It’s just past eleven PM and I am on a night bus from Laos to Vietnam. Apparently this is the Asian disco bus because Laos pop music is pumping out of the speakers so loudly that my uncomfortable bed/seat is vibrating to the beat.
It’s funny, because the people on the bus don’t seem like a party crowd to me. They’re mainly miserable faced middle-aged people who, it would seem, like to nod off to terminally upbeat Laos pop music.
The music replaced a low-budget kung fu movie that was overdubbed in at least two other languages. That in turn replaced some kind of variety show that looked like it was shot by someone who makes wedding videos. I’m hoping that the driver will eventually turn this awful noise off soon. Really, I’d be quite happy to listen to him blast his horn and shout at other road users as much as he is doing, rather than listen to this tortures rubbish for the next eighteen hours!
Yes, I have another eighteen hours on this bus, and I’ve been on the road for four hours already! Perhaps in that time I’ll manage to somehow find a comfortable position in my bed/seat which is, of course, just that bit too short for me. There is no room for my arms either which puzzles me because, while I understand things are different in Asia, most Asian people appear to have arms as far as I can see.
I booked a bed/seat near the front of the bus. I was very specific about that. The bus company reserve seats for Laos nationals at the front of the bus, and apparently Chinese people come next because my bed/seat is right at the back behind two Chinese people who keep saying “Manchester United” and “Chelsea” to me. I respond by saying “Oh my Buddha” in Cambodian.
Just behind my bed/seat there is the toilet which would usually make this seat one of the most unpleasant places to be in the world as the swerving ride continues through the night and into tomorrow. However, I’m saved from that nastiness by the fact that a note on the locked door reads “toilet cannot.”
Of course, while the fact that “toilet cannot” is good in some respects it also means that I “cannot” either. But I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. For now I am embarking on a strict diet of dehydration and ‘fruity biscuits’ I picked up at the bus terminal that taste like they might actually be dog treats.
This is travel in Asia, and as we pass the hour of midnight swerving violently around yet another obstacle in the road, the Chirpy Laos pop music continues to reverberate through my spine.