Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Guess Who Didn't Die?

Sweet Judith it's a bright day in Chiang Mai, literally and figuratively (and, uh, meteorologically).

Yes, I made it back to home sweet home, and I am still alive. I would like to thank all of you who sent me personal emails expressing your wishes that I would not die in Laos. Seriously, it's good to know that you didn't want me to die, especially not in Laos.

It is good to know that so many of you my companions care about my wellbeing. It was also good to know that my mom was thinking about me, too: having read on this blog that I was out of money, hungry, lost, and desperate in Vientiane, my mom took the time to write, not an email, nor a Skype or AIM message, but a Facebook wall post, to say that it sounded like I was having a pretty "Laosy time."

Yes, it does run in the family. That's about the only thing that runs in this family.

(Where did I steal that joke from? I can't remember. It's not even true, though, because my dad and sister are running a half-marathon in October. For our parts, my mom runs a successful business school program, and I run wild like the Tasmanian devil on amphetamines.)
(Nope, don't know what that one means either. I'm so stir-crazy that I'm losing coherence. It's for the best. These are preferrable circumstances to those in which I lost other things. Too soon?)

Ummm, so what happened? It didn't go as smoothly as one might have hoped (imagine!). I met Morocco at around noon and we shared a cab to the Thai embassy. Then he paid the cab driver to go wait in line for us and pick up our passports. Then we waited in the shade and he chain smoked and called a lot of people "Cocksuckle." Yes, that's right: "cocksuckle."

Got the passport around 1:15, which gave me plenty of time to stroll on over to a travel agency and book my 3 P.M. bus ticket to Chiang Mai. Obviously I failed miserably: all tickets sold out. Checked in at five travel agencies: all tickets to Chiang Mai sold out. Would you like to go tomorrow?

I would rather shove a starfish up my urethra than stay in Laos another night.

So I took a taxi across the border with a taxi driver who played a CD which seemed to consist solely of remixes of "Dat Boom Boom Boom" by Black Eyed Peas. He took me to the bus station at Udon Thani, where apparently there had been no tickets to Chiang Mai available that day. Obviously when I got there around 4 there were about 7 seats available for 7:30 bus and 12 seats available for the 8:00 bus. I don't even know. I hate Laos.

I want to make a T-shirt: "I HAD A LAOSY TIME IN VIENTIANE" Maybe an outline of the country behind the text; maybe a hapless American, drenched in sweat, holes cut in his pockets, surrounded by short Thai tuk tuk drivers screaming at him and pulling his arms. Sneath, get on this.

I want to make a T-shirt: "No, I don't want a Tuk Tuk."

I want to make a T-shirt: "If you ask me whether I want a Tuk Tuk, I will light your vehicle on my fire." Maybe a cartoon drawing of an American laughing as a Tuk-Tuk burns in front of him.

I want to make a T-shirt: "Mai ow Tuk Tuk." Can we get this in Thai and Laotian, Sneath?

I'll shout it over the lousdpeaker: Vientiane can lick my body hair. I am not going back there for a long, long time. I need to unwind. I need a pillow cuddler. I need money.

It took everything I had not to punch a man while walking the streets of Vientiane on that last day, when, approximately two hundred feet from the bus station, I asked a Tuk Tuk driver what direction the bus station was in, and he asked if I wanted a ride there. I almost punched him. It was literally right across the street.

[Next post is going to be a longish philosophical ramble about the impending (and current) disastrous collision of progressive capitalism and protectionist socialism in Vientiane.]

Nothing remarkable happened on the bus. I was in the back row, except for this hippie guy who finagled a seat on the back bench thingie behind me. I was talking to this Britourist across the aisle, about the Night Safari with the monkeys and the elephants and such, and this guy sits down behind us and without saying excuse me begins speaking:

"While I disagree with the idea of zoos in principle..."

Then I put my headphones and didn't listen to his pseudo-intellectual everyone-has-heard-this-a-million-times-before speech about how cruel zoos are to animals. One of these days I am going to pretend to be seriously horrified by one of these twentysomething's "exposees" about zoos:

"Oh my God, that's terrible! You mean they keep the animals behind bars?!?!"

I have much more to say, about the city of Udon Thani in particular, and why Thailand is so much better than what I saw of Laos. But that is for another hour. I have so many damn emails to respond to. Sheesh, you miss one day of class where two huge assignments are due and the kids just do NOT stop asking questions. Self-Reliance, little Emersons, man. Do they even know the conditions those elephants are subjected to by the cruel capitalist circus trainers?

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