Jan 23


by in Drawing & Writing

Approaching us was a large yellow t-shirt with a short, unhappy woman inside. The dreaded trip had arrived.

“Ticket,” she demanded.

We gave three tickets.


Antje had the receipt.

Without further ado she turned and walked to Khaosan road.

I asked Antje if we were supposed to follow. Antje had no idea. I turned to the ticket-office. “Should we…?”

She pointed at the departing woman. “She take you.” We heaved up the packs and made after her.

Luckily our yellow-shirted leader was walking very… very… slowly. It wasn’t even walking, really. More like shuffling,

And it wasn’t really “leading”, either. When you lead someone, you sometimes make sure they’re still following. But she only looked at trinkets, or at t-shirts, or straight ahead, in an angry way, or up at the clouds, in an angry way. But backwards? Never.


“Does she even know we’re following?” Antje and Inga weren’t sure.


Don’t buses have schedules? This lady didn’t. How stressful and boring! On the plus side, at least we could check out Khaosan road one more time. All those DVDs for under $2! Maybe one more fruit juice?

“Are we even following her?” Antje asked.

Good question! Where’d the ol’ gal go?

But there she was, a yellow blob, bobbing ahead, shuffa shuffa. It was like a video-game where you have follow a slow-moving character from point A to B but, but aren’t allowed to interact with that character.

Our character reached a hotel, and yelled at it, “Ko Tao? Ko Tao?”

Some lounging backpackers shook their heads. She walked off.

A minute later, Antje grabbed my arm. “Aren’t we supposed to follow her?”

I looked for the woman. She was gone.

“I hope not. I have no idea. She would’ve said something, right?”

She hadn’t said anything. Or wait, Inga thought she’d said something. It’d sounded like “wait”.

We waited.

After a few minutes I asked the backpackers if anyone knew anything about going to Ko Tao. Of course not. Backpackers rarely know where they’re sleeping that night.

Antje asked if she should walk back to the ticket place. “And if she comes back?” I said.

Two minutes later, off in the distance, a yellow blob appeared.

“There she is. Awesome. We’re good.”

From there we shuffled another 200 yards (meters) or so and dropped our packs like the others had done. Mosquitoes swarmed us immediately.

Thirty minutes later we were allowed to board, and for the next thirty after that we sat on the bus, waiting, doing nothing. The doors were open, and for every one passenger approximately 10 mosquitoes also boarded, along with wafts of cigarette smoke from the smokers. The interior lights were green – who chose green? – making everything feel like a casino and everyone look like death. An American couple got on, hoping to find two seats together. Not only could they find two seats together, they could only find one seat total! The guy yelled for the bus-driver, and when the driver arrived, he surprised me by having a bowl-cut. “We have BUS TICKETS,” the guy pantomimed. His khaki shirt was soaked, especially under the arms. “There are NO SEATS.” The Thai driver got the message, walked through the bus, tapped a few shoulders, and somehow rearranged things so that a seat opened up.

At that the bus doors closed, locking us in with a few hundred mosquitoes. I swatted a good dozen of them – no buddhist, here – until the green lights went off.

The darkness invigorated the two Germans behind us, a guy and a girl who’d just become best friends. They talked about everything they’d seen and everywhere they’d traveled and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. I think they were attracted to each other, and therefore nervous, and with the darkness adding to the romantic potential, and probably some inadvertent-but-possibly-intentional knee-touching, they simply could not maintain 12-inch voices.

It had gone on for more than two hours – straight. This was seriously hardcore conversation, just pure unbroken strings of human language, and now that everyone else was clearly trying to sleep, including us, I decided to end it.

“Hey, would it be possible for you guys to talk a little quieter?”

“Oh yes, yes, sorry!”

So they were nice, in the end.

At midnight, after a few hours of fitful upright sleepiness, the bus pulled over. “Food! Last chance food before Ko Tao!”

At midnight? That’s not how life works! I wasn’t having any of it, and neither were Antje and Inga. The rest of the bus ate, though, with the male half already jockeying for the two Danish girls traveling together.

At 12:30AM we took. Up front the American couple were now sitting next to each other, and had befriended a pair of German guys. They too were engaged now in very loud conversation, and the word that kept floating back was “communism”. Why here? Why now?

One of the German guys turned around and shouted, “Now we’re talking some fucking politic, man! Now we’re talking some fucking politic!”

Two minutes later they weren’t talking “politic” anymore, though, which was good.

At 3AM the bus stopped again. We were “here.”

“Here” was the ferry terminal, our ride to Ko Tao. Somehow I’d understood that the ferry was to leave at 4:30AM or so, something in that range, but the schedule said differently. The first departure was at 7AM, or four hours from now.

So let’s… settle in!

They had a few tables with chairs, some drinks and snacks, and a flat-screen TV with an awful made-for-TV American movie about asteroids. Antje and I shared a beer. We all ate crackers. Inga fell asleep, then I fell asleep. Antje stayed awake. She shook my shoulder. “The ferry’s here.”

On the ferry we re-inflated neck pillows and rearranged ourselves in various sleepy-like positions. The water was calm, and then my shoulder was being shaken. “We’re here.” 2 hours had passed, and as we took a taxi to our bungalow place, and I was getting nervous.

Reservations are sometimes taken in Thailand, but they’re not taken seriously. Peter explained that there’s a cultural reason for this, that Thais will reserve six different hotels for a single night “just in case” they want to go to them. But as it’s high season, and as it’s our honeymoon, and since we’re also traveling with Inga, we had Peter call ahead and “book” something, anyway.

Sure enough, there was a problem.

“You supposed to come last night,” the woman said. “Room was empty.”

Not true, lady. That’d been our original booking, but Peter had called to change it to one day later.

She never received a call, she said!

At this point we couldn’t prove otherwise, so this went back and forth for a long time until finally we got into a slightly more expensive room, and Inga into a place next door.

[Peter did call. The woman lied, increasing her chance of reincarnation as a cockroach.]

Solve the riddle and win a T-shirt :)


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2 Responses to “Nightrider”

  1. From Manuel:


    very nice to read all the stories! Hope they will be a lot of other interesting things to read about ;-)

    Enjoy your tour, bon voyage and i’m looking forward to read the next stories!


    P.S.: “We are on ko tao” ? O.K., never heard before about that island. Thanks for this articel and the riddle;-)

    Posted on January 23, 2012 at 20:53 #
  2. From Jeff DeKoker:

    WE ARE IN KOH TAO! I added the exclamation point. That was a very hilarious read.

    Posted on January 23, 2012 at 22:43 #