24 September 2006

Chapter 1 - The Journey Begins

Friday 22nd September.

The seasoned traveller knows that when embarking on a long journey to a far-flung country, it's important to follow several basic rules to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible:

1. Check your documentation and currency.
2. Check you've packed everything you need.
3. Recheck your documentation and currency.
4. Recheck you've packed everything you need.
5. Repeat steps 1 to 4. Twice.
6. Get an early night.

Thus it was that I awoke at 3 a.m. on the day of my flight in three inches of ice-cold bathwater, the distinct taste of Bacardi still present in my mouth. Vague memories swept in and out of my consciousness of drinking in the pub with my ex, drinking at her sister's house, drinking at home then, finally, feeling ill and deciding that sleeping in a bath of cold water would ease my mounting nausea. I'm happy to report that it worked. I then went to bed.

At 4.30 a.m. I woke again, drank some water and did my packing. Shorts - check. Underwear - check. T-shirts - check. Everything else I needed I would be wearing or have stuffed in my pockets. Sadly, and the actual details of the event remain shrouded in mystery, my t-shirts never actually made it from the bed to the rucksack. I discovered this after 20 hours of travelling. I almost wept. Drunkeness will do that to you.

Which leads me onto my hangover, or rather, lack of one. After consuming as much as I did the previous evening, you have to pay the piper - and he will accept nothing less than pitiful whimpering, the kind of hand tremors that a cocktail waiter would be envious of, and a skin pallour which suggests that if you're not already dead, it really is only a matter of time.

I had none of these symptoms. Which, of course, meant only one thing. I was still drunk and the hangover was yet to come. Little did I know that I was to experience its full might whilst bouncing around in the back of a rusty, barely-roadworthy van, sitting on a crudely constructed wooden bench draped with an evil-smelling carpet, wreathed in cigarette smoke and wondering at what point the inevitable crash would occur and my short, relatively dull life.

What I also did not know is that the aforementioned would not occur in Thailand, but in the back of my brother's van, speeding down the motorway at 7 in the morning. The less said about that journey the better...

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