Recently I took a short trip to Thailand, which included a couple of days in Pattaya. When I was invited to Pattaya, I was intrigued, imagining a few ramshackle cottages at water’s edge, delicious food served streetside, and a mellow surfer vibe. If you have ever been to Pattaya you are probably laughing very hard right now. I did get my delicious street food, and I did have a good time, but it was hardly the relaxing beach vacation of my fantasies.
The second day I was there I went out on my rented scooter, determined to a) have a look around beyond the walkable radius of my hotel, and b) get outside the noisy, smelly, frantic, dirty, hard-surfaced city and out to the mountains visible in the distance. The night before I had stopped for gas at one of the many “Molotov Cocktail Petrol Stops” that dot the Thai landscape. The MCPS consists of a sign advertising gas and a rack of some kind filled with glass bottles of gas. Kind of like what’s pictured below. Don’t the bottles with their colored liquids look delicious? Who knew that gas could be so pretty?
I had initially made a gas stop because I noticed that the gauge on the scooter was reading E. When I added the bottle of gas the gauge remained on E, which led me to conclude, quite erroneously, that the gauge didn’t work. Whoops.
As I set out the on my “see more of Pattaya and the surrounding countryside” ride. I worry a little about gas, but figured that since scooters get 70-90 or miles to the gallon, 750 ml should go 15 miles at the minimum. This conviction allows me to pass one Molotov cocktail stand after another, but as any student of religious history can tell you, conviction and accuracy are often at odds with one another. On the outskirts of town the scooter starts to go “putt-putt,” then “putt … putt,” then “putt … … … putt,” then “… “
Wha? How can I be out of gas? Crap! Well, that’s fine, I’ll just park it and walk a few blocks and there will be a gas stand. I have seen countless stands since I started out this morning, so of course there will be one close by.
So, I park and walk up the street a bit, in the direction I was heading. No gas stand, but there is a man selling fried bananas, so I stop and have one. As I eat the fried banana I strain my eyes further up the street but see no signs of a gas stand (signs would include a “gasoline here” sign, the glint of glass bottles, or maybe flames shooting into the air), so after I finish I cross the street and start hoofing back the way I came. Block after block, there are auto repair shops, chicken bbq places, iced coffee carts, furniture stores, massage shops, but no gas stands.
Finally, up ahead I spot it – a gas station. Well, OK, I can work with this. I’ll just ask them for a bottle of gas and I’ll be on my way.
Tune in to the next installment to learn – is it really going to be that simple??