It was 1995 when Sarah and I flew to Bangkok. We had high hopes for full moon parties and postcard-perfect beaches. Being our first proper backpacking expedition, we were also open to meeting people along the way.

Elisabeth Easther: In praise of bikes
Premium - Elisabeth Easther: A walking and cycling holiday in Northland
Elisabeth Easther's Wonderful World

On the plane we met gentle Sini from Norway. She was going to Thailand to look for her guru, a word she cooed like a dove. We also met Sandra from Dallas who was possibly a little too forthcoming with personal information at 35,000ft. Her boyfriend was in the army and, because she'd just had a birthday, her GI beau had sent her a care package which reached her in Wellington. Among other things the parcel contained Sandra's favourite high fructose, corn syrup snacks and a sex toy that she was clearly very taken with.

Once we'd landed and cleared customs, because none of us knew where we were going, the four of us decided to share a taxi. It was past midnight, there was noise, chaos and heat like I'd never experienced and we were accosted by countless taxi drivers all keen to take us for a ride.


We picked the most dad-like driver we could find. Lonely Planet suggested a joint called Santa Baby, one of the cheapest in town, so that's where we asked to be taken. Although I suspect, judging from the sparking wiring in the showers, Santa Baby has since burnt down.

Because I oversaw the stowing of our luggage in the boot - four backpacks, two brand new, two faded and worn - I was the last in the taxi. I was actually quite keen to get moving - the airport was unnerving - but the driver was not finished with the stowing and was clearly trying to communicate something to me. Rather excited he was too.

Try as I might, tired with no Thai, I had no idea what he was trying to convey but he wouldn't give up and just started talking more slowly and more loudly. He still wasn't getting his point across so he grabbed my hand and held it to the largest rucksack.
It was buzzing.

How queer.

It was late and I was not firing on all cylinders so it took me a few moments to register what was causing the frenzied throbs.

Then it dawned on me. The dad-like driver had been trying to say, "your friend's vibrator has gone off in her backpack!"

I blushed, lest he think it was mine. I mimed what I hoped he would interpret as, "not to worry, I'm sure she can easily buy more batteries". We drove all the way into Bangkok with a buzzing in the boot and the driver taking twinkly sideways glances at me. Clearly he thought our secret was quite funny, which it was, I see that now and I bet, to this day, just like me, he tells this story too.

Elisabeth Easther's wonderful world returns in a fortnight. Next week, The Hungry Traveller