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  • The two times I’ve dodged a car accident, there have been a number of shared characteristics. Travel in strange lands, me driving, a suspect rental vehicle whose rugged exterior is at odds with its shonky performance.

    And my partner in lucky escapes: Queenie.

    The first time it was just the two of us. We’d abandoned the bus in search of something more liberating, but the car rental scene in rural Laos wasn’t up to much. We were jubilant when we persuaded the owner of the jeep up above to hire it to us for a few days, in exchange for my licence and some cash.

    In the village where we found it, the sun was blazing and we thought the lack of doors and windows added to our daring. Did you spot the *missile* doubling up as a running board? Like I said, daring.

    About two miles out of the village, the jeep broke down. The spark plugs had died. We should have left it then. But we replaced them and drove on. The sun soon disappeared, and as we climbed higher, it got wetter and colder and more slippery. But it was beautiful: an empty road winding through trees and hills and occasional villages.

    We were approaching a bend in the road. I braked, started to turn, and the jeep stalled, and then skidded through 180 degrees. It happened so quickly that there was no time to shout, or pull any stunt maneuvers. We were facing up the hill, the wrong way, and I was looking at the drop to my left, trying not freak out.

    We spent the next day and a half driving to Luang Prabang at tortoise speed. Every time I braked, the jeep stalled, the steering cut out and we had to stop. But all I could think was how much better that was than tumbling down a slope in an insubstantial metal box, with the sides missing, and coming to rest somewhere hidden and dark.

    Death Proof II is here.
    Death Proof III is here.
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