My travels had begun. My eyes were truly wide open. My mind was expanding beyond controlling. I was becoming me. I was finally there.When I look back at that first iconic week in Bangkok, it really was truly memorable. It couldn’t have gone any better for a first time traveller. All I think about are these words, Nappark, Wolfpack, Khao San Road.
Before heading to Asia, I had been networking online for several months. I used Lonely Planet to ask questions and to inject more excitement. I then added people on Facebook, and before I knew it I had a whole bunch of people online from around the world, maybe or maybe not going to SE Asia. Two of them came to note here.
Dan, a fellow Brit from Birmingham, I had contact with for a couple months prior. He seemed in the know and kept saying not to worry about what to take, what to pack and just come over. Everything was easily replaced and cheaper in Asia. He was staying in Bangkok and backpacking too. He was the first person I met in Bangkok really, apart from a couple of Irish birds Claire and Mae at the hostel. I remember not being myself until I met Dan. I had roamed the streets of Bangkok, and felt a little bit unsure. I took some random pictures and walked around. It was early afternoon. Dan had a big night and messaged me when I arrived saying he’d be up then. We didn’t arrange to meet or anything, but randomly we bumped into each other on Khao San Road, Bangkok’s Backpacker haven. We had some beers and food, and he introduced me to some of his friends on the road he’d met. Since then, I remember thinking; this is going to be great. And that was it. That’s how long it took me to never look back. I’m not sure why, given my insecurities of being away, the life I left at home, but since that afternoon having some beers, pad thai and being around other backpackers, it just came to me as if I was destined to do this.That first night Dan came to Nappark and we went out down Khao San. Not before trying some local noodles and soup, to which I epically failed at handling the chilli flakes I devoured over my dish. I was coughing like hell and it took me bottles of water to choke it down.
In and around the Khao San area, I was amazed and I thought the place was full of life. It was grotty but exotic to me. It was corny but amazing. I remember it being like some sort of festival. From where I’m from in the world, this was fuckin’ great. I got lucky with one of the Irish girls that night if I’m honest, and that kicked off things with a bang. Quite literally. The first night was a raging success. I had became comfortable, met other backpackers, got drunk down the infamous Khao San, got lucky, I was a backpacker like everyone else.
Onto the next day. Well, another guy I’d be networking with was Jason, a Texas American was travelling for the same forecasted time as me, and he recommended NapPark to me. I hadn’t bothered looking for a place but I eventually booked in there, at least knowing someone. That evening on the second day, we were messaging each other whilst we were both in Nappark. He came to the lounge reception area and shouted Tommy, to which I turned and introduced myself. We then headed to the social outside seating area and I was introduced to other people who were all chatting away. The Wolfpack had been created. For several days after, our pack had been created. A bond had been made. People were at different stages of their travels, of their lives, from all over the world. Different nationalities coming together as one. Again, as a first timer like me, it was brilliant. I loved the interaction, the different accents, the culture, the each to the own vibe. It was right up my street. We had a combination of English, German, American, Canadian, Swiss, Romanian, Australian and Austrian. We hit temples together, rode tuk-tuks together, ping-pong shows, ate food together, it was generally just an awesome pact to be apart of. It worked and became iconic, especially for people who had just started out like Jason and me. But I think Rob, Steve, Elton, Nora, Sam, Lena, Lucian, Julia and Ashley, they all had an affiliation with our group. It was new but comforting. All with different plans and lives. Some were on the way home; some were on the way out.
Some moments were classics. From Ashley being passed out drunk on the hostel floor. To Steve and Julia’s faces in the front row of a very seedy ping pong show. To Lena’s presence of being the ‘Sal’ of the group(for anyone who has watched the movie the Beach), to Eltons habit of chain smoking more than anyone else. We took a cool trip to the floating markets together, we partied in ‘The Club’ on Khao San, to ending up having a chilled night at the famous Hangover 2’s location of the SkyeBar on our last night as a group. It was everything crammed into 5 days. Bangkok being Bangkok, it’s a gateway, a hub to in and out of Asia. Our last night was at the Skybar, where we enjoyed overpriced but still cheap cocktails, whilst Jason getting some crazy good photos of us all. It was the best start for me. To feel apart of something, to get into the habit of and to experience some of the best times with some of the best people.
I remember we got a photo took at one of the bars down Khao San. You can see me, smiling. I remember at the time, I thought ‘ I’ve never smiled with such a natural wide grin in all my life’. It was organic. I couldn’t help it. It was like I had made it. The Wolfpack will always be there in my heart and memory. Because it set up a great time in my life, but also was one of the best moments travelling. It opened me up to the world, with a great bunch of people, in a city and country I love. I still wear an ankle bracelet today saying Wolfpack, 3 years on.
As everything in life though, things come to an end. Yet Rob and me decided to hit the road, to the infamous place of Pattaya…