Dangers to Come

This morning I had a puncture. Actually I did not have a puncture, the rear tyre of my bicycle had a puncture, but as my bicycle seemed in an idle frame of mind it was down to me to mend the puncture. I was still at the lodge where I had spent the night so I set about the repair outside my room in the early morning sun, reasoning that not only would I mend the puncture that way, I would also hopefully make some inroad into evening out the patchwork tanning of my torso.
As I worked a man joined me. This is not unusual, my experience is that men are often fascinated by work, they can watch it for hours. This man must have been particularly bored though as he watched with great interest as the glue dried, then he continued to watch with equal fascination as I re-inflated the tyre. 400 strokes of the pump are required to get it to its minimum pressure, I think that he was bitterly disappointed that I did not take the tyre to its maximum pressure.
Once I had finished and donned my back-pack ready for the off he began to explain something to me. I know that what he was saying was nothing to do with buying two large bottles of beer. I also know that he was not asking if I had a room for the night or for a bowl of noodle soup, or if I could help him to locate a guest house. I know this as these questions are about the limit of my Thai. The words he spoke I did not understand, but by his inclination and gesticulation I did understand the gist of what he was saying, and the gist was, ‘there be trouble ahead’. There is, wherever one is in the world, and in whichever direction one is heading, trouble ahead. There is never trouble here, There never seems to have been trouble where you have just come from, but there is always trouble ahead. Nobody has ever said to me ‘ohhh, you are lucky to be alive and in possession of all you limbs this morning, there is usually much violent trouble here in my hotel of an evening’. They never suggest it is a miracle to have left the place you stayed last Thursday with you life or that England is a sorry and violent land. But they do suggest that wherever one is heading next is a place full of woes. In Thailand it is not so much violence they are concerned with, these people are buddhist, it more of a christian thing to be preoccupied with violence,. No, he was warning me of was hills. People always have the hill of all hills right on their door step. I was once cycling through the USA when a well meaning chap said to me ‘best you give in son, you will never get up the next hill’. I explained that I would give it a go and he explained that I could but it was a waste of precious time as it was simply not doable. I said that I thought that I would probably just manage to struggle up it and he told me firmly that I would not. The conversation went on like this for some time until, fearing that I would not get away before night fall I said ‘look, I have just recently cycled through the Himalayas’ to which he said ‘ahhhh’. I left to the sound of bellowed warnings of dangers to come. I have had so many of these warnings that I tend now to take no notice of any of them. Hills are generally made at a gradient that can be tackled by a loaded lorry or pack horse, and if a place is that dangerous then no one will be there. What no one ever warns of is the broken glass on the side of the road, Within ten minuets of leaving I had another punture.



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