Friday, May 28, 2010

So in Asia, I'm fat.

So, when you go shopping in the markets in SE Asia, the shopkeepers sort of beckon you into the store, and then point at every item and name them.


...and so forth.  It's very annoying, and it takes everything in my soul not to go, "oh really?  It's a skirt?  Thank you for letting me know the name of that item.  And that item."  Cambodia was terrible for this.  They are super high pressured, it makes you not even want to shop.  I LOVED the Laos street market because they really let you look without much bother, just a "buy something?" which only means, I'm here if you need me, let me know if you want anything.

But all of that is kind of OK or expected.  The stalls are all selling the same thing.  In order for them to get you into their store they kind of have to beckon you, and sell you on their stuff.  They're just working, and that's just what they do, and so you kind of have to accept it and then try not to feel claustrophobic while you're shopping in their stores as three of them hover over you.  So in the end, it's OK and you have to go into it knowing that's how it's going to go.  But, the thing they do that I really HATE even though it is hilarious, they hold up the dress and they look at you and they S-T-R-E-T-C-H it, and say, "make big", or "big size for you".  This happens in every store.  Yesterday in Phnom Penh, I couldn't help myself.  I said to a woman who of course did that to me: "for the FAT lady?  This dress will fit even me?  The FAT lady?"  And I puffed up my stomach and face and made myself look fat, and then I mimicked stretching a dress.  Finally she got the joke and we laughed about it.  But, ladies, if you ever want to feel obese, just come on over to Asia.

Click here to read about me feeling fat in China

And one last story -- Summer and I went to dinner one night with the Aussie girl in Cat Bah Island, Vietnam, and while she was seating us, she looked at Summer and said, "Beautiful!"  And Summer secretly got excited (I know this because she told me) that she called her beautiful and not us, but then she pointed at the Aussie girl and then to me and said Beautiful to us too.  Then the girl points at Summer's chest and exclaims, "BIG!" and then turns to me and says, "SMA....*then points to my belly*...Baby!!"  I was so embarrassed I just agreed and said, "yes, baby!" and then proceeded to order a beer.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer and I had a hilarious misunderstanding today

Summer is getting over some food poisoning, and is only able to stomach the idea of french fries for the last two days. So when we were on our little tuk tuk ride in Phnom Penh today, she mentioned if I saw any western looking restaurants I should let her know. We drove by a KFC, and I joked that she should get one of those new sandwiches where they replaced the bread with deep fried chicken patties. Then she said, completely out of the blue:

"Relax, underwear"

Which I took to mean that she was having a conversation with her underwear after having eaten the chicken patty sandwich. Like they were afraid, and she was going to comfort them. I started laughing maniacly and she looked at me like, 'it's not THAT funny', and then I was like, 'wha?' and she pointed to a billboard that had an ad showing a man in his underwear, and above it, it said:

"Relax Underwear"

The brand name of the underwear. This just proves Summer is usually not listening to me.  Also, for the rest of my life, whenever I eat something totally greasy, I will say, "Relax, underwear."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kady's Book Club

Books I have read/am currently reading on this trip:

The Thorn Birds / Colleen McColough -- Loved it.  Long amazing epic novel with all the twists and turns.  Plus it mentioned places in New Zealand and Australia where I visited.  Tragic tragic tragedy.  I cried, and then cried some more, all that good stuff.

Flannery O'Connor short stories -- What is this lady, depressed or something?  Her stories are totally bleak and I think I could have gotten more into it if I had been in my cozy basement in front of a fire, instead of trying to have a GOOD TIME on vacation.  Of notable mention was 'A Good Man is Hard to Find'...bleak bleak bleak, not Cormac McCarthy bleak, but bleak enough.

First They Killed My Father -- Super good, but a sad and gutwrenching account of a little girl whose family lived in Cambodia in 1975 when the crap hit the fan and the Khmer Rouge started killing doctors and lawyers and people with glasses and everybody who used to be involved with the previous government, including the little's girls dad who was a police officer.  Then they forced everybody to work on farms and rice fields and starved them into working extra hard so they could ship off the rice to China in exchange for weapons.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan / Lisa See -- A book about Chinese footbinding and man oh man the disgusting description of the footbinding is worth the whole read.  And at the end there's a nice lesson for anybody who has ever had a friend.  Woman-abuse at it's finest.  Thanks, China.

