, so I could catch the bus South.  We had a last beer at the groovy little reggae bar next to where all the Bangkok bergies sleep with their cats and dogs and rice parcels. And we said a tearful goodbye. In a few hours I made a dozen acquaintances – and I suspect – one friend for life.

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