We pick up the story as I am drinking an iced coffee, with a plan to turn the cup into a gas funnel.

Out of Gas

Alas, it’s not that simple. I have encountered the world’s strongest plastic cup. I try flattening it in half, thinking I will then be able to tear it along the stress cracks, but not only will it not tear, but I swear my attempts to bend and crease it only make it stronger. I try cutting through the rim with my teeth, with the idea that I’ll then rip it at the breach, but this isn’t going to work either; it’s just too thick, plus I start thinking about how unpleasant it will be if break off one of my teeth so far from home.

Finally I take the scooter key and my nail clippers and after no small effort, manage to poke a small hole in the bottom of the cup, at the corner where the bottom meets the sidewall. Like so:


I then position this hole over the gas tank opening and pour the gas into the cup, which routes it into the tank. It works out OK.

Except … I am so focused on making sure I keep the hole in the cup in the right position that I fail to notice that a bit of gas is running down the side of the bottle and not making it into the tank. Instead it’s pooling in a little well in the cargo compartment cover. A pool of gas in the blazing sun seems like a bad thing.

Nothing to do but finish filling the tank, then wait for the puddle of gas to evaporate. (Sorry, Earth!) So, I busy myself by tossing the oil bottle and space-age-material coffee cup into a nearby trash can. Then I wait for the gas to evaporate. It’s kind of like watching paint dry.

I try to speed up the evaporation by rocking the scooter from side to side to swirl the gas, but it doesn’t seem to be helping much. The teenaged girls from the coffee stand come over, looking concerned. They look at me questioningly and say something, so I assume they are asking if the scooter is broken.

I again pantomime the running out of gas incident. Then, suddenly, before I can stop her, one of the girls reaches out and puts her finger in the pool of gas. She sniffs it, then they both look at the gas cap, then look at me and say “benzene!” I realize that they must have seen me with the oil bottle and think I have filled the gas tank with oil.

I somehow manage to convey that no, indeed I did use gas, and then point to the puddle of gas, attempting to explain why I haven’t started up again and headed out (I also spend a moment wondering if I look especially dumb for a tourist, but decide that they must assume all tourists are a little clueless). The older looking of the two gets a towel from the coffee stand, which she uses to soak up the puddle of gas.  I’m alarmed but all I can do is hope that she doesn’t use the towel to wash or dry dishes later.

In keeping with their apparent belief that all tourists have tiny brains (and, I can’t really argue, seeing as how I ran out of gas in the one area of Pattaya that isn’t just filthy with gas stands), they start the scooter up for me and give me some rudimentary instructions on how to drive it … from there I thank them and drive away to mutual friendly waving. I continue on my way towards the green hills and thirty minutes later I am in front of this:

Gold Bhudda

Not a bad day after all.

Posted by lesherjennifer


  1. You can’t leave your readers hanging that long for the conclusion, it’s cruel. 🙂



    1. lesherjennifer July 18, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      But it keeps you coming back, doesn’t it? 🙂



      1. Ummm… yes. Damn you.


  2. Luc Santos-Dumont July 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Oh dear. Not exactly how I would have handled this. Most tourists from the developed world assume that with all problems big and small, they’re on their own OR if they ask for help will end up in a complicated expensive situation. Not true!

    In Thailand, motorbikes are like members of the family and anyone over 5 would probably have been able to fix that situation for you in 10 minutes for 100 Baht or less. A foreigner standing next to a motorbike not running isn’t much of a challenge or puzzle for a Thai.

    Thais do have a term for foreigners that insist on depriving Thais of a little extra income and doing it themselves the hard way-falang kee nok. That means “bird shit foreigner.” Not saying you are, just filling in the thought bubbles of the Thais driving past you.



    1. lesherjennifer July 18, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      You do realize that if Mr. El Rey had gotten out of bed before noon, i would not have had to fend for myself on the streets of Pattaya.



  3. Beat that MacGyver



  4. […] in next week to find out whether the gas ever makes it into the scooter’s […]



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