Written onboard M/T Ek-River July 2010
SE Asia - Summer 1988
I arrived to Amsterdam in the late afternoon. So it was too late to get a ticket, but still plenty time to get a beer or two. The taxi driver dropped me at a hotel, yes, this was way pre internet era. Otherwise I would have booked a hotel on the internet. Back in the day s you had to lean on the taxi drivers judgements. And in this case it was a mistake.
The hotel was nice, but it was not exactly in the city centre. So day 2 in Amsterdam I moved to Ascot hotel at Dam Plein. Now it's Swisshôtel and we know how I feel about Swisshôtel after the takeover of Westin Stamford in Singapore. Well, never mind, I was back at the hotel in 2001 and I think, yes, I'm pretty sure Swisshôtel had taken over it by then.
Well, anyway, back to Amsterdam 2001. I lived close to Cafe de Til, not existing anymore. But back then it was the place I went for a beer or two every day while in Amsterdam. I went there for years to come, and one day it was suddenly gone. Last time in Amsterdam it was a souvenir shop or something like that.
There was another place called Choice Exact 300 meters further up Damstraat across the bridge over the Canal.
I spend my days at these two places and when it started to get dark I moved towards Leidseplein and Rammplein. I remember one disco, I was alone. OK, it was 4 o'clock in the afternoon and the DJ had just installed a disco ball on the ceiling. He was so proud of this “Light Show” extravaganza. Well, for me it was an ordinary light with 4 or 5 different spot lights spinning around on the ceiling. Pretty much standard in every cheap disco.
Of course, I didn't tell him. But every time he turned on the light show I made a few moaning of admiration. He was so happy and when the light was off I asked him to turn on the light so he could see the action. I asked him a few times and he was happy every time.
The days passed by and I had not started to look for a ticket. Where to find a ticket to Bombay? It took me 2 weeks to get my ticket in Amsterdam. I bought a ticket with Czech airline, I will never fly with them again.
- We don't fly to Bombay, they said.
- Where do you fly?
- OK, I take a one way ticket.
- When do you want to leave?
- Tomorrow morning.
She looked puzzled, there I was, barefoot and with a Samsonite attaché bag containing a passport, a tooth brush, snus, Prince (Swedish cigarettes) and malaria tablets. Well, that was the last time I wasted space carrying around malaria tablets. I ran out of snus, I think already before I left Amsterdam. But I really stayed way too long in Amsterdam.
I remember when I left Ascot hotel in the morning, of course, I have forgotten what date it was. I checked out and the staff said good bye after 2 weeks. And they looked a little puzzled when I had sandals on. I had been barefoot most of the time, but I decided to buy a pair of sandals before leaving for Singapore.
I don't know how much I paid for my room back then. 200+ something Guilders per night and I thought it had been a waste of money. 200 Guilders is enough for 2 weeks in India. But when I came out on the street going to take a taxi to the airport I ran in to a guy. Yes, he was walking around barefoot and he didn't look like he had had a shower in a few days. Then I was really glad that I had stayed at a nice hotel and not in a backpacker heaven.
Coming to Schiphol and I checked in at the “No luggage” counter. The girl looked at me like I was the ragamuffin that I meet outside my hotel.
- One way ticket! No luggage!
- Travel light!
We took off towards Prague where I had to change to the Singapore flight. We had to wait for a few hours in Prague if I remember it right, and there was nothing to do. A typical Eastern Europe airport. So I was glad when we left Prague behind on our way to Singapore.
Our first stop was Abu Dhabi and we spent several hours there waiting and I wasted money on a wrist watch. But it was a very nice watch so I guess it was worth every cent. Next stop was Bombay.
- WHAT THE ??!!
I got more than a little pissed off when we landed in Bombay. "We don't fly to India" And that’s even I bought the ticket at Czech Airlines office in Amsterdam. Yes, impressive service. Motherf@ckers!!!
I must have looked very disappointed when I looked out the windows. A British couple asked me what kind of weather I had expected.
It was really gloomy out there and the rain poured down. I realised what they meant.
- Oh, no. But I was supposed to go to Bombay.
I told them the story from Amsterdam and Czech Airlines office in Amsterdam, that's the reason why I was looking gloomy and grey.
OK, when I left Amsterdam I had decided to take the train from Singapore to Bangkok via Kuala Lumpur.
And I would fly back to Bombay from Bangkok. I will have the opportunity to see many different countries and to try many different beers.
Yes, it was nice to leave Bombay for our last left to Singapore. Now it was, almost like 48 hours since I left Amsterdam. I was sitting next to a guy from Indonesia. A sailor that had signed off a ship and now he was on his way home to Indonesia with a night in Singapore.
I knew f@ck all about Singapore so I asked where he was going to live.
- At 7 storey hotel. A nice hotel.
- OK, I join you.
- Good, we can share a taxi.
I don't remember how many hour it was between Bombay and Singapore, 6 or 7. I don't think this old Russian Tuposcrapow did very much speed.
Passing through the Immigration in Singapore and we took a taxi to 7th Storey Hotel. Entering the hotel and I was not impressed. Well, a few nights, never mind. We put our bags in our rooms and we went to eat dinner. My Indonesian friend knew a nice restaurant.
I don't know what I had expected, but when he suggested that the 7th Storey Hotel was a nice hotel there should at least been one alarm going off about the nice restaurant. Plastic chairs on the stairs outside a sky scraper. And they cleaned the dishes in a bucket of dirty water. I felt sick instantly. Well, luckily enough it turned out to be just my imagination. Well, I had never been eating under these conditions before.
The New 7th Storey Hotel
was established in 1953. The founder of the hotel, Wee Thiam Siew, spotted the potential for a hotel business on its current site in the early 1950s. Wee also owned the Ban Leong Group. At that time, there was an influx of immigrants and European businessmen.
The then five-star hotel did well and became prominent. It was the tallest standing structure in the Beach Road area, and offered panoramic views of the beach. It was commonly used as a landmark by drivers to locate the lower Rochor vicinity. With the advent of land reclamation in the 1970s and 1980s, the seascapes gave way to flyovers.
