A little anecdote from my time in Vietnam

June 06 2012

A couple of months ago, my friend Jill told me to sign up this Listserve thingy – she said the writing is pretty good. Indeed it has been, I have really enjoyed receiving all the emails.

I've decided I'm gonna tell a story. In summer 2010, I went backpacking for a month in Indochina with my mate, Eston. On one bit of the journey, we left Phonsavan in Laos at 6am in the morning and travelled all day to get back into Vietnam. We arrived at Vinh at 8pm in the evening, and caught yet another coach to Hoi An after waiting around for two hours.

So, we were on this coach, seated on the back row, exhausted and grubby. The driver came round the bus and gave us blankets, which we placed on the seat next to us. Two teenage boys, around our age got on and sat next to us. We couldn't really understand each other but they offered us gum - very friendly guys. We gesture and converse monosyllabically for a bit.

This coach was a bit different, it had a large space between the last row of seats and the penultimate row, large enough for a mat and for people to lie down, which the two boys did. I fell asleep and woke up in the middle of the night and in the darkness of the moving coach, I saw one of the Vietnamese boys kneeling and relieving himself into a plastic bag held by the other boy. Oops. I didn't want to be rude and stare so I closed my eyes again, opening them again to see the bag being flung out of the open window. Then I saw the other boy using one of the blankets to wipe the floor. I'm guessing he spilt the bag. The boys shifted elsewhere on the mat, away from the wet spot and went back to sleep.

Later I woke up again, this time, the driver was chasing the two boys away from lying down (it was a long ride so I assumed he was rotating his driving shift with someone else). He appeared to scold them, and then after they moved back to their seats, he lay down on the mat – right over the 'wet' spot!

At this point I was stifling my laughter, terrified the driver would smell something and accuse Eston and me. I don't think I would have been able to remain poker-faced in the face of interrogation. I was also really glad I didn't use the blankets given.

But seriously, I had a great month of travelling. If you ever get the opportunity, do visit Indochina, especially Laos!


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Lancaster, UK

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