We studied our new home with cautiousness: Sinead and myself, along with a crazy- sounding American girl we’d just met that day on our mini-bus. The front room was completely empty, save for an elderly Thai lady in a mask sweeping with a broom that would have looked more at place in a match of quidditch.
“Shoes!” shrieked Pia.
At least I think that’s what she said. We would shortly discover that leaving your shoes on in a house is just about the rudest thing you can do in Thailand. Great way to impress Sinead’s new boss!
“You are very lucky” Dalton drawled in his lazy Zimbabwean way “You have a washing machine”
We all noted the washing machine in our grimy, dark kitchen, and also noted the fact that it was the ONLY thing in the kitchen. Where the hell was the fridge? Where was the cooker? Why was there a gecko in the sink?! Before we had time to protest, we were taken upstairs to view the bedrooms. There was a strange elderly man in thick-rimmed glasses flushing the upstairs toilet and smiling at us. He continued to repeat pointing to the toilet, flushing it, and smiling. Nobody seemed to think it necessary to explain to us who he was! We nodded in acknowledgement before going to view the sleeping arrangements.
After all the horror stories we’d heard of people having bucket showers and squat toilets, we felt like we’d struck gold with our 2-storey house! We even had our own washing machine…or so we thought. In the time it had taken us to go upstairs, our washing machine had disappeared! Not to fear though, since in its place was a bright pink sofa. Just what we needed to wash our clothes with.
After popping out to help Jen sort her apartment, we returned to the house. Here we found the elderly man in his thick-rimmed glasses waiting for us. He had taken off his shirt and tied it around his shoulders, forming a sort of cape.
“Nee, nee, nee” he cried
Sinead, Kristin and I looked at each other in confusion. Was he talking about his knees?
“Nee, nee!” he cried again, this time standing up and beckoning us to follow him.
“Bed” he said simply, pointing to a dirty looking mattress that now lay on Kristin’s bedroom floor.
“Urm…. thank you?” Kristin said uncertainly.
The strange shirtless man, looking very pleased with himself, then took out his I.D card for us to inspect.
“Mr Udon” he said firmly.
We could see from his ID that he was 65 years old, although we were not quite sure why he felt it necessary to show us the ID in the first place. We would still have believed his name and age had he not shown us the ID! With one last flush of the toilet and a cackling laugh that echoed all around us, Mr Udon left the house.
Late that night, we sat downstairs exchanging stories with each other of our training experiences when we heard a ‘tap…tap…tap’ at the window. Looking up, my eyes quickly adjusted to find the source of the noise. I screamed in horror as I saw the shape of a giant axe gently scraping against our window. I saw the door handle begin to turn and my blood ran cold.
“Oh my God we didn’t even shut the door!” cried Sinead.
We clung onto one another as the front door flung wide open…
The axe poked its way through the front door first…followed by a smiling Mr Udon with a huge bunch of bananas in his arms. He was cackling that creepy little laugh of his.