I’m Only The Driver
It was the beginning of a trip that I had been dreading for the past week or so. It has been the proper number of days, months or whatever making it time to "Move" Mrs. Claymore's deceased mother's bones from where they are now resting to their final resting place.
Don't ask me why I got a wicked headache trying to discover the reason or religious necessity of moving the bones so I gave up trying. The reason I was dreading this particular trip more than just the normal dread of going "Upcountry" was
that Mrs. Claymore in her infinite wisdom had invited two wives of friends of ours to accompany us on this trip.
You see my "Normal' mode of travel is to start the trip by putting into my CD player a ZZ Top or George Thurogood and the Delaware Destroyers CD and crank it up just to get my blood pumping. Then I take off in the "Thai Cannonball Run" mode trying to shave a couple minutes off my record to Ubon from Bangkok.
You see it's all the wonderful citizens in my home state Connecticut back in the USA's fault that I drive like this. I have to confess that I was a State Trooper for 20 yrs and I still drive like one but it's all your fault. Every time we went on a call for service we always get the same line "what took you so long?" it could be a simple raccoons in the trash or as serious as a homicide it doesn't matter when you guys want help you want it NOW. So as a defensive mechanism ALL Troopers drive as fast as they can to get to your stupid calls so don't blame us for always driving fast. For you East Coast of America drivers my record drive was from Connecticut to Disneyworld in Orlando Florida is 24hrs straight driving and that was 20 years ago before Rt 95 was finished and you had to jump off and on local route Rt. 301 for parts of the trip.
This time I was going to be hampered in my quest for a good time to Ubon by an extra 100 kilos of womanhood in the back seat. I was really concerned for them as the back seat in my Suzuki pickup is the correct size for a two year old Thai kid, not two grown women and the padding is only about 1 inch thick. I would last for about 1/2 an hour before yelling and screaming to be let out and they were going to be trapped in there for about 6 hours while being driven to Ubon by a speed freak. One other slight problem was that I have lowered the suspension on my Hot Rod Suzuki by 2 inches resulting in the top of the axle hitting the rubber stop so I had cut off part of the stop resulting in a rougher than normal ride when unloaded and this time we were loaded with goodies and women.
Long time readers of Stickman may remember an earlier submission of mine where I told the story of another trip to Ubon and how "Goong" from "Pussy Connection" bar had donated a bunch of stuff to hand out to the less fortunate people in Mrs. Claymore's old homestead and "Goong" had come up with another batch of "Goodies" for this trip. That meant that one of the things that got left behind on this trip was my spare tire because the goodies took up all the space in the bed of the truck and the back seat was going to be full of women. Now that doesn't inspire confidence starting a trip with a vehicle overloaded with free goodies and 4 humans but we were headed out Thai style anyway so I just thought Mai Ben Li (Thai for never mind).
My "normal" driving position is with the seat way back so that my arms can be almost straight out better work the steering wheel in the racing school fashion where your arms never cross while cornering. But on this trip in a gentlemanly gesture I moved my seat forward so the lady in the back seat would have a modicum of leg room. Bad move ….. now my knees were up around the steering wheel and when I depressed the clutch the clearance was so close my shin hairs made contact with the extra gauge panel that I have installed under the dash.
So we stopped at my friends house down the road to pick up my passengers and we were off. It was my normal trip to Ubon start time of 0330, late enough to avoid drunks, and everyone going to work. My two passengers had just come back from Goldfingers Bar where they had been with their respective husbands so I naively thought they would soon be fast asleep after being up all day. You would be amazed at what 3 women can find to talk about at 0400 in the morning.
Just like any other "Driver" I was sitting there driving the car and the 3 women forgot I was there. Think about it how many times have you been sitting in a cab talking away without a care in the world with the taxi driver sitting up front quietly eavesdropping on your secrets and you have forgotten he was there. It was amazing they thought they were speaking in some secret language by speaking Isaan dialect but little did they know I had undertaken a clandestine mission of surreptitiously teaching myself Isaan by listening to my wife talk on the phone everyday to her relatives. I had learned enough over the years to understand quite a bit and was merrily driving along listening in on them talk about husbands and who is good and who drinks too much and who fools around.
