In Boots on the corner of Khao San Road, I’m looking at the shelf without seeing it when I hear this woman talking to the pharmacist. She’s struggling to find the right words
“How you say …leequid sheet”
And I smile.
We left Franz Josef late in the morning and started south and the rain was really coming down. The road between Franz Josef and Wanaka coils like a snake through the rainforest and mountains, past rivers and lakes and over creeks that resemble the dendrites of the Amazon we saw in Bolivia. It’s a beautiful road.
By its side in places are these strange circular formations of wooden boxes. I first noticed them coming this way on the bus. I wanted a picture so I asked Boxhead to pull over at the next set of boxes we came across. He drove past them and turned around, then drove past them again. Eventually we got there. I ran out into the rain to get a picture.
We carried on but I thought I wanted to look inside them, so at the next set we stopped again. Cautiously I lifted the metal lid but there was nothing underneath. Just a sheet of carpet stuck to the top of the wooden drawer beneath it. The drawers themselves didn’t open. I ran back to the car.
So there we drove, under the rain, wondering what the mysterious boxes next to the road were all about.
I woke up and there was sand in my bed. Not just a few grains but lots of sand mixed in with my hair and my bed sheets.
I lay there for a minute trying to get myself in order. I realised that I wasn’t really hungover, which was nice.
Jeff was already awake lying next to me (in a separate bed)
I couldn’t ask him what had happened because he hadn’t been out with us.
I swung my legs out of the bed and took inventory of my effects like I always do after drawing a blank following a heavy drunk. They were all there except for my watch. My watch was gone. I got up and walked to the bathroom, tracking sand all over the floor, and turned on the shower. I could remember fragments. I knew that we’d been to the same bar on Mushroom Mountain that I’d been to four years ago…
We were staying closer to Haad Rin then, close enough that we could walk to the beach if we wanted. I remember sitting in this bar on the mountain hoovering up vodka oranges off the table in front of me not really sure where they were coming from. I would pick one up and it’d be gone, then another, and another… I remember Mary going around and a thin old man who looked about a hundred. I figured he owned the place. The only other person of note was a young French guy thrashing about on the floor clawing and tearing at his skin as if there were bugs crawling all over him. Bad trip.
Then I remember crawling up the mountain on all fours looking for a WC (the funny thing is I noticed one in the bar on this occasion). Anyhow, I was slowly making my way up the mountain and there were these empty bars on both sides. I remember looking at them and they were ghost-bars, silent, quieter than quiet. But then as I continued on past, something in my peripheral vision would catch my eye and I would look again and the bar would be ALIVE! Flashes of bright light and sounds! I’d look away then back again and the bar would be empty and quiet once more. Walking back through the town as the sun came up people shuffled about like zombies, lost.
There are only two things I’m sure of in life, and one of them is that I don’t ever want to feel like I did the day after again, so I had planned to take it easy this time.
God damned whiskey buckets.
I walked out of the bathroom and the air conditioner was blowing cold. I dried off and got myself dressed (naturally), and then I walked next door to find out what had happened…
(The other thing I’m sure of in case you were wondering, is that The Wire is Mankind’s greatest achievement)
It was a cool night in Siem Reap. It had rained hard for most of the evening. Boxhead and I were the last ones left of our drunken party. We were at this table in this bar down this alley with some people I don’t remember, just a vague idea of faces. After a drink, Box and I left the bar to go to the 7-Eleven.
Outside the 7-Eleven there were kids. They followed us inside. Somehow, they got a hold of my flip-flops and wouldn’t give them back. Eventually I got them back in exchange for a t-shirt I’d won for drinking so much.
We sat in the back of a tuk-tuk where they continued to harass us. What they wanted I didn’t know, still don’t know. This kid swung. About ten years old. He punched me in the jaw. Then he did it again and went to do it again but this time I caught his wrist and looked at him and told him to stop, but holding his wrist, I noticed older boys materialise out of the shadows behind him.
I let go and the tuk-tuk finally fucking went.
And that’s where I’ll stop.