The Bible -- trying to read it all in one year. Not finished yet, obviously.  Too slow at times, too fast at others, but overall I give it a thumbs-up.

Bastard out of Carolina / Dorothy Allison -- sad little tale of a girl in the South whose momma marries the WRONG dude.  Seriously the wrong dude.

A Child Called It -- yikes. Hope you like abuse and neglect, and poor writing/publishing/editing.  Nuff said.  I didn't like this book.  Forgive me for saying this, but it could have been horrible-r.  If the writer was any good at writing.  I wanted to feel bad for him, really I did.  But I kept noticing editing mistakes where I should have been noticing burning on the stovetop and starvation and abusive alcoholic parenting.

Zeitoun / Dave Eggers -- A fair to middlin' book about Hurricane Katrina.  If you're a Dave Eggers fan, you'll love it, but if you're not, I feel dumb 'recommending' this book.  It's good, but not AWESOME.  Good points: great storytelling, and might help an ignorant American like myself understand what a Hijab is and why not all Muslims are what you might have thought they were. 

Sanctuary / William Faulkner -- I consider myself to be of average intelligence, but keeping all of the characters straight in this knockout of a story was difficult.  Too many characters get introduced and Faulkner will call somebody by their name in one sentence and call them 'the man' in the next and you never know he's talking about the same dern person.  Great book, not a 'light read' by any means.  Save this one for the middle of winter when you're snowed in.  And prepare to get very angry with a certain character named Gowan, and another one named Temple, though it really wasn't her fault.

Love on the Rocks / Victoria Henry -- was desperate for a book and traded for this one.  Absolute rubbish, indulgent rubbish.  Do not read this book.  Unless you want to be caught up in a naughty little light beach read that you won't be able to put down, that is.  I hated it.  And I loved it.  Don't read it.  Here's the cliff notes:

Lisa, a beautiful 5'2" curvy beauty, storms off her modeling job.  She is sick of being hit on all the time.  George, a successful and gorgeous businessman, storms off HIS job.  He is sick of screwing over the little man, and having to grin and bear it.  Turns out Lisa is George's girlfriend and the two of them decide to leave for a weekend at the oceany coast of England and end up choosing a run down hotel called 'The Rocks' because it's raining really hard and they have no other choice.  They fall in love with the place, and decide to buy it.  But Bruno, a rich local wanted to buy it.  But they buy it.  George's WIFE Victoria Snow shows up with her daughter, destitute because her boyfriend throws them out, penniless.  We didn't know George was married, and we hate this woman and her impetuousness.  But soon we realize that Victoria and George really do belong together, especially after she gets PREGNANT and then jilted Lisa falls in love with Bruno, and they buy out George's interest in the newly renovated and wildly successful 'The Rocks' hotel.  Oh, and in an annoying subplot Bruno's brother Joe accidentally dies after HE has an affair with a girl and gets HER pregnant, and she tells nobody until the baby is two years old, but everybody's happy because they miss Joe so much and now he has a SON!  The End.

Oh, and because of that STUPID INSIPID book, I have had "Love on the rocks...what a ditty do...look in your eyes" in my head for TWO WEEKS!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


This is so weird, but I am using US currency in Cambodia.  Everything is priced in US dollars, and the ATM even gives you US dollars.  This is is tough when you're so used to doing math in your head anytime you buy something.  Now I am trying to convert US dollars into US dollars...OK...hmmm, this t-shirt is one dollar.  So how many dollars is that?

It got me thinking that for the last four months I have been doing tons of math.  Kilos to pounds.  Kilometers to miles.  Meters to yards.  Baht, kip, NZ/Auzzie dollars, rupiah, dong, what-have-you to US dollars.

I'm all screwed up.  Not to mention I don't know what side of the road cars are even on anymore because everybody drives everywhere now.  I think I need a reacclimation guide to follow me around for a week or two and make sure I don't get killed in the United States.  If not by stepping in front of a car, then for being overly frank with strangers -- my new hobby.

A Funny Thing Happened at Angkor Thom...

Angkor Thom near Siem Reap, Cambodia is very cool.  Maybe my favorite place in the world?  I don't know.  I love everything.  So do you want to know what happened when I was there?

Summer and I were separated, mulling about on our own when I was overcome with heat and sat down in the shade.  A Japanese tour group came and stood close to me (too close, but whatever) and a man sat down right next to me as people took photos.  He leaned right and farted the loudest fart in the world, and then sat straight.  Like it was the most normal thing in the world.  Like he was Hal Hexum.  Then I smelled it.  It was foul.  And then he walked away.  Thanks! Japanese man.  Or should I say, Domo Arigato.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer-isms, Vol. 9

"It's a bear and a car.  What's not to like?"

