The people I met while traveling southeast Asia

Just a simple list of the ones I can recall, the ones I met along the way.

  • The guy from Idaho who now lives in Thailand: He lived in Russia for a couple years, working a pretty cool job. Now’s he’s teaching English because his parents retired out here.
  • The guy from Boston who also lives and works in Thailand: he basically just went to Laos for a visa run and to hook up with girls. He was super helpful in getting around the place, though.
  • The Korean girl who stayed in the same room as me in the hostel: She was quiet and pretty, until she realized I understood some of her Korean and that I’d lived in Korea for a year. Then she was talkative and, well, still pretty.
  • The Korean guy who stayed in the same room with me in the hostel: He didn’t speak English well, but he started the conversation with the Korean girl that confirmed they were Korean, the conversation I understood for the first three minutes.
  • The Irishman who lived in Spain before moving to Bangkok: This guy always was smoking weed in the most awkward places, like immigration between Laos and Thailand. Still, I fun guy to talk with, because of his accent and all his stories.
  • The guy who wouldn’t stop talking: I met him in the place I stayed in Vientiane. He teaches there. He went on and on about how Lao students didn’t speak English the right way because they learned British English.
  • The Lao prostitute living off foreigners: I don’t remember how the conversation even started, but somehow I ended up asking her what she does. She said, “I have sex with you.” Turns out, she wasn’t working at the time – it was like 11:30 in the morning when we talked. She’s physically intimate with someone new almost every evening but starving for someone to listen to her like a normal person in the “off” time, even if she wanted to pretend she wasn’t.
  • The guy from Oregon who owns a bar in Bangkok: His wife, who’s apparently a stripper and has been featured on the cover of some popular magazine in America, was leaving him, so he ventured off to Laos for a few weeks to get away from the mess. Oh, and he bought the bar with money he made from selling weed in Bangkok, a capital offense in Thailand.
  • The Germany missionary who’s living in Laos: His parents were missionaries too, so he pretty much always knew he’d end up doing something like this. He’s spent the last seven years or so building day cares and helping people start small businesses in the country.
  • The Cambodian guide who helped me cross the border: A super friendly guy, a great first impression for me.
  • The German guy I met through CouchSurfing.org: He happened to be traveling to Siem Reap at the same time I was, so we got together for an evening and some exploration. We ate at a buffet together, watched a traditional Cambodian dance, and then ended up talkiing for a few hours afterward in the rain, talking about education, non-profit work, travel, and the differences between German and American mindsets.
  • The Cambodian temple guardian: He couldn’t say he was a guide because he didn’t have a license. Instead, he said he was a guardian. He’s a super knowledgeable and friendly guy, in this case even after I said I couldn’t pay him anything.
  • The Iranian girl we thought was Indian: Somehow I got confused and thought she was Indian, but when we actually met, she turned out to be even more interesting because she was actually Iranian, and not Muslim but Baha’i. She studied in Finland, interned in India, and now is doing work in Cambodia, helping set up local schools and tutors for children.
  • The Cambodian manager in Koh Chang: Right before the rain started dumping again, he struck up a conversation with me. I felt pretty suspicious of him at first, assuming he wanted to get me to stay in one of his places by the beach for the night. As it turned out, he just wanted to talk. He came to Thailand, to Koh Chang, because he could make more money there. He only planned to stay a short while, but he’s been there two years now. I added him on Facebook.
  • The Cambodian woman working in the Koh Chang guest house: When she told me she was Cambodian, I told her I was surprised because I’d just met the Cambodian manager I mentioned just a second ago. She told me lots of people in the area came from Cambodia, and we went on to have a decent conversation about why people move.
  • The girl who followed me around for about half an hour trying to sell me bracelets: She was probably 10 or 11 years old. I wanted to help her out by buying a bracelet or something, but they were too expensive. After a while, I just wanted to leave, but she kept following me around for what felt like forever. Lesson: don’t show interest their products unless you know you’re interested.
  • The EFL teacher turned professional poker player: He used to live in Seoul, but he moved to Bangkok. There, he plays poker online and makes his living that way. We met through Couchsurfing.org, got to chatting on Facebook, and then ended up meeting in person for an evening on Khaosan Road.
  • The French guy I met after midnight: We talked and then ended up spending the night a room apart. The next morning, we caught a cab together, ’cause I needed to get to the airport across town.
  • The Cambodian girl I met on Khaosan Road: We hung out together with some other friends for most of my last night in Thailand, but somehow I never got her name.
  • The Indian salesman who tried to get me to buy a suit: He shook my hand, gave me his card, and introduced me to the owner of the shop. He was pretty smooth. I have no idea if he actually offered any good deals, but if I head back to Bangkok sometime, I’d be curious to go check out his place again, especially if I actually do want to pick up some clothes.
  • The Korean guy I met on the minibus: He lived in Australia and New Zealand for like two years, working in mines or something. He was on his way back to Korea, to Daejeon, and we just happened to meet on the way to the airport.

These are the reason I love to venture around the world, or even just around town: the people I meet.

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