I’m pretty sure that there was nothing normal about my morning. I woke up in Thailand with an insatiable urge to find a new rock. I’ve been back in Thailand about a week and a half and have had two failed missions to go rock climbing – one resulting in wet rock, another resulting in wet, crumbling rock, followed by hiding in an abandoned guard shack to wait out the storm.
But today I woke up renewed, and fully committed to finding a new rock. There is, apparently, a rock somewhere in the general vicinity of where I live that has been recently bolted for sport climbing. And, if this rumor is true, there is also some decent bouldering to be done. So, off I went on my motorbike to find a new rock in Thailand.
Maybe a normal girl wouldn’t do this. Surely, a sensible girl would have at least told someone where she was going, brought a waterproof bag, fueled up on gas, or considered the fact that this was maybe not a solo adventure.
Initially, I drove past my destination – the only directions being, “look for a school, take the next right, and make a right down by some houses”.
There are lots of schools on the road, and I finally stopped for gas (on empty) and inquired in my ‘baby Thai’ about where I was trying to go. I got directions to turn back and go 4 km. As I looked back, the sky was full of HUGE black storm clouds that only really show up here during monsoon season. “Great,” I sighed, and put my camera and wallet back under my bike seat.
I drove back to where I had originally stopped to survey of the area, the place where the water buffalo had chased me out of the field. However, this time I was able to find a paved road (past the buffalo) to turn down. I got excited until it turned into a mud road with giant troughs of water that went spraying up on either side of my motorbike. I smiled nervously as I passed five rather dangerous looking men walking along the mud road, and thought to myself, “I am not a normal girl.”
After I passed some village kids, I turned down another road that looked hopeful just as the wind started to pick up and go completely sideways. The sky was now something from a Science Fiction movie, all dark and swirly, and I needed to find the rock more for shelter than as form of entertainment. Having just driven through two enormous trenches, my bike had started to wobble—a telltale sign that I had a flat tire. Awesome.
I grabbed my climbing gear and rain jacket and attempted to hoof it. I could see where I needed to go, there was a perfect cave I could hide out in till the monsoon storm lifted. However, there were two things between myself and the cave. One was a giant trench. The other was a chest-high barbed wire fence.
Here comes the rain. My flip-flops, by the way, were sticking about three inches below the mud surface of the road, not making for the best traction. Worried that my mud-skating action might not be award winning, I looked around for a low point in the fence. Finally, I spotted a waist-high barbed wire part that was looking awesome compared to the chest high bits, so I mud-skated over to it. I straddled the two-foot drop off trench and attempted to balance my weight over the gap. The monsoon had started pouring hard as I tried to throw a leg over and get to The Rock.
Common knowledge is that if there is a low point in a fence, there is probably a reason, like the fact that the earth is falling down there. And as I straddled precariously across, I realized I had too much weight on me, and I started to sink. I threw over my bag, purse containing my motorbike keys, and my raincoat (which was not on). And, as I have one foot on the actual barbed wire, the ground starts to completely give out. Yay.
One flip-flop is sliding down the trench while the other is moving upward into the twisted wire. I’m grabbing the pointy barbed wire bits to untangle my foot and hope that it doesn’t cut into any major arteries. Eventually I maintained my balance, assessed that I was relatively unscathed, and realized that all my shit is on the other side of the fence, and I am now wearing one shoe.
A big struggle later, I get all my stuff back with only a few scratches and in the pouring rain, and put on my wet raincoat, just for fun. I head back to my bike with a flat tire, and decide to get the hell out of there.
Now, if you haven’t ever driven a motorbike with a flat tire on a muddy road during a heavy monsoon storm, then I’m now convinced you haven’t really lived. I would liken it to waterskiing on mud while simultaneously riding a furiously bucking bull. About two minutes in, I lost my shoe again. The rain that was pouring down was not making it any easier, because I couldn’t see. I half parked my bike in a hole and slouched back to my other drowning flop.
Flops off, I assumed my new sport position of bare feet foreword, legs straight to keep upright, and hit the gas hard. Again… Normal??
The distant site of a paved road was so exciting, that I almost peed. I stopped off at the first humans I saw, which looked at my shoeless mud-splashed mess-of-a-self and mimicked I needed a tire. I think they were thinking, “Ya, and a whole lot else!”
So I got some temporary air and flop-bopped my muddy-ass bike and Self to the nearest bike station, which was blasting electric guitar and drums. Somehow I interrupted a jam session—which I’m still not entirely sure about—because the only two people that emerged were a middle aged man and his pregnant wife. Mr. Baby-maker Rock Star Mechanic took one look at me and my bike, and walked us both over to the side of the shop. He looked at me disapprovingly, shook his head, and picked up the hose.
Yes, that’s right, before I could get service, I needed to be HOSED OFF.
After pulling out a long and twisted nail from my back tire, he put a new tube in. I got wildly overcharged, thanked him, and headed back the short way home.
I did, however, find the appropriate road to turn down on my way back. I’m gonna wait till the rain passes before I go back, but even though I just about died ten times in the course of an hour, I found The Road to The Rock. I also had a stirring in my gut of total ludicrousness—what kind of girl wakes up in Thailand and goes on a mad chase for a rock in the middle of nowhere during monsoon season??
Definitely Not a Normal Girl!