Monday, June 8, 2009

Our first Lao bus ride

Our first Lao bus ride was VIP because there was no other option from Luang Nam Tha to Luang Prabang today. Without anything with which to compare it, VIP seems to include on-bus karaoke to sing along with all your favorite Lao hits (including Creedence Clearwater Revival covers!) while the bus swings around blind turns and slams over potholes.

I had read that Laos was one of the poorest countries in the world, but I did not expect villagers to build their homes right next to the highway. Our first Lao bus ride was like a nine-hour long Unicef commercial, with little babies in varying degrees of nakedness bathing eating playing next to the road or sitting in the dirt, watched over by older siblings and grandmas in traditional clothing in front of thatch roof single story homes while pigs, dogs, chickens, and turklets ran amuck.

This first Lao bus ride confirmed that motion sickness is a world-wide phenomenon. Growing up in a family where everyone can read in cars, I did not realize how common motion sickness is. In South America and in Asia, at least in China and Laos, people seem to have a hard time keeping it down on the bus. This bus ride was particularly windy, but the lady in the seat behind me was in a near constant state of puking. John had to pick his backpack up off the floor...

The other noteworthy thing that happened on this first Lao bus ride was a conversation between John and a nice young Lao man on his way to Luang Prabang to learn English. They exchanged pleasantries about Laos, then the man sprung a question that has not been asked of us in our four months of traveling. He asked, what is your religion? John answered that he had been raised Catholic, but the man did not understand, so John said, Christian. The young man answered with something bordering on joy/relief that he was also Christian and that last night he had had a dream that he had met another Christian who had given him a hat and mittens. He said maybe his god was telling him he would meet John today... after that John didn't really know what to say, nor did the other man, who drifted off to talk to a French lady from New Zealand who was planning to teach English at a wat...

That sums up the goings-on of our first Lao bus ride.

Luang Prabang is very pretty, looks like some nice French colonial architecture even in the dark, and I have spied a few baguettes here and there.

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