Following urbanisation directives, shop houses, a Chinese temple and pasar malam markets in the hotel's immediate surroundings were also pulled down. In the 1990s, the development of the high-rise skyscrapers in Marina Centre such as the Suntec City obscured the sea view that the hotel once enjoyed.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the building's top floor was the site of cha cha parties thrown by post-war British officers and graced by Singapore's veteran singer S. K. Poon. After Singapore's independence in 1965, most of the hotel's guests were traders from India and Indonesia. Since the Asian economic crisis of 1997, fewer traders have been putting themselves up at the hotel's rooms. Most guests now are backpackers from Europe and North America.
Wee and his family ran the business for about a decade. It went to other hands, but the Wee family took back ownership of the hotel in 1995. Today, the hotel is run by the third generation of the Wee family. The hotel continues to be popular due to its proximity to shopping belts like Bugis Street and Orchard Road, and historical landmarks such as the national monuments located in the nearby Museum Planning Area.
Facilities and features
Despite its name, The New 7th Storey Hotel was actually nine storeys high with 38 rooms.
The hotel's history was reflected through its architecture and furniture, many of which were relics still in use till demolition. Distinctive features included a manually-operated lift and its exterior spiral staircase.
The hotel tilts and it has been compared to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The hotel sits on a raft foundation with thick marine clay below the soil. A certain amount of settlement can be expected in buildings founded on footings or rafting in such soil condition. The differential settlement causes the building to tilt. However, the hotel was certified to be structurally sound.
It was announced on June 26, 2008 that the hotel will be demolished to make way for the new Bugis MRT station for the Downtown Line. The hotel's owner and occupants had to move out of the premises by the end of December 2008.
While writing this I found an interesting blog about the New 7th Storey Hotel at Second Shot - same place just different time
But the company was nice and that's more important. But I don't know if I was a very nice company. I was jumping up and down impatiently in my chair, yes after 48 hours on an airplane I was eager to get out to check out the night life in Singapore.
I only had a big camera back then so this was nothing I carried around in the evening. Sadly enough they didn't had these small digital cameras back then. System camera or instamatic was the thing I had to choose from. And as you can see on many of me other pictures on my site, the old instamatic camera left a lot too wish for. Even with my system camera the pictures left a lot to wish for. Especially after 20 years when I scanned all my slides. yes, I spend months scanning thousands of slides between 2003 and 2008 just to discover how dusty and dirty they had become after 20 years in a box.
But I wasn't worried about any pictures back then. Actually there were no worries at all. I was supposed to be back in school in August and 1 or 2 saved dollars could come in handy then.
But no, I spent money like there was no tomorrow and I even bought a stupid motor to my camera when I was in Singapore. And why the do I need a motor for my camera? I would have been better of spending the money on beer.
And what a difference it was, well, of course, all cities you come to a few years later has changed. Like Bangkok, you left for a few months and it was impossible to recognise the town. And 1997 when the bubble burst it came to a full stop. Concrete skeletons as long as you could see.
Back then you could see houses that looked like they were just about to fall apart. Well, many of them had felt apart. And from the picture above you can see the 7th Storey Hotel.
A few years later, I had checked out from Westin Stamford and I was on my way to the airport. I told the driver about my first adventure in Singapore living at 7th Storey Hotel. We were just passing it and the driver pointed at the hotel.
- There it is. The famous 7th Storey Hotel.
- No way!
I did not recognise it. They must have demolished all the scrappy houses around the hotel because now it was surrounded by a big park.
Singapore and it was party every day, yeah, fat chance that you're going to spend a cosy evening on your room when living at 7th Storey Hotel. Hell, you needed to be dead drunk to be able to sleep at the place. So it was disco and pubs every night.
But don't ask me about the night life back then. I don't remember anything. Yes, I still remember that I was surprised/ discussed by all the waitress and waiters with 6 fingers. You're enjoying a beer and when the waitress hands you a new amber you discover that she has 2 thumbs. It is growing out from the middle of the other thumb. Not so nice. I guess there is the same rate of children born with 6 fingers in Europe, but they remove them when they are born.
Raffles City was just around the corner from 7th Storey Hotel and I remember one time having lunch there. I was still to master the technique to eat with chopsticks.
There were 2 beautiful waitresses wetting them self laughing when they saw me using the chopsticks. Of course, when I discovered them laughing I started to exaggerate my lack of skills. They started to laugh even more and after a while they came with a fork and spoon.
They offered to teach me how to use the chopsticks.
- No thanks', I stick to the spoon and fork.
Well, it's nice to be alone. I just walked around during the days, stopping for a beer when I felt for it. Whit in minutes' you were talking to someone and I meet many nice people during my stay in Singapore.
Of course, the danger of walking around drinking beer all day long is that you're tipsy before the evening.
You start the day with an hour or two between the stops and then its 30 minutes' between the stops and at the end of the afternoon you just walk between the bars.
I made one red suit with flower and then it was pretty much time to leave Singapore. It had been fun, but I didn't wanted to get stuck in Singapore so one day I just checked out and I took a taxi to the railway station.
When they didn't had a ticket to Bombay and they sold me a ticket to Singapore I decided to go to Bangkok with train via Kuala Lumpur. I had bought the train ticket the day before so it was just to climb on the train at the train station.
- WHEN IS THE DARN TRAIN COMING?
Finally, after I don't know how long the train came and we could take off towards Kuala Lumpur. Going by train, for sure, sounds much more exciting than what it is.
That was fun, going on the train was fun, for 30 minutes and then I spent the rest of the time wondering when we would arrive. The only thing I remember from the train is all the Asians throwing their garbage straight out the window. I was sitting there watching them thinking “SAVAGES”.
The track from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur was full of plastic, cans and other garbage. The garbage was hanging from the vegetation along the track, what a shame!
