HIGHWAY

By rrdCold wind rushing to my face as I was driving on the superhighway from Songkhla to Hatyai, a 32 kilometer, 20 to 35 minute drive back to my apartment. It was around 11:45 pm on that fateful Saturday night. I was on my way home coming from a small gathering of friends. Tom, an American expat who has been living in Thailand longer than any of us, tried to persuade me to sleepover, but I refused his offer telling him that I needed to do something early in the morning. I remembered his tone of concern telling me, “A lot of strange things happen at midnight, especially in the highway.” He said “Are you sure you don’t want to spend the night here?.” (He asked me again). “Yeah I’m sure.” I said. Who believes in Ghost stories or Tales of the Darkside any more? I sure don’t. I thought to myself. But it sounded more of a self assurance than self conviction.

I would drive a car, under normal circumstances, at 100 to 120 kilometers per hour, no biggie. But since I’m driving a 125 cc Honda, 80 to 90 km/hr is the sanest speed. Driving it any faster would be like having “death” embrace you from the backseat of the motorbike.

Cruising the deserted unlit highway, I found it eerily quiet. Occasional speeding cars would swoosh by and then I would hear nothing except the constant drone of my motorbike.

I’ve heard a lot of “tales-from-the-dark side” stories in Thailand from both Thai friends and Expats. “But who believes in them now a days? They’re just stories.” I murmured under my breath. But at that point while I was driving I can’t help but think of them. As a kid I have been gifted with a very graphic imagination, and now as an adult that graphic imagination has been harnessed to become somewhat a 3D-virtual-reality like imagination, that at some point I thought I needed to be in a loony bin.

A pick-up truck was slowly passing me by a little over midnight. I know the time because I checked my trusty Timex with the “glow-in-the-dark” feature. At the back were a bunch of teenagers or at least I thought they were. They were drinking and they were very drunk. That, I’m very sure of. They were dancing at the back of the moving pick-up cruising at about a hundred kilometers per hour.

The eerie feeling I had started to dissipate. I sped up a little to keep up with the truck. I was starting to get amused with what they were doing and best thing was, at least I have company no matter how crazy these people were. My attention was caught by this particular girl wearing a skimpy micro mini, or whatever you want to call it, with white undies. Mind you at this age I still have a 20/20 vision and besides even my grandfather could have seen her undies since her micro mini covered less than nothing in that area.

I was about 5 to 7 meters behind the truck, trying to steady my distance from them so I can see them clearly without the dangers of annoying or pissing them off. The girl in micro mini was strutting her ass with the best dance steps she could muster, when suddenly the pick-up truck veered hard to the left crossing two lanes and on to the motorbike lane sending the dancing girl over the right side of the pick-up rail head first, and at the same time the truck veered again sharply to the right putting the tire path directly towards the falling body.

The pick-up truck was jolted off the ground may be a feet or two when it ran over the girl. The sound was more of a thud than squishing contrary to what we hear in movies or cartoons for that matter. The sound was a loud thud as if the truck ran over a large stone. The jolt sent the truck swerving and the party goers clinged on for dear life.

I was the one who was on the worst receiving end. The dead girl, so I presumed, was lying directly in the path of my motorbike. I barely had time to maneuver the bike and avoid running her over. It was too late in deed. My front wheel hit her leg causing it to slip and bring my motorbike down with me clinging on to the handle bars in a mechanical death grip. It was as if my motor bike did a judo throw, “ippon shio nage” was it? I was thrown off my bike face first.

The impact caused the face cover of the helmet to shatter along with my vision of the world around me. My Judo training kicked in and my body instinctively rolled lessening the impact of my body hitting the concrete pavement. Still, the pain it caused was just a notch lower from the level of fainting. It took me awhile to stand up and catch my awareness of the situation.

To be continued-

Silent Outcry

It’s just amazing how life can flip the coin from wonderful moments to strings of frustrating events.Just a few weeks ago, together with a friend, I went island hopping, snorkeling and kayaking in Ao Nang Krabi Thailand. It was wonderful! The scenery was beautiful. I had the time of my life. I especially enjoyed snorkeling, although, I stayed very close to shore and wore life jacket. In spite of that, it was an awesome experience.A week after this, came strings of soul-dampening events. First, the Philippines (where I unfortunately came from) has rice shortage. This is not something new to the Filipinos, but the situation has just gotten worst over the years. It makes me think that the country is hopeless and the citizenry are doomed. According to authorities the prices of rice will undoubtedly jack-up, the then 30 pesos per kilo rice will skyrocket to as high as 100 pesos. Second, not a bag of rice is sold in supermarkets of Hatyai Thailand, where I am currently working as a teacher. Why??? RICE SHORTAGE!!!!! Oh my gosh!! What’s happening?? Just months before I was bragging to my family that basic commodities such rice and meat are cheap. And now, everything has escalated dramatically. Third, it saddens me so much that some Thais look down on other colored race including brown. Yes! Thai discriminating a fellow Asian whose every feature is as identical as that of a twin. Such a perplexing situation! Fourth, visa extension is such a headache with laws, new laws, and some more new laws, which change every month. Consequently, foreign teachers are required to attend a seminar and take a licensure examination with fees almost half of the salary we receive. This is an auspicious situation for a fortuitous teacher, but certainly not for a licensed teacher like me. It’s a redundancy. A seminar on their culture and ethics is understandable. But an examination about their laws is totally far fetched. I haven’t even memorised the laws and by-laws of the Philippines which I studied for half a year, how much more another country’s.

Well, you might be thinking quitting as a good option. I’d say NO, not just yet. For a brown monkey like me, finding a job in this racial discrimination-stricken world is not a piece of cake.

Anyway, let’s see what will happen next. God will see us through these, I am sure.