A Bittersweet Time In Bangkok

2016-05-11

[Click here for part 1; September 2015] The next day our heads are throbbing and my stomach is unwell. I’m sure it’s the street food. Ironically, Kevin’s friend (who threw up next to me the night before) seems to be much better than us and I curse my indisposition.

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We have to force ourselves to get up because time is so scarce and valuable. Less than 48h to make up for the last two years of distance and the years to come. Just another day till we say goodbye. It will probably take years until we see each other again.

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To make matters worse, the rain returns. It pours down, creating huge puddles and causing wet legs. People squeeze together under umbrellas and roofs; so do we. When the rain finally ceases, a Thai friend of Kevin’s picks us up and drives us to a mall. To my surprise he’s 37 years old and I feel so, so young. If my stomach wasn’t making me crazy, I’d laugh about the fact that I’m around two Asian guys who are almost ten respectively twenty years older than me, none of us communicating in our native tongue.

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What do two photographers stuck under a roof do?
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Of course, they take photos of the people around them. Left: my shot; above: Kevin’s.

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After some torturing hours, we finally treat ourselves with an amazing Thai massage. The young lady makes me feel better again and allows me to take a portrait of her. I chase her around the room, looking for the best light, but the result is mediocre.

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∙•∙

Another night out, this time with some locals. There’s another girl in the group. She’s 32, but looks as old as me; we immediately click and act like besties. I’m glad that I’ve found someone I can talk to, I’ve started to feel like Kevin’s clingy, dependent pendant. A bit weird for someone used to independence. It makes me feel more attached than I like.

Liters of beers are ordered and consumed. Very tipsy, we go to a big openair club and I’m not allowed in because I’m not twenty yet – my birthday is in two weeks. I can’t believe how ridiculous that is. My companions have a plan how to sneak me in; I think it’s hopeless and sillily insist in just staying outside and wait for them, but I’m overruled. Luckily.

At the end, I find myself within the barrier after using the girl’s IC at the same entrance where I (with bright greenish hair  – ludicrously easy to recognize) was rejected just ten minutes ago. It’s ridiculous, but it doesn’t matter, we give each other victorious hugs and it feels like we’ve been best friends for years. How deceiving alcohol can be.

∙•∙

We get free drinks and Kevin buys us all shots, as if we hadn’t drunk enough. We dance and drink more. Whenever a group photo is taken, he makes sure I’m not with him, even though we’re really just friends and nothing more. I understand his reasons, but can’t help but to feel hurt, treated like a secret lover, someone to hide while there is nothing wrong with our friendship.

The night proceeds and the roles are swapped. He’s no longer the protector, but me. His head hurts, he feels unwell, I blow my remaining Thai bahts to get water for him and ask myself why I as the girl and youngest in the group end up for the second time as the person who has to take care of someone?

∙•∙

Early in the morning we drop onto our beds, exhausted; I scribble into my diary before dozing off and my alarm rings two hours later. I have to get my flight, but I just turn it off and fall asleep again. For some reason, I fortunately wake up again half an hour later, just in time to get ready for my departure.

Since Kevin doesn’t react to my calls, I wake him up with cold water. It’s cruel, but I don’t want to say goodbye already, I don’t want to go to the airport alone. So he accompanies me to the airport, his head throbbing.

Wistfully I sit beside him on a bench, my heart tightens. That’s it. The intense days full of friendship are over and we’re returning to short conversations and distance. It hurts. Leaving with the knowledge that we’re going back to our routine of hardly communicating hurts, but at least, this time I know it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. I guess it’s become my motto since I have to say goodbye all the time.

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bargaining with drivers
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I like how her glance has something regal about it.
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I passed by this guy twice before I had the courage to ask him for a photo. Believe me, he looks way more intimidating when he’s not smiling.

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camera-shy, sweaty me

Now, half a year later, things have gone the way I predicted. Almost zero communication. And again – even though he tells me differently – it feels like he doesn’t care. I’m not sure if it’s a cultural or personal thing, but if I neither want to let go nor continue to suffer from it, I have to go through the confusing process of learning that not all friendships work the same way and embrace it the way it is. There are so many lessons to learn.

27 Comments
    1. That’s unfortunate, but some friendships are great because you can go forever without talking but then pick up in person like no time has passed at all. But it always feels discouraging when you try to initiate contact but get no response. Relationships are no fun when they are one-sided.

