The Longest Day Of The Trip

It started like any other day, experienced by everyone all over the world; it started with three young men sleeping on the same mattress in a wicker hut in northern Thailand. Several dozen irritating beeps of a wristwatch alarm announced the time to be 6:00 AM, which meant it was time to ride. Literally: on motorcycles, for eight hours.
And then get kicked out of a couchsurfing house, attend a Shabbat dinner, ruin a concert, avoid several beatings, save a career, and turn on each other 23 hours later.

This is the story of the longest day of the trip.

A quick cold shower, some free gross coffee, and a $3 buffet meal were all it took to propel us from the hippie hodgepodge haven of Pai all the way back to Chiang Mai’s bustling, slightly less white-n’-worldly-douche-filled streets.

Nary a straight-away or smooth, gradeless segment of road would prostrate itself before us on our third day of the Mae Hong Son Loop. Dense vegetation ensured that the Loop’s limitless combinations of impossibly sharp curves, turns, and inclines were always a surprise, and the relative blindness of each and every corner rendered all instances of hurtling oncoming traffic into minor yet manageable cardiac arrests. Every so often, a thicket of chaotic foliage would yield to a tremendous panorama of small land holdings scraped from the verdant mountains, sweeping far and imperceptible into the sorrowful ethnic cleansing playgrounds of the Burmese junta. We would typically use these stops as  pee breaks.

One such stop brought us into our first run in with domesticated elephants in the semi-wild. While many of our traveler cohorts in Chiang Mai chose the Loop for its opportunities to play with trained elephants or voyeuristically mingle with the ‘Longneck’ Paduang tribes, we abstained in our usual cynical manner from such fun, and thus an encounter with an elephant was a rather nice detour. Not so much for the baby pachyderm, who charged at Devon several times.

Brave Boys keeping their distance

As it was the third day of ride, we were by now sort of used to the vicissitudes of the roads. Clinging to Devon like an especially ugly baby possum, Steve called upon his Himalayan experiences and was fairly adept at handling his weight distribution on the curves. Unsurprisingly he was not so adept at keeping his bowels in order, especially after the morning’s coffee binge, and several lengthy continuous drives were brought to a halt by him unlatching from Devon’s now skimpy love handles to scurry through underbrush for a furtive, painful poo.

Vroom Vroom!

At long last, the bridges of Chiang Mai were spanned and the motorcycle engines spluttered their final spluts. Arriving at the CouchSurfing abode where we had slept before leaving on the Loop, we expected a mat, or at least a sliver of floor space to call our own for the next few nights. Instead, a heavily tattooed Thai friend of the house’s owner informed us, after we’d showered and settled in, that we couldn’t possibly stay there, as he’d given all available space to several attractive white girls. At first we played it off as an inconvenience that we could easily overlook as we slept on the floor for free. But our uninvite was more of the permanent variety. Neither reason nor guilt could persuade him that our boobs were better than theirs, so we departed, tails between our cramped legs. Not before drinking lots of his coffee and making some snide remarks though.

Luckily, good ol’ dependable Annie had a place for us at her guesthouse (which we didn’t leave for the next two weeks). But as lovely as it would have been, we couldn’t linger and have her insult our facial hair or clothing – because it was Friday, and we had a Shabbat dinner to go to. Another CouchSurfing contact across town, Lahhhrry, was hosting a Spanish couple that night, but we were more than welcome to attend the festivities. Click here to find out how that went (spoiler: it went on and on and on).

Once free of Lahhhrry’s conversational clutches we returned to the guesthouse to join Annie on an adventure to some clubs she knew, ‘Classic Rock Night‘ at one of them commanding our attention. We learned right then, mostly by his physical presence and his words, that Annie’s husband would not be joining us this evening. We remarked in private how painfully little of a threat we clearly posed to him, despite our moustaches being far more lush and vainly sculpted than his, and wondered if it had something to do with us all sharing the same bed, bickering like an old married triple, and only wearing short shorts. Perhaps it was this self-consciousness that compelled Steve to muster all his masculine energies and invite some Australian belles along for the ride, inquiring,

Steve: “You coming to Classic Rock Night?”
Girls: “What’s that?”
Steve: “I don’t know.”

