Saturday, 16 July 2005

Another Irishman...this time with verbal diarrhoea!

The Chinese used to tie you up and drip water on your forehead to torture you. I have unfortunately stumbled across something far more torturous; a guarantee that you will go mad in less than an hour. An Irish man. Not any Irish man, but a particular festering, dirty, greasy-haired, stinking Irish man who had the verbal runs. He had arrived in Vientiane after a 17hour bus trip from Bangkok, so he smelt. He wasn't just stale, but oozing BO to the extreme. He had decided to head straight to Vang Vieng to my misfortune.

Prior to getting on the bus, he had started chatting to me and I had responded pleasantly, whilst trying to hide my disgust as I observed blackened fingernails and toenails; a nail brush but a distant memory. By the time we had to get on the bus, I was secretly begging for him not to sit next to me. Thankfully, in case this were to occur I had strategically placed myself next to an open window in the hope it would waft away unsavoury aromas once we got going.

Well of course he sat next to me. And then he started. He was the epitome of awful backpackers. For nearly two hours he spoke at me whilst I tried to look as uninterested as possible. It began...'i've been here, I've been there, I've done this, I've done, myself and I...' and so it went on. He even showed me all 500 photos of his two years worth of travelling. In the end, I had to tell him that I had to do some dissertation work...and when he continued to interrupt me, I pretended to fall asleep. And so, instead of admiring all the little villages and the beautiful scenery as we headed into the hills, I had my eyes tightly closed whilst trying not to breathe too deeply in case I was consumed by the stench.

I am now in Vang Vieng, or as my boss appropriately calls it 'Ibiza in Laos'. I wouldn't say it is quite Ibiza just yet, but give it a few years and it will be. I'd call it 'the town of 1000 pizzerias'. That's all they seem to have here. Manky western food for manky, smelly, backpackers. All the pizzerias have different episodes of 'Friends' blaring out from loud TVs, in an attempt to lure the falangs in.

The town itself is however, in a stunning setting with giant limestone karsts surrounding it. Accommodation is stupidly priced. I'm paying $3 for a double, ensuite with a fan...thats about 1.75 quid (no pound sign on this keyboard). It is also ridiculously hot. It must be at least 40C today.

Vang vieng is the town for all things active. You can go caving, tubing, kayaking, hiking, name it. I've decided, rather than risk the bus again, to spend the day kayaking back to Vientiane. I've been assured that despite the river being up due to it being wet season and the fact that there are a number of rapids, I will be in safe hands. Well, we'll see. They'll be a group of 5-6 of us and we share the kayak with an 'instructor', so at least if anything happens I won't be stuck on a boat on my own. $15 for the day and I get breakfast and lunch. We arrive in Vientiane around 5pm. I'm looking forward to it...although the rapids sound a little scary!

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