Back in 2007 Nik Reiter and I decided to avoid the madness of Songkran by leaving Pattaya for Cambodia. My wife was up-country. She was seeing family. Things weren't good between us.
Nothing like a road trip to cheer up a man," Nick said and he booked a van for the border.
The next morning the van stopped at my house on Moo 9.
Nick was already inside and looked unhappy.
Take a whiff."
I inhaled the air.
"That Dutch cunt in the back."
Stinky was a young backpacker.
We hated travelers.
And they hated us ex-pats.
"Where's he headed?"
"Same as us."
The Thai driver thought the same and drove with the window open.
We opened ours too.
Nick and I told him to fuck off and slept with the warm wind in our faces.
The mini-van skipped the food stop and we ended up at Trat, the last big town before Koh Klong, the Cambodian entry point.
"This stop," announced the driver.
We got off and Stinky asked, "How do we get to the border?"
We walk. It's only a half-mile." I wanted rid of Stinky. " But we're going to have some beer, so piss off."
The mini-van driver was complaining to the other Thais about the Dutchman's smell, but stopped upon hearing the tone of my voice.
"Piss off?" asked the blonde Dutchman.
It was another fifteen miles away.
When I explained that to the driver he laughed and we drank a quick beer before continuing to the checkpoint at Cham Yeam.
We saw nothing of Stinky.
At the crossing we tipped the driver 200 baht.
Passing through the Cambodian frontier was easy.
$25 for a month-long visa.
A young boy wrote out the particulars and offered to drive us into Koh Kong for $5. We bought 4 beers and got into the car. Nick laughed to himself.
"What's so funny?"
"You throwing Stinky off the bus."
Ï didn't throw him off. I just gave him the wrong information."
"Same result. We're breathing normal air again."
The driver paid the toll for the bridge over the river. I had stayed in Koh Kong before. It's a sleepy border town. No beaches. No go-gos. No tourist attractions. Just beer drinking. Not a bad thing, but the driver could arrange forward travel to Sihanoukville.
5-6 hours on a mini-bus, but we needed one other passenger.
"Wouldn't it be funny, if it was Stinky." Nick chuckled under his breath.
"Yeah, funny, but not ha-ha."
We drove into town. Cambodians were splashing water, yet without the viciousness of the Thai Songkran. The driver tried to entice us into a visit to the Chicken Farm. "Have many girls?"
Nick and I shook our heads.
Most of the girls would be sleeping off the last night's labors. Plus he's faithful to his girlfriend and me mine. Not that we're good guys, but unlike Bill Clinton we don't make exceptions to the rules of monogamy.
Except in cases of extreme discretion.
We arrive at the guest house. The mini-van was waiting in the driveway. So was Stinky.
"That wasn't nice." He hadn't changed his shirt and smelled as bad as before.
"What wasn't nice?" I acted innocent.
"Telling me the mini-van didn't go to Cambodia."
"I didn't tell you that."
"Yeah, we were wondering why you got off the bus." Nick backed me up. As an English football fan he hated the Dutch. "And you still smell."
"I can't help it."
Nick looked at me. His eyes said he couldn't stand 5-6 hours with Stinky. The driver spoke Thai and I said to him, "We pay more if only two people."
The driver could smell Stinky too and agreed to the deal.
We loaded our bags onto the bus. Stinky tried to get on. The driver stopped him. "No go Sihanoukville. Go casino. Two men. Come back for you 30 minutes."
Thirty minutes later we were speeding over a red dirt road.
Stinky nowhere to be seen, heard, or smelled.
And we were very happy men
Happy Buddha New Year.