An Australian mate offered me a job in Bangkok, Thailand, as a tunnelling machine operator. The Malaysian company he worked for had won part of the contract to install the sewerage system pipework. I don't know why I took it, just seemed like something different, so why not.
I’ll never forget my first day at work in this vast foreign city. Leaving the hotel with my new boss, I stepped into a nightmare of clogged streets, thick smog and incredible noise. My boss told me ‘rush hour’ cripples traffic flow for about four hours every morning and afternoon so we walked for a while until he hailed a couple of motorbike taxis.
Right, sounds dangerous, let’s do it.
His taxi-bike disappeared into the mess immediately. He hadn’t given my rider directions; he’d just said “follow me”. My rider rode flat out for a while until I realised he couldn’t find his mate and didn’t know where to go. I had no mobile phone. I didn’t have a single number to call and I didn’t even know the name of the hotel I’d left or what street it was in. My boss had picked me up from the airport fairly late the night before and I hadn’t taken any notice of these minor details. Nor did I know where the company I worked for had its head office or where any of the worksites were. I didn’t have any money or my passport.
I sat on that bike for hours. There was no way I was letting this guy dump me. He couldn’t speak English but he got the picture and stopped to make a few phone calls. Then we rode up and down a JAM PACKED highway looking for the worksite. The traffic was insane. I thought everyone else on the road was out to kill us. 15 million people live in Bangkok and most of them were on that road with us.
By pure chance my boss saw us and took his life in his hands to run out into the road, just about catching my rider in a head lock. He gave the guy a mouthful and wouldn’t pay him the fare so an argument started. I couldn’t pay, I still had Australian dollars. Before my boss could punch him out one of the Thai supervisors broke it up. He gave the poor guy some cash and settled things down. I was in a state of shock and couldn’t function too well for several hours after that.
Like it? See - PART 2.