Friday, February 11, 2005


Me and my Buddhist Monk with a Cell Phone; Sanga. Trapped in Gridlock traffic, across town from the train station. It's 5:30 and my train leaves for Chiang Mai at 6. Sanga and the cabbie are having a heated discussion. Suddenly Sanga turns to me. "Get out here." We get out. He hands a motorcyclist 40 baht. I get on the back and as we speed off, Sanga yells to me: "Say 'Wallenpole'..." "What does it mean?" I yell, but we're already gone down the road. I chant the word like a mantra. I know it's the key to my survival. I have to remember it.

Dodging cars, inches away from losing my Knee caps...'wallenpole...wallenpole'...all I know is 'wallenpole'. My driver stops and points. "Numbah fifatee tree bus" "Cup une Cup" I say. He races off and I jump on the bus as it pulls away. 'Wallenpole...wallenpole...if I miss it now, I'm in the hole...' I hold out a ten baht coin. The coin man hands me a ticket stub. "Wallenpole" I say, like I really mean it. He becomes animated- he's agreeing and he and I have a special understanding- well, he understands. Now it's 5:45. The bus is emptying. I head for the door. "Wallenpole" I say to the coin man. "No probrem" he says. "I tell ur wed". A few minutes later he gives me the nod. I bolt up from my seat, pack in hand and race out of the bus. I'm at the train station. I head for information. I show him my ticket. He points. I run to another official. He points somewhere else. I hear the train hissing as if getting ready to roll. Now I think I'm at the right train car. It starts to pull away. I just jump on in time. Wallen Pole!

This little guy was peaking out at me from the train.

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