Once upon a time at four in the morning

My luxury VIP bus from Vientiane to Bangkok was a little misnamed. Not so luxurious, and not particularly blessed (if blessed is the right word) with very important people.

There were lots of people on it, of course. All of them were foreigners (part of the joy of being in tourist-infested Thailand is the joy of not meeting any Thais). Many of them were Israelis. And specifically three of them were noisy Israelis who did not realise/notice/care that their noisy conversations were keeping others awake.

Like me, for example. Although I am not entirely sure on that, since the seat was not so comfortable to sleep on anyway, and the leg room was ridiculously compact (and my legs are not), especially since the seat in front reclined so far that it just about cut off my oxygen supply. The excitement of finding myself in some new country was pretty intoxicating also, especially because it was one for which I do not need a visa (the first one since Turkey, and that was a while back now).

Lots of the Israelis I have met have said that Israeli tourists travelling in groups are boorish, nasty and rude. From my point of view, lots of the Israelis I have met travelling alone or in couples have been the smartest, most interesting and most articulate of all the people I have met. Assuming that my critics are correct, what is it about groups that makes people different? Why should bieng in a group suddenly transform interesting people into unendurable cretins and the normally polite and helpful into the obnoxious and best avoided?

Even if they were not preventing me from sleeping, the silence would have been preferable to listening to them talk, especially once I reached that point of tiredness where I was so easily irritated that even the gentle tapping of an empty beer bottle on the metal buckle of the seat pocket was enought to drive me insane. A temporary, quick-onset, fast-resolution Tourette’s syndrome.

I remember thinking way back in Venice that shouting in another language was not nearly so irritating as shouting in a language I understand. I am not so sure about that anymore.
In the event, perhaps happily, we arrived in Bangkok about an hour earlier than expected. Five o’ clock. Pre-dawn. Right on time for some coffee, I guess.