I don't remember how long it took to Kuala Lumpur, but I arrived in the evening and after check in it was straight out on town to explore the night life.
And I don't remember much from Kuala Lumpur. But my first night on town and I went to a hotel bar. I was sitting in a sofa checking out the band. I had ordered one beer and I decided that it would be the only beer at this place. What a boring place.
There was a girl approaching and we started to talk. She told me that she was paid to talk with customers. Later on I found out that this was something they had in Malaysia, girls talking with customer. I had never seen it before and I had never experienced again. But it was no prostitutes.
At least not what I was aware off. She had a boyfriend and she was paid by the hotel to speak with the people in the bar. And you had to pay drinks and stuff. Well, anyway, she told me that I didn't have to buy her a drink. I had my beer to drink so why not?
I bought her a drink and she thought me stuff about Malaysia. It was a better way to learn than to read a book.
And it was more fun drinking my beer than reading a book, for sure. Well, anyway, I finished my beer and I left for something more fun. If this is what they have to offer in Kuala Lumpur I will soon be out of here.
I ended up at a club where they celebrated Christmas, In the middle of the summer. I was wearing my new suit from Singapore, red with flowers so I found myself as a VIP member instantly.
VIP card, very good. No problem to get in. Hmm, otherwise I can find myself having problem coming inside, but only sometimes. When the bouncers have had a bad day.
I don't know how long I stayed in Kuala Lumpur, but at least 4 nights. 3 were planned for and the last night was as usual. I overslept due to late party.
I was back at the Christmas club the second night, and yes, no problem to get in. I meet a friend of the club owner and when he heard that I was Swedish he told me that he had a Volvo Amazon. A very old car and I have not seen them around in Sweden for a long time. I did not see any in Kuala Lumpur either, only his.
And that's even though the fleet of vehicle were pretty old in Asia back then.
The third day I had planned to stay at my room at Holiday Inn City Centre so I could get on my early train to Bangkok. My last trip on train. Now I had done it and I had already decided to make the rest of the trips by plane back on the train from Singapore.
Yes, I came up with a real master plan. I could sleep a little extra in the morning if I went to buy the train ticket in the afternoon. I don't remember when the train left Kuala Lumpur, but it was early and queue for a ticket early morning was not all that tempting.
I got my ticket and I was leaving the train station when I heard live music. I went to investigate. I found a bar at the train station and there was a band practicing for tonight. I sat down and I ordered a beer. One beer became two and I was soon speaking with the band. They were going to play at the pub during the night.
- You want to come listening?
- Of course, why not?
And yes, when my early morning train left Kuala Lumpur I was still in my bed at Holiday Inn. Well, there are more trains and who's in a hurry? Not me!
I remember Kuala Lumpur as a one of those towns you see in Western movies. Dust roads and shacks, but when I look at my old pictures I realise that this was obviously not the case. But I remember sitting in, what I remember as a western salon with a dust road outside.
I spoke with a guy and when I told him that I was on the way to Bangkok he recommended Miami Hotel.
- A very good hotel.
- OK, I will check it out.
I still had a lot to learn on how to judge people and their recommendations. Well, never mind, I spent one day extra in Kuala Lumpur. I returned to my room quite early. And this was another famous thing about Kuala Lumpur, apart from the rented company at the hotel bars. At least according to the taxi driver when I asked him about all the motorcycles driving like crazy.
There must have been hundreds of the motorcycles racing on the street. My driver told me that they did this every Saturday night and the Police tried to stop them. Several people died every Saturday. Well, anyway, the night was spent in bed watching Benny Hill. I was fit for fight for my early wake up call.
I'm coming down to the restaurant for my breakfast. The restaurant manager came out and he started to speak with me. It was a nice guy, but he called the whole staff and they came to my table. He introduced every single one of them. Very nice, but it's f@cking 6 o'clock in the morning.
He asked where I had my luggage. I pointed at my Samsonite Attaché bag.
- Is that it??!!
- That's more than enough!
DARN MALARIA PILLS!!!
And just when I thought it was impossible to get any more attention he had the entire staff to roll out the “EGG WAGON” to my table. PLEASE! But nothing helped and he chased away the Cook. He asked what he could do for me. I was under a lot of pressure so I had to order an omelette.
Well, I should have got used by then. Everywhere pretty much the same. Interviewing me about everything and blah-blah-bla. It's OK, but 6 o'clock in the morning. But as soon as I had got my first few cups of tea it was quite fun.
And they were so nice so I didn't want to disappoint them by being GOOD MORNING grumpy
I got on the train and it was kind of nice. There was a TV and they showed a movie. OK, I won't to be honest and I can as well say that I didn't have a clue how long it was to Bangkok. A quick glimpse on the map. Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, yeah, should be about the same between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
- Hmm, maybe 2 or 3 hours longer.
So yes, I was in a good mood. A few hours on the train watching good movies and tonight I would be exploring the famous night life in Bangkok. So when we stopped and they asked us to get out of the train I thought that we were at the Thai border.
Damn! I was disappointed. But the Thai border and Bangkok can't be far away by now. So I was still looking forward to a night on town in Bangkok. Yeah, let's take off already!
We had to change the train and while waiting I walked around to have look at the sights. We got on to a new train and I think it was a Thai train. OK, it was almost like being in Thailand.
I don't remember any of the names on the places we passed. But as I remembered it we only made two stops. First stop in Malaysia to change the train and the second stop at the Thai/ Malaysian border to pass the immigration
I don't remember how long it took us to get to the Thai/ Malaysian border. But I was pretty feed up with the train and I was ready to get off to get a flight. One thing is for sure, I will never do this again.
A few hours are OK, but now we had spent several hours and I had expected to be in Bangkok.
It would have been nice to know the name of all the places we passed. A digital camera and a lap top back then would have been nice. But I doubt that I would have told about everything I did back then. Maybe when I retire, and I mean maybe!
Lo and behold, I found one picture with a clear sing. The name? No it turned out to be a warning sign. Of course there are trains at the railway station, and they are hard and humans are soft.
