Thai Days: Suppose you were involved in a traffic accident and nobody cared?


Hugh Paxton’s Blog was in a shuttle bus to Phrom Phong when there was a colossal bang! The driver had hit a wall. There was another bang. Even louder! A car had hit the shuttle. I was impressed by the supreme indifference of my fellow passengers to this catastrophe. The driver clearly was in a state of despair, the bus wasn’t going to be shuttling anywhere soon, I climbed out wondering whether there was some smeared pedestrian in need of mouth to mouth and I sensed what was coming. Hours of arguments between drivers and then police and then more hours of delays. There was an Aussie in the front of the shuttle. He looked big, gormless, and covered in tattoos.

It happens to some people when they come to Thailand. They get tattoos and then more and more and in extreme cases, like this one, skin is but a distant memory. The guy (or gal) becomes a walking art gallery.

“Are you going to Phrom Phong?” I asked.

“Yes,” the tattoo responded.

“This is going to take a while. Do you want to share a taxi?”

“I don’t have any money.”

“My treat. Come on, you’ll be stuck here forever.”

“I’m OK.”

“Well, your choice, I’ll see you here tomorrow.”

“Are you coming back here?” He looked confused.

Really! Some people shouldn’t come to Thailand! This fellow was out of his depth!

I walked, followed my nose, got lost and an hour or so later found the photo shop I’d been hoping to arrive at two hours earlier. My God it was hot! Every motor bike taxi driver was sprawled under shade, the wok friers were complete goners , the only man standing was me. I forged ahead. It’s an English thing. Stupidity.

I was worried about the time. My beloved daughter was home alone and I thought she must be fretting. The photo people are normally ladyboys, but it was clearly a transsexual holiday and there wasn’t anything intriguing behind the counter. Just a kid with spots. He told me to come back in 40 minutes. Blimey! Forty minutes! And nothing to do with them.

But in Bangkok that’s never true (unless you are covered in tattoos and stuck in a minibus). I met two women. One was a rather sleek Bangkok edition of the very rich, the other was a wrinkled old granny with a cart load of crabs and serious prawns. They were chatting and the rich lady gave me a look that said “help this old girl out” and I thought OK I’ll buy some crabs and prawns, help the old girl out, and the granny looked delighted and tried to kiss me. The rich lady gave me one of those smiles you want to bottle and preserve. 40 minutes flew past.

I got home and was worried. Had Annabel been frightened by my absence?

She was playing football!

“I was in a traffic accident!” I insisted. “I walked for hours! In the burning sun!”


Ahah! A response!

“These pumpkins need bamboo!”

“I was in a traffic accident and walked for hours..”

This was going nowhere.

Chang turned up.

“I was in a traffic accident and walked..”

“This is great! Khun Hugh! This is number one!”

He was talking about a couple of bootleg DVDs I’d picked up.

I waited for my beloved wife to come home.

“I was in a traffic accident and…”

“But you’re fine right? What are doing with all these shrimps and crabs?”

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