They caught on that I was listening when one of them said they should re-name the road we were on to "Bouncing Tits Road" because it was full of potholes that would shake your filing loose and every time we went over a bump their Tits would bounce up and down and I lost it and burst out laughing. They looked at each other and then one of them asked "Do you know what we are saying?" and after breaking out in that much laughing I had to admit that I did.
They were quiet for what seemed to be a few microseconds and then blithely went back to discussing bra sizes and other such womanly stuff. It really cracked me up when they all admitted to having their gold stuffed into their bras as that was the safest place and I didn't have the heart to tell them that if a male robber came along to steal their gold that the first place he would check would be their bras.
Naturally being Thais the conversation quickly turned to food as Thais can only go so long without eating or talking about eating. The three of them all agreed that as soon as we got there the first thing they would do was go out into the jungle looking to collect some red ant eggs. These eggs look like little white balls a little bigger than a BB and taste like nothing but the girls all love them only after putting in 1,000 chilies, hot enough to reach 100 scoville units of heat, scorching their tongues so bad that they couldn't taste anything anyway. They got all insulted when I told them if they wanted to eat bugs all they had to do was wait until we got there and there would be a nice collection of squashed bugs built up on the windshield and grille of the car and they could scrape them off and have enough bugs for a great bug smorgasbord and they wouldn't have to waste time tramping through the jungle looking for them.
The great open jungle areas in Thailand offered another line of food loved by the Thais. The girls all love walking out of the house and into the jungle and picking leaves and vines to throw into a pot and call it food when again they just throw in a bunch of chilies and with their eyes closed they couldn't tell the leaves from the ants. My idea of food is driving down to the local market and picking up a couple of steaks along with some potatoes and having a good meal and never had to venture into the jungle. They countered that the jungle stuff was FREE and I had to pay for mine and I countered if they bought food I would be paying anyway and it would still be free for them but I would still be paying, and that got me THREE dirty looks.
It was now about 0500 and the phones started ringing, and there are now 3 different ring tones and they are not just normal ring tones they are all specially downloaded musical ring tones that do not sound like ring tones. Mrs. Claymore loves these things and it seems like she changes her ring tone daily then she gets pissed when I don't answer her phone.
I can't tell when her phone is ringing as it doesn't ring it plays music and or sounds so there I am looking around to see if I left the radio on in the other room and by the time I find out it's her phone it has stopped ringing. I finally told her unless she gets one sound and keeps it at least a week without changing it I'm no longer going to answer her phone, she said never mind she wants to keep changing it so good for me I now do not have to answer her phone.
We had been on the road for about two hours and of course them being ladies it was overdue for a pit stop. My idea of a good pit stop would be like NASCAR or formula 1 racing style you know zoom in to the station one guy fills the tank, one guy runs into the store and gets my can of cold Coke, while I run into the head and bleed the lizard and by the time I get back the tank is full and I am back on the road wasting only about 2 minutes in my quest for a record time to Ubon. But nooo the ladies amble around looking at every item in the store even if they are not going to buy them. They hit the head one at a time all the while I'm sitting in the car nervously drumming my fingers on the steering wheel wondering if I could get away with giving them a HURRY UP blast of the horn without being "Cut off" by Mrs. Claymore for a week or two.
Back on the road in record time (record for longest pit stop EVER) and it is great. It is the day after Songkran and the side of the road going back to Bangkok is FULL. I mean every inch of the paved surface and even some of the dirt shoulder is covered in cars and pickups filled with 20 people and fans and motorcycles all heading in the opposite direction as we are. Our side of the road has about 4 cars but a bunch of busses heading "Upcountry".