We left the border and we passed rice paddies and a few towns on our way to Bangkok. Every time we passed a town I was so disappointed. When we approached the town I thought: BANGKOK!! FINALLY!! And then we just passed and it was starting to get dark
We just kept on and on passing city after city and no one turned out to be Bangkok.
- WHAT THE IS THIS? WHEN WILL WE ARRIVE?
I didn't want to spend one more minute on the train and I got more and more restless.
- WHERE THE ARE WE?
It became pitch dark and there was a guy coming to my place. He turned my seat in to a bed.
- Aaa, va i helvete e d här? E vi änte framme snart? Nu vill jag supa!
Yes, obviously we were going to spend the night on the train. Yeah, a dream came true!
They came and asked if I wanted dinner and breakfast.
- Yes, at a nice restaurant!
- When are they going to let us off the train?
I had no clue where we were when I woke up. But I remember that I wanted a shower real bad. But we made a stop at a train station and there was a TUK TUK parked along the road. My first ever TUK TUK! So I brought out my camera and I took a picture.
TUK TUK, that must mean that we're getting close to Bangkok, so far I had only seen buffaloes so I guessed that we were coming close to the civilisation.
Yes, I knew nothing about Thailan, the only thin I knew about was the TUK TUk. And of course, Miami hotel that the guy that I meet in Kuala Lumpur had recommended.
It was so nice when I got off the train at Hualampong station in Bangkok. I got out on the street in to a TUK TUK.
- Miami hotel.
- YES SIR!
I don't remember how much he charged me, but with the TUK TUK drivers reputation I'm sure I paid way too much. But it seemed fair back then. So let's take off. I need a shower.
I checked in at Miami hotel and I went to my room to get a shower. There was no pressure on the hot water and I had to sit down in the bathtub if I wanted to have a hot shower. There and then I decided to check out tomorrow.
I got dressed and I went out for a beer. I walked up Sukhumvit and by the look from my pictures there weren’t many cars around then.
I crossed the walk over at Landmark Hotel and I went inside for my first beer in Thailand. I went to the hotel bar and I ordered a beer.
- What kind do you want?
Back then there were only two brands to choose from Singha or Kloster. And I didn't have a clue what to order.
She gave me a Singha and I started to cry. Yes, a grown man crying in a hotel bar.
- What the is this? The worst beer I ever had.
I just saw the Bangkok night life coming to a full stop. Is this what I am going to have to drink?
I was disappointed, I could not finish the beer, and it tasted awful. What to do? Drink Vodka? I walked up Sukhumvit and I stopped at Lucky Luke on what was later turned out to be NA NA Plaza. Now I was like an old hand and I ordered a Singha beer. I had decided to give it a second try.
I don't remember why I didn't try the Kloster, or maybe I did.
- Hmm, maybe because the Kloster was 25 Baht and the Singha was 20 Baht. Here is money to save!
Later on in my life the Kloster beer turned out to be the only drinkable beer in Thailand. And it was good, very good. Amarit was OK, but I never saw Amarit until a few years later. And now both Amarit and Kloster are history.
When Kloster disappeared it was the worst thing happening to Bangkok. And the best thing was the taxi meter. Suddenly I could find my way around Bangkok. Well, at least I could find my way back home. If you're longer than 150 cm and you are sitting in a TUK TUK it's impossible to see anything than the canvas on top of the TUK TUK and the bumpers on the cars around you.
I had one beer at Lucky Luke and from there I don't know where I went. But I remember a place called Formula 1 at Patpong. I was standing in the door puking out all over the sidewalk and the street. Try to do that today and you will throw up over 100+ LOLEX watches and whatever they sell at the market outside the bars.
Now I can only remember a guy selling music tapes at Patpong, and he spend most of his time drinking beer with us. Yes, no problem to throw up a little.
Well, I was throwing up while I had 2 guys massaging me with ice. Then they kicked me back in again. A little drunk, did not seem to be a problem here. No, it was just “out with the old booze and in with new” OK, fine with me.
Waking up was not very nice. Where the am I? Who the is that sleeping in my bed? The last thing I can remember is when they kick me in to the bar again after receiving the ice massage while throwing up. Guess I was lucky not getting robbed. And the girl, there was no sign of her preparing herself to go home.
Well, that was an easy one. I bought her a gold chain and I never saw her again. Now I could go back to my hotel to check out. I had been recommended Malaysia Hotel at Soi Ngam Dupli, I don't know by whom. Maybe the same guy back in Kuala Lumpur, but at least I could have a shower standing up at Malaysia Hotel.
I had had great plans for Bangkok, to see the sights and do a lot of tourist business. Well, of course, I never got out of bed until it was afternoon.
After my shower I grabbed my camera (After all the shit I bought for it in Singapore I needed a darn porter to bring it around) and I left for the Kangaroo Club at Patpong for breakfast. And every day I had the same plan, breakfast and off to see something interesting.
OK, let me tell you, during my stay in Bangkok I never got to see anything. Meeting my friends at Kangaroo Club and we were soon drunk. Then I had to return to my hotel to leave my camera.
That's why I don't have any interesting pictures from back in 1988. I did not fancy carrying around a big camera.
We went to the same 3 places all the time, well, first Kangaroo Club for breakfast and then Love Boat, Formula 1 and Lime light.
It continued like this day after day
It got pretty boring after a while. OK, boring is maybe not the word I'm looking for here, but it started to feel like a waste of time.
And Kangaroo Club, I don't think it was the food that was so good. It was more like it was the nice company. And of course, it was pretty convenient.
And they have a Kangaroo Club in Hong Kong and Manila as well. I had bought my tickets next to Blue Fox (7 Eleven today)at Soi Ngam Dupli so I would visit Kangaroo Club in Manila and Hong Kong as well.
I had arrived to Bangkok via train and a one way ticket to Singapore from Amsterdam. Still today, I can't understand why I bought a one way ticket from New Delhi to Amsterdam going back. Why didn't I bought a ticket straight to Göteborg.
