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Disaster strikes.

THAILAND | Saturday, 23 December 2006 | Views [4786] | Comments [1]

A look of fear at impending disaster.

A look of fear at impending disaster.

If it was memorable experiences I was after, I certainly had my fair share already. Again my better judgment let me down and part of my knee and elbow is left on the road somewhere as a result. The Ko Pha-Ngan tattoo is one of the cheapest, easiest and most commonly acquired tattoos in Thailand and I am not sure who does the better trade, the hospital or the motorbike repair shop. Permit me to spin the yarn.

Having a fear for any vehicle with a motor that can propel you so rapidly to an early grave, I have not had much experience with motorbikes. Safe to say I probably won't have much more to do with them either. While out wandering on the first night, I came across a Swedish guy trying to rent the most powerful bike available. I considered such an endeavor to be pure foolishness, a consideration wholly absent from my thinking when Harry suggested we hire a bike two nights later. Feigning incompetence, I assured Harry his only chance to get me on one was as a passenger, or if the bike was an automatic. Harry himself had previously admitted he thought hiring a bike was sheer lunacy but better judgment had obviously escaped him at the time too.

Unable to find any automatics, we settled on the weakest manual scooter they had on offer. I watched anxiously as Harry stalled four times before shredding some rubber and covering the front of the bike shop in a hail storm of gravel. Harry's friend Volka shook his head dismissively and suggested I get off and walk up even the slightest incline to wait for Harry to fishtail his way to the top. I agreed, then tentatively hopped aboard and we set off the explore the island.

Half the road between the beach and the main port town was a decrepit dirt track that small rivers of water had gouged little canyons out of. Vast portions of the track contained holes "big enough to f*#king live in", as one eloquent speaking Londoner succinctly stated. Harry thankfully tackled these with the utmost caution and apart from stalling quite frequently, the track was negotiated skilfully. Problems arose when we arrived at the paved portion of the road. Speed lust overcame Harry and had I been white-knuckling his neck instead of the grips behind me, he might have gotten the impression I was a nervous passenger and slowed down. After passing a corner whose eroded shoulder fell to a three metre drop, the next corner was taken too fast and toowidely, but slow enough for me to scream at our impending doom as the bike slid off the road. Both of us were unceremoniously ejected although Harry's bail was delayed by the hope he could recover the bikes vertical orientation. This I had given up on as soon as we rounded the corner and I think I was more prepared for an emergency crash landing. My precision roll, honed from many similar stacks on my push bike, left me with a big graze on my knee and elbow and a few smaller scratches and bruises here and there. Harry scored 5 larger and deeper grazes and a degree of remorse I tried to counter by bursting into laughter, delayed until our respective bone integrity was confirmed.

The bike suffered similar wounds but was fit enough to take us to the nearby hospital. This portion of the trip took far longer than the previous part yet still my fingers hurt most from the tightness with which I held on to this motorized widow maker. A painful cleanup with some saline and I was gravy. While being cleaned up though, Harry filled the ward with such colourful language that I implored him to swear in German so the poor Thai girls didn't get an education that would have horrified their parents. Harry graciously covered all bills, a paltry 300 baht for my cleanup and a bottle of iodine as a souvenir, and covered all meals as an apology until he left the following morning.

The hospital also housed the same Swedish guy I had seen on the first night. After successfully navigating the dirt track, he was also overcome by speed lust, fueled by alcohol, and tackled the mountain shoulder first, painfully relocating his left arm from his shoulder to his spine. Even though he was in excruciating pain, he claimed to have preferred his injury to mine due to the number of scratches that lead to infection in this humid climate. I thought he was still drunk, and as my wounds soon after hardened nicely to look like a well barbecued rissole, complete with iodine marinade, I think he was just delirious from pain.

Not content with merely riding on suicide machines, I thought I would give my digestion some reason to give me grief as well. Had I more sympathy for my backside I would stay well clear of white rice for the rest of my life. And now the joy of infrequent passage is quickly overcome by having to pass what feels like knotted barbed wire. Long resigned to the impossibility of veganism in Asia, I thought that the acidophilous in yogurt may help placate my angry bum. Not so, as a long absence from my diet means an inability to handle much dairy. So from bad to worse and ahhh, my ass hates me.

And with no improvement in the weather either, I have decided that today is going to be all about some quality hammock time. Before finishing though, let me just air the last of my grievances. The most commonly used vegetable is cucumber. Dry ginger ale to mix with whiskey is extremely rare. Speaking any Thai other than a greeting invites your listener to assume you are fluent and they attempt to converse with you as such. Vegetarianism is often confused as not eating humans as every other meat sneaks its way into supposedly vegetarian dishes. Insects are more closely related to piranhas. A small but vocal section of the tourist industry is more closely related to sharks. There is no dark chocolate. The no mucking-around Asian squat toilet is harder to come by than the newspaper-reading Western throne version in many, even cheap places. Reading the label of the cheap alcohol bottles will give you a hangover.

And the quote of the day comes from Harry after packing his things in preparation for departure. My laughter and lack of need stopped me from taking up Harry's offer of using the remainder of his "er... how you say, asshole paper!" Cheers to Harry, a really great bloke and an absolute pleasure to spend time with; my Ko Pha-Ngan tattoo brother.

Tags: Misadventures



I swear I know more about your bowel movements than my own!!! What a trip :-) You bring adventure to any destination you venture.

Have a very Merry Christmas and try and stay out of trouble, hospital and the loo...

Lots of love
Z xxx

  Zoe Champion Dec 23, 2006 6:51 PM

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