The busses are my biggest "Entertainment" while racing, oops I mean driving to Ubon. My little Suzuki in stock form has a whopping 68 horsepower and with modifications I have made it is up to about 100 so I top out at about 150 kph on a good day and that is right at the mark where the busses top out. So on the flat stretches of road we are pretty evenly matched but in that hilly section on the way to Korat with the reservoir on the left the games begin. <Be careful there as there is a nasty left hander with the camber of the road going the WRONG way – Stick>
Going up the hills I get the best of them but once we get over the crest the weight of a fully loaded bus along with a big help from gravity and they end up trying to push my poor little Suzuki downhill so they can get up a good running start for the next section of uphill. The little Suzuki is pretty strong but in 5th gear it loses pulling power pretty quickly so in hilly sections like this I am shifting gears so often it's like a guy with diarrhea sitting on the toilet flushing his heart out. I used to try to stay in the right lane and screw with them a little by slightly pressing on the brake petal while keeping the gas floored just enough pressure to make the brake lights come on without slowing down.
I say I used to do this as one trip Mrs. Claymore woke from a sound sleep and glanced out the rear window to be greeted by the sight of a large bus grill about 5 feet from her face and she screamed and nearly gave me a heart attack and in my startled state I admitted that I was screwing with the bus and she went up one side of my ass and down the other about my being a dumbass crazy farang and didn't I watch TV news with all the bus crashes and to immediately and forever stop screwing with crazy Thai bus drivers. So now I am forced to do this only when I am SURE she is sleeping but alas on this trip all the girls were awake so I had to pull over and let them pass on the downhill section then pass them again and again when we got to the uphill sections.
As we were driving along I kept hearing a tingling sound and I was racking my brain trying to diagnose this unusual sound while trying to miss all the crazy bus drivers. I searched my memory for any car sound like this and then realized that it was occurring in time with the bumps in the road and I thought maybe my exhaust pipe was hitting on something as we were so overloaded. I was looking out the passenger side window for traffic when one of the ladies in the back seat just happened to reach toward the front to grab a water bottle from between the front seats and I saw the source of the sounds that had been driving me crazy for the past few hours. The lady had on a gold (what else?) bracelet that was like a charm bracelet but was a ring of hollow spheres that hit together when the car hit a bump causing this elusive tingling sound. ARGHHH !!
We had been on the road for an amazing 4 hours when the ladies all agreed that it was time for another pit stop. So being the gentleman that I am I pulled into the first gas station that we came to, a Thai PTT station. The girls and I got out and when I returned to the car I was shocked to see the girls had beaten me back to the car and I knew for certain that something was wrong as no woman had ever beaten me in a pit stop ever. So I asked what was the problem and they blew my mind with the news that the restroom was "Too Dirty to use". Now these girls were not pampered Bangkok born princesses and all of them had to "Shit in the woods" as it were so this place had to be really gross so being a guy I told them that I was going to check out this filthy restroom and they got all grossed out that I would actually want to check out a dirty restroom and they all yelled at me to get back in the car and get them to the next "pump" (gas station) as soon as possible.
I could tell we were getting close to home as the road is now beginning to be covered in "Buffalo Bombs" I.e. piles of water buffalo shit. These things are dangerous !! I happened to run over a fresh one at high speed last trip and there was chucks of buffalo shit all over the underside of my car and by the time I got back to Bangkok and tried washing my car it had dried to the consistency of concrete and the only way I could get it off was by using a paint scraper.
At last we were at the last gas station before our arrival with only about 1/2 hour to go. The ladies all went into the restrooms and when they came out I thought they looked different. It seems that the ladies had removed all their stashed gold from their bras where they had secreted it and the difference was notable because displayed on the three ladies was about 40-45 baht weight of gold necklaces, bracelets and rings which by any normal persons standards it a whole bunch to say the least. This amount of gold would equal or better 10 years salary for most of the folks living in the village where we were going but in the ladies minds it was their solemn duty to prove how good their husbands took care of them by displaying their gold.
So there we were at the gates to the village and this is going to be too long for one submission so I will stop here for now … stay tuned to this space for the rest of the story.
You are a brave man indeed. Once I did an inter city trip with three Thai women as passengers. NEVER AGAIN!