“Cha cha” we shouted “slowly slowly”.
The taxi driver couldn’t, or at least didn’t want to, hear us. It wasn’t surprising considering the volume of the contemporary mor lam music screaming out of the radio, the syncopated rhythms and off-key singing cacophonous to our Western ears.
We had been on a night out in Bangkok drinking cheap and incredibly alcoholic cocktails, the neon noise of the city swirled and we decided that it was high time we went home to bed and future hangovers.
The driver nodded as we jumped in, giggling at some forgotten joke. Barely had our buttocks graced the cracked faux leather seat covers when the car lurched from standing still to warp speed, music ramped up to the very highest thresholds of human tolerance.
We launched onto the highway and weaved our way through the late night traffic, narrowly missing lumbering cargo trucks and enormous multi-coloured busses. It was like Grand Theft Auto.
Suffice to say, by this point we were quite sober.
I tapped the driver on the shoulder, he turned his entire body to look at me.
“Watch the road!” I screamed pointing at a pick-up truck that we had missed by a matter of millimetres.
He shrugged unconcernedly, muttered something about stupid farang and turned back to watch the road.
“Cha cha”, we tried again. This time our throaty yelling must have made an impression because he turned the music down, uttered a stream of Thai, pointed to the roof of his car and smiled a toothless and piratical grin.
He was pointing to the blessing his taxi had been provided by a monk and painted above the driver’s seat. He was protected, was the unspoken message. No need to worry. Mai pen rai.
We accelerated again, clearly the driver wanted to make up for lost time.
We just wanted to get home alive.