Let me give you a little run-down of the 7 hour van ride from hell that I just took. I left Luang Prabang this morning at 9:30, with 11 other people shoved into a mini van. We were all heading to Phonsavan, known for the Plain of Jars, in the Eastern part of Laos. It was this minivan option, or a large, public bus that cost the same amount, and took an hour longer.
So I get in, and get all comfy for the 7 hour ride ahead. There are 5 Laotian dudes, 4 Britts (2 couples- one older, one younger), one Italian and myself. There are 2 Laotian guys in the front and the other three were in the back. We start driving, and head into the mountains. It was GORGEOUS, huge mountains everywhere covered in trees. See:
I admired the view for about 45 minutes until we really started into the mountain and were flying all over the road. It’s SE Asia, I’ve been in cars and vans around here and no one comprehends how easy it is to fly off a cliff and die at this speed. While I’m busy worrying about dying a fiery death on a mountainside, the Laotian behind me, whom I will now refer to as “pink scarf” as he was wearing a pink scarf, starts throwing up into a bag. Inches away from me. He had some sort of chili sauce for breakfast, FYI. I thought maybe we would stop to let him out. But nay, the driver simply passed back a couple more bags. A little while later, another one of the guys (I call him Older Dude) joins into the vomit session. Welcome! The vomiting/coughing/hacking/spitting continues for another hour until we stop at a rest stop. My iPod on its loudest setting isn’t helping. We stop, Pink Scarf hops out, happy as a clam and smokes a cigarette. Glad you’re ok, buddy, meanwhile I’m traumatized and disgusted. I make a comment to my new British friends about how funny/not funny it would be if they got food at this rest stop. No sooner did I say that, then I see the assholes enjoying some delicious noodle soup, doused with chili sauce. See:
The rest of us have no appetite. Then they grabbed some cookies for the road, thank god. I just kept making comments to them like “Why…are you eating,..don’t let me see those goddam cookies again.” They don’t understand me, but it was funny.
We get back into the van and 5 minutes down the road, the soup that we HAD to have is in a barf bag. You idiot. Pink Scarf continues vomiting every couple of minutes. About an hour later, Older Dude begins projectile vomiting against the front of the seat, getting it on my new British friend, Lester. Then vomits all over the floor, not sure why we didn’t grab a bag at any point. The worst part? The van wasn’t going to stop. Luckily (for us, not for him), about 1 minute later, we came around a corner to find a moto that had just flown into the ditch, and the guy was hurt. See:
It must have just happened, and thank GOD the driver stopped to “help” this guy. There was someone else who had already stopped to help. We all scrambled out of the van as fast as we could. The driver of the moto was in shock, and had a huge gash on his hand. We weren’t really sure what to do, so our van driver went over to the guy, took one look at his bleeding hand and starts vomiting. This gets Pink Scarf going, and soon enough, there are Laotian dudes all over this cliff-side road throwing up, with a few foreigners hating our lives. See: note: hand sanitizer.
We try and delay getting back in the van for 10 minutes. Our driver tries to get us to get back in, but there’s VOMIT COVERING THE FLOOR!! Are you kidding me? He can’t pull out the mats because he starts gagging again. Finally, one of the Britts volunteers to pull out the mats and throw them on the side of the road and they clean out the van a bit. Meanwhile, Older Dude who caused this entire mess is nowhere to be found. He finally saunters back, still covered in vomit. So that was nice.
Then our driver decides he needs those mats, so he climbs into the ditch to get them and tries to put them folded, still covered in vomit in the van. Noooo, we say. So he motions to the roof, where all our bags are. Noooo. So he reluctantly ties them with shrubbery to the back of the van. Whatever. See:
Back in the van. More vomiting for the last 2 hours of the trip.
Made it to Phonsavan. It’s cold, and my room has a hole in the bathroom that water just gushes out of sporadically. Meeting the Britts for dinner and to reminisce about our journey here.