I matched with Amélie, not her real name, on Tinder in Singapore. I didn’t live in Singapore at the time and as it turned out, neither did she. By the time we started talking, I was back in Kuala Lumpur and she was back in Bangkok.
Amélie told me that she was half French, half Thai. I had no idea what she looked like. I was swiping indiscriminately in the app when I came across her extremely limited profile, but she was interesting enough in our conversations.
Halloween that year was on a Saturday, and I asked her what her plans were.
No plans, she said.
“No plans? Let’s get dinner then,” I said, unsure of whether I was joking.
There was a pause for several minutes. Then she sent me a link to an event: Dine in the Dark at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok. “Let’s do this,” she suggested. “I’ve always wanted to go.”
It was Wednesday. My passport was at the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur getting an updated visa stamp.
“If I get my passport back by Friday,” I wrote. “I’m down.”
I got my passport back on Friday, but I had a Halloween party at a friend’s place that night, and that was where I woke up at noon on Saturday to a text.
“Did you get your passport back?”
Did I really agree to have dinner with a complete stranger in a different country? I started making excuses. It’s noon, I don’t have a plane ticket, the next flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok would put me at the airport at 6, it would be too late for dinner by the time I got into the city, we barely know each other, I’m pretty adventurous but this is kind of crazy right?
She interrupted my stream of messages with another text.
“I’ll be in the lobby at 9. Don’t be late.”
You know how some story hooks are too good to turn down?
“Becca!” I called out to my host. “I’ll pick up the lightsaber on Sunday! I’m going to Bangkok.” (It would three years before I picked up the lightsaber.) I tried to book the flight on my phone. It turns out you can’t buy a ticket online if the plane leaves in less than two hours, and the plane was leaving in just under two hours. But the airport was a little less than an hour away, and check-in for international flights closed a little more than an hour before takeoff so… Challenge accepted.
I drove to the airport and ditched my car in the parking lot, wondering if the fee for losing my parking token would be higher than the cost of parking for 24 hours.
I went straight to the ticket counter, sensing my chance to use a line I’d only heard in movies, “Get me on the next flight to Bangkok.”
The lady behind the counter didn’t bat an eye, and one hour later I was in the air. The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok lasted roughly two and a half hours, with Bangkok an hour ahead. I landed, cleared immigration, and took the train straight to H&M. The clothes I’d woken up in that morning weren’t appropriate for dinner at the Sheraton.
New clothes in hand, I reached the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit at 8. I got a room for the night and got dressed for dinner. At 9:05, I went down to the lobby. She wasn’t there.
She arrived at 9:15, wearing a black button-down blouse and blue jeans. Late. She greeted me with a kiss on both cheeks, European-style. She was cute, but I was just relieved she was real.
We went to dinner. For those of you who have never heard of it, Dine in the Dark is an experience where you… Dine in the dark. The kind of dark where you can’t see your hand in front of your face. In some places, waiters and waitresses with night vision goggles bring the food to your table and guide your hands to the silverware. At the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, they just employ blind people.
I know. I love it too.
The food was mysterious but delicious, and Amélie insisted on paying for everything. “You came all this way,” she said. After dinner, we went for a drink at a Bangkok institution called Maggie Choo’s, which I would highly, highly recommend if you’re ever in Bangkok. I have a couple of friends with their pictures on the wall at Maggie Choo’s under “Do Not Serve”, but that’s a different story. The night ended shenanigan-free, we just killed an entire bottle of wine and headed back to the Sheraton.
The next morning, I asked her about her Sunday plans. My flight back was in the afternoon. She had family obligations. Wouldn’t be able to hang out.
“That’s too bad,” I said, getting ready to say goodbye.
“Yeah,” she paused. “Do you want to have dinner with my parents?”