biking hitchhiking and two nights in the same bed
At last I have spent two nights in the same bed with nothing to do the following day. Well, actually that is untrue, I have spent but one night in the same bed, but I will be in the same bed tonight and the feeling is the same; wonderful. Last night I slept the sleep of the dead with little disturbance, and come morning time I woke for a while and then slept until such time as my name changed to Rip Van Walker. It was, in every respect, a splendid night.
Yesterday was my final day in a long and quite convoluted journey of necessity utilising bicycle, train, and pick up truck.The pick up truck was an unplanned but essential and, as it turned out, exhilarating part of the trip.With my goal of the past week in sight I awoke early as has been my curse for a while now and told myself, ‘Walks, one coffee old boy and on your way’. I had two hundred kilometres between me and the luxury of several nights in the same bed. I was looking forward to it. I looked at my watch again at seven thirty and decided that I could slip in one more coffee before the off. Come nine I told myself that this really would be my last coffee and that I should pack, have a spot of breakfast and leave; god I hate myself at times.
Come two in the afternoon I was whizzing along at what I considered to be a respectable 30 kilometres and enjoying the flat road and favourable wind. I shall refrain from over inflate myself by pretending I had whizzed all day, I whizzed the first 30 kilometres then huffed and puffed and wheezed all red faced and moaning like a retired general with gout over a mysterious 900 metre pass that had escaped my attention during planning, quite probably because my map was in a bag in Bangkok. By god it was warm. In the heat the pass was more strenuous than I considered sporting. The rewarding down hill was interestingly adorn with frequent skid marks that came to an abrupt halt at the steel barrier that carved an arc around the outside of every curve protecting the drunken motorist from a long and ultimately painful plummet. On at least two occasions the skid marks ended in such a manner that suggested that the plummet had not altogether been avoided.
Come two o’clock reality bit, a late start and a six o’clock sunset conspired to thwart my 200KM delusion of grandeur. I checked my watch and I checked my distance, I muddled my way through some rudimentary mathematics and drew to the conclusion that there was only one course of action. I pulled over.
I have noticed over the years a growing global fad for pick-up trucks, a fad that Thailand has not excepted. This is good news for the weary wheelman. I pulled over and stood beside my machine trying to convey an image that said ‘I am a weary, please help’ whilst not looking like I was about to collapse and cause much bother and unwelcome concern for any kingly soul of a mind to pull over. It worked, this is, after all, Thailand. Within two minutes of stopping my panniers, machine, and I were all comfortable ensconced in the back of the big white motor car and on our merry away.
I love the feeling of being sat in the back of a pick-up truck. The wind in your hair, the sun on your face, I find it all rather exhilarating. I understand that in Australia it is now forbidden to allow a dog to sit in the back of a pick-up truck. To my mind this is a travesty, destructive of a culture. If such rituals were taken from the minority peoples of the ex-colonies there would be international outcry and. These people would eventually receive compensation in such form as the renaming of very large rocks, petrol discount coupons and ten percent discount on motel rates. I know the last two to be the case in Canada as I once hitch-hiked with a Mohawk Indian Lady for two days and a night. I thought of this when last in the UK. Whist wheeling through the countryside I passed an old farmer shuffling towards his rather weather worn and battered Land Rover. As he tightened the piece of bailer twine that held his britches in place his pair of old and weather worn dogs jumped into the back of the Land Rover and, once the old fellow was sure his trousers were secure and had settled in behind the wheel they set off. Well, the dogs loved it. They were in seventh heaven; darting first this way and then that with their tongues dangling from the corner of their mouths and their ears flowing back in the wind. I know how those dogs felt, I was loving this. To think that no longer can Western children enjoy such freedom as we did when I was a lad, nor, as I mentioned, can Antipodean dogs, struck me as a shame.
As the world whizzed by in a blur I got the feeling that the next hundred kilometres would be sucked up and spat out behind us in a matter of moments.
I felt a surge as we begin the climb, a little more gas and that was it, woosh up we shot. No huffing and puffing and sweating and groaning and dribbling, just onwards and upward effortlessly.
We hit a twisty section and, as I shot across the back of the pick-up grappling for my panniers and pinning down my front wheel with my left foot, I recalled pointing to my watch by way of explaining to the driver that I was not, in fact, lazy git, I was simply pressed for time. I now began to consider the notion that he thought I was in a hurry, and, in true Thai style was doing his best to help.
We raced on. During one rather daring passing manoeuvre accompanied by the sound track that American police cars always seem to have in the movies I decided to rest my eyelids for a wee while. From beneath the bonnet came a phwee sound that I recall my old chum Clarkey explaining was to do with large turbo chargers and that somehow this noise created immense power. It seems I had hitched a ride in the fasts Hi-Lux in Siam. The sudden rearrangement of my internal organs hinted that we were cresting a hill, I opened my eyes and chuckled, Policemen were darting in all directions as we dashed through a check post with aplomb. It was all becoming rather exciting and I wondered if my driver’s friends would know anything about the skid marks and rearranged foliage on the decent of the earlier pass. The slight misjudgement of a manoeuvre involving a buffalo cart and monk turned the spotlight to our Braking prowess which seemed to be on par with a Formula 1 car I thought as I found myself being catapulted forward with immense velocity only to be to be hauled up short by a nasty interaction twixt my person and my machine’s handlebars. I will not go into detail, I am hoping to rid the incident from my memory soon.
A while before town we turned from the main road and took a short cut along a minor road. It was a lovely detour through a pastoral scene of rice fields banana plantations and jolly peasants toiling beneath the sun, although the extra bumps and pot holes did little for my comfort and I did begin to consider the wisdom of being strapped to a comfy seat just behind the trucks crumple zone. But I had loved the journey, it made a nice change and it got me to town three hours before sunset. I thanked my driver and offered him a little money for a cold beer. Point-blank refusing the money he put his hands together before his chest as he said god bye, jumped into his truck, put the phone to his ear and spun round in a circle causing much squealing of tyres from an on coming truck and disappeared with a shroud of dust and a phweeing turbo charger.