Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fear and Loathing 37,000 feet above Kabul

He who makes a beast of himself escapes the pain of being a man

-DR. Johnson

Okay so four hours in and I'm three whiskeys and two beers deep, can't sleep no matter what and it hits me that I'm going to be in Bangkok in a couple of hours. I look at the flight plan on the screen in front of me and we're hovering above Kabul, all the cities we're passing out seem like places you just don't go and it brings home the reality of what I've started. It's easy to say "I'm off travelling," but keeping the good humour that comes with planning when it actually starts is a little more difficult.

In an attempt to outrun the fear I order another whiskey - they have Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on the movie menu, a film I've seen at least 20 times but never once sober.

I can't speak the language, it could be a really dangerous city, I don't know where I'm going, it's going to be way too hot, I might get sunburned really terribly and have to go to hospital, what if I forget specify that I don't want ice in my drink and get dysentery- it's probably way too hot to be sick over there.

It's funny, watching Hunter Thompson attempt to check into a las vegas hotel suite under an assumed name with intent to commit capital fraud on a head full of acid actually chills me out a bit. I not going to be that bad at least... am I?

Notes on arrival:

1. I should have learned more Thai and not expected that bowing a little with my hands pressed together (called a wai, the equivalent of a handshake) with a stupid look on my face would intuit to everyone I was going to meet what I wanted.

2. Everyone who works on the front lines of tourism in Bangkok is out to get you. Just finding a taxi who isn't going to drive you whereever he feels like going and overcharging for it is a task that requires about as much effort as a days work. I'm unsure about whether this is an indictment of how hard I'm used to working or not but what I mean is: it's hard.

3. Everyone who drives a motorized vehicle in Bangkok has a death wish and gets up in the morning in the fervent hope of commiting ludic suicide. 100mph in lane 4 of 6 with more cars on the road than I've ever seen at rush hour at home and the taxi driver decides he wants to be on the far left: What does he do? He pulls the steering wheel down sharply with his left hand! That's all you need to do. I've taken four cab rides at the time of writing: I have no right to be alive.

4. Bangkok is huge.

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