Friday, July 1, 2011

Lemony snicket and Laos

Mishaps, mayhem, misadventures, oh joy!

I went into Laos with big plans. In a two week span I was going to travel from Chiang Mai, Thailand via slow boat to Luang Prabang, Laos. During this two week period I was going to go trekking, kayaking, ride elephants, take cooking classes, do authentic hill tribe home stays, maybe pop down to Vang Vienne for a few days to partake in some tubbing action, and to top it all off 3 days of zip lining and living in a tree house! Like I said, I had big plans. Rarely do I plan this many activities, but I thought why not?
This is where the series of unfortunate events starts...
I had an uneventful slow boat ride into an incredibly charming town and ended up staying at a rather crappy guesthouse. I spent a lovely day pedaling around, taking in all the glorious croissants and cafes. Then the rain came and it never stopped! For 5 days it rained, including power outages, flooding, and mudslides. At first I went along with my business, can't let a little rain get you down. Yet after 3 mornings of wet walks BEFORE my first cup of coffee I just wanted dry feet. I hadn't planned my next move. I went through the usual 50 billion possible plans, but low and behold upon returning from my day of elephant riding I got a reply from the gibbon experience people, and they had availability for all my chosen dates! Perfect! It was meant to be! I will be Swiss family Robinson in the Laos jungle! I will be Jane and meet my Tarzan flying through the jungle! I may have gotten a little tiny bit carried away! It was expensive and it would entail several days of wet muddy trekking (again), but I felt it was worth it. I sent my reply back and planned my departure. Another day of cafe hopping and some last minute shopping and I hopped back on the slow boat. For those who don't remember the slow boat takes 2 days and we stop in PakBeng for a night, where instead of staying at the same nice place I did the time before I chose a new place. It was cheaper and I need to pinch all the pennies I can after the expense of the gibbons. Should have paid the extra 10,000K! The place I choose had terminates and roaches and there were weird stains on the mosquito net! Ew. By 9pm I ran out of there and immediately went back to my original place, where the owner promptly hugged me and gave me a room key. Now, I've spent double what I could have paid. Great.
I arrive the next evening in Huay Xia, the border town. With my now +30lb pack on I hustle across town to the gibbon office, closed! I check my email and I had a response from them with info about the current weather and what to bring. I thought this meant I was all set for the next day. Oh no. I got all my stuff together, bought long socks and gloves. Spent the night gabbing with some fun Australian girls who were also doing the tour the next day. This tour is going to be awesome, I think to myself! I get up early, but excited, and hustled off to the office to sign paperwork. Except they didn't have me down and there were no spots available anymore for the 29th. There were spots for the 30th though. The problem with this being that I had already booked a flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket on July 2nd and I couldn't leave Laos a day later.
Now homeless, with my bags again strapped on me (and no tuk tuk insight, of course! Grr) I went in search of a few things. Got wrong directions and ended up walking for 45 minutes in the heat and humidity. During my walk, no, let's call it a trudge through town, I almost got hit in the head with a full water bottle (accidentally) and bit by a dog (I'm fine, it was just a nip). At this point, Me looks at Myself and says "I'm kinda over Laos". Myself looks at I and says "me too". I looks at the group, sighs, and says "oh ok, let's go". I went to the first sign offering minivan to Chiang Mai! And said how much, when, and sign me up!
I'm now officially back in Chiang Mai, at my same hostel, where they were very excited to see me back. I've got a few days to kill before heading down south and into Malaysia and no idea what to do.
I've left Laos disappointed, certainly, but these things happen; whether you're traveling or at home. I tell myself all the normal platitudes, shit happens, that's life, everything for a reason! Yes, I'm bummed, but you just kinda have to go with it at times. There will be other adventures that are awaiting me in the south, hopefully. 

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