"Of course it's safe.  I've got this umbrella."

"Every time I zip my suitcase, I'm like, 'yes.'"

Summer: "I can't stop thinking about how much I sweat yesterday."
Me: "How much did you spend?"
Summer: "No. Sweat.  I've never sweat so much in my life.  It was magical."

Goodbye Laos and thanks for all the Fish

This morning Summer and I lazily rolled out of bed at about 7am and packed up all of our stuff for the airport.  It was sad to have to shove everything in our bags again, especially since Luang Prabang has an amazing MARKET and I bought a bunch of stuff to bring home.  I wasn't going to buy anybody anything on this trip, but I sort of realized that I only have two weeks until I arrive in Minneapolis.  So not too bad to carry some stuff around.  So, if your name is on the following list, I bought you a present:

Mom, Kim, Keri, Kelly, Tanya, Kasey, Miyo, Miles, Murphy, Kay, Josette, Matt, Laurissa, Beata, Nancy, Heather.  But don't anybody get their hopes up.  It's mostly crap. 

We arranged to be picked up by Thouy, the tuk tuk driver at 8am so that we can arrive to the airport the requisite two hours early.  He never showed, but we found another dude, and we asked him to stop at our favorite fruit shake shack by the river, for old times sake.  They have no plastic cups at the moment.  No matter, they served us our shakes like this:

When I was finished I said something hilarious. You ready? I said, ..."Summer, these shakes throw themSELVES away."

So we get to the "airport", which looks to me like an abandoned airstrip and an empty building in the middle of a field.  I spotted one plane with the Lao Airlines logo, and it had propellers.  I made a mental note of the wherabouts of my Xanex, and hefted my bag from the tuk tuk.  I still had 22,000 kip to spend, baby! That's nearly $4.  I opted for a croissant and a coffee, which came to 23,000 kip but I convinced the lady to have pity on me and I got my breakfast.  Now, this happened to be in a room with 40 chairs, and to the side, the breakfast cart place.  She says to me, "eat here or take-away?"  And I laughed.  Because I am funny.  To me both options seemed exactly the same.  I said, "I guess I'll eat it right there."  This warranted paper cups and disposable plate.  I'm not sure where you have to sit to get the real China. 

The Ugly Ones

Back in New Zealand, I was walking down the street when I witnessed an exchange between a scraggly-haired older gentleman and a crazy no teeth crackhead lady. She was waiving a ticket of some sort in the air, yelling something at him as she walked towards him. I couldn't make it all out, but from what I gathered, she had won like $20 on her lottery ticket. She turned around and walked the other direction, presumably to cash it in. When she rounded the corner, he threw up his arms, turned to me and yelled from across the street:


Sunday, May 23, 2010

That Summer Sure is a Crazy Coot

Would you drink this?  It's called 'snake wine', but it's actually hooch with dead reptiles and centipedes soaking in it.  The sign says, 'you can't leave Laos not try snake wine.' 

I could, but Summer couldn't resist:

Vietnam Photo Special

Click here to view photos from Vietnam

Bali Photo Special

Click here to view photos from Bali

Malaysia Photo Special

Click here to view photos from Malaysia

Bed Bugs

Ew.  Gross.  When I think of ew or gross, I think of dirty people living in dirty places where they have cockroaches in their kitchens and bed bugs in their sheets.

It's really not true.  Some very nice hotels in New York City have bed bugs.  There's not a ton you can do to get rid of them, and I suppose it's actually pretty lucky that I haven't encountered them yet, seeing as I haven't slept in my own bed for 4 months. 

But I got 'em. And I was in denial forever about it, claiming these welts on my arms are just mosquito bites. But they would have to be the meanest mosquitoes in the whole world to bite me so relentlessly, and in such a close pattern. And the welts don't go away. And they are so much more itchy. I just want to buy some sandpaper and scrub my arm off. Check it out:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Oh Laos, Wow-os

We are in Luang Prabang, which is a town in the center of northern Laos.  It's beautiful.  FYI: Laos rhymes with wow, and not wow-os.  It's very jungley and mountainy here.  The above photo is of a gorgeous waterfall/swimming hole with ice-cold water and we spent two glorious hours there swimming and laughing.  And there were little tiny fishes giving us free pedicures.  I wouldn't let them though.  I never stopped moving my arms and legs in the relaxing swimming hole.  "You ain't gonna get me, fishes!" 

