The ‘ Bangkok Express’ trundled northwards as Paul expressed himself onto the tracks, from the cramped and steamy ‘Western’ lavatory in coach ‘D’. He knew that the high-octane lunch with which he’d fuelled himself prior to boarding had probably not been the wisest of culinary choices. Especially as he hadn’t visited the little boys ‘ room for days.
He knew he shouldn’t have laughed at the sounds Andrew had made earlier in their trip, when his digestive system had been going down the pan. For Karma had struck and now it was his turn!
He knew chilli to have a naughty habit of biting back – yet he had refused to listen to his gut instinct. He didn’t want to reveal too much information, suffice to say the two monks seated just outside the convenience appeared rather inconvenienced by his piquant visit.
Surely even The Buddha, Paul contemplated, had had to lift his robe at some point during his teachings. After all, he had found enlightenment under a fig tree, and we all know what a couple of fig rolls can do to one’s meditation schedule.
Many hours later Paul and his husband arrived at Bangkok’s Hualamphong Station, negotiated the ubiquitous hawkers and urchin and fell, greyish, into a pink taxi.
They then proceeded to travel at formula one speed in the wrong direction, courtesy of a driver who’d obviously just come off baby formula!
‘Boy Racer’ would hardly have fit as a description for this tearaway. He had a little too much fuel in his tank and Paul suspected it wasn’t just petrol. After forty minutes, when their Bangkokian Lewis Hamilton had realised he had taken them to quite the wrong suburb, they took a pit stop. He turned to the boys, his wild eyes full of contrition, and admitted he’d gone way off track. They doubled quickly back to the station where he honestly restarted the meter and they raced off again, this time towards their destination. Andrew complained that it was forty minutes of their lives they would not see again.
Paul only hoped he had another forty minutes to live!
They eventually screeched to a halt on the Khao San Road. Andrew paid their driver and gave him a tip – along the lines of ‘do go in the right direction next time and a little slower please’.
Only not in those exact words!
They arrived at the small, scruffy guesthouse which had earlier on in their trip been the cause of such drama.( See previous Blog!) Paul knew they were chancing it, but it was near to their drop off point, and after their drag race across town, his pulse was racing faster than Donald Trump’s on a ‘Stormy’ night in!
He and Andrew had only planned to hit the capital city for a night, but were once again entranced by it’s sheer audacity. ‘Bangers’ was as bonkers as ever. And both being in the same frame of mind, they decided to stay a little longer.
On the recommendation of some internet guru, Andrew had persuaded Paul to adopt a diet known as the 16/8. Apparently if one only ate during an eight-hour period, and then fasted for the remaining sixteen, weight would fall off like a stone. Regardless of what one swallowed. Paul was dubious, especially as he suffered from that most irritating of diseases – ‘Hanger’. If he didn’t get something down him regularly, something usually came up.
Like an axe!
Still, he was giving it a go as he wanted to shed a few pounds, and, so far so good. Little was he to know that it was to be his partner who was to lose his calorie control.
After a particularly humid day trekking across the city to find a special facial, (not that kind!), Paul and Andrew had come across ‘The Bully Bar’ on the Sumkhumvit road. An establishment with cheap beer and even cheaper ‘waitresses’! Paul had sunk a few, but Andrew, being in high spirits, and high on them, was in quite an altogether different bullring.
On leaving he seemed quite fine and looked to hail a taxi. Paul, instead, fancied a tuk-tuk ride through the vehicular madness that was known as rush hour. In fact,to him, every hour seemed to be rush-hour in Bangkok! He waved to a tiny man who had just pulled up in his tiny vehicle and did a deal. A rather good deal for such a journey. Especially in Bangkok. Where, puzzlingly, a rickety rickshaw often cost five times the fare of a comfortable air-conditioned cab. With egotistical abandon he had persuaded Andrew to jump in. They had only gone about half a mile when they hit one of Bangkok’s infamous traffic jams. It was then that the journey took a turn.
Or rather, Andrew, had one!
He had been tipsily studying the bill from the shady bar that they had just spent time in and the total seemed to be equally dubious. The ‘Bully’ had overcharged. And by quite some distance.
Paul’s attempts at pacification fell on deaf ears, Andrew was having none of it. He fumed and snorted, Paul thought he could make out steam coming from his nostrils. Andrew lit a cigarette and continued to rant.