      1. Thank you for your comment, Arielle :) You’re right, friendships like the ones you described are great; while I think that our friendship is like that, I wonder why we have to go through this phase of not communicating for so long. It feels one-sided, but on other hand he says he considers me as one of his closest friends. I don’t really understand it :P

        Do you also have some friendships in which you can meet up after a long time and everything’s still the same? When was the last time you saw your US-friends?

        1. Yeah, it does suck when you are trying so hard and nothing is reciprocated, but I’ve learned that some people are not good at keeping in touch when they don’t see you in person, and it’s nothing personal. I have lots of friends in California that I haven’t seen since August, and I would still consider them great friends because we get together and pick up like no time has passed. I even have a friend that I hadn’t seen in two years but it was like no time had passed.

          1. True, I also have some friends that are not good at keeping in touch online :D And awesome that you can meet so many friends again and it’s still the same :) I hope you’ll get to see them again soon!

    1. Beautifully written, I feel your angst. I know how hard it is to keep saying goodbyes to those you love. Your photo’s are wonderful, so real and honest.

      1. Thank you for your comments lately, Barbara! :) I’m glad you understand me – thank you for your lovely compliment too <3

      1. haha I had to laugh about that, how old did you think I am? I’ll take it (you thinking I’m older) as a compliment, thank you :D btw I’ve finally answered your message via fb, it might be in your spam folder?

        1. Haha I didn’t mean to say that you look old, but that you seem incredibly mature for your age. I thought you were 23, which in my defense is hard to distinguish from 20-21 in photos!

        1. Oops, I hit the reply button too early. I’ll check our your Facebook message as soon as I’m able. Thanks for taking the time to respond to me, despite all you have going on!

          Also, I meant to add a smiley face to the previous message to clear up any emotional ambiguity that may have arisen from the final sentence. Here it is: :p

          1. hahaha don’t worry, I assumed you weren’t referring to my looks, but my posts :D

            I’m sure I’m not busier than you and really, take your time with answering because I always take ages!

            aaand I checked your age in fb and have to admit that I misjudged it terribly, I thought you were in your thirties (because I have no idea about the educational system in the US and thought you have worked before/after studying, and probably also because you sound so educated :D) haha

            1. Haha I have worked before and after studying, and took a year off to do volunteer work! But it’s okay, no one ever guesses my age right! Usually they think I’m in my early twenties though :P

              1. oh, impressive that you got to do all that in your twenties :D I also did nine months of volunteer work last year! haha normally I’m not bad at guessing the age, no idea why I was so wrong in your case :P

                1. Haha it’s okay. Like I said, no one guesses my age right!

                  I’ve never thought of it that way before: that I’ve done a lot in my twenties. All I can ever think about is how much I haven’t done! Hopefully I’ll make it to the Amazon by the time I turn 30, though I admit it’s a long shot!

    1. beautiful photos. Truly some of the great captures. Thank you for enjoying my posts too. Enjoy the day and have a lovely week ahead. Cheers !

    1. Monika,

      It’s a very beautifully described travel piece. But the title and the story point more towards Kevin than Bangkok.

      Somehow people like Kevin really makes me feel very angry. But I know it’s a personality trait and we can’t help it. Some really don’t reciprocate or express the way we want. The reasons are just unknown. Some may not even feel it. Somehow the story reminded me some of my life experiences.

      About the site… it’s an incredible site. Very well decorated. Apt words with apt pictures… I wrote a big comment under “People Pleaser” but phew it never loaded. I think comments are not allowed or something. It was an amazing piece. Anyway it’s not a good thing comment on something else under something different… Lol 😂

      Regards, Chiradeep

      1. Hi Chiradeep,

        Yes, the trip was definitely more about the people I was with than the place itself – since I went there to meet my friend and not to see the city.

        Actually, we’ve been touch again lately. Generally I’m also not keen of people who don’t seem to care about their friends, but he did prove otherwise and I value our friendship so much that I think it’s worth the “trouble”.

        Thank you so much for your kind words here and in the People Pleaser comment (it’s there, but I haven’t answered it yet)! <3 I was sooo happy to hear that. You are a wonderful soul. I'm so glad I have the support of amazing people like you - my open, honest blog wouldn't be possible otherwise.

        Take care and hugs from Switzerland!

        1. Hi Monika,
          It’s nice to get in touch with friends that your emotions get stirred with. I have always valued them in my life. You are fortunate to meet your friend. There are some of my friends whom I long to meet who are just digitally connected yet I don’t know whether I can meet them in life or not. Your posts have those emotions reflected… Thanks for taking time to reply… BTW, I checked my comment… yes it’s there to my relief.

Let me know what you think!

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