Once upon a time in a land far away, a nervous girl stepped on an overnight bus in Vientiane, Laos headed to a land called Luang Prabang. She was excited to go, but scared to be going it alone. (It was her first solo trip, after all!) She unknowingly sat next to a middle-aged pervert and found herself up through the wee hours of the night protecting her “personal space.” But then suddenly, the bus stopped. It sat at the side of the road with no air conditioning for two hours. The nervous girl thought perhaps the bus driver was tired and needed a nap. But, alas, this was not the case. The nervous girl would soon find out the next town over was flooded, and the streets had become a river. Of course, before she would figure that out, the bus ran into a ditch and nearly tipped over. The sleepy passengers jumped up in unison and ran out of the tilted bus, into the night rain. There they stood for nearly two more hours.
The nervous girl started to wonder why men walked around in the middle of the night with rain jackets but no pants. “I know it’s hot, but why won’t they put some pants on!” she thought. Once the bus was towed from the ditch, the nervous girl got her answer. The men with no pants were guiding the bus through the flooded streets, water up to their wastes!
Just when she thought the worst was over, the bus took yet another unexpected stop. She sat and she sat. But after an hour, she decided to get off the bus and see what all the fuss was about. This was what she saw:
Two men and a shovel stood on top the dirt and started to dig. The nervous girl knew this was not good news. Twenty-fours hours, one bag of sticky rice, many trips to the “jungle” bathroom and two bug bites on her ass later, the nervous girl was back on the bus, finally on her way to Luang Prabang.
In total, the nervous girl spent 32 hours on a very dirty bus. She started to wonder if this little adventure would be worth it. She sort of wished she were back in familiar Rangsit.
Alas, she would not give in. She arrived in Luang Prabang at 4 a.m., nearly two days after starting her seven hour bus ride. She was exhausted yet somehow unwilling to fork out an extra ten bucks to find a guesthouse and go straight to sleep. So nervous girl became sleepy girl as she trudged with her new-found Canadian friends up a mountain to watch the sunrise. And she only fell down one flight of stairs in front of her new friends before reaching the top!
Yet, there’s more bad news for sleepy girl. The battery in her camera died just as the sun began to rise. The mountaintop was beautiful. But you’ll never know. Because this was the only picture her dead camera would take:
Back down the mountain, sleepy girl began her pursuit to find the best guesthouse her money could buy. Which didn’t turn out to be much. Sleepy girl walked and walked and walked. She looked at guesthouse after guesthouse after guesthouse. She considered changing her name to Goldie Locks, as she searched for the bed that would be “just right.” After more than a dozen tours, she nearly gave in. She bought a room by the river that was “good enough.” But as soon as she set her bag down and heard the neighbors blaring music, she marched right back out and demanded her money back. Okay, may she didn’t demand it so much as ask for it in the best sugary-sweet voice she could muster. She headed back to the streets in search of that just-right bed.
And then a man stepped out of a beautiful house she was sure didn’t fit her budget. But to her surprise – it did! She booked the room right away and set about moving in to her new home. She thought about sleeping but figured she might as well just stay up the rest of the day – she made it this far, didn’t she? So sleepy girl showered and made herself pretty and headed out in search of food. This is what she found: the perfect tranquil view of the perfect, muddy-chocolate river at the perfect restaurant.
Sleepy girl was happy. And the memory of the perv, the ditch, the flood and the mud completely left her memory.