Got only 5 hours of sleep last night, and I’m feeling it. I didn’t get to bed until 1 o’clock, what with the campfire and a before bed snack. I do really like it here, and am really sorry to go so soon. I’m staying at a place recommended to me by the Irish couple I met at Ban Pha Pho called “Magical Moments with Mr. Man”. The family that runs it are all real characters, and were pretty true to the description the Irish couple gave, from the Grandma missing teetch who chew beetle nut and sounds as though she’s got a mouthful of rocks when she talks [I was thinking about this on the bus, and realized that’s it’s not rocks she’s got, but beetle nut. Duh.], to the naked boy who runs passed dragging different things on a piece of string (no string this morning, but a huge length of bamboo on one shoulder, some sort of fruit in the other hand). The people here are very nice and very welcoming, and I wish I could spend longer. Somehow, what I’ve seen so far, despite the similarities, doesn’t leave the bad taste in my mouth that Vang Vieng did. As SE Asians would say - samesame but different.
One last thing about my mucus, and then I promise I’ll stop. The worst part about being on a bike with large volumes of snot is management. You can’t exactly pull out a tissue exery minute to blow your nose. It’s just not practical. So I’ve resorted to the disgusting habit of “snot rockets”, whereby you close one nostril, and launch a wad of snot from the other by blowing. But often, the desired launching effort fails, and end up with a dreaded “klingon”. Which must be carefully pinched off and flung, to frevent it clinging to and sliming your hand.
Yesterday, riding to the bus station in Pakse, I had a klingon of massive proportions. I thought I’d managed to fling it clear of my hand , and put my hand back on the handlebars, which all of a sudden seemed a lot slimier than before. I drew my hand away to see this huge snotwad now strewn all across the grip. Ewwww! I thoroughly grossed myself out.
I saw my first WTO graffiti here. Unlike the States, where WTO graffiti says things like “Fuck the WTO”, here it just says “WTO”". Nearly as bad as the contreversial “I love you” grafitti.
And road motorbike graffiti. I’ve seen a lot of road over the past month, and I’ve see tons of motorcycle graffiti in the road. Sometimes it’s bicycles, and occasionally a tractor or two. The only explaination I can come up with is that it’s when there was an accident or fatality. But that seems horribly progressive for Laos.
I replaced my panniers today with new bags. At $2 a set, which lasted a month, I feel like I’ve gotten my monies worth. I gave the old bags to Mr. Man at his request. They’re sitll useable, though a bit worn and a few holes. He was thrilled.
Mr. Man’s sign has a picture like the Mr. Happy, Mr. Sad, etc books I read as a kid. It’s pretty clever (I think his name really is Mr. Man). Some falang(foreigner) must have thought it up.
As always, I’m apprehensive about going to a new country. New language, new customs and culture, new food. And at the same time excited I’m excited about a new country, but sad to leave Laos.