‘And why the fuck have you stuck us in a bloody tuk-tuk in this fucking traffic? It’s bloody dangerous, all these fucking fumes. You’re an idiot. Think what we’re breathing in you twat’, he said, whilst dragging heavily on a Marlboro light.
‘Andrew lighten up’ Paul said. ‘And for God’s sake you’re smoking!’
‘So’, Andrew retorted violently, ‘this isn’t half as bad as this!’
He gesticulated wildly to what seemed like hundreds of cars, bikes, lorries, buses, and tuk tuks which were belching quite unregulated smog , quite regularly from their exhausts.
Paul noticed that their driver was glancing at them too regularly in his rear view mirror, mesmerised by the dramatic contretemps between the two ‘middle aged farang’ on his back seat. Paul attempted a reassuring smile, but their chauffeur looked away fearfully. If he had learnt anything about the Thais it was their hatred of confrontation. Andrew was proving, however, that the British suffered from no such fear.
‘I’m getting a fucking taxi’ he screamed.
‘Don’t be an idiot’ Paul yelled back. ‘This guy drives in this every day and he’s ok.’
‘You haven’t seen his fucking lungs’ Andrew shouted, and lit another fag.
To Paul’s relief they moved forward. But before they could approach any kind of decent speed they had come to another choking halt. Paul momentarily wished they had gotten into the taxi driven by the ‘Speedy Gonzales’ the previous night. They would have at least been at their destination by now. Instead they were again sitting in a noxious cloud and stationary.
‘That’s it’ Andrew exploded, ‘I’m out of here you dickhead!’
And with that he jumped from the tuk tuk and swaggered drunkenly across three lanes of battling traffic.
Paul sat back amid the acrid exhumation. Exhausted! He rarely saw Andrew so incandescent.
The driver was in complete bewilderment and stared at his remaining passenger.
Paul felt he should offer an explanation.
‘Too much beer’ he said with a fake laugh, ‘not your driving.’
This meant nothing. The guy looked blank.
‘Don’t worry’, Paul continued, ‘big tip for you’.
This did mean something.
The driver beamed with pleasure and all at once the traffic seemed to part like the Red Sea. Green light all the way and they were back at the guest house in twenty minutes. Long before Andrew, who arrived a good half hour later still fuming. Paul couldn’t help but smile smugly.
Andrew joined him and they argued well into the night until Paul left him to meet a friendly Finn, who coming from a country where alcohol is consumed like tap water, was more able to cope with Andrew’s excess.
The next morning as Paul sat in the torpid heat and watched five dogs fucking, Andrew came down from their room to join him. He leant down, kissed him on the head and in true Justin Bieber style said sorry. It had been the heat, the beer, and yet again the bloody hotel. Perhaps it had a hold over both of them – like the one in ‘The Shining’. Andrew had a look of Jack Nicholson at the worst of times.
Paul accepted his apology. They sat together and laughed. They drank coffee, and soda water, but ate nothing. They had seven hours before they could eat a thing on the diet they’d self imposed.
Paul was finding life in the fasting lane rather difficult.
He could feel himself sharpening his inner axe.
The canine screwing came to a noisy climax and the horny hounds went their separate ways. Probably for a spot of breakfast Paul imagined.
His chopper came to mind once again. Not the one used for dogging!
It was time to hit the State railway tracks. Probably utter lunacy, he thought, what with the state of his digestive tract. But he knew it was move or chop. His inner axe rose further under the shining sun. He was hangry for travel.
Best head north he thought. Laos here we come.
The boys donned their back packs and hit the already packed back streets in search of a taxi.
A fuschia cab sped immediately into sight and Andrew flagged it down. They threw their luggage into the boot and clambered into the back.
‘Hua Lampong – Krap’, said Paul, in terrible Thai. And then nearly choked on his fisherman’s friend. For he immediately recognised the wild eyes of the bloke behind the wheel. Before he or Andrew had time to change their minds, they were doing sixty down the centre of the road. Paul squeezed Andrew’s marvellous right thigh and they both had a fit of hysteria.
Probably the hunger as well as the coincidence of meeting Mr Gonzales again.
Still, they arrived at the station, safe and unsound and in two pieces.
It had taken about four and a half minutes.
No detours this time. Just pure speed!
They were both still laughing as their fleet friend did a wheel spin carrying off a new terrified passenger onto the city’s highway, his only code being acceleration.
Life in the fasting lane was definitely interesting.
But it was now time for some languidity, whatever that meant, and then lunch.
Only six hours to go!