The story left off as I approached a gas station in Pattaya, Thailand, hoping they might fill a bottle with gas for my pooped-out scooter. As it turns out, while everyone seems inclined to be helpful, no one understands the words gas or bottle, and in my heat exhausted state I can’t think of any other words for gas, like petrol, or gasoline. So, I trundle on. A nice motorbike taxi driver tries to talk me into getting on her bike, but in an odd (wretched, sweaty, noisy, dirty) way I am enjoying the walk so I thank her and wave her on. The sun rises higher in the sky. I feel my skin start to burn. Passing vehicles stir up the dust and belch oily looking black smoke. And still no gas stand.
But then not too far ahead I spot another gas station and approach the staff. After we exchange pleasantries I point to an oil bottle and say “fill with gas?” This is interpreted as a request for motor oil, so I have to regroup and try again. I pantomime the sad death of my scooter, then point to the gas pumps, but this results in a suggestion (also pantomimed) that I put the scooter in a truck taxi and bring it there for repairs. I keep pointing at bottles and gas pumps in succession, conscious that I am making a spectacle of myself, but desperate for gas. Finally a young woman exclaims “gasoline!” I nod. “Yes, gasoline! I need gasoline.” I can see comprehension dawn as she makes her way to the back of one of the oil changing bays. She emerges a moment later with a bottle that had contained motor oil.
In a move that probably undoes most if not all of my carbon footprint reduction efforts of 2012, she upends the bottle over the dirt and drains out the last bits of oil. We then make our way to the gas pumps and she fills that bottle with sweet, sweet gasoline. I pay her (and tip her to thank her for her trouble) and actually thank her (with the second of my two Thai phrases, the other being the phrase for “hello”), then trudge the 2 or so miles back to my scooter, in the blazing hot sun, with my brimming plastic bottle of gas.
If I had purchased one of the glass bottles I would be able to just upend it into the gas tank opening and be on my way, but this is a big plastic oil jug and I know that the stream will be too thick and fast-moving, and will also probably glug, so I need a funnel. In what a believe is a stroke of MacGyver-ish genius, I visit the nearby coffee stand and order an iced coffee, figuring I will first enjoy the beverage as a reinforcement against the heat and will then be able to tear the cup and refashion it into a funnel.
Tune in next week to find out whether the gas ever makes it into the scooter’s tank.