I have often wondered in the last few months how more surreal life can get but every time I am amazed to discover that things can and do always get even stranger.
My bus journey down from Louang Prabrang to Vietane, the capital of Laos, was one of those moments. Most people avoiding sitting with me on buses in Laos. In a country where the average person is shorter than Kylie or Prince legroom is very restricted and the space you do get makes Ryanair feel like Business Class.
So as I'm getting myself ready for a 16 hour journey my heart sank when I had, not one, but two people sitting with me. Tickets are sold until every seat has been filled, then extra plastic stools come out in the walkway. Then once every possible space has been taken it is time to compress - I guess it is all about densities. To make matters worse, the child that was sitting beside me decided the best place to rest her head was either on my arm or my chest and even had the cheek to complain when I moved.
Travelling on our bus were two armed guards with what looked like kalasnikovs. 5 years ago a bus was attacked on this route, by bandits, and all the passengers were killed. It was just all too surreal, very much Laos though.
I found this sign very amusing, how exact!!!
There are no public toilets except in major cities so both men and women have to relieve themselves by the side of the road, but you can't go too far, partly cause it's pitch dark and partly due to the amount of unexploded bombs still left in the country.
I was going to treat myself to a new room for the next few days but as I arrived at 6am, I had to take the only thing available...a bunk in a dorm!!!!
To make my life just that bit more entertaining my bank has blocked my card again. So, after another journey from hell part 2, I decided to chill and go to the gym and even managed to barter for half price admission!!
But the best bit of all was the bike I rented to get to the gym and around town. I shopped around and once I had found the cheapest place by far I realized that the only one they had with a basket, an essential here, was a pink Hello Kitty one!!!!
I know now that I am not the only gay in the village because two local camp members of the tribe approached me while I was cycling.......asking me one thing or another while I was trying my very best not to get killed. I also had a guy and his girlfriend who wanted to know where I rented it from as they thought it was so cool and kitsch - I was just so embarrased.
Anyway, it will be one of my enduring memories of this country.......my little pink Hello Kitty bike......
One bit of very exciting news though........I am going to Nepal in April.