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John van de Ruit

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Adventures in a mini-wan (part two)

Continuing my travel blog for the Penguins ahead of the launch of Spud – Learning to Fly

I apologise for the fact that i had to break off the story last time due to excessive heat in the internet cafe, a mosquito swarm nesting on my right ankle and a number of long media interviews which have kept me from completing the full sorry tale.

So to get you up to speed the story paused with Julia and I waiting at a cafe/travel agent for the Ko Lanta miniwan after driving around the town of Krabi for hours in a false minivan with sleepy rastas and morose Swedish nubiles. Let’s go – again.

15:00 The real Mini-Wan arrives and halts half way down the street. 2 desperate South African travellers charge after it with their backpacks. The driver slides back the door and 14 Thai faces stare back at us. There is baggage everywhere. Fuelled with the wisdom of Eckhart Tolle, I let rip with a great “Hello, good afternoon everyone” only to be met with absolute silence.

“Sawadeeka!” I tried again. Nothing.

15:01 Driver points to a narrow space on the back seat.

15:02 I discover too late that the Mini-Wan’s ceiling is only 4ft high and I crash my head into the luggage carrier above, much to the consternation of a hitherto unseen live chicken.

15:03 Rubbing my head furiously and squeezing myself into the back seat, I soon realise that my only air supply (due to the padlocked window) is a highly dodgy air-con vent

15:04 Mini-Wan kicks into life and we’re off…finally.

15:11 “You’ve got to be joking” I shouted to everyone’s surprise, including my own. The Mini-Wan veered off the road and into a petrol station, where it took up its place in the queue behind a lorry and another Mini-Wan.

15:21 Still waiting in queue, Jules begins to mutter to herself in a foreign language, growing concern all round that Kafka may have taken over the scripting of our holiday…

15:24 Mini-Wan surges forward and pulls up to the fuel tank.

15:27 After a long and animated conversation between Mini-Wan driver and attendant, it’s decided that the fuel point is on the other side of the vehicle. The driver takes a deep drag on his cigarette, and scans the petrol station.

15:28 After a leisurely U-turn, we take up our place in the new queue behind a lorry and 2 other Mini-Wans.

15:29 “Balls!” comes a loud shout from the back in a voice that sounds suspiciously like my own. I officially declare myself to be in a panic and pull furiously at the padlocked window. I then sink into a morose stupor as a thin film of sweat spreads itself over the entire perimeter of my skin.

15:37 At last, refuelling. I become mesmerised watching the litres versus Baht (Thai currency)

15:38 Debate why petrol should be cheaper in Thailand than South Africa. I intend to take this up with Trev Manuel next time he’s lurking around the back offices of Absa bank.

15:43 The Mini-Wan is fuelled. The driver leisurely finishes his ciggie and strolls up to the front of the cab. And we’re off…again.

17:02 Mini-Wan pulls up to large body of water and positions itself on the ramp awaiting the car ferry. Driver steps out for another ciggarette. We’re told to stay in Mini-Wan.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    May 23rd, 2009 @04:06 #

    I loved this, and may I be a complete prat and point out that in the last few entries, you've turned back the hands of time? Or is that just what it felt like? Us editors have to ask these questions...


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