That night we again slept in the back of the open truck as it drove through the darkness. It wasn’t as comfortable as Suwarno’s in Indonesia though, because this time we didn’t have any sleeping mats.
We were on a crate and, due to the pot-hole ridden Thai roads, every so often we’d take off and slam back down onto the hard, splintered surface. It was also a bit colder in Thailand than in Indonesia, so we both had to wear everything we owned to keep warm against the wind.
The next day we stopped off at Badge-u-up’s family home: a small shack in a coconut tree forest in the middle of nowhere, for a break from driving. We hopped out of the truck and passed the old grandmother who, by the looks of things, had been sat in the same position, on the floor, chewing and spitting tobacco whilst weaving coconut leaves, for the past few decades.
Sinjay, their rather forward 19 year old daughter, asked, via an English speaking family friend, if she could come home back to England with me.
When I told her that there wasn’t enough room in the truck, the family offered me an interesting exchange: Sinjay for Michael. As negotiations got underway some of the senior family members started inspecting Michael’s physical form, much like a Crufts judge would assess a dog, and earnest discussions commenced regarding Michael’s suitability as a coconut farmer.
I can’t understand Thai, but from what I could gather from the body language, they were impressed with his posture, which is only natural, but they were concerned about the strength of his buttocks (apparently vital for shimmying up a coconut tree).
“Err Rich? Can we talk about this?” Michael asked, looking anxious as he gave me his classic, ‘please, for the love of god, don’t broker a deal that involves me living out my days as a coconut farmer’ look.
I was loving the fact that the family had, for some reason, assumed the Michael was somehow my property, to barter with as I pleased, so I started playing up to it and told him to go and do the happy dance.
Michael trudged towards the truck, dragging his feet, past the old Grandmother, who’d apparently taken a shine to Michael, perked up a treat at the news that he may be staying. As he shuffled past her, she gave him a two-eyed blink and wiggled her nose like a rabbit.
She then jeered something in Thai, which I can only assume translates as, “Ummm mmmm. Yo baby, you got some fries to go with that shake?”
Negotiations unfortunately fell through though. To the Grandmother’s dismay, Michael’s buttocks were apparently considered to be too much of a liability (story of his life).
As we left, Michael said goodbye to his admirer and kissed her on the cheek. She blurted another coy giggle and then flirtatiously spat a clump of tobacco in his direction.