I slept in as late as I could knowing that I had a 20 hour bus ride waiting for me this evening to get to Laos and more specifically the capital of Vientiane, I could have went straight to the main destination on my Laos itinerary to begin at the most northern post of the trip but the idea of 28 to 30 hours in a bus killed any motivation to put myself through that and instead break up the trip. I really know how to treat myself to a good time. I began the day with a bowl of Bun Rieu which is a delicious soup of crab meat, tofu, tomato, rice noodles, and however much lettuce and herbed greens you can throw in. Although I have gained quite a bit of practice and skill with the chopsticks, nothing beats a fork and knife (just another example of how much I can proudly say that I am from America: U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!). From there, I walked through the city to find a swimming pool to swim some laps and feel cool for one of those rare moments (God do I miss not feeling like a total piece of sweaty shit). Despite wading through the water like a dying dog barely able to keep pace with anything, I throughly enjoyed the ability to exercise again which further emphasized for me how much I look forward to Nepal’s mountains to kick my ass into gear. I should keep Nepal and the long treks my time in the country will entail from my unsuspecting legs. Who knows how quickly and abruptly I will need to morph from bum to a bonafide trekker? Based on today’s aquatic activities, it will be rude and awakening. Luckily I got in and out before the pool got overgrown with little Asian peeps chopping up the water with their failing attempts to swim. Upon returning to the hostel all I could do was get all my bags together and prepare myself mentally and physically for the torture that is an Asian night bus. The final sleeper bus after the per usual confused shuffling of all us backpackers towards the bus station was not so bad after all. Sure the usual annoying music that could outdo water torture in prying the truth out of a prisoner was filling the airwaves and granted I had to sleep next to a middle-aged Vietnamese man but the music finally quieted down and my sweat stained shirt began to cool and dry. This is all not to say that I slept like a dream but for a sleepless night I could have done worse. The seats reclined but were double decker style in a single level compartment so try to imagine how cramped it could feel. Just as I was dreaming in a barely qualifiable nap-like about India and how much I am already to be there, we stopped for dinner and a rest. I had no more Vietnamese dong since I purged my wallet of the currency back in Hanoi so I just stood around idly trying to stretch my legs while I could. An Asian man with very good English approached me to chat and so we talked for a bit while I was under the impression he was the bus driver rather than the Laos businessman that he was. He said I should go eat while I had the chance but I told him I only had U.S. dollars on me. Being awfully generous he bought be a bowl of rice pudding and so we dined with a Laos guy my age that the businessman met on the bus. Perhaps due to me being some sort of guest of honor he quickly ordered beers for the three of us which then turned into another round. I have made the recent commitment to stay dry but how could I refuse a simple gesture as this after the man paid for my meal? After a quick glimpse into Laos from these two Laotian guys, it was back to the bus and attempting to nap as much as one could.
Riding Vietnam Day 197: Goodbye Vietnam!