But I bought a ticket from Bangkok to Manila - Hong Kong - Bangkok - Bombay - New Delhi - Amsterdam. And after a few weeks of drinking in Bangkok I was really looking forward to a change. But there were still many days to spend at Kangaroo Club.
After a few hours at Kangaroo Club it was time for me to go back to my room to leave my camera. But some days I had a few more beers than usually and I skipped the hotel. So at those very few occasions I got a few pictures from the night life at Patpong. Formula 1 was just across the street and Lime Light was 100 meters down Patpong towards Silom.
My last night in Bangkok and I was back at Malaysia hotel at 8 o'clock in the evening to leave my camera. How do I remember that it was 8 o'clock? Well, they had a BBQ back then and they started at 8 o'clock. I asked for a BBQ chicken.
- They are not ready yet.
- Never mind, I have a leg.
Yes, you know how it is when you're a wee bit tipsy. You are hungry and never mind if the chicken is ready or not.
I had one or two, hmm, maybe even three legs before I returned my camera to my room. Then a TUK TUK back to meet my friends at Lime Light.
And how do I know that this was my last night in Bangkok? I spent the whole flight to Manila the day after puking. I drank a glass of water and it came up again like a fountain. A mouth full of water and I throw up after 10 seconds. And I'm pretty sure it was not a hangover.
I was puking myself senseless during the flight and when I had passes the immigration I hopped in to a taxi and we left for my hotel on the double. I don't know how I got my hotel, reservation on the airport, recommendation or if I just simply told the driver to take me to a hotel. I don't remember where I stayed, but I guess it was close to Mabini.
I ended up in an attic, I was lying on a madras on the floor puking. And there was an old lady coming with water and fruit on a tray.
- Do you feel better?
- Try some fruit!
- Excellent idea!
I don't remember for how long I stayed at the attic, but I don't think they charged me. And when I felt better I moved down to one of their room. well, this hotel room was more like an apartment. I remember I had a kitchen and living room.
I remember my first night out in Manila. I was walking down the street when a gay came asking me the ordinary “I had it up to here with your stupid questions”. He found out that I was from Sweden and he started to talk Swedish. Well, I have met a few people around the world speaking a few word in Swedish.
- Vad hetter du?
(What's your name?)
- Mycket bra land!
(Very nice country)
- Man behöver inte jobba
(No need to work)
- Social bidrag
Yes, I meet them and they all had one thing in common, they had been in Sweden living on the social welfare. Yes, this is exactly the kind of people we need to import to Sweden. If you come to work and pay taxes there is so many stupid visa rules, especially since we joined Schengen 20 years later.
Work and pay tax, we're soon a minority in Europe. They have pride festivals in every street corner, but I think they should have a “We who work and pay tax festivals” instead.
Well, anyway, he took me to a bar and suddenly I found myself on Mabini street. I ordered a beer while looking around.
- What the is this place?
This place and pretty much all the places along Mabini street was very shabby and the people looked like they were living in penury. Of course, why would they want to come work in a place like this? This was really a sad place.
So what to do in Manila, well, I spent one day in Rizal Park. OK, one day is maybe a wee bit too much to say. I was bored after 20 minutes and I left.
And even though I only spent 20 minutes I had looked at the relief map over the Philippines next to Taft Ave in the Eastern part of the park. I had also had time to run in to a guy walking around with a camera. He asked if I needed a Guide.
- What the is wrong with you.
He took a picture of me and he asked for a tip. There was only one answer to his request.
- F@CK OFF!!
What the hell is wrong with people. He was asking for a tip. He should have a “Kicken in the assen” for disturbing me. Motherf@cker!
I walked to the United Nation Ave and I found Kangaroo Club. I ordered a strawberry milk shake.
- Va fan e detta?
They just put ice and strawberry syrup in a blended and 3 seconds later they served me the milk shake. I did not finish my shake. I ordered a beer and I started to talk with some of the Manila old hands sitting in the bar.
I don't know for how many days I stayed in Manila, but after discovering the ghastliness at Mabini Street I went to Philippines Airways office at Roxas Blvd and I changed my ticket. I wanted to leave earlier than planned.
All flights were full, yeah, I can understand that. But they put me on a waiting list for Hong Kong.
I spent a few nights on Kangaroo Club and I meet a few interesting people, but Kangaroo Club in Bangkok was way better. Well, if I can get a seat to Hong Kong I will soon be able to check out Kangaroo Club in Hong Kong.
I spent a few days in Manila and I went to Philippine Airlines office at Roxas Blvd everyday to see if they had a seat for me.
I was lucky and I got a seat before my planned departure and I left for the airport without any backward glances. And of course, I had spent all my Scooby dollars and of course, I had forgot all about the airport tax. So when I just walked by the counter for airport tax they came running after me screaming about the airport tax.
- Darn, no Scooby dollars.
Luckily enough the girl had Peso so I could pay her with US dollars. Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport, well, it was not a very nice airport. And when I came back several years later for my Training at Norwegian Training Centre it was still the very same airport. Even though they have built a new terminal, but the new terminal is only for Philippine Airlines.
Yeah, I was sitting at Thai Airways lounge when I left Manila in April 2010. It was raining in the lounge. OK, it was nice to leave for Hong Kong.
And when I'm writing this I realise that there is plenty pictures missing. I'm sure that I had a picture of two of the Stewardesses on the flight to Hong Kong. So I had to find the pictures on my web page from when I was flying with Philippine Airlines to Hong Kong in December 2008 when Thai Airways had cancelled their flight to Bangkok due to the Yellow shirts occupation of the airport.
But I had noticed missing pictures that I remembered already back from Singapore. So where are the pictures? I don't know, but I don't think that we will miss them.
Well, anyway, I was on my way to Hong kong and the flight was just a little more than one hour.
Arriving to Hong Kong and I took a taxi to Nathan Road. I checked in at a hotel and after my shower I was off to see the town. A beer or two would be nice after the plane trip.
