Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Freewheelin’ in S.E.A – Day 5: Please a-Laos me to introduce myself

I awoke with a jolt at 6am, and rushed towards the private train hole to empty my bladder onto the passing tracks. I received the 150 baht breakfast I had ordered the night before around half an hour later, a plate with two under-cooked, cold fried eggs, half a cold frankfurter, some lukewarm beans and two slices of soggy bread, stylishly served on a cracked wooden dinner hall tray. It was like being back at school, except in those days the meals were free, and tasted better. We got chatting to a forty-three year old Spaniard by the name of Pablo, who was also travelling to Vang Vieng with his best friend, the slightly younger Fabian. We joined forces, went through the border together, shared a cab to Vientiane bus station then haggled down the price of a minivan to take us 5 hours north to our next destination. It pulled up with two others already seated, a Thai guy named Paul, and a Belgian named Eric. They said they were cousins who were travelling together. I didn’t question it. Along the rocky, half made roads, we pulled up next to a great lake, which had two boats with five kids split between them, racing along the water. It was wide and beautiful, with great, glowing, green trees and a few huts built along the edge. The three boy boat beat the two boy effort after a good start from both, strength in numbers succeeding once again. The kids didn’t seem to mind, one of them immediately back-flipping into the lake like he hadn’t a care it the world. At last, I had finally witnessed some natural beauty, unless you count the woman with the string of flowers stuffed inside of her lady garden from the night before. Perhaps I could call this a close second, but either way, I was ready to see the real world, not the really real world of Bangkok. You can say what you want about a flower in full bloom, but I’d take slowly watching it grow over witnessing the finished product die, any day. The same can be said for countries. Travelling through the developing world excites me. You know that you are more than just a statistic, and whatever you bring, be it money, knowledge or even just a smile from a foreign face, impacts the communities tenfold to what it does back home in the monopolistic metropolis where nothing seems to really make a difference. My first truly inspiring sight of freedom obtained, time for some more…

Children of the Freewheelin' World

I’d heard somebody complain about a guest house called Pan’s Place, saying that its owner was more interested in shifting weed and mushrooms than he was about the rooms. That was all the recommendation I needed, and the four of us marched forth, from the bus to the front door, which was five minutes up the desolate road. It turned out that my new Spanish brothers had one joints worth of weed left, so I rolled one of my infamous L’s and finally had a first kiss with my beloved companion, after nearly 6 days. BOOM, BOOM, BAT, BA-BOOM BA-BOOM BAT! There was a hang out area in Pan’s courtyard, literally, a deck made of bamboo that had four hammocks and loads of cushions all around. I took a comfortable residence in the first hammock I’d ever laid in, slowly swinging through the stonedness as smoke slithered out of my mouth like a snake. We gave 20 bucks to the owner, Chris, and he returned soon after, handing me a fat bag stuffed with fifteen grams of Thai weed. Sorted. Two guys and a girl joined us, Ben from Canada, Eran from Israel, and Ieke from the Netherlands. I struggled with conversation because I was too blissed out to be paying attention to anything other than my spiralling thoughts. Feeling lean as a runner bean after my unwanted detox, I said bye to the new crew and went with the others to a restaurant that had meat spinning on barbeques outside. All it takes is one rotation of a duck roasting on a spit and I’m sold. I saw at least four before I walked through their door.

Feeling satisfied by my meat intake, I strolled back to the hostel with Maddie and the Spaniards, who had reproduced another brother in the short time they’d been there, so now there were three, Diego completing the trilogy. I clung onto whatever conversations I was caught up in, trying my best to learn Spanish in one evening, whilst helping Fabian improve his English. The other two could speak both languages fluently, and often spoke half and half, which reminded me of my father’s side of the family, who all communicate in Greeklish. Both crews re-joined forces, and hit the street in search of a bar. It was like a ghost town as we strolled the dusty roads in search of a watering hole and it gave me flash-backs to being alone and on mushrooms one night in Tombstone, Arizona. Only weeks before, Vang Vieng had been a notorious party town, boasting around a death every fortnight, and countless injuries due to mass amounts of cheap alcohol intake whilst floating from bar to bar down the Mekong river in a tractor tyres inner tube. We’d heard that the town was closed down because of the bars were all selling opium and mushroom shakes to the revellers, but decided to come anyway, in the hope that there was still good times to be had. I’ll be honest, it didn’t look likely. I sang “Show me the way to the next whiskey bar” and tumbleweed rolled past us. We followed it, and finally found one place that was open called The Otherside. Unfortunately as we walked in ‘My heart will go on’ by Celine Dion was being blasted from the speakers, and sixty odd pissed up party people were singing along. It was gross. I’d rather be hit in the eye with a banana any day. That turned out to be the last song, it was like fucking for hours on MDMA but being unable to cum, a frustrating anti-climax to say the least. I hung in the hammock and had another Boom-Bat, making up my own translations of what the guys were talking about in Spanish and laughing along with them, then went off to shower and sleep in a happily sedated state.

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