March 1st, 2011
Plain of Jars – Phonsavan, Laos
If I bumped into you at a party and called you ‘King Of Bus’, would you be offended? Would you be flattered? Confused? Would you call the Grammar Police on me? It’s not ‘The King Of Bus’ or ‘King Of The Bus’. Just ‘King Of Bus.’ I’ve been called many things in my life, but never ‘King Of Bus.’
Well, here in Laos, there is a VIP bus line called, ‘King Of Bus.’ It’s not any bigger than the other buses. Not much nicer. Not much different at all, as far as I can tell. But it’s got a name I will never forget… King Of Bus. VIP really doesn’t mean anything here in Laos either. I could buy a crappy VIP sticker at the store and stick it on my forehead