I was walking around town stopping for a beer every now and then. The traffic was terrible, I made the mistake to get in to a taxi and we never moved so I paid and got out the taxi. I'm better off walking. This traffic was the worst I had ever experienced and I could not help but thinking about the fire department or an ambulance in a hurry. You would be dead before the ambulance arrived.
The traffic was at a full stop. well, I will see more of the town by walking.
I ended up at the Star Ferry Pier and I got a full view over Hong Kong Island. I walked back to the Nathan Road area. There was an area between Nathan Road and Chatham Road with plenty bars and restaurant. I found the Kangaroo Club and I think they were located at Chatham Road.
I stepped inside and I was soon drinking a beer. The bartenders were all from England and they were on a “Around the world trip” and they stopped for work in Hong Kong to make some money. Well, it was British staff on most of the pubs in Hong Kong as I remember it.
Well, I didn't spend much time at the Kangaroo Club. It was better back in Bangkok, so I left the place after a few beers. I passed a place called Harry's bar and I went in for a beer.
I don't know if I was lucky to find this Harrys bar. I meet 2 Swedish guys, an Australian and 2 guys from Denmark. And we meet at Harrys every day for a few beers in the afternoon and I didn't get to see very much of Hong Kong. But what is there to see.
I had to go to the Hong Kong island to check out a rumour I have heard. Back then when I was smoking I smoked Swedish Prince and I was told that they sold Prince at the Prince building on Hong Kong island.
- Must be a joke! Right?
Well, it was worth a try so I took the ferry to Hong Kong island and when I was there I could as well take the train to the top of a mountain. I don't remember the name of this place, but there was train going up the mountain. I don't remember how far it was to the train station from the ferry. Maybe I took a taxi or I might have walked.
I paid for the ticket and I entered the train. Well, I don't like heights and the mountain was really steep and I suffered from vertigo on my way up the mountain.
Victoria Peak Garden’, yes, I found it on the internet and the name was most likely the same back in 1988. And from the pictures it looks like they have the same train in 2010 as 1988. At least they looked the same.
I spent 30 to 45 minutes' walking around at Victoria Peak Garden’ looking at the sights before returning to the train station for transportation down the mountain.
Back down from the mountain I started to look for the Prince building. I asked for the direction and it was no problem to find the Prince building. I entered the building and I spent an hour or two looking for my Prince cigarettes.
Darn, even though I had been in too many shops there were no Prince cigarettes. I gave up and I decided to go to a pub next to Ned Kelly's Last Stand. According to rumours (yet again) they had imported Tuborg beer. The licence brewed Carlsberg left a lot to wish for.
When I stepped out from the Prince building I passed an old lady with a cart. I just gave the a quick glimpse. cart Prince!! I bought the whole stock.
I was in a good mood when I stepped in at the bar next to Ned Kelly’s and yes, they had imported Tuborg. It didn't took very long before I was drunk.
When we were handsome enough we went to a disco and, well, we were at disco every night. But this was my only visit to Hong Kong island. I was back at Harrys the day after.
I stayed at my hotel and I was recommended to move by the guys I meet at Harrys. And, well of course, I have forgotten the name. But it's a place with many guest houses. Yes, like a shopping mall full of guest houses. Not a place I recommend and I have never lived there since. I have stayed well clear of the place during my following visits to Hong Kong.
Yes, the room was not big and the bed was just a wee bit smaller than the room. But it was nice people that were running the place.
VOLVO night club in Hong Kong had been in trouble with the car maker over the use of the name VOLVO. So I decided to go have a look at the place.
I entered VOLVO club and the first thing I saw when I walked down the stairs was a SAAB hanging in the ceiling. Yes, it was a real car. I entered the Club, not many people around. Maybe the reason why they let me in. But I was dashing, wearing my red suit.
There was a waiter coming towards me and at the same time a singer approached me in a mini Rolls Royce. The waiter asked what I wanted to drink at the same time I turned to the singer in the mini Rolls Royce. It was some Tom Jones slow love song bullshit. And I, it was just happening, and maybe I had had a few beers before I went to the VOLVO Club.
I grabbed the microphone and I took it from the singer, well, there was a scuffle and they kicked me out before I got my beer. And maybe I was lucky. It did not look like it was a cheap place.
I returned to Harrys to meet my friends and we had a few beers before we left for disco. There was a disco in a basement not far away from Harrys. Japanese tourists and I remembered one Japanese girl. She came up to me.
- My friend likes you.
Of course, with a suit like mine, who would not like me? well, I was charming as usually and my limited knowledge about the Japanese language just left me with a few words to say.
- Toyota! Honda!
- She wants’ to dance.
Well, one thing was for sure, I don't want to dance. Never mind how drunk you are, you always feel stupid dancing. So this one was a one I wanted to skip.
- Suki Yuki Nagasaki!
Of course, they left within 2 seconds.
I was also offered a job in Hong Kong. At Harrys and I meet 2 guys smuggling cosmetic to Japan.
- They're looking for a big guy that can lift two heave suitcases from the luggage claim belt. Then they won't think there is anything in the suitcases and they will let you pass through the custom without any hassle.
- Are you f@cking joking??!!
- It's very good! You will stay at nice hotels at your stop over’s to Japan.
- What the ??!! I stay at a hotel now.
(OK, a guest house. But anyway)
And who the f@ck wants’ to spend hours on a plane to make a few bucks smuggling cosmetic? And what guarantee is there that it is cosmetic? Well, I prefer to get me founds from other sources. Not stupid cosmetic smuggling.
And airplane, it was time for me to leave Hong Kong for Bangkok. I took a taxi to the airport and checked in on Canadian Airs flight to Bangkok.
I don't remember much of the old airport in Hong Kong. But they had the bar at the gates so you could keep an eye on the ground personnel making sure they kept the ground service at a top notch on the plane while drinking your beers. Yes, it didn't take long for me before I had my first beer.
I had been early at the airport so I had time to get a wee bit tipsy before it was time to board the aircraft. well, I was in no hurry and the airport bar was nice.
