Friday, April 17, 2009

just a quick hop, skip & a jump

Even living in a place that seems like a holiday destination for a lot of people I still feel excited to get away and travel a bit nearly all the time. My visa was set to expire on the 29th of March, so, on the 28th headed on the overnight bus to Vien Tiene, the capital of Laos, to renew it. When buying the bus ticket you can get “VIP”, first class or second class. I am always on the look-out for a deal and have a hard time paying full price for anything anymore…. I asked the lady at the counter if they had a “third class” that maybe they just didn’t tell us farang (foreigners) about. She had a good laugh and told me that the second class was only 400 Baht (about $12 US) for a 12 hour bus ride. To my dismay, the time schedule for the second class wasn’t possible because I had to work – so all the sudden I was stuck on first class. Stupid first class with all the first class people thinking they’re so great. Pfff… and it cost 560 Baht ($16 US).

I settled in to my grossly over-priced first class bus, sitting conveniently behind 2 monks with their seats all the way back, probably in some fantastic first class meditative state that I can only dream about. The seats are for Asian proportioned people, of course, and my long legs don’t seem to ever fit into the picture. Then a lovely little Thai woman about my age sits next to me with a massive smile and I feel happy we’re going to share these next 12 hours sitting next to each other. About 2 minutes before the bus pulls away, another lovely Thai woman with a massive smile comes on and hands a 1 year old baby girl to the lovely Thai woman sitting next to me. Massive smiles all around. Yea! Directly next to an infant on a cramped bus for 12 hours. Thank God, Buddha, Allah, everyone for eye masks and iPods.

Early morning at the boarder of Laos I met 2 guys who were as naturally white as I am, no bleaching of the skin for these Western boys! Mike from Sweden and James from England (speaking fluent Thai to a tuk-tuk driver). I go stand next to them and listen in on the bartering, because of course by default from here on out we were together in our travels, bound by being farang on a notorious Thai visa run. At immigration pick up Bryan from San Francisco and together we headed straight for a restaurant with huts on the Mekong River for some large Beer Lao’s. Shared rooms, beers and a combined total of about 5 hours at the Thai embassy for the next 2 days. I learned an incredible amount about the minds of men on this trip – I can honestly say I will never be the same again. Part of me wants to go back to being blissfully ignorant and part of me is glad to know what I know now, so I never fully trust those wankers again! Was all in good fun though – we saw absolutely not one thing of culture or interest in Laos, only the bottom of a few too many large Beer Lao’s on the banks of the mighty Mekong River, which isn’t so mighty at all at the peak of this hot and dry season.

Left Laos with a visa that allows me another 6 months in Thailand – perfect. Have to make one quick run over the border to Myanmar after 3 months…that ain’t no thang but a chicken wang.

Teaching is going splendidly – have been working a lot with 8-10 year old kids… they are the best! They can speak enough English to get by and they love to have fun and are really attentive and wonderful. Also have some classes with teens. And, well, teens are teens. All over the world they’re little shit heads apparently! No, they are sweet most the time… and I gotta give it to them cause this is summer session right now. The boy I teach private lessons to brought me 2 fancy pieces of chocolate cake from a bakery… I guess he liked us each pretending to be Godzilla and chasing each other around the room at the end of our last lesson together. Life is good!


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