Freddie and I were desperate to get to Tonsai. The gateway to Railay, a climbing mecca just north of Krabi. It was to be a long 350km motorbike drive to get there – from Pak Bara to Ao Nang. We were sad to be leaving Ko Tarutao, but it was time for a different adventure to begin.
We hopped on our bikes, slathered ourselves in sun cream and began to drive. The target was Trang, a city in the middle of the Thai peninsula, where we would spend the night as a break. We arrived sweaty and tired, and immediately grabbed some beers at a tiny restaurant with some mega air con.
Then we found a hotel to stay at. It was the best we could find, but it was one of the strangest places I have ever stayed. It was a massive multi-storey cement block full of dingy rooms you’d imagine contains the murder from a Raymond Chandler detective noir. The hotel also expanded across any alleyway to encompass the building opposite, with corrugated iron panels slapped across the top as a makeshift roof. Drips feel audibly into dark nooks and crannies, lit by the glimmer of various neon lights. It was like a scene straight out of Bladerunner. We immediately comtemplated leaving the city for a more favourable locale. But then it began to rain. Some of the hardest rain I have ever seen. We were trapped in Trang.
So we sat under cover from the rain in the nearest bar and smashed as many beers as possible until the time would come that we could leave this godforsaken city in our dust.
And so it was that we hopped on our bikes the following morning and continued the trek north. By this point in our travels my bike had seen some pretty terrible days, and as a result it was falling to bits. It could barely accelerate and we still had to kick start it every time. There was also a constant ominous rattle as a permanent reminder of our proximity to death by crash. We decided to switch it out at the rental place as we passed Krabi.
Unlike our previous drive in to Krabi, this one didn’t go so well. Freddie was angry that the bike was faulty, so he refused to put any petrol in it before giving it back.
“We’ll be ok with what we have”, he said confidently.
So about 2km outside Krabi the bike ran out of fuel. It sputtered, puffed and sighed a deep sigh. Then drifted to a halt at the side of the road.
“Shit!” We simultaneously thought. But oh no, we were in luck! For somehow out of sheer glorious luck Freddie had broken down right next to a petrol seller. In many South East Asian countries there are clever entrepreneurs who fill bottles of any kind with petrol to sell to passing motorists. Beer bottles, whisky bottles, every bottle imaginable, stacked one upon another with highly flammable liquid inside. This petrol seller was a godsend to us, or so we thought. Freddie bought a bottle from the ultra friendly elderly gentleman and filled the bike. But when we went to kickstart it we reached a little problem. It would not start. We tried everything, stamping and kicking and twisting and pushing. The elderly gentleman came over and tried himself, giving us a disapproving look with his eyes. But it was not to be. Even he, weathered with the knowledge of the years as his was, could not get the bike started. There was only one resort. I would have to sit on the dodgy bike while Freddie drove behind pushing me with an outstretched leg. This would be the second time in two weeks we’d had to do this, only this time it was much further and on a bloody road.
I wobbled all over as cars, trucks and motorbikes zoomed past us on either side. Freddie went red with exertion, his leg trembling with the strain. But somehow, fortunately, we made it. Freddie unleashed his wrath on the motorbike hire guy, but with his chilled out rental-guy demeanour everything just washed to nowhere. Fortunately he understood our plight enough to switch our dodgy bike for a better, much faster one. Freddie was exceedingly content with this, and so on we rushed to Ao Nang, the gateway to our rock climbing adventure…..