Behold Hannah, the Thai Goddess of Ridiculously Stupid Day Trips


The air conditioner in our hotel room turned on us at some point in the middle of the night and began blasting us with painfully cold air. We were so tired we slept through it, which meant I woke up with no feeling in my feet and Arctic boogers clogging my nose. The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was Sarah’s frosty breath filling the air. We had to take Hannah outside to thaw her out before changing her diaper. When I inspected the A/C unit, it seemed to see me coming and promptly returned to normal. I daresay an inert piece of machinery has not been this diabolical since 2001.

“Take my hand. This way to Colonel Kurtz’s jungle cult compound. Er, I mean, the stream.”

After breakfast, we escaped the city in a military utility vehicle along with a handful of Brits and Kiwis, destined for . . . OK, I’ll be honest: I had no clue where we were going. No one seemed to know. We’d all signed up for a “mountain hike,” and when we’d shown up at the pre-arranged meeting place earlier, a bunch of zitty, spiky-haired Thai teenagers loaded us into the car. An hour later we were still driving. As we zoomed past a bunch of rolling cabbage fields and the Spiky Thais stared grimly at each other in silence, the morning began to feel less like a tour and more like a political kidnapping.

The hike wasn’t so much a hike as it was a desperate quest to stay alive. They took us to the edge of a steep mountain and led us around a twisty, narrow path full of soft dirt and crumbling rocks that shifted under your feet and slid down precipitous cliffs into nothingness. Now that’s a vacation! Every branch I grabbed for support snapped off in my hands and threatened to send me sprawling down the cliff into a deep Thai void. Die, capitalist pigs, die.

Survival! For now, anyway.

Sarah, as if she weren’t already Superwoman, managed the whole thing with Hannah on her back, twisting this way and that to keep the kid’s head from hitting tree branches and rabid bats and whatever other dark forces of evil had amassed on the Hellhill. Every time I turned around, I kept expecting to see natives shooting poison darts at me.

“You deserve to go down as a hero,” I called out to Sarah.

“I deserve to go down as an idiot,” she said. “Babies don’t belong on this mountain.” Nor do sentient mammals of any sort.

The Spiky Thais had been waiting for us at the creek for a good half hour, and before I could go all Bill O’Reilly on them, they handed out paper pouches filled with pad see-ew and tangerines. This calmed me somewhat. Then they pulled out machetes.

After my initial alarm, I thought: Death by machete on a mountain in Thailand. At the hands of rebel insurgents. What a cool way to go. I mean, not for my wife and daughter, of course; just for me. I was almost disappointed when I saw that the Spiky Thais were using the machetes to cut up pineapples rather than tourists. They were not insurgents, nor did they harbor anything but goodwill toward the Thai government, nor toward American capitalist whores like us. Good pineapples, though.