It was a rough day watching my little Mao (the Chinese tyrant bicycle) be loaded onto the roof of an unroadworthy bus and sadder still watching former cycle buddy, Rohan, pass us three times. It was only once I was on the bus that I grappled with what I'd just signed up for - a 250 km journey that would take 9 hours. According to my googled calculator, this comes to about 27.777777777 km/hr and my Grand mother drives faster than that. I instantly regretted the decision but the rusty doors were bolted shut and the shockless bus was on the crawl.
It gets worse too - by the time I arrived a good many lifetimes later, I felt like death. And once I'd checked into my "China-Food Hotel" and found what used to be a mirror, I discovered that I looked it too. I had elephantitus or something very similar. To put it bluntly, I looked like the incredible hulk - not green or anything but swollen to the point that my eyes ears had almost dissappeared. My legs were tree trunks. My arms Oprah-Winfrey wings. My belly looked like one those African kids with the kwashiorkor and my neck had been swallowed by my shoulders. Worse still my throat had swollen shut and I was struggling to breathe. I climbed one flight of stairs and had to sit down - I was pretty sure I was about to die. Don't worry though, I didn't.
Trying in vain to find a pharmacy or some elephant tranquilizers (which would have possibly worked better) I was talked into booking a tour and I really am not sure why but for some reason it made sense at the time. Regret!!! I spent the whole night tossing, turning, gasping for air, throwing up. Repeat. The morning had me swollener still and I had no painkillers. I had no medication and I had no time to find any because I was already late for my pretty expensive tour.
I’m not sure why I thought a tour of ancient fields of clay jars would have been good anyway. Yes they were big and old and ruinsy, but they were really just pots – old school vases with stale water inside of them instead of pretty flowers. In my state I had little appreciation for the “mystical valleys of Paksovan” and even less for the never-ending bumpy dirt roads that shot spasms up my spine.
6 hours of old pots later I finally made it to the doctor. He wasn’t there. His wife phoned him for me and I tried to explain in a language that wasn’t anything close to English what my symptoms were. The wife handed me a pack of orange pills and another one full of yellow ones and told me to have one of each at every meal. I still have no idea what either are. But I’m hoping for the best…
Then I took the second set of necessary precautions for my near demising state and dragged myself on to a place renowned for recovery – Vang Vieng. It’s the kind of place where everyone has cuts and bruises and broken limbs and accidental amputations and weird drug addictions and massive life problems and well, there I was just about normal.
A couple of hard days of zip-lining, floating down the river, ladder jumping, beer pong, dancing, staying up till ridiculous o’clock the afternoon and relaxing in a hammock I was almost as good as new!
Two things I’ve learned from all of this:
1) Busses are very bad for you.
2) Beer is probably necessary.