Sunday, May 07, 2006
Gumball Rally – days 5/6

The road to Bangkok was sketchy to say the least. It was mostly one lane each way with blind corners, making passing other cars a constant gamble. Another car fell victim to an overzealous driver: a Lamborghini Murcielago bounced as it hit a sharp turn, slammed through a tree and landed in a gravel pile… totaled. I don’t think he realizes how lucky he was that he didn’t destroy any property or hit any locals, since people were walking on the side of the road everywhere we went, and there was a roadside food shack just 200 ft away from where he ended up. There is an air of invincibility that these millionaires live under that is disturbing to witness. This particular driver shrugged the accident off and got a ride with someone else to Bangkok… Never acknowledging that he could have easily destroyed the livelihoods and/or lives of the poor villagers His main concern was to get back in the race and buy another outrageously expensive automobile ASAP. I believe that some of the Gumballers pay their way in just to have a shot at fame, as thousands of people line up to see the cars and even ask for autographs from the flashy drivers. But I also believe that many are – like us – in it for the sheer adventure and the stories that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. We are having a blast in the midst of this craziness, and we have become a roving peanut gallery.

As we approached Bangkok, we were receiving messages from Ryan/Bam that their car was having serious problems and they were heading straight to the airport to make sure the car was ready for tomorrow’s flight. We then got a message that they were broken down somewhere outside the city, on a random street in front of a small outdoor cafe where nobody spoke English. They wanted us to come help and possibly follow them (if they could get the car started again) to the airport and then give them a ride to the hotel. Just as I was talking to Ryan on the phone, our car went completely dead. We stopped (unwillingly) on what could have been the sketchiest freeway I have ever seen. I had no idea what to make of the situation: none of us could fix an SRT8 engine (or any other for that matter) and there was certainly no Jeep dealer in Bangkok. We opened the hood and found that the battery terminal had shaken loose because of all the bumpy roads. 3 turns of a wrench and we were back on our quest to find our fallen comrades.

We called the CoPilot tech support to get their location, but they could only give us Bam’s geographic coordinates since the streets are hardly named (or mapped) in Thailand. We plugged in their latitude and longitude manually as our destination into our CoPilot and headed their direction the best we could among the impossibly complicated roads around Bangkok. We kept getting stuck on highways with no exits, or roads that suddenly u-turn without warning. They were only 20 miles away, but it took us 3 hours to zigzag our way to them. By the time we got there, Bam and Ryan had made friends with the locals, sharing their beer and dried crickets. Ryan managed to get the Lambo moving, but it was stuck in 3rd gear all the way to the airport. We parked in t a random cargo holding area and Bam summed up the night by pissing on the hood of his car. It was 3am by the time we checked into the hotel, and checkout was 7am in order to make our flight to SLC. Welcome to the Gumball schedule.

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