Meeting VG’s Trond Viken for the first time can be a puzzling experience. He opens the door before you have time to knock, looks about fifteen years younger than you expected of Norway’s largest newspaper’s man in South-East Asia and immediately asks if you want to have Vietnamese coffee.
Who is this guy?
New but familiar Trond Viken came to Thailand only about two months ago. What made VG to make a move like this?
As a matter of fact this was my own idea. I have traveled around Asia over 30 times before taking 15 months off my work with VG in Norway, he explains and proceeds on telling about his agreement to keep on working for VG but on freelance basis.
They keep me busy enough. No need to look anywhere else.
Trond plans to divide his 15 month period equally between Bangkok and Peking in order to be always able to go where the action is.
Since I was very young I have wanted to become a journalist, he says smiling. Before going to university young Trond worked for his hometown newspaper Sarpsborg Arbeiderblad. After Bachelor’s degree in political science and journalism he started working for Aftenposten and ANB, the news agency.
I started with VG at 2001. My job consists an office in Fredrikstad which I ran together with one photographer, he recalls.
The set up remained the same until last may when it became time to make a move towards Bangkok. In Bangkok he works alone again, like Gilbert O’ Sullivan would say.
His office is at his home. An english gentleman would probably use the adjective “deasant” when describing Trond’s suite at the 10th floor of Lee Place Serviced apartments.
Top journalist in two ways
Even though the VG man’s office at home is well equipped he wants to show me the place where he does most of his writing. We climb to the roof terrace of the building where they have a small room for excercise, to call it gym would be an overstatement, a roof garden and a swimming pool.
Here, sitting by the pool overlooking Bangkok one can imagine one’s spirits being lifted to new heights for the actual writing work.
Professionally speaking Trond Viken is very experienced to be only 31 years old. Remember Bali bombings in 2002? He was there. Tsunami? He was there also. Actually my tsunami reporting started here in Bangkok, he reveals. VG had also other people in Thailand and they wanted to co-ordinate out work a bit. I went to the disaster area some days after the wave hit the shores.
Back to Norway
After this 15-month period we have two options, he thinks aloud. Either I renew this contract or we return to Norway. We referred to his vietnamese fiancee. So, that explains the coffee.
Within the next five years it is Norway for sure but who knows what happens after that? I have always been very impulsive when it comes to traveling and whatever I do I hope to have an interesting job that takes me to different corners of the world, he says finally to terminate our talk.
Sitting in a taxi on my way to Ekamai bus station I suddenly remember the wall unit in Trond’s living room. He must have Dan Brown’s full biography in there. I buy my bus ticket back to Pattaya wondering what that tells about VG’s man in Bangkok.