His approach was immediately, rightfully, and furiously lambasted by Logan.

What Classic Rock Night was was a bar, literally around the corner (or over a fence if you were too lazy to walk 200 feet), hosting a band comprised of five local Thai dads who alternated between playing and mangling songs from the 60’s and 70’s, for an audience that was 75% us. Their frontman for the first half of the show was clearly the only white guy they could find, who when he wasn’t missing his cues put on a half decent drunken Jim Morrison impression. Once he inexplicably left the stage, vocal duties fell to the guitarist and bassist, whose thick Thai accents gave new atonal twists to American oldies. The biggest twist of all arrived near the end of their set, in the form of an elephant in the street. Our fellow audience members abandoned their duties of nodding conspicuously and over-enthusiastically for the Dad Band and obligingly sat on the beast’s back for a small fee, paid to its trainer/brutalizer. When our sympathy for the band finally dried up, we too slipped out to admire  the curtailed and broken majesty of our day’s second pachyderm.

....woof

Around this time Devon left for the nearest 7-11 (so, 35 feet away) to buy a coke for whiskey-mixing purposes. As he traipsed back to the bar, he found himself cornered by two tons of combined Elephant and Elephant Boys. They had seen him take photos of their leviathan, and now they wanted reimbursement for their services. Despite a track record in Asia of shouting at people in such a situation, he maintained his composure, pretended to not know what they were saying, and snapped a picture of them to use in any hypothetical homicide investigations that might take place.


He returned safely to the show only to be sidled with a beggar woman, who we danced with briefly, as she was either too shy or ashamed to ask directly for money and we pretended like we didn’t know what she was there for.

This great aura of discomfort was quickly obliterated by the second band of the evening: a spunky group of 20-somethings under the assumption that the “Classic” in Classic Rock meant anything produced by Kurt Cobain or pre-OK Computer Radiohead. Wildly talented and eager to impress, their energy greatly, almost to a depressing degree, transcended the venue and its undeserving audience. The middle of their set was punctuated by a powerful rendition of the Cranberries’ “Salvation”, with none other than Annie taking over the demanding vocal/whooping duties. We’re not ashamed to say that we got way too into it. 

WhoopseeeeeeEEEEeeeeEEEe!

Something must have been sparked by Annie taking the stage, because when the band launched into Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing In the Name Of“, a defining song of our adolescence, Devon insisted on taking the microphone and belting out Zach De La Rocha’s verses in their entirety. He may have been caught up in the moment, or he may have just had enough of hearing poorly-pronounced songs all night. Whatever the case, in assuming the role of resident Rock Star, he literally stole the show, because this was the band’s closing number. 

Forlorn shrieks of guitar feedback shuddered the now bare floorboards of Classic Rock Night, and were soon subsumed by dense, boring Reggae beats pouring forth from the adjacent bar. We wandered at Annie’s urging about twenty feet across a dirt courtyard to a collection of outdoor bars competing to play the latest Lady Gaga remixes the loudest. Due to his recent fungal diagnosis, Steve was unable to imbibe alongside the gang, and after a half hour of watching everyone else enjoy themselves, he hung up his Party Hat, put on his Helmet of Squareness and went to bed, allowing the night to roar on without him. Also without a camera, since he took it back for safety’s sake, so unfortunately you’re in for some very dense paragraphs detailing the rest of the night…

In the words of Logan:
“We went to a new bar, where Annie knew the bartender, so we got two buckets of unidentifiable booze, with three straws. We shared the buckets, which got things going pretty fast. We looked across the bar, and saw Annie’s husband standing there drinking with some other people. This was right after she’d been explaining to me how he cheated on her all the time with European girls, and how they have this kid that they have to look after, and they have to run the guesthouse together – she said he’s a good dad, but a… just a shitty guy. He’d told us he couldn’t come out with us tonight, but I guess he just didn’t want to… But he came over at one point and shook our hands, and I think he shook mine a lot harder than necessary.

