Penang to Bangkok by Train: With Smelly Feet
I have arrived safely in Bangkok. The ride wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, I slept better than I did in the hostel in Penang. I even dreamt that I was far behind in my school work, and had to rush home to study.
The journey in summary, was good. There was nice scenery, and hygiene was so good that I could even sniff out the smell of freshly washed blankets. But major blot on this otherwise wonderful experience is because of a fellow passenger called Smelly Feet.
As you know, I am on the mission to bring back some Penang food for my friends. It is well-kept in a plastic bag, however I was pretty particular bad odours could have entered the boxes, as they are not air tight.
When I first saw Smelly Feet sharing the same space as me, I thought he was a Malaysian Indian. I made an effort to be friendly, thinking that I may need his help during the train ride. I smiled, but he did not smile back.
Now I had placed that plastic bag of food items on the extra space next to me. Smelly Feet was wearing shoes, but 15 minutes later he pulled out a pair of slippers, removed his socks and shoes, and placed his offending feet directly in front of my food items. I understand that the trip is long and there is a strong inherent need to stretch one’s feet. But to do so without asking for permission? I had paid money for that seat! The worse part was that a sour smell permeated through the air, assaulting my sensory organs deeply.
When he finally placed his offending feet on the ground, I took the opportunity to stretch myself across the seat, less he should attack my seat again. I thought to myself, “How suay (unlucky) can I be? For the next 24 hours?”
I fell asleep and was waken up by voices. Smelly Feet was talking to the other passenger who was in the berth next to us. That guy was a Malaysian Chinese who I shall call “Nice Guy”. He was travelling with his girlfriend. Through the conversation, I realised that Smelly Feet is not a Malaysian Indian, but a Pakistani. I joined the conversation, speaking to Nice Guy because Smelly Feet did not make eye contact with me, (and I highly suspected that its got to do with the fact that I’m a girl).
He said that he faced great difficulty coming to Singapore, and that Singaporeans are not too helpful, before I revealed that i am a Singaporean.
As part of the conversation, I opened my food item and politely offer it to Nice Guy, his girlfriend and Smelly Feet. Now, Smelly feet knows that what I am carrying is FOOD.
10 minutes after the conversation has ended, he stretches his feet and places them right at my food items again. My blood starts to simmer. I believe that in most cultures, placing your feet in close proximity with food is totally unacceptable, and this is made worse because his feet Stinks.
We then cross the Malaysian/ Thai Border, and a Thai Aunty takes our order for dinner. “Do you have chicken fried rice?” he asked the lady, probably not liking anything from the menu.
“Yes we have.”
“When will the food come?”
“After.” came the reply as the Aunty was very busy.
He ask me what did she reply and I tell him I do not understand too.
It is 730pm, and just like one of the spoilt brats in class that go ” teacher teacher he bully me,” this guy goes,” Mam, when is the food coming?” For at least twice.
Some time has passed and the server lays 5 plates on our table, waiting to be distributed.
“Mam, can you get someone to remove all these?” (He wants to start on his meal Right Now)
After eating about a quarter of his fried rice, he says,” Mam there is no chicken in this, I ordered chicken rice.”
Mam’s answer, being the very sweet and polite lady she is:” We have no chicken rice. Sorry.” He wants to continue but she has moved off to serve other passengers.
He looks at me,” here, you can have the prawns, I don’t eat prawns.”
Now my plate has multiple pieces of chicken. Being the kind girl I am, I would have offered to do a swap. But he had pissed me off big time.
“No thank you.” I said.
“Just go ahead, I don’t eat prawns.” he said in a forceful manner.
“No thank you.” and we lapsed into uncomfortable silence.
I was pretty full, but I made sure I ate up every single piece of chicken on my plate.
The lady gives him a soup. It is minced meat. He asked her before if the food was Halal. She said yes.
He asks me again,” is this chicken?” I honestly have no idea. Now thinking back, it felt like chicken. My reply to him was ” I don’t know.”
The Thai Aunty walks by, and he calls out to her. ” Mam, I think you really need to eat something to improve your memory.” Nice guy overhears, and says,”she can’t understand”. I am like “WTH”.
Sleeping time comes. He asked me to “choose” which berth I would like to sleep on, upper or lower. “Ladies first,” he said. I roll my eyes. I know perfectly well that I m entitled to the lower one as I had paid Sgd 5 more for the ticket. But thinking back about area where his feet have been,(Everywhere) I chose the upper one.
The next morning, I sought an escape route. I found an unused berth (the passengers had already left), and settled quite comfortably into it. Next, it was time to rescue my precious food items from the Smelly Feet. I did so without saying a word, or making eye contact with him.
And so, I managed to enjoy the other half of an otherwise pungent trip. I am really not surprise why he thinks Singaporeans are unhelpful. Because, we, unlike the cheerful and helpful Thais, would be unable to tolerate such horrible behaviour.
Where’s the graciousness of an educated “gentleman”?
I was talking to the Father, and he really thinks I should I have told him off. There is no need to remain polite to such assholes.