If I remember it right, Hong Kong Airport was mostly known for the runway in the water. Well, it was something like that. The bar was nice so I couldn't care less about the runway.
We left Hong Kong on Canadian's flight and I was in a good mood when we landed at Don Muang in Bangkok. I guess there were a few beers on the flight as well.
Coming back to Bangkok and Malaysia Hotel was full when I arrived from the airport. I was tipsy and in a good mood. Good mood, but I didn't feel like going around looking for a hotel. But after a few minutes of harping I got a room in the basement.
No windows, but a bathroom so I was pretty pleased. I had not been in my room for many minutes before I left for Patpong. And no, I did not stop at the BBQ for chicken.
I meet a guy that I meet in Hong Kong and, yes, it was party as usually. I don't understand where I found the energy to be drunk every day for months. But when you're 20 nothing is ever any problem. Of course, today it's a different story and if I spend a night in a pub I have to spend two days in bed looking at DVDs.
This time around I did not spend much time at Kangaroo Club. Last time in Bangkok there were some crew from the US Navy. This time the Australian Navy was in port. So I spend one day at Kangaroo and there was this guy, big beard, tattoos. Yes, you have seen the tattoos: Hong Kong 1985 Bar fight 1972, Crossing the equator sideways 1969 and “The Toughest Sailor around” and he looked like he could take care of himself.
- It's dangerous in Bangkok! He said
- You have to be careful, he told me.
- They warned us on the ship about this place. So we go back onboard when we finished our beers.
I could not believe my ears. They come to Bangkok and they will go back onboard because someone had told them that it's dangerous.
- Hmm, imagine when someone is shooting at them.
Well, anyway, it kind of took the fun out of the Kangaroo Club and I never went back. This time around I spent every day going around Bangkok looking at the sights. I did not want to do it, but there was a girl. And she never gave up trying to get me out on sightseeing.
Hell, she even got me on a bus. But then I got enough and we got off the bus after 5 or 10 minutes. My only time on a bus in Bangkok, TUK TUK is so cheap even though the drivers rip you off. And now a day with taxi meters there is no reason for going by bus.
Yes, at least I have the experience now. Hmm, I guess this is an experience I could have lived without.
We looked at a temple, one was enough. If you have seen one, you have seen all. And Buddha, there was a Buddha that was lying down.
- What's the big deal? Sitting or lying.
This was obviously something very strange so we went to check it out.
And the lying Buddha was exactly as exciting as I had expected it to be. But I was 20 years old so no one can really expect me to care if Buddha is sitting or lying down.
Well, I guess that we had seen everything worth seeing in Bangkok. But there was an amusement park, I don't remember if it was in Bangkok or out side Bangkok. So we went out to check the place.
There was a Ferris wheel and a roller coaster. Top peak, about 8 meters and the people was screaming of fear when the train plunged down the track. There was a fish pond and we bought bread so we could feed the fishes.
The days went were quick and I was at the bank every day to get more cash with my plastic card. Yes, back then I had travellers checks as well, but they were long gone. Traveller's checks, I only used them once and I don't think they are in use any more. Now a day it's only plastic money, at least as far as I know.
Well, I can't say that I kept track on how much money I spent. So suddenly one day, I went to introduce my VISA card to the bank and they told me that there were no more money. Yeah, how fun was that?
Luckily enough the girl gave me money. So I could continue my beer drinking activities. Yes, 20 years old and I could not care less. She bought toothpaste and stuff for me and I was drinking beer without any worries about arriving to Bombay without any money.
I did not spend all the money on beer, I had money for the TUK TUK to the airport, the airport tax and a cartoon of TAX FREE coffin nails at the airport.
Arriving to Bombay in the middle of the night. Passing through the custom and they were asking if I had any video camera.
- What is this? East Germany?
Coming out to the arrival hall was not a nice experience. They had big windows facing the street outside the terminal and there was, what I first thought was people waiting for arrived passengers. But it turned out to be beggars banging on the windows holding out their palms, the internationally recognised sign for “Give me money.”
If this was a shock it was 1000 times worse coming out from the terminal. In the arrival hall I had the window between me and the beggars, but now the protective windows was gone and I had millions of people screaming for BAKSHIS. Motherf@cker! Take me out of here!
I took the bus to Gateway of India, the only place I knew about in Bombay. I ran in to a hotel and luckily enough I still had some of the money that the girl in Bangkok gave me. So I checked in at a room for 2 or 3 days.
The day after I went to the Swedish Consulate to see if they could hand me some money. I had an open ticket to Amsterdam, but the flight was full for years to come. So money for a new ticket was required.
- You have to go to the Embassy in New Delhi.
Well, the Consulate gave me money to buy a train ticket and food. I went straight to the railway station to buy my ticket. Of course, I bought a first class ticket. I boarded the train to New Delhi.
I was sitting in my seat when a guy came in to the compartment. He was wearing a uniform with an ID hanging from his shirt pocket. He asked for my ticket and I handed it to him. The ticket was in the size of a roller coaster ticket. well, anyway, I thought that it was the ticket collector. He brought out a note book and a pen ready to take my meal orders for the 24 hour something raid to New Delhi.
- I told him that I was going to eat popcorn during the trip.
We left Bombay and of course, not long after the departure the real ticket collector entered my compartment.
- I gave it to your colleague
- I work alone on this train.
- What the ??!!
- I will have to ask you to get off the train at next stop!
- What the ??!!
I got a boot in my arse at the next stop, in the middle of nowhere. I bought a ticket back to Bombay and I got on a car back to Bombay after a few minutes waiting.
I soon as I got onboard the car two things happened. The train was set in motion and the passengers started to cry and scream.
- What the
I was soon to discover that there were only female passengers in my car.
- This car is only for females!!
- We will call the Police!!
Of course, I was kicked off the train at the next stop. Yet again in the middle of nowhere. This time I had to wait a wee bit longer before the next train bound for Bombay arrived. Now it was in the middle of the night.
