The Moment I Thought There Was A Real Chance Of “It All” Being Over
It was the day I had not been looking forward to after what surely had just been the "time of my life" so far. I guess for this reason it even made the factor of death at my young age seem very realistic in the reflections that I was unknowingly about to encounter.
It is always the same, isn't it, when you have these personal moments of absolute clarity about your situation and they seem to come at a time when you least expect them to. Sometimes the person who makes you realise this is almost some kind of mystical and magical character that you may only ever meet once in a lifetime. At this point let me introduce you to Mr. ThreeTeeth.
Mr. ThreeTeeth has been assigned this name based on the most basic of descriptions I can give to a man who not only does not speak the same language as myself but potentially speaks a language that is alien to those who even speak the same one as himself. He also had three teeth, that much was clear.
It was an accidental encounter, ironically I think by a totally different understanding of each others basic customs, but less of the explanation and let's just get back to the beginning.
I woke up content. I took a seat on the balcony, an art installation or presentation of some sort was calmly taking place in my view in this very quiet soi only a short ride away from the beautiful chaos of the city of Bangkok. This really was an unusually calm and almost surreal morning as I watched maybe one or two visitors attend and take a look at the artwork on display. I would look up the hotel name that I was staying in for you but it really is of no significance to the story. It is however the only place where I had felt a quiet version of being relaxed after enjoying so much of the chaotic nature of my surrounding environment. I have traveled alone many times, I was not new to that experience. The places I have traveled to were normally due to circumstance however and were rarely an adventure of the kind I now found myself in. I had always known Thailand was the one, I had never been there but I knew that one day I would and one day I would love it. It was on that list we all have of places we wish to visit and experience, I knew it was going to be the magical one and so it had been in many ways.
So with all of this in the back of my mind I knew that I had very few options now in how I would spend my remaining hours in the LOS. I left my lovely balcony and the calm room I had been staying in for 2 days and nights. It was time up, time to go, injury time in football terms. The clock was running out and my flight back to Farangland was that evening. It felt very imminent. I really had little time to do anything on this day but I did have a plan to squeeze the last juices of enjoyment out before the long journey back. I took the Chang bottles that were remaining chilled in the fridge with me as I loaded my small rucksack (I always travel light). These beers will be needed at some point I have figured.
Enter the morning heat of a quiet Bangkok soi. At this point I was indeed sure that the Chang beer was going to compliment this mornings beginning as predicted. So, I sit on some kind of concrete outside area to a 7/11, have a cigarette and contemplate the culture shock I am about to under go. My first time in Asia has been well over 5 weeks long now. This is actually the longest time that I have taken out of working life in years. This really is going to be an adjustment going back to whatever it all is there.
Enter the aforementioned Mr. Three Teeth. He was slowly riding by on his motorcycle and I had hardly noticed him. He was in the corner of my eye – a short, slightly overweight character but I had taken little notice. The one thing I did notice was a quick and direct bob of the head towards me and I instinctively responded as in the same way as I would in Farangland, as if I was already back there, I nodded back. You see where I come from a head nod results in a reactionary head nod back, like a "hi" or a return of respect of sorts. What I did not realise is that I had just promised / given the go ahead for a business transaction.
I had already planned upon visiting a friend before heading off to the airport. He was not so far away on Sukhumvit and that was my plan. My last goodbye, share a drink and a chat about our different experiences in this wonderful city we had both discovered for the first time. I had myself become acclimatized mentally to this city. I really had adjusted to this relaxed way of life I had been enjoying. I had stopped considering a lot of health and safety regulations drummed into me back home. The motorbike taxi, helmet-less had become my preferred method of transport and it was an exhilarating way to travel. I had even become friends with one driver who did not charge me a penny as long as he could come with me to the various clubs I was going to and I would buy him a few drinks and we would chat and have a good laugh. He was married with kids and could rarely afford to go have a bit of fun now and then or play some pool so the arrangement worked well. I was quite careful not to buy him many drinks though as he would be driving me to the next destination! This absolute reckless behavior on my part had not really entered my thoughts. If it felt alright then it felt alright. I had my own methods of working out when I may be in danger or working out what I can safely do at risk and what I can't, hadn't I? It had all worked out so far. That presumption was about to be seriously questioned.
"YOU WANT TAXI OK!" blurted Mr. Three Teeth.
"Erm, no" I explained realising that I had stopped him in his tracks with the return head nod and I instantly started to feel a little bit bad. The guy is trying to make a living, you know? I am visiting my friend soon anyway and my plan was to take a taxi like his but I am still enjoying the aforementioned nectar. I point to my Chang, "No, I am just drinking this."
"OK I WAIT!" Mr. Three Teeth enthusiastically calls out and smiles to himself, looking delighted. He proceeds to take a seat next to me. He really does seem genuinely happy during this brief interlude in our exchanges. I start to feel a sense of guilt. Let's get this right. I am no soft guy or pushover but I admire dedication and politeness when it comes to business. Before I can decide how I am going to politely decline and refuse once more my new friend offers further friendship…
"YOU LIKE ICE?"
"No, no" I reply with the alarm bells ringing in my ears. This is followed by Mr. Three Teeth indulging away happily on his "Ice" while still sitting next to me and asking me again if I would like some while poking it towards my face. I am now a world away from what was going on only 5 minutes ago and with little worldly knowledge I am fully aware that good old Three Teeth is completely off his head here.
So, we have a guy with teeth missing who just took a hit just happily waiting for me to drink up and finish the Chang and jump on the motorbike with him on a one way ticket into god knows what.
At this point I would think that any sane / normal (choose whatever word you find appropriate) human being would realise it is time to stop this situation of madness and get out of it. However, I feel like I will just have to go along with it. Did I mention the bike? You know those things you put your feet on? It had none of them. It was in short an absolute wreck of a f**king deathtrap. I am amazed the engine worked, really.
Was I really going to do this? What could possibly go wrong here?
I sunk the beer and decided it was time to visit my friend as I had already sent him an internet message that morning saying that I would. So I have my destination and I have my driver! I get on the bike with Three Teeth and we start moving, I hover my legs in the air as there is nothing to put my feet on and hold onto Three Teeth for dear life. The bike chugs along slowly down the back streets and it suddenly doesn't feel so bad. I am still justifying this decision in my head and we hit the real road. It no longer feels so safe now that it has become time to go fast time.
I had no fear when the previously mentioned taxi guy had driven me at great speed with his youthful excitement to impress me. That had actually felt quite safe but going at this speed with Three Teeth felt anything but that. Speed of course is speed which is also meth amphetamine which is also "Ice" which is what this guy is on so surely he has some focus and this is safe right?
I am not going to die now, am I?
Is this it?
Suddenly it hits me, this really could be time to go. It could be from this silly decision that my life ends because life is often ridiculous like that. This really did feel like something now out of my hands that I had to accept being a possibility. I just have to hope I am coming out of this one alive, I have to trust in Three Teeth. It is all down to him now. I grab my headphones from my pocket and place them in my ears. If it is time to go I am going out to music and I am going to close my eyes now. If it is time to go I have enjoyed it all but this adventure has surely been the greatest one of all so far. Sure, I am still young and all of that but, well, let's just listen to the mp3 player. Trust in Teethy, it is time for Techno.