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Worldwide Ace » Bus Ride From Hell

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Bus Ride From Hell

18 August, 2008 (06:39) | Travelogue

The Thai countryside passes by as we travel onwards.
For more pacifying pictures of Thailand, click here.

I hate John Denver. I know what you’re thinking: “How can you hate someone so sweet, innocent and pure?” Fuck that. John Denver is the middle finger on the right hand of Satan masquerading as a Christian country musician full of god. Anyone can see that.

But one thing I hate more than John Denver is boarding an overnight bus in Bangkok and finding myself banished to the downstairs ghetto where the bathroom’s stench of stale urine and body odor grow ever stronger in the half light while John Fucking Denver blares from the intercom like heavy metal fired painfully into Noriega’s compound by military forces.

As the first notes rang out, alarm was raised by passengers all across the horizontal tower of Babel. “No,” I said in disbelief.

“Yes,” said Matt, a twisted grin crossing his face.

“John Fucking Denver,” we cried in unison, our smiles bemused and tinged with mocking irony.

“I can’t believe they’re playing John Fucking Denver on a Thai bus,” I said.

“I think I have this song on my MP3 player.”

“John Denver,” I said exasperated. “John Fucking Denver.”

“No, wait. I have this song as covered by Me First & The Gimme Gimmes.”

“Any cover by Me First & The Gimme Gimmes is ok,” I replied. “But really, John Denver?”

By now the Israelis were kvetching, the French were putting on airs, and the Austrians were banging on the window to the driver’s compartment threatening to invade if the offending broadcast wasn’t ceased immediately.

And as suddenly as it began, John Denver’s Country Road winked out into silence.

A cheer went up among my fate-chosen traveling companions, applause echoing through the segregated tin death trap bound for twelve hours of natural pain with or without John Denver. Then we’d be released from our 10-wheeled mobile concentration camp and ushered in sea-faring cattle cars toward promises of Koh Samui. Our joy was short lived as, along with John Denver, the lights blew out, leaving us in darkness.

I awoke with a start, the blanket still securely wrapped around my head blotting the foul stench from my nose mouth. Despite the eternity spent tossing uncomfortably, I had found slumber, leaving my eyes crusty with the remnants of the sandman.

I slowly adjusted to the darkness, and just as I began to wonder if the pale black sky was morning or light pollution, the blinding lights of the cabin flashed on, adding bright constellations to the empty pallor burned upon my retinas.

“Pit stop,” I mumbled through my makeshift medical mask, my elbow firmly nudging Matt from sleep. I bottled from the bus as soon as the doors offered my mobile prison’s version of an exercise yard.

The truck stop itself was an Arabian bazaar of drowsy eyed youths and oddly aromatic stalls of stick meat and bottled water. The prices sheets featured clear Arabic numerals next to indecipherable Thai labels, leaving me wondering if the 100 baht total for my four drinks was accurate or a fiction passed through the toothy grin of the Thai woman with dollar signs in her eyes.

I collapsed onto a stone bench near our bus, biding my time until the guards called for lockdown anew. A bleary eyed Matt soon joined me and we cautiously tore into the unknown teas I had picked up at the bazaar.

“I’m not awake yet,” he said, pulling a sip from the yellow labeled teas most likely to be lemon flavored.

“No surprise there.” I peeled the top from the brown labeled tea and took a sip. It tasted like cereal.

“Wandering through the crowd is like passing among souls waiting to resume their journey on Charon’s boat to some obscure corner of the underworld.”

[ed. – Matt actually referenced the classic LucasArts adventure game Grim Fandango and was equally insightful and poetic, but the quote has been modified to refer to classical Greek mythology for the purpose of accessibility.]

“Man, that’s the sort of shit you should put in your emails,” I remarked, struck by the beauty of the image. The black label tea was sweet and delicious.

“I’m going to walk around some more. See you back on the bus.” I dreaded that statement: back to the darkness; back to the stench; back to the bus. It’s an inevitable continuation of our darkest hour yet.

“Dayenu,” I said half awake.


“Dayenu. It’s Hebrew. Roughly translated it means ‘it would have been enough.’ If the lights on the bus had worked, Dayenu. If the water closet hasn’t stunk, Dayenu. If we hadn’t been banished downstairs, Dayenu. If we’d been able to sleep the full night, Dayenu. If they hadn’t played John Denver-“

“John Fucking Denver,” Matt interjected.

“-right before we tried to sleep, Dayenu.” I paused, the early morning light illuminating our path to the next stage of our journey. “But hey, we’re almost there.”

“Arriving safely in our beachside paradise,” Matt added, our minds now washed clean of the previous night’s leftover murk.

“Dayenu,” I said. “Dayenu.”