Coming back to Bombay railway station was not a very nice experience. When I left it was packed with people coming and going from trains Millions of porters and people selling stuff. Now it was quiet, but it smelled like shit. This giant train station had turned from a train station to a giant public toilet and dormitory while I had been away on my adventure.
People were sleeping everywhere and they just pissed and shat were ever they stood or lied.
I took a taxi back to my hotel and I woke up the guy that was sleeping in the reception
- You have checked out.
- NO, here I am.
I got my room and when I woke up again I went back to the Swedish Consulate. Now it was very embarrassing to meet the guy at the Consulate.
The guy almost fainted when I stepped in through the door. I told him the story and he was convinced that I had bought drugs for the money he gave me yesterday.
This time he followed me to the ticket office and as all trains were full I took me to the Salvation Army to check me in. I was obviously not trusted anymore, at least not with any cash.
I had to stay at the salvation Army for 1 or 2 nights before it was time to leave for New Delhi. I meet 2 guys from Holland and there was a girl from Iran. She was offering 10 000 US to get married with someone from Europe. She was on the run from Iran and she needed to get to Europe.
Well, as with the cosmetic smuggling in Hong Kong, I was not interested. Salvation Army, it was interesting for a night or two but now I wanted to get back to Sweden. I was feed up with travelling round, and my school had started so I would be late for school whenever I would be back.
The train ride to New Delhi was interesting, for 3 hours, the other 20+ hours was a pain in the arse. We passed the Indian landscape and when we stopped at any train station the train got full of beggars. The idea was to play an instrument, not to please you with a nice tune. No, the whole idea was to torment you until you gave them money.
I checked in at a hotel close to the railway station in New Delhi. OK, hotel is maybe not the correct description of the dump.
But I only stayed one night, then I went to Metropolis at the Main Bazar.
They had a dorm at Metropolis so I rented a bed. Nice, the room was full of people that you could speak with, No need to be alone during the days. I meet a girl from Italy and she was in the same situation as me. She was going to the Italian Embassy to get money.
So we spent our day going to the Italian and Swedish Embassy looking for money. I had money, but the Embassy refused to give it to me, they only gave me enough for food, the rest they kept for the ticket.
First time at the Embassy they told me that I had to have someone to send me money from Sweden. I called my friend and he said that he would send the money.
I came back the day after and the staff at the embassy told me that the money had arrived.
- 2 dollars.
- What the !!??
My friend did not manage to arrange the money, but he sent everything that he had. So that was nice. OK, I called my Uncle and he sent the money. But it was still the problem with the flights. All flight was full and the staff at the Embassy told me that they could not remember a situation like this before.
- Everything if full and we have put you on waiting list on all the air lines.
They kept my money so they could pay the ticket when there was a seat for me and I had to go there every day to get my daily allowance. Well, I had money, but I had no clue on when I could get back home. My Indian Airways ticket to Amsterdam was considered worthless and I threw it away.
I was sitting in a shop and suddenly I heard:
I looked up and there was a girl looking at my tattoo. They were 3 or 4 Swedish people and when 3 of them left for some tour outside New Delhi the last one of them moved in at Metropolis.
There were 2 guys from Germany living in my room. They lived in Afghanistan and they were in New Delhi for some paper work. I remember one of them coming down Main Bazar in a bike rickshaw. They stopped.
- Hey, I'm going to buy vodka. Join me.
I asked the guy on the bike to go sitting the back and I took charge of the bike. Motherf@cker! It was impossible to steer this bicycle rickshaw. I was screaming, the rickshaw driver was screaming in the back. My German friend was screaming of laughter.
Finally, the embassy had managed to get me on a Thai airways flight from New Delhi to Paris and from there to Copenhagen with SAS.
Well, there is a big difference between India and Thailand. Air India, I was glad that I had to throw this ticket. Thai Airways is very fresh and nice in comparison. But I was sick when we left India, a big wound on my foot. Most likely after a mosquito-bite that I had scratched.
The wound got infected and it was soon covering half of my foot. I had fever and I asked for a blanket and a fist full of pain killers as soon as I boarded the flight and I slept until Paris.
My friend picked me up in Helsingborg and he drove me to Båstad and I were pretty much ready to start my school in Gothenburg.
OK, it has come to my knowledge that we have senior citizens visiting my web page. How hard can it be? So it’s not very easy for them to see the blue coloured links to the next page. So
I put a “Next” button here and I hope that there isn't any problem to understand how to use that one.
Jiffy (also jiff)
noun [in SING.] informal a moment: we'll be back in a jiffy.
ORIGIN late 18th cent.: of unknown origin.
So as you understand, in a jiff pretty much depends on your internet.
So just CLICK the “Next” button on your left hand side and you will be on the next page in a jiff!
Marunong ka mag-tagalog? Walang problema! Magpunta sa kabilang pahina pindutin ang “NEXT” button sa itaas
Faites vous parlez le français? Pas de problème! Pour arriver à la page suivante faites s'il vous plaît un déclic le bouton “Next” ci-dessus!
Haga usted dice el español? No hay problema! Ver la siguiente página sólo hacer clic el botón “Next” encima!
Farla parla l'italiano? Non problemi! Per vedere la prossima pagina lo scatto per favore giusto Il bottone “Next” sopra
Sprechen sie Deutsch! Kein problem! Wenn Sie die folgende Seite sehen wollen gerade klicken der Knopf “Next” oben!
คุณพูดภาษาไทยได้ไหม ไม่มีปัญหา ถ้าคุณต้องการไปหน้าถัดไป ให้กดปุ่ม “Next” ข้างบนนี้
Вы говорите по-русски? NJET PROBLEMA! Просто нажмите синюю кнопку "Next" с левой стороны и Вы моментально переместитесь на следующую страницу!
E ni Svenskar och inte förstår Engelska så ska ni skämmas. J och Björn, med det menar jag inte att alla mina stavfel ska ältas varje gång vi träffas.
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