Khon Kaen To Udon Thani
Gotta stop drinking. Was pretty wasted the last 72 hours. A fifth of Johnnie Walker, a few shots of Yah Dong and lots of Heineken. Yesterday woke up hung over. Still had a little whiskey and three bottles of Heineken left when we got up at noon to get ready and packed. Drank it all while packing.
Arrived drunk at the Khon Kaen train station an hour before the train, so had lunch: Gai Yang, Som Tam, Kow Nieow and three shots of Yah Dong to wash it all down and aid digestion. On the train a lady was selling Chang beers at 40 baht per can. I bought some on the condition she drink with us. Bought beers for a few of the Thai passengers sitting around us too. Don't like to drink alone. It's one of the first signs of serious alcoholism! Asked the beer lady if she was hungry when another vendor approached selling roasted chicken livers on a stick. Bought her two sticks at 5 baht each.
On one of my frequent trips to the toilet, saw an old man with a live chicken in a basket. A fighting cock. Beautiful bird! Made some conversation, offered him beer (he declined). I wanted that bird and he said he'd sell it to me too for just 200 baht. My gal Pin talked me out of it, though. She said she didn't want it in our room and that I'd have to sleep with it. We were going to a pretty fancy place, so I guess Pin was right. I doubt they'd let us in with Durian, much less fowl livestock.
It was a little hot in the train, so I stuck my head out the window to cool down. Pin yelled at me to get back in. I had my whole torso hanging out when she tugged on my shirt to pull me back. A few minutes later, we went over a bridge, steel beams and girders passing the windows with only a few inches clearance. I could have been decapitated or even severed at the waist if I'd still had my alcohol-filled head hanging out there.
We got to Udon and checked into the hotel with no problems. The girls at the front desk seemed amused when I slurred my bad Thai at them. I was plenty talkative. They asked if I wanted a smoking or a non-smoking room. Not only did I tell them I wanted a NON-SMOKING ROOM PLEASE!, but also let them know my feelings about cigarettes in pretty extensive detail. (I hate cigarettes). I was making an ass of myself, but they only giggled. They told us we'd get a free breakfast included in the price of the room, and I explained why we'd never be able to redeem those breakfast coupons. We're never out of bed before noon and it takes me about two hours more before I've achieved a sufficient state of wakefulness to venture out the door. Breakfast is served until 10 AM. We'd miss it by 4 hours! I asked, "How about a free dinner instead?" "Uh, sorry Sir!"
The next day we had lunch at a cheap duck / rice shop. Saw a rat the size of a cat scurry away from me on my way through the kitchen to the toilet. Had second thoughts about eating my food after seeing that, but ate it anyway. Too embarrassed to say anything or leave without touching my food. They'd be hurt and offended. Hope I don't get that Leptospirosis that's been going around Isaan. If that rat pissed on the rice bags, I'm fucked. People are DYING from it!
On our way back from lunch, saw a tuk-tuk flip over as the driver tried to make a turn. The passenger fell out and hit his head pretty hard on the pavement, but seemed OK as he got up and walked off. The driver tried in vain to right the thing, but didn't have the strength. Lot's of Thai looky-loos standing around, but nobody offering any help. I finally walked over and lifted the thing back onto it's wheels. No one thanked me, not even the driver. Typical. One guy from across the street did give me a big grin and a thumbs-up, though. I think he was just grateful for my role in the entertainment.
The next day, I did a visa run across the Thai-Lao border from Nongkhai. After that, I had to send my gal Pin back to Pattaya on the bus. I would be flying alone to Phuket immediately thereafter. After sending Pin off, I returned to the hotel where her laughter once filled our room with joy. Seemed cold and empty now. What to do? Grabbed a large Heineken and jumped into the first bicycle samlor I saw. Just said, "Go straight." A couple blocks later he asked, "Where to exactly?" "Dunno. Someplace interesting. Someplace fun." A few more blocks and I was having second thoughts. Dark, spooky alleys. Shadowy figures peering at me through the gloom. Then, Aaaahhhh!!!!, music, red lights, ladies of dubious character and doubtful morality. Big, ugly, thuggish looking brutes staring at me and exclaiming, "Farang! A Farang HERE!" Another samlor driver appeared from nowhere and rode alongside us. The two drivers seemed well-acquainted. They chatted while pedalling, passing a cigarette back and forth. Then we stopped. A pretty, a VERY pretty girl led me to a tiny, dark room. She wanted 200 baht. I was thinking how stupid this all was. I had only a vague idea where in Udon I was. The samlor driver was waiting out front. I was alone with the girl. God knows what sort of mischief he might be orchestrating! Was I going to be mugged? I was nervous. I was scared. I had only 30 minutes! But it was good. I'd been bored of Pin the last few days and had been leaving her alone nights. Thus, I had some pent-up libido to release. No shower at this place.
My business finished, I went back out front where I expected the real trouble might begin. I got into the samlor and told the driver to take me back. He hesitated. An ornery looking guy I hadn't seen before approached and held two fingers up. He wanted 200! I told him I'd just given 200 to the girl. Good thing I can speak some Thai. He asked the girl (standing at curb side now) and she confirmed it. So, I told the driver again to take me back. He still wouldn't budge. Said something about waiting for someone else to go with us. That didn't sound good! I said I'd walk, and how much for the fare? "OK, OK, we go now!" And off we went. About half-way back, I was needing another beer in a bad way. "There's a 7-11! Pull over here! Waddaya want? I'm buying!" I got two more Heinekens, one for each of us, and we were back on the road. I had him drop me off about a block from my hotel where I ducked into this internet cafe. Asked him if 100 baht for his services seemed fair enough. He grinned, took the money and pedalled away. Noon tomorrow, I'll check out and leave for Phuket.
To me, this captures Thailand beautifully. You just never know what is around the next corner, or what will happen 5 minutes from now – and this is all part of the addictive nature of the place.