Tuesday, June 19, 2007

We Interrupt This Broadcast...

... to bring you two important lessons every backpacker should know:

1) If the bus ride you are on starts to feel like the longest day of your whole damn life and the lady in the seat next to you whips out a plastic bag and starts throwing up into it while the bratty kid two rows in front has been screaming madly for no plausible reason for the last two hours, jarring your uterus into believing that it needs to pee desperately and I mean, right now, so that you have to plug in your music, turn it up as high as you dare and sing "Don't Stop Me Now" with Freddie Mercury while glaring out of the window to avoid the sight (and sound) of the retching lady and you haven't had a solid meal in the last, oh, fifteen hours or so, DON'T PANIC.

It's all part of the experience and more often than not, it'll happen again.

2) If the place you stop at after fifteen hours of gnawing hunger has "pork tenter lion" as an item on its menu, PANIC.

You're pretty much fucked.

We will now return to our regularly scheduled programme. Have a nice day.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Heads Up!

In the midst of backpacking through Vietnam (hot as hell, by the way), it strikes me as prudent to let someone know, just in case, that I'm still alive. So, you there! The one (and possibly only) person reading this, I'm still around, albeit much diminished by mosquitos and terrible English.

I survived three nights in Hanoi, wandering around random little shops and cafes and looking over Chu Tich Ho Chih Minh's frightfully white and waxy dead body, which thankfully, didn't look back. Though they've done a hell of a job preserving him, I wonder if maybe it wasn't the wisest thing to do considering that he wanted to be cremated and scattered in the sea. I lived through two nights at Halong Bay, jumping off two-storey high ferries into the sea and kayaking for miles just to reach a secluded little beach encrusted with shells and corals, while walking past shops that pickled enormous geckos, pheasants and snakes in vodka to make Vietnamese viagra. I even made it (just barely) through a heinous twelve hour bus trip during which some European clowns decided that lying on the floor of the aisle would be the best way to get some sleep as well as to block the exit for the rest of us.

Yes, I'm still alive, just in case you were curious to know. And as much as it would give people joy to take some money out on the insurance policy that was prudently prepared for me, let me assure you that the moment has not yet come. So if you were starting to anxiously buy champagne and chocolate and ready a little wooden raft, hold on to your knickers please. I still have two weeks left to go tramping through Cambodia and Thailand, beginning with this afternoon when I will board aforementioned bus and go on a sixteen-hour pilgrimmage in the general direction of Saigon. If after those two weeks you still don't see me tanned, wormy and hopefully a little thinner, then by all means, whip the raft out.

Till then however, the most-harrowing-moment-in-my-life-at-present-not-involving-near-death-experience, was that precise moment when caught by an inevitable, pressing need, I actually dropped my pants along a random wall in the dead of the night, next to several other bare-bottoms belonging to my bus companions and relieved myself under the curious eyes of local women, lizards and possibly men alike.

Truly, I have transcended all boundaries of common human decency and achieved savage-like status. I should be so proud.