Hellrides: Tokyo to Hua Hin, Thailand.

Don Muang to Hua Hin

My backpack making friends with a box of fish.

I’m sure there are easier ways to relive your youth than this.

Back when I was younger I was in a punk band. We toured a fair bit, our drummer relentless in his thirst for a gig – any gig – and so we drove thousands of miles in a green VW Estate plastered with an assortment of stickers of bands you have probably never heard of. The tours were planned well in advance, so if we were offered a gig in Scotland one night we’d take it. If we were then offered a gig in the middle of England for the next night, we’d take that too. We said no to nothing, and so it meant we often zig-zagged our way through Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales multiple times during a single tour. Even on our days off we seemed to be on the road. After a show in Scotland one time we had a day off the next day so we drove to London to see AC/DC, and then drove back the same night in thick fog with the windows down so the driver wouldn’t fall asleep. It was ludicrous.

These epic journeys became known as ‘Hellrides’ – driving all night to play to whichever poor bastards would have us. “What’s that? You need to take a piss? Tough, we are late for the show.” And so a bandmate would have to piss into an empty Fanta bottle while we jokingly pushed him, our drummer swerving the car to try and make him spill it over himself. Hellrides became the norm. We slept on the floors of bars, in squats, under pool tables. Quite often we’d have to sleep in the car – one notable time in Birmingham in winter when I had full-blown tonsillitis. All our equipment was stuffed in the boot, so bass drums and guitar cases were constantly smashing us on the head. Back when you are 21, these things don’t bother you. It’s fun. It’s what you do when you’re 21.

Fast forward 12 years and I’m sat in the back of a minivan in Thailand – hurtling down the road towards Hua Hin, about two hours south of Bangkok. I thought I had a decent enough seat in the seven-person van until the driver opened the boot and proceeded to stuff a load of boxes of fish beside me. “And so it begins,” I thought. I managed to squeeze my rucksack on top of the fish and off we went. About an hour later the van stops and another guy wants to get on. There’s absolutely no room for him, but the driver demands I squash myself up further against the fish so the Thai guy can essentially sit on my knee. Visions of the Fanta bottle incident come back to me and I can’t help but laugh. At this point I had just come off a seven-hour flight from Tokyo and then navigated myself through Bangkok on a local bus during rush hour to get to the minivan. A minivan with no aircon in 37 degree heat. My boxers were stuck to my ass for the duration of the trip.

I’m going to be on the road for a while now. Hellrides will probably become the norm once again.

The Dangerfields

Me in a bin with The Dangerfields, 2002.


How to get to Hua Hin from Don Muang Airport: Despite the demand, there’s no direct bus from Bangkok’s old Don Muang Airport down to the Southern Gulf and Hua Hin. Take the local A2 bus from outside Exit 7 of the Arrivals Hall to Victory Monument (30 baht / £0.60). From there someone will direct you to the right place for a minivan to Hua Hin (180 baht / £3.70). Expect a Hellride – though not as bad as my worst one, which you can read about here.


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