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?”
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.
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.
“Who’s that man in your bed?”
“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!”