The best part of Luang Prabang is that we are spending five days here.  It's so luxurious not to have to pack up and move every day or two.  The last time we spent five days anywhere was in Noppharat Beach, Thailand.  It's so nice not to have to face the prospect of spending a day on the bus also.  In fact, we think we may have taken our last bus ride to get here!  Things are lookin' up!

Today we are going to rent bicycles and go exploring.  "Eat pray love, man, eat pray love."

End of Innocence

I'm so happy!  This was before the hellish 20-hour bus ride.  "I get to ride on the back of a motorbike through Hanoi traffic to get to this bus to Laos!"  See my face?  What a joke.  The motorbike driver talked on his cellphone the entire time, while riding dangerously close to cars and other motorbikes.  I regretted my decision to ride sidesaddle almost immediately.  (But, I was wearing a skirt!)  I tried at every red light to calculate the time it would take me to flop a leg to the other side of the bike, but never had more than three seconds, and rode for at least a half hour using every core muscle I had and one-handedly white-knuckling the metal bar under my butt to stay on the bike.  (While trying to get it on video.)  I kept thinking, "I have no health insurance, I have no health insurance, I have no health insurance."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"My Life is a Job"

Summer and I ran into the French-Minnesotan girl again one morning and she was lamenting, as she often did, that the price of bus tickets was too high. For the 18-hour trip to Hanoi, our hotel wanted $22. But she was able to find three $14 tickets after riding down the street a little way on her rented bicycle. The only catch was that we would have to leave at 2pm. It was 11:15. We still had items at the tailor that possibly still needed alterations. "I think we can do it." I said to Summer, salivating over the $14 pricetag.

So we finished our breakfast and ran to the tailors. Both of Summer's dresses needed alterations. Mine didn't have the $2 lining inside. We told the ladies to please hurry -- we had to be on a bus at 1:30.

Long story short, we got on the bus as a motorcycle peeled up the street, delivering Summer's last dress. This bus drove for a few hours, and then we were transferred to the sleeper bus. We found three top bunks in a row and were elated until we found out that these three beds were directly above the toilet. Stinky. And we were stuck there for 16 hours. The beds were skinny skinny, and unlike the other buses we had been on, there were no rails to keep you from falling off. Soon there were men sleeping in the aisles, so if you fell, you'd land on a man. I made the mistake of looking out the front window to discover that our driver's strategy was to straddle the middle line until almost in a head-on collision with the oncoming vehicle and then at the last second, swerve to the correct lane. He passed people all the way to the left hand shoulder. Somebody coming? No matter. Slam on brakes, honk, hope they do the same. All through the night. I didn't sleep very much. My bunk seemed to slant away from the wall, wanting to dump me out. I had to engage all of my muscles in order to stay. on. the. bunk. So, no sleeping. 16 hours of this.

But, that's not the point of my story. The French-accented girl born and raised in Minnesota. I asked her thoughtful questions about her life, because I was genuinely interested in someone who hadn't been home in six years and made a career out of traveling. She scoffed at each question and answered very condescendingly. And yet I didn't just shut up. Here are some snippets of the conversation (remember as you read to give her a French accent):

Me: "I can't believe your laptop was stolen. Your photos. The book you were writing! Summer, did she tell you she lost a book? Was the book about your trip?"

Girl: "It's not a trip. It's my life."

Me: (Confused) "So what is the book about?"


Me: "So, are you retired permanently, or will you eventually have to get a job?"

Girl: "My life IS my job."

Me: (Confused) "So will you eventually have to work again?"


Summer: (after 18 hours on bus) "Worst night of my life."

Girl: "Then your life has been very good."


I can't say I didn't purposely provoke her once I became acutely aware of her condescension. I would say things like, "H., have you noticed (insert interesting fact) about Vietnam?" and then let her silly French-accented-superiority-complex take over. Just for comedy. But, as I said, it was an 18-hour trip.

We had planned to spend one night in Hanoi with her, and possibly even share a room to keep costs down, but after she got off the bus, I said to Summer, "I'm over this girl. Let's just go to Ha Long Bay tonight." Summer's like, I thought you'd never ask. So we just parted ways, last-minute, leaving her confused and irritated. (Interesting, as part of her schtick was how often she likes to remind you that she never keeps a plan and changes her destination depending on which way the wind blew.) And now, even as I type this I feel like she's right around the corner, ready to pop out and get me.

