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The issue, I learn, is that all but one of the remaining pages of my passport has been covered in stamps and visas. Rookie mistake! Two passport pages are required to enter Indonesia.

Passport with no pages

I flip through my passport, helpfully pointing-out to Agent Ratched all of the half-filled pages at the front of the booklet that they can use.

Entry denied. 


I arrive at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok drenched in my own sweat, having baked in the AC-free cab the long, traffic-addled ride from the airport.

The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. There to aid Americans in distress. A trusted friend. A lighthouse of hope to guide me through my Thailand travails. So glad I’m here.

No one Is answering the gate phone. It’s so, so hot.

The guards laugh at my obvious frustration. Not that Thais are cruel people — they tend to be very sweet — they just don’t display their anger and impatience like us farangs. Their mirth frustrates me further, fueling their amusement. I ask them what’s the deal with the embassy, but they speak only Thai  — which makes sense, since I’m in Thailand — but c’mon it’s the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. U.S.! 

I ring again, a man answers. Yay!

“This is Dave.”

“Hi Dave.”


“Are you there, Dave?”


I explain the situation to Dave. He tells me that I should be glad that I’m not the poor schmuck with visa issues that they let onto the plane yesterday, who is now resting in a cell in Indonesia Passport Control. Dave explains that the embassy is closed for Christmas. But the country is Buddhist?…?

I ask Dave what time the embassy opens tomorrow.

It doesn’t. Boxing Day. Since when do we celebrate Boxing Day?

I ask Dave about the following day.

Weekend. Closed. Oh for fuck’s sake.


Dragging Bagzillo and my two carry-ons behind me down the torn-up sidewalks of this crowded, polluted, stinking town, there’s not an available cab in sight. I hail a tuk-tuk. It’s either that or spontaneously combusting, right now, right here on the corner.

“Indonesian Embassy? Indonesian Embassy? You know it? Embassy Indonesia?” I implore of the tuk tuk driver. It’s a long shot, but possibly, possibly the Indonesian Embassy could help me.




“Promise?” I hop on, he piles my crap behind me.

And….he has no clue where the Indonesian Embassy is located, but when has not knowing the location of a destination every stopped a Bangkok driver? We circle, stop, ask. Circle, stop, ask.

And we’re here.

The Indonesian Embassy is also closed in observation of Christmas. Since when do Muslims…? Why ask why?

I kick Bagzillo. Dumb bag, dumb!


Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.; 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (I know Spanish bankers who work longer hours)

Address: U.S. Embassy Bangkok 95 Wireless Road Bangkok 10330

Contact: +66-02-205-4049 (T);  +66-02-205-4103 (F); Email:

After Hours Emergencies: In the event of an emergency outside business hours, American citizens may dial (011)(66) 02-205-4000 and ask to speak to the duty officer.

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Vincent and I exit the ballroom and there stands Wolf Blitzer, deeply engaged in conversation. But Vincent doesn’t give a damn if he barges in on their tete-a-tete: he’s got a mission to accomplish, and accomplish it he will.

The downsides to ‘achieving’ middle age are numerous, but one of the pluses is learning not to give a damn.

Photographic evidence is a component of our bet with Meg and Allen, so Vincent’s young, pretty niece, Brenda, good-naturedly accompanies us to capture our pending triumph.

Wolf Blitzer is momentarily taken aback by our intrusion into his circle, but Brenda is quick with a shot. She surreptitiously captures Wolf Blitzer’s and Vincent’s bombshell introduction.

We win. WE WIN! Take that, Allen and Meg!

Vincent asks Wolf Blitzer for a more formal photo and Wolf — THAT DOG! — turns the tables on my date faster than you can say roué. Wolf informs Vincent that NO, he wants his picture taken with Brenda. And now Wolf “Wolf” has his arm around Brenda (and somehow Vincent is holding the camera). Go, WOLF, go!

