Tag Archives: thailand

Day 34: “Jimmy the crack head…” – to Chaing Rai

Feeling tired yet happy in the Thai sunshine we continued on our way from the motel that Por had dropped us in late last night. We were picked up, for the 20th time on our journey so far, in record time by a man called Wisoot. His English was good enough to hold a slow conversation, but was by no means fluent. In these circumstances, if I want to say something secretive to Michael, usually something weird, I can just speak quickly or colloquially to make myself understood, without offending whoever we’re with.

Or so you would think.

Wisoot told us that he had a huge house in Chiang Rai, so I, sitting in the passenger seat, turned around to Michael and said something along the lines of, “Would it be cheeky to ask if we could crash at his crib?”

“What? Say that again,” replied Michael, leaning forward.

I repeated myself, slightly louder and slower: “Do you think it would be cheeky to ask if we could crash at his crib?”

“What?”

This process continued, with me speaking slower, louder and less colloquially until, finally, Wisoot himself turned around and said: “He wants to know if you think he should ask if it is okay to stay at my house!”

Michael thought about this for a few seconds.

“What?”

I rubbed my temple with one hand and the bride of my nose with the other. I then leaned forward and turned the radio on with a heavy sigh.

I wonder what Sinjay is up to, I thought to myself.

We arrived in Chiang Rai, a slightly seedy little town, and, as we were on schedule, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves. We settled down and watched the football with the intention of a chilled out evening because we were due to make it to the Laos border the next day. This was before we met Charlie, from Essex, and Jimmy, from Colombia. Both men were recovering from drug addictions at a ‘new life’ foundation, about an hour from Chiang Rai.

Charlie, who was so Essex he made Danny Dyer look like Prince Harry’s posh cousin, made his intentions for the evening clear, “Awight, who wants a tequila? Let’s get munted!”

At the end of the night we saw Jimmy, a former drug smuggling crack-head, trying to mount his scooter like a drunk Alsatian, with the intention of driving home. We walked over to him and I confiscated his keys while Michael parked the scooter. We then practically forced him to stay with us in our hostel, giving him my bed, while Michael and I slept top and tail in the other.

Sometime in the early morning Michael poked me in the ribs with his finger to wake me up.

“Rich, why are you in my bed?” he whispered to me

“Because mine is taken” I replied, sleepily.

“Oh right,” he said, rolling over to go back to sleep again.

About 30 seconds later he rolled back.

“Rich?” he whispered once more.

“What?”

“Who’s that man in your bed?”

“Huh?”

“Who’s that man in your bed?”

“It’s Jimmy the smack head, remember?”

“Oh yeah” he whispered, his memory returning. He rolled back over again.

A minute passed.

“Crack head,” said a croaky Latino voice from my bed.

“What’s that Jimmy?”

“It’s ‘Jimmy the crack head’, not ‘Jimmy the smack head’. You can just call me Jimmy, if it makes it easier for you?”

“Oh right yeah, sorry Jimmy!”

Day 22 – 23: “Chaos San Road…” – Bangkok

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From Ratchaburi, we hitched the 100 km to Bangkok in two rides without much trouble. The first car that stopped for us typies the Thai attitude.

A car drove past us on the highway at 90 odd km per hour and only realised what we were trying to do when it was too late. The pulled off at the next junction, drove back down the highway, pulled off at another junction so they could pick us up again. What can you say?  

We hopped in the back, and raced down the highway in the wind towards Bangkok. The mother and son dropped us of at a petrol station where we told by someone selling food that there was no chance that anyone would stop for us there.vcm_s_kf_repr_960x540

90 seconds later a beautiful mother and daughter stopped, the first female hitch we’d secured thus far.

We were dropped off at the notorious tourist spot, Khao San Road, which features in the famous book and film “The Beach,” where the lead character, Richard (played by Leonardo Di Caprio in the film), returns to the mainland to see a repugnant whirlwind of tourist sleaze.

We were swept with the current into the main street like a leaf into rapids. As we shuffled through the crowds we were accosted by suit sellers on our right and by tattoo pallors on our left, all competing for our attention, as if we were a big piece of bread in a pond full of hungry ducks.

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After the serenity of south Thailand it was a real shock to the system to step into this bustling orgy of sights, sounds and smells that all seemed to be screaming for our attention

“Try a suit sir. Very good price”

“Hello sir where are you from? Right this way for tattoo sir”

To avoid eye contact with the hawkers, I cast my eyes upwards. My mouth fell open as I tried to comprehend the hovering swarm of luminous signboards. Before I could attempt to adjust my eyes to their brightness, and distinguish one from the other, a plethora of smells grabbed me by the face and wrestled me towards the pad thai, quail eggs, roti, falafel, hummus, sliced pineapple, vegetarian noodles and banana pancakes that lined the streets.

We were snapped out of our overwhelming sensory hypnosis and spun around by the beeping of a tuk-tuk driver as it squeezed through the crowds of dread-locked, tattooed, vest wearing tourists. Feeling exhausted, we managed to fight our way onto a side street where we tried to catch our breath.

“Hey that smells familiar!” panted Michael. “We must be near the fish market! Remember when we had to wade knee deep through putrid fish guts in Jakarta?!”

“It’s not the fish market Michael,” I said, quickening my step as I studied the map on my Kindle. “This is the Red Light District”

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Day 19: “Sick fashion…” – Sadao

I awoke in a small attic-type room, above the bar. After the night’s heavy drinking session it was always going to be a brutal morning.

Michael went through every step of his customary hangover routine, as systematic and predictable as ever. He woke up chewing his hangover breath, then leaned over and was sick into a plastic bag (Michael never goes anywhere without at least one plastic bag. He has never faced a dilemma in his life that he hasn’t somehow managed to resolve with a plastic bag).

By this time I’d woken up and had turned away from him because I knew what was coming next: he staggered to his feet, all bleary eyed, trying to remember where he was; he then checked himself for any accidents he may have had in the night, first the front then the back.

He breathed a sigh of relief, “phew,” and wiped some imaginary sweat from his brow. He then took a few faltering steps forward, tripped over and dropped the bag of sick, spewing the contents onto the floor. I wasn’t even looking but I know his routine so well by now I was able to mouth the words “Oh Shit!” at exactly the same time he did.

“Where’s my Lee Gibson Training jumper?” I mouthed again, in perfect sync with Michael. He turned around to see that I was holding it up for him, as I had been doing since the moment he stumbled to his feet. I shuddered as I remembered that, in my drunken stupor last night, I’d resorted to using the wretched jumper as a pillow and had fallen asleep playing the “which one of Michael’s stale bodily fluids can I smell most” game.

The next stage of Michael’s grim hangover ritual is to get to work mopping up the mess with his long suffering garment. By this time it had endured so many of Michael’s various accidental spillages over the years, it now made Joseph’s Techni-coloured dream-coat look like a nun’s laundry basket.

This though, was one hangover too far, he dumped it in a bin near the house we were staying. If any of you are ever in south Thailand, and you see a local scamp skipping around in what looks more like a rainbow’s scab than a jumper, you’ll know the story of how the bin rummaging little tyke came to possess it.