Sorry, didn't get a photo. All in all it ended up being a good stranger-trade, as we then met the nice Aussie girl on the bus to Ha Long Bay.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Poor Summer

I'm posting these photos because I want to remind Summer of her most awesomest moments of this trip, and then maybe she won't feel so bad that her camera was stolen today.

Summer-isms, Vol. 8

"Maybe if I brush my teeth my mouth won't taste so gross."

"I want this to taste less like bubble gum and more like whiskey."

"Who gets constipated in Asia?!"

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Of Waterfalls and Whales

While in Thailand, Summer and I drove and drove and drove our rented scooter to a very beautiful National Park.  Then we walked and walked and walked through the jungle to find the most beautiful waterfall and the coolest cleanest pool of water you can imagine.  It was just what the doctor ordered after having been relentlessly baked by the sun for days and days.  A gorgeous tan tall Brazilian girl showed up with her tiny bikini and her cutie cute boyfriend and they were completely adorable.  She had him take a photo of her laying back in the waterfall and I must say she looked very sexy.  Kind of like a travel poster advertising some unbelievably expensive paradise resort where Brazilian girls in their barely-there bikini bottoms spontaneously lay back and let waterfalls hit them in the face and they don't flinch.  I kind of wanted my photo taken like that.  But you know I can't take such things very seriously.

Nice. Face.

Cu Chi Tunnels

This is from May 6th, so it's a while ago now, but I wanted to post it because it's about me facing my fears.  Something this trip is sort of about.  If it's about anything.  I decided if something freaks me out, I want to just do it and get it over with already.  If it's not going to totally make me die.  Like scuba diving, surfing, swimming in the ocean, being in dirty places and tight spaces.  I don't believe, for me anyway, that these fears can be "conquered" because they're still there, but I believe they can be "faced".

So anyways, eons ago, and even before the Vietnam War, Vietnamese people dug and maintained pretty elaborate tunnel systems beneath an area near Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) called Cu Chi.  They used these tunnels to escape the air raids from the US during the Vietnam War.  The Viet Cong soldiers pretty much lived in them for years.  But they are tiny tiny tiny spaces, and they had to be camouflaged pretty well in order to avoid detection.  So the entrances looked something like this:

Somebody asked me if I wanted to go in that hole like the man above, and I said, "HELL no."

Here is another place where you can actually go inside one place and out another.  I decided to just get my photo taken only in the entrance, because I knew I would be too scared to go through the tunnels.  The first exit hole is only 20 meters away, or like 60 feet.

Please notice my face in this next one.  haha:

So, here I am, getting my photo taken.  The tunnel has been heightened and widened for the fat foreigners to be able to get in there, but I am squatting and I'm only 5'2".  All of the people went through and there was a space in front of me, and a lady went through and I heard her talking to Summer, who was already out the other end, and they seemed pretty close.  I had to just do it already.  I talked to Summer the whole time and did lunge/squats for 20 meters, running, in the heat, and freaked the whole time.

 But I did it!  And Summer got a photo of me coming out the other end:

Thank goodness I didn't have to live in them to survive.  They go on for 2km, and some of the exits dump out into rivers...there are even boobytraps, because the Americans did find them sometimes and tried to go in.  15,000 people lived in the Cu Chi tunnels and only 1,000 of them survived the war.  I'm working off my memory on this guys, don't quote me and don't take this as some sort of history lesson.  Google it if you want more information.

As was to be expected, the 1967 film shown before you get to the tunnels is pretty anti-American, and uses such language as:
"Like a crazy batch of devils, the USA bombed riverside chickens, cows, and even innocent people."
"This American Killer Hero killed 16 Americans."
"This tool, normally used to hunt animals would now be used to hunt American Animals."
But what was most interesting is that it showed all the Vietnamese, so happy to be working on and living in the tunnels, that was where I was YAH RIGHT.

You can't help but imagine yourself in Vietnam during the war.  It looks so like every movie I have seen, and it's not so far advanced that you can't squint your eyes and rewind 40 years.  I kept thinking about the poor American kids who got drafted and sent over, who didn't want to be there, fighting the poor Vietnamese kids who were forced to fight, and didn't want to be there.  Pretty somber thoughts for a girl who then got on a bus and spent a day at the beach.
Kinda like the time I went to Dachau concentration camp in the morning, and Oktoberfest in the afternoon.

