As I exited the plane doors in Bangkok Thailand, I realized I was probably the most unprepared I had ever been for any of my travels. I was armed with a small backpack that would last me two months, several stories from a few friends about places to go and how to get mugged and lose all my cash, and a Lonely Planet book ‘Southeast Asia on a Shoestring’ which is intended to get you around to all the countries in the region and thus only provides few details of each country and adds a few kilograms to any backpack. While in the customs line getting hassled for my passport and being sent to the back of the line for some reason I will never know, I befriended an English guy named Johnny who had reservations at a hostel somewhere so I followed him with his permission. My first few days in Thailand were in Bangkok and I thought I would be lazy and quote from my journal from the time of these days as it is not the intended story of this entry and then I will get to the point.
From the journal…
July 10th at Big Johns hostel on Sukhumvit in Bangkok. Apparently Sukuhumvit is the longest road in the world leading into Cambodia from here. Could be a lie.
Got duped by a guy in a golden Buddhist temple as he warmed us with talk of the ‘middle way’ and then moved on to talk of knoglee suits which apparently are the best. Then we get taken to this suit place which looked the same as the rest. Didn’t buy any but got a free pepsi out of it. But seriously, recruiting tourists at a Buddhist temple?
Have befriended an English chap and we plan to move up North. I have no cover for my bag and my mosquito repellant isn’t strong enough by at least 32.5%. Malaria cant be that bad.
Only nights here and saw the same tuk-tuk guy, Tony, and same cheating little thumb wrestling kid. Tony let me drive the tuk-tuk which I almost crashed but I was the fastest on the road.
Saw the entire town by boat. Maybe too much. A lot of walking. As expected.
Saw some girls open a pepsi bottle with their pussy and then pull 20 foot rope out of that same pussy, amongst other things. I even stuffed a ping pong ball into a girls vagina, it smelled like rubbing alcohol. She was going to shoot it into my mouth but I pussed out, no pun intended. Got a few drinks out of it and a few dick grabs.
Red bull out here is definitely full of speed. I want to try 3 all at once and see what happens.
I am fed up with Bangkok. It reminds me too much of Tijuana. Tonite we ride a sleeper train up north. Hopefully I am not robbed and can find a cheap bottle of wine. Cant wait until Ko Tao. Now where are my socks? Oh right, the night of muay thai fighting, the long walk there, met some English, got drunk, burger king and 5 people in a tuk-tuk to sum up the night.
It is likely that if you goto Bangkok you will do all these things whether you want to or not. So then Johnny and I got on this sleeper train to Phikolok which he had convinced me to go to. I had no idea what was there but he told me there were some wonderful ruins and temples there and was not as well touristed as other places so I agreed as I rarely say no to anything. A sleeper train, I have aluded to before in other entries, but are these 30 car trains that have bunks up and down each side that move very slowly through the country side and stop a hundred times through out the night and your main fear is that a herd of small children do not run onto the train at one of these stops wielding clay knives sharp enough to rake an eye out and slit backpacks while they release chickens in the air to promote confusion. I am not overly tall at about 1.8 meters but these beds are designed for Thai people. It would be one thing if I was much taller but my bed was only about 10 centimeters shorter than I was so I was forced to sleep in a very awkward position which kept my legs bent and half leaned over while my back was twisted and one of my arms hugging my bottle of wine and backpack at the same time. At 4:30 am I was abruptly woken up by Johnny and we got off at our town with only two other people who were not very friendly. I immediately had this incredibly debilitating limp and all I could think of was that I had slept on my hip funny. I struggled on as it is the backpacker code to leave the wounded and slow behind. The town we had come to, Phikolok, was not a tourist town at all, in fact it was barely a town. There was no one out to rob us or say anything to and we basically wandered in a direction looking for accommodation. Ghost town. We found a place, payed our $1.75 for a double room and immediately both laid down to goto bed. And here is where my night began…
The hostel itself was lovely and very well decorated. All sorts of drapes with dragons on it and Buddhist symbols and knick knacks. The room was the same and had one large double bed with a large floor to ceiling window with a small patio that hung over onto the alley outside. This alley must have been the main through way for the town because even at 4:45 in the morning, people were flying up and down this alley and like all good countries outside of the U.S., no one uses mufflers. Johnny went to sleep immediately but I just laid there sweating in the 40+ degree heat wincing in pain as my aching hip would go from severely hurting to intolerably hurting. In this sort of heat you must have the window open which invited mosquitoes. I covered myself several times in repellent but I would lay still and feel it start to melt and then freak out as I thought it was a mosquito. That buzz you hear as one approaches your ear is bone rattling. I would watch in the shadows as one would land on Johnny, spend a good five minutes sucking his blood, and then struggle to fly off and I couldn’t understand how he was not affected. Here was my journal entry during this time…
From the journal…
July 12th. At London hostel giving up on sleep in Phikolok.
I don’t know if I have insomnia but when it is this hot, with a hard bed, and a window to the road, it just is not possible. Currently have 1 hour of sleep in 38 hours. Geckos crawl all around me and mosquitos just wait for the lotion to be sweated off. Very good sting on left thigh right now, wonder if I now have malaria? My leg hurts bad and I don’t know why and my throat is really soar. No wonder those punk kids in Bangkok were trying to make me buys halls medicine. Now whos laughing Luke? 2 hours until air conditioning seats. I will try my hardest to guarantee air-con room from now on, why not?
I am sure this sounds negative but the learning moves on. I wish I could dream inconscient dream right now. So thirstyâ€¦
I would get up and try to keep myself busy by taking some really nasty trips to the bathroom. The Thais have the bathroom sorted out. It is always a hole in the ground with foot holds on the side, you sit down and let loose. Your butt cheeks are in optimal position to not receive and particulate and that position promotes the body to get rid of more than you would sitting on a toilet. The toilets there always have a fancy way of providing water into a bucket that you use to flush. Water will trickle off the roof collected from cow sweat, hit a bamboo bucket held up by a monkey used only for this reason, who tips the bucket into a beaker lighting a torch which pops a balloon, that then scares a bird to fly over and hit a domino that cascades into others as it turns some faucet on to fill up your bucket. That night, I watched all that happen maybe 5 times. Be sure to bring toilet paper to Thailand if that is your thing.
I tried to go back to bed and lay there. I harnessed my chi and allowed for any movement on my skin to just go on and I succumbed to malaria if that was my fate. My hip hurt so bad that I had to whimper. I know that sounds rather wimpy, but I had no alternative. I felt depression for the first time in my life and there was nothing I could do about it. The time was moving in reverse and I saw no end in sight. It was too hot, I was hurting too much, and I was in a place I did not want to be. And on top of it I had to watch Johnny sleep happily and listen to him snore to make sure if my sleep was to happen, it would be with more noise than the raging vehicles outside.
In the end I never slept, I wiped my tears and limped the next two days and then my hip was magically restored just in time for some intense Takrar action. I did find out that the fan had two more speed settings which would have helped immensely and I also believe that this night was the first night that caused my hip problems that I have today which I will have to write about in another entry.
Charlie, this story is dedicated to you as I can half sympathize with your nights in Istanbul. Thanks again for the good times in Turkey!