Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Right so, yesterday was rather bucolic. Is that the right word? I'd look it up but the damnconnectionisoutagain. I spent a while at the breakfast place- a smoothie, two coffees, and now i'm back at the guesthouse with some soda water and a couple bananas. Waiting to learn how to ride a motorcycle. I'm an idiot. But he seems so enthusiastic to teach people and mostly girls- so how could I not really right? So before I spend ink on my next letter talking to you about my nerves and trepidation over gear shifting and rock laden dirt roads (which just thinking about it, i get anxious, why am I doing this!) I can tell you about the distracted guide and cave spiders.

I could leave the whole day there really. Except there were 8 of us girls- except you know, now i'm the middle aged one. And in weird beginning to roadtrip fashion we stopped somewhere for something, turned around, handed something to someone else, and then got gas before we got going anywhere. And our guide was friendly enough, but seemed to think that only one particular view warranted a photograph in each location, or that was that the breadth of all we needed to know, and that all he needed to say about the Hmong village was that they were poor- ok now we stop, take a picture, very beautiful, ok keep going. We all have our off-days and he seemed irritated about something. Though if we asked things he was chatty enough. And he talked about the pomelo fruit (after I pointed it out), the lush citrus smell filling the air along with the jungle sounds, and there was the shag carpet looking caterpillar with I assume it's fiberglass like consequences of touching it, 'very dangerous', he said, not unlike the ominous spider, with its glinty RED eyes as it stared at us from the white craggy nook of the cave wall. It was admittedly pretty cool, down to the non-osha approved walkways, rotting planks, sharp as knife basalt, and treacherous clay... Both caves, intimate with really awesome features, the silence deafening, and the sparkly bits lustrous in the dark. It was just enough adventure without having to be too in as far as disproportionate risk taking goes. Though I did feel sort of rushed through.

Equally the same for the dry season current of the nam song river, having gotten lodged on a couple rocks, but low danger of drowning or getting sucked somewhere you didn't want to be. But before that, there was the water cave- strangely surrounded by a massive group of Koreans- who 1/2 of them 3 sheets to the wind and playing Gangnam style over- and OVER- and OVER. Set us all on edge, as we ate lunch.  As much as I was all, aw k peeps. If I had learned any Korean at all I would've gone over there and been like dudes, shut up. You're disturbing everyone just like every juvenile gap year student coming over here and getting blitzed. But I digress.

And then 6 of the 8 girls who signed up didn't want to get wet? Or have to change? And so dismissed the opt to go by inner tube into the sleeping cave. Which you followed a rope as you reclined, and you could hear the water draining or trickling out to somewhere. Despite the fact that you just saw 40 Koreans coming laughing and spinning out of the cave you still think you're about to be sucked down into something to your death- it was a hard feeling to shake- but we spun on in and then hit sand and spun on back. It was yes, cool.

And after kayaking, by the hazy yet majestic limestone karsts laden with trees and that jungle feeling, we were sort of left stranded at the far edge of town- and that's where I was like, I can't give this guy a tip. I just can't. Because then I asked so do we just walk back or? And he's like oh yah it's not far just up the road and turn left- keep in mind some of the girls had no idea- where we were... It was just a weird end. No, thanks for letting me show you around, no, enjoy your stay... that pretty much sums up the Vang Vieng attitude toward tourism- granted a lot of it is debauched and they were little prepared for that gateway (which thankfully is getting the crackdown bcs somebody important finally died having too much fun)- but it's an attitude of reluctance and if it's there it's a bit heartless or dare I say soulless- In the accommodating they will do, or how far they will go- and this is down to the watered down smoothies and everything that's OK, but not the best, and not just for foreigners but for it's own sake, for themselves- you'd think it would be better. But they're laboring, and it's not fun, and it's not a good yield.

It's all just a little off.

And if it weren't for this guy named Tom- who it just takes one enthusiastic teacher really- to want to teach you something he loves- I would've gotten out of dodge today. Weirdly enough the guy thought I did want to leave today, and the driver came to collect me. It got a bit awkward as the guy made my guy pay him $2 for the inconvenience of having to come back tomorrow to get me. ODD.  And $2 is a lot- already feeling overcharged for the $15 van ride... it just adds yet another element of everyone being taxed for things- unfairly. Begrudgingly. To do something. As I watched my missionary friends sister-in-law want to charge a guy full price to cancel bcs his girlfriend was sick- and she said- the food was already prepared- as if that alone would warrant rejecting him any favor... let alone that I was charged a $1 more for even using his services opposed to the guy down the road. It's all coming out from somewhere in small degrees that can lead to hard and weary hearts.

But nevermind- Tom. Uncle Tom. The enthusiastic highly certified? motorbike guy- living out his dream in Laos. We were joking just yesterday about flying ostriches. Till later.

xo, m.

ps. Morning person!?

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