Hubby sneaks in for a free drink

Annie decided she wanted to dance, so we crossed the weird little bar-square alley tot his dance club that was just full of European perma-travelers, dancing and making out with each other. So Devon and I are there, in Cat Shirts, doing a two-man train through all these people dancing. People of all nationalities, from all over the world, yet their reactions to us were all pretty similar. Just… hating us.

The night was getting more blurry at this point, but yeah… Annie was dancing with all sorts of people, and we got to the point where we decided we needed to leave. I think it was about 3 in the morning. Annie grabbed us and pointed out this German guy in the crowd and shouting about he’s some asshole who always comes to the guesthouse and never tips, and is a dick to her and her husband. She was blacked out, and getting pretty vocal, so we tried to get her out of there. She told us she had to open up the guesthouse at 7 AM; we realized, or at least convinced ourselves, that we were now responsible for her not losing her job. We tried to get her home but she just kept disappearing somehow.

We finally found her, yelling at that same German guy, and he’s yelling back at her, in front of a big crowd of people outside that weird dance club. We tried to step in and stop it, and that just got the German guy mad at us, and he was kind of big, but… yeah. We finally got her to leave, but again, she ran off somewhere, and it was about 4:15 so we just gave up and headed back to the guesthouse.

As we’re walking down the street there’s this lone headlight of a motorbike coming down the road. Slowly, real slowly, the puttering of the engine getting louder and louder. Turned out it was – well, we weren’t sure, but we’ll never know – a ladyboy in a skirt. With a giant helmet on. The conversation we had with her went like this:

Us: “Uh… Hi there.”
Her: “Suck you.”
“… What was that?”
“I suck you… I suck you.”
“… Uh (giggle) how much are we talking here?”
“200 baht – two. 200 baht, two” {{$6.70 total}}
Logan: “I don’t know, that’s kind of steep.”
Devon: “Well I’m gonna be taking care of him, and he’s going to be taking care of me. So….”
And then we just stared at her for a while, and nobody said anything, and then she drove off.”

Back to the nameless narrator:
Steve was startled from his sweaty sleep at 4:30  to the half-shouted, half-giggled cry of, “Hey gayboy! Gayboy!… Hey gayboy!” emanating from the street. Either Bad Husband or Annie had returned to the guesthouse and locked the gate. He went downstairs, fortuitously armed with the camera, to capture his friends’ debauched appearances. And, inexplicably, a polka dotted scarf that disappeared from existence shortly after this photo was snapped.

What was fortuitous about grabbing the camera was the first known capturing on any medium of “The Asshole“.

The Asshole is, simply, an id-centered avatar within Devon that typically manifests during a raucous night, serving only to harass and befuddle all those around him. Its target this early morning was Steve, who – well, let’s just see what Steve saw:

That face, that… goddamn face, once aware that Steve was tired and not in the mood to put up with drunken ramblings, began informing him in a loud, dramatic tone of what had just taken place in the alleyway, “STEVE! I COULD HAVE RECEIVED… ORAL… SEX… FOR $3. FROM A MAN… DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”
Numerous repetitions of this story, along with insults hurled Steve’s way for good measure, resulted in an exasperated outpouring of profanity from Steve, urging The Asshole to go to sleep, while stressing the time, his lack of interest in the story, and the fucking time.

He dished out his slightly-amused, mostly-annoyed invectives as much as he could muster, but he was no match for The Asshole, who continued his rampage until finally exhausting his antagonistic energies, and imploding into Devon’s subconscious once again.

Had there been a clock in the room, it would now have read 5:00. But it was all over. All of it. It was done. Totally done.

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About Steve and Devon

Yeah! We're the best!
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