“So, anyway, do you like hiking?” Michael asked the driver, Andy, for the second time in ten minutes.
“No, not really,” replied Andy. He seemed a rather deadpan, serious kind of guy.
“What’s the name of the tallest mountain in Malaysia?”
“Errm, I am not sure”
“Have you ever hiked up there?”
“How long would it take to hike up there?”
“I don’t know”
About nine seconds passed before Michael asked, “Are there many mountains near Ipoh?”
“Yes, there are a few,” said Andy, checking his watch.
“Have you ever hiked up any of them?”
Erm, no. But I think I may have driven up one before with my family a few years ago”.
“Oh wow!” said Michael, with wide-eyed sincerity, “how long do you think it would take to hike up there?”
“I do not know, I drove up there”, he sighed, “I do not go hiking”
“How tall was the mountain?”
“I don’t know”
“Can you recommend anywhere to go hiking in Ipoh?”
Andy turned his head and through squinted eyes studied his interrogator, Michael, for a few seconds.
His moustache twitched slightly on his upturned lip and he visibly shuddered. He then turned his head forward again, took a deep breath and turned the radio on. I was nearly crying in the back, chewing my seatbelt, with repressed laughter.
Despite Michael’s bizarre hiking integration, Andy kindly dropped us off right outside our hotel, the Sun Golden Inn, in Ipoh.
“Thank you very much, Andy,” I said as we got out of the car.
“I really admire what you are doing” he replied. “Every day must be a real struggle for you. Your powers of patience and determination are truly commendable”
“Yeah, hitchhiking can be tough sometimes,” I replied.
“I wasn’t talking about the hitchhiking,” Andy said, as he eyed Michael trying to untangle his backpack from the gear stick.