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Travel Can Kill

I was settling down for an afternoons drinking in an unremarkable bar on the sweaty tourist hellworld of Khao San Road, Bangkok, when I met the most travel-beaten individual I encountered during my long trip.

This shell of a man hobbled towards me, accompanied by my friend who had met him weeks earlier – probably in a bar in some other far corner of South East Asia; he looked the picture of a newly wounded soldier, only his wounds were not suffered in some noble fight for freedom, nor in defence of his homeland – no – his wounds were caused, in the most part, by his own idiocy.

He greeted me with a warm but weary beer tweaked smile and began, with almost no prompting at all, other that my questioning glance, to recount the story of his pitiful state.

SunburnHis troubles began we he fell asleep, comatose in a rum-fuelled stupor, face down on some beach or other, with the unforgiving midday sun beating down on him, charring his pasty white flesh and causing leprous scabs all over his legs and arms. Now had he treated these wounds with a modicum of care he would have been ok… he was after all English and sunburn is nearly a national pastime when abroad. But no, not our hero – he decided to go swimming, not in the crystal clear waters of Boracay, but the piss and shit tainted shore of Koh Phangan during a full moon party, water tainted by the effluent of thousands of revellers who simply couldn’t be bothered finding the toilet and so spilled their filth into the sea like intoxicated animals… needless to say he was again drunk. Subsequently his wounds became infected and turned into puss-filled gaping sores, for which he now had to take harsh antibiotics.

At this point my pity was waning; but the story was not over. He lifted his bandanna, which was covering his impressively lengthy mane, of which he was very proud. A great swathe of hair was missing from the front of his head – shaved off by his ‘friend’ while he lay in a senseless stupor after an evening on the town. Not strictly his fault, I think this injury stung him most of all – but it shouldn’t have… the scar he presented next was by far the most damaging, moronic and permanent.

This fellow was sporting a kilt… which he wore in the traditional fashion… that’s to say pantslessly; I know this Chang Beerbecause, quite without warning he lifted it – exposing his newly tattooed member to any and all in the bar. This was, without peer the worst tattoo I’ve ever seen, in design, location and quality; he had – while blind drunk – gotten elephant ears and tusks permanently etched around his old chap. I exaggerate not good reader – it looked like a small child with the shakes had done it, and for all he knew that was the case, as he couldn’t remember where, how or why this life running event occurred.

This chap was on his way back to England in a couple of days; doubtless a good thing as I’m certain that had this cretin been allowed to travel for any longer he would surely have died. No doubt he will have swaggered into his local and recounted his tale with the same moronic pride that he exuded when he spun his story of gleeful self destruction for me. The lesson here good reader is not, ‘don’t drink to excess’, no, I would never advise that; but; ‘don’t constantly drink to excess if you’re a impulsive, suggestible moron’

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