The second hitchhike with the American begins a little shakily, and it’s the first test of our ability to travel together. This is why I prefer (and generally do) hitchhike solo. We’ve been waiting a good while at the end of the village road – which should usually be a great spot – but with nothing doing we begin to knock heads. Then finally at my suggestion, we walk a few hundred yards away from the junction, up the hill and round the bend – which is exactly where Alex was driving me.
And sure enough, experience pays off. Hitchhiking in a built up or busy area might seem like a good idea with a steady flow of traffic, but you’ll be hard pressed to get a ride. Once you’re out in the sticks, at least appearing to be in the middle of nowhere, you’re pretty much guaranteed that anyone who passes you (and has room) will pull over. There’s something about the desperation of it. A human being in peril and needing help, miles from civilisation. I always remember a scene in Superman II, when a newly powerless Clark Kent is trying to get back to his home in the Arctic in a bid to return to becoming Superman, and he’s wandering down a lengthy stretch of ice road in a blizzard. He’s freezing cold and can barely see his hands in front of his face when a big rig truck appears behind him and he turns to thumb a ride. It doesn’t stop, even as he desperately waves at the driver to pull over and give him a lift, it still thunders heartlessly past. In the scene, it solidifies how alone he has become. In reality – that would just never happen. In that situation, possibly life or death in arctic wastes, ANYONE who drove by would stop and give you a ride. Otherwise, you’re simply not human.
This isn’t the arctic wastes, but it is the jungle, and sure enough my instinct is right. We’re not really in the middle of nowhere (only having just left the village junction found the corner) but you can trick people into thinking you are, and as we struggle up the hill with our packs on in the heat, pretty much the first vehicle that passes slows down to pick us up. I bet my bottom dollar they wouldn’t have stopped if we were still by the village. We jump in the back, thankful for the first ride of the day, with me smiling like a smug bastard. I can never get enough of saying “I told you so.”
Riding in the back of a pickup with a partner is a lot of fun though. Usually, I do this alone, with only my thoughts and observations to keep me company, so it’s really nice to have someone to talk to and bounce off of. This is especially good if the scenery is awesome – which it really is. If you come to Thailand there is simply one thing you must do – get out of the cities.
It’s a short ride before we’re dropped on the main highway again, and then it’s easy pickings. From here there isn’t much of a tale to tell. We’re waiting no more than five minutes before our next ride can take us up to Kurabure, and following a quick coffee/toilet break, we’re in the back of our next ride all the way to our destination.
From there it’s easy to book passage to the islands, but not before we meet some douche American traveler who up until that point believed that he was the best thing since sliced bread. But after seeing us jump out the back of a truck, he’s clearly dismayed that he hasn’t thought about or BEEN SEEN to be hitchhiking.
“Are you hitchhiking?” He asks with a disappointed tone, before scoffing; “Yeah I think my stuff is too heavy to hitchhike with.”
Bollocks mate. Total bollocks. He’s laboriously showing off that he’s camping, going “off the beaten track” and traveling with one of those all green army surplus back packs – as opposed to the more traditional (and colourful) ones that everyone else has. “My stuff is too heavy to hitchhike with.” Ahhahahaha. Fuuuuck offfff! You couldn’t LIFT my bag you absolute twat.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh. Did I mention that I hate people?
Thankfully we’re going in opposite directions, and me and the bird pile onto a speed boat to take us across the water, and into a hurricane. Well not exactly – but we certainly hit some rough weather as we enter under a storm cloud. For someone who is fearless at getting into the back of motors with strangers, I do tend to shit myself in situations like this. I’m doing my best to show this is all completely fine as the boat rockets through and over the waves like a rollercoaster, beaming a fake smile and hiding behind my clip-on sunglasses. Water lashes from the heavens and from the sea and my gut is churning. I’m generally not a big fan of speed, and I mean that in every sense of the word.
A little damp, we break out into sunshine on the other side and set foot on Koh Phayam – our island home for the Christmas holidays. A beautiful, relaxing, tropical paradise…
…or so I thought.