I have no idea why, but yesterday evening while lying in bed listening to a random mix of 'desert island disks' on the radio, while periodically flicking on the TV to check on England's progress in the quarter final of the european cup, I started thinking about a random evening in my life about 8 years ago. So thought i'd share......
I was nearing the end of a 6 weeks trip in Thailand and Loas. I had spent some of it visiting some churches in various places, and some time on a beach in the beautiful Island Ko Samui and Ko Tao. My friend had been with me on the last leg of my journey, the beach part....oh the beautiful beach part. She had flown home the day before, and I had about 5 days left before travelling back alone. It's weird when I think about it, cos now, most of the time people know where I am pretty much constantly. But then, no one did. I was staying at a beach resort on an island, on my own. It was great. So the first night I was alone, I headed to a local bar on the beach, a quite out of the way kind of place, we weren't staying on the main 'strip', not a fan of places like that, so this place was a quite backpacker type restaurant on the beach, looking out at palm trees and crystal waters. They showed films occasionally- so I went there, lemonade in hand, and sat down ready to watch 'The Gladiator'. There was a couple in the bar doing a similar thing to me, kind of killing time, kind of watching the film. No one else was there so we got chatting.
A few days before I had seen that John Lee hooker's daughter was playing at a bar in the town that night, (maybe that's why I thought of this story as one of the desert island disks was J L Hooker) I was planning on going, so they hopped in a taxi with me and the three of us, complete strangers but with enough in common for that moment, headed out for what seemed to be an evening together. I already had Chronic Fatigue at this point, so wasn't planning on being out for long, as I was needing to sleep. We arrived at this Blues bar, it was bustling. Zekhiah hooker turned up, and started playing some beautiful gritty music, It was lovely.
Then things started to get a little, well, strange. Myself and my newly found companions had kind of exhausted all the usual topics of conversation one persues in these circumstances. Then, in walks this man with what seemed to be a small entourage of friends with him. I recognised him as the guy driving down the main street on a harley with bizarre white blonde flowing hair, he was a hard face to forget. He asked if he could join our table. So he, his thai girlfriend ( albeit one he was paying ) and about four other people kind of sat with us, introduced themselves and proceeded to chat and talk to us like we'd all know each other for years. Now, don't get me wrong, I can get someone's life story out of them in no time at all, I am fairly handy at talking to people I don't know, but this gaggle of people took it to the next level. The guy with the blonde hair - crazy harley guy was ordering drinks for everyone like the bar was about to close ( it was infact about 9pm ), seriously he just ordered bottles and bottles of beer, masses of shots and when he asked me what I was drinking and I replied 'lemonade' he looked a little bewildered but ordered me four. I'm not sure if he was on 'something', or was in the middle of a manic episode of some type, but this guy new how to 'party' as the cool kids say. The couple I was with were a bit younger than me, impoverished back packers, and thought it was Christmas ! - loving the free booze, and that we had been enveloped into the party of some slightly crazed american guy. As the time passed it just got more surreal....we were invited on a speedboat to go jet skiing the following day, and I was asked if I would meet up with him in London when he visited and showed him around.....how did I explain that I did intact live in liverpool, and had barely been out to the good clubs there, how I was going to show him where to go in London was another matter entirely. So I kind of smiled and replied some half hearted response. He told stories, everyone around him listened and drank the drinks he paid for with bizarre lavish outpouring. Now thankfully, although only 24 at the time I have never been too naive, innocent maybe, but not naive, so decided that maybe it was a safe time to part company with this slightly crazed gathering I had been part of, it had been fun, but felt that maybe everyone else had sufficiently passed me on the sober - drunk scale, and seeing as I actually knew none of them, it's never great being around drunk people when your sober and you know them, but when you don't it's even more strange. So I said I had to go as I was leaving for Bangkok in the morning ( which was true), Crazy Harley guy stood up and INSISTED that he gave me a lift back to my beach hut on his harley, which was sitting outside the bar. I politely declined, although would have loved a ride on it ( I have always wanted a motorbike) but he wasn't taking any of it, so I, made up a story about having to pop to the local shops first to get some gifts for my family to take back with me first. ( this bit was a lie - and I very rarely lie, I am no good at it). So I then had to walk in the opposite direction to enforce my tale of going to the shops. Then when out of sight hop in a taxi and duck as we passed the bar. I got home safe, and realised that yes I'd had a very enjoyable, abeit slightly unusual evening, but was pleased to be safe in my beach hut, locked the door and put my heavy suitcase up against it, went to bed, and prayed for God to keep me safe !!!
I was slightly worried for my backpacking friends, that they may have been sucked into some slightly crazed orgie, or ended up trafficking drugs or some other weird thing. But I escaped unharmed, and with a very weird memory of my last night on the beautiful Island of Ko Samui. The next morning I got on a boat, then the overnight train, that was another interesting experience, but i'll share that another time.
I love travelling.
One day I hope to do it some more.