I cherish Wolf Blitzer’s look of dismay at the prospect of having to speak with graying Vincent, compared to the glint in his eye when he’s cuddling up with 20-something Brenda. I am reminded of the new Old Spice Wild Collection of men’s body sprays (only $1.25 now at Target after promotion and coupons!) commercials.

Old Spice Wolf Guy

I quickly introduce myself to Wolf Blitzer (“Hi, Friend of Vincent’s, nice to meet you”), shake his hand before he even knows what’s hit him and skeedaddle.

Vincent’s cousin points-out that the good-looking man standing before us is David Corn, chief of the Washington Bureau for Mother Jones, author and political journalist. He’s the guy who released, and reported on, Romney’s infamous 47% speech. Vincent and I thank him for his act, so happy that we didn’t have to stare at Mitt’s smug mug at the podium tonight.


I want to express my appreciation to Vincent’s family for the privilege of joining them this past weekend, so I have volunteered to collect everyone’s pictures and upload them on to a photo-sharing website.

This shot comes in from Laura from Minnesota, who maintained a fairly low-profile throughout the weekend. All part of her sneaky, subversive plan, I realize now. She has casually submitted a photo of herself with Alan Greenspan, taken by none other than Andrea Mitchell.

Damn her! Everyone knows that Greenspan trumps Blitzer! And the Victor for the evening is… Laura!

And Wolf Blitzer!

And all of us!

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This Gridiron Club Dinner butter is The Best Butter Ever!

Gridiron Club Dinner Butter

The room goes dark. The Gridiron Club President delivers a witty address met with laughter and applause. It must be nice presenting to journalists. They don’t miss a reference.

The United States Marine Band plays a rousing march, followed by a waltz.

The opening skit, the Four Seasons’ Oh What a Night tweaked into Oh What a Year, reminds us of some of the major events of recent past and sets the tone for the evening: we are warned that there will be some barbs thrown, but assured that they’re meant to be enjoyed. The goal of the evening, we’re told, is to have fun.

I cannot compare this Gridiron Club Dinner to previous years, but it appears that the writers did not lack for material from 2012/early 2013. Popular butts of jokes include:

Whenever they lob one at The President I look over at him to gauge his reaction. His seemingly uncalculated response is a good-natured, self-confident smile set in a decidedly square jaw. He’s SO handsome!

Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, is introduced. He must feel like the lone Republican on the panel of Bill Maher’s Real Time in THIS crowd. I permit him only a wary golf clap, just because he plays for The Other Team.

Five minutes later: he’s won me over. Jindal is self-deprecating and frankly, hilarious. He mentions meeting Joe Biden, and say he doesn’t think Joe recognized him because he asked Bobby to get him a slurpy. Brilliant.

More skits follow, then Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Senator, presents. She fires-off a zinger Jindal’s way, comparing the Speech in the Dark from earlier in the evening to the Super Bowl. This woman is having so much fun up there on the stage, and is so damn likable, I want to be her BFF. And — AND — she makes the only PG-13 joke of the night so far. Love her!


Vincent has met President Obama, so he introduces me to him. We shake hands. Vincent tells him that I hale from Chicago. Obama asks me where I live in Chicago.

I can’t remember where I live in Chicago!

I finally sputter out my cross-streets. A neighborhood would have sufficed. The President comments on how easy our winters have been in the so-called Windy City.

“Yeah, they’re a piece of cake,” I reply.

OH MY GOD. I just said “piece of cake” to the President of the United States. I have never before employed that overused phrase in my life.

The show continues and each skit is as clever as the last one.

  • Mandatory Legislative Budget Sequestration set to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
  • I’m not Barack (I am Joe Biden) set to I am a Rock (I am an Island)
  • And, Everybody Must Get Stoned is upgraded to — wait for it — Everybody Must Get Droned

We have been laughing collectively for over three hours. Great fun.

Obama’s up. He nails it. Perfect timing. Impeccable delivery. That Smile. He closes:

In the words of one of my favorite Star Trek characters — Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise — “May the force be with you.”

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