Summer-isms, Vol. 7

"These flies are acting like my legs are a big hunk of meat."

"Thank you, Beerlao."

"I don't mind riding local buses if they charge me local prices."

"Salt those mothers." 

"Thanks for throwing my pillow in the dirt, dudes."

The Worst Bus Ride Ever aka Bus From Hell aka Crap We Got Scammed aka BLURG

I don't want to write a book about this.  I will just quote Lonely Planet:

"Many travellers have fallen victim to the Vientiane-Hanoi bus scam, in which agents -- often guesthouses -- sell tickets for 'air-con tourist coaches' that turn out to be rattletrap public buses or minivans packed to the limit with Vietnamese bringing cheap goods home from Laos.  These trips can be mini-nightmares, including a long wait at the border, and some Vietnamese drivers treat Westerners extremely badly."

Yah, we got scammed:

First, we were brought separately by motorbike to the following dusty waiting area across from a construction site:

Then about 15 other white people arrived.  We tried to join them, but were denied.  One Swedish girl was sent to sit by us.  The 14 other Europeans got on a bus, then ours came.  We had to run down the freeway and JUMP on it, because they wouldn't put our bags underneath and they technically didn't even want to stop the bus for us.  Ironically they stopped the bus for every other person they saw for the next 20 hours, trying to get them on the bus. 

Here are the 'cheap goods': being brought across the border.  Fake Lacoste.  At the time we thought maybe they were being smuggled.

I kind of got the impression that they were going to put drugs in our bags for the border crossing. Because from my point of view, they were already smuggling these Lacoste items? Plus, why did they separate the three of us from the rest of the group?  We couldn't tell, but they brought four huge bags onto the bus, cut them open with knives that flew dangerously close to our faces, and then put the contents of those bags under our seats and behind the back seat.  (As we took these photos, one of the guys stole Summer's camera and shot a photo down her shirt.  Then he kept tickling her feet.)

The driver stopped at restaurants, where everybody ignored us, and we finally forced the issue because we were STARVING and this is what we got: Rice. Fish Sauce Broth. Greens.  The spoon in my bowl was placed there by the jerk from my previous post:

We stopped for two hours to get all the tires on the bus changed:

Somewhere along the way we heard a loud BAM!  Right under Summer's feet.  She looked out the window and saw a huge chunk of the bus hanging off it.  I got off the bus to go look.  The driver and several riders were trying to get this section of the bus to lay down again.  Eventually they roped it down, and here's a picture of it later.  I couldn't photo it at the time because the driver YELLED at me and STAMPED his foot for me to GET BACK ON THE BUS.  (At least I think that's what he said, because nobody spoked Englishy).  One hilarious note about that BAM!  One of the jerks who was harrassing us jumped up and RAN for a tool and grabbed the teensiest, tiniest wrench I had ever seen to go and 'fix' the problem. 

When we got to the border of Laos, a man took EVERYBODY's passports but ours.  We were left to figure out what to do, and theirs were all processed in seconds.  Then the bus left us, and we had to walk to Laos:

Thankfully the bus was waiting for us in Laos.  At one point I needed the toilet and they wouldn't stop.  A man rubbed his fingers together to say "money" and laughed at me.  Then he said "number one?"  A half hour later they pulled over to the side of the road and everybody got off.  We had to pee behind a bulldozer.  So like, why not stop earlier when I needed a toilet?  If you're just going to stop anywhere.  And behind the bulldozer there was no toilet.  Here is a picture of another 'toilet' stop we made the next day.

They played a movie!  I was so excited to hear English over the TV.  But it was SAW IV.  That's when I was convinced we were going to be murdered.  Asians have a weird thing with watching slasher movies on the bus I have found.  Weird.  Anyway, Summer and I were the only Westerners (besides Helga the Swedish girl) on our bus.  To the right is Helga, who was traveling alone.  We were SO glad we were there so she didn't have to be on that hellish bus ride all by herself.  20 crappy hours later we arrived in Vientiane Laos.  The three of us shared a room that night.  It was $12 total:

Despite the poop-smeared walls, it was like a four-star hotel to us, and we slept from 6pm to 9am the next day.

We can laugh at all of it now, but that night, we had quite a scare.  We even thought about getting off the bus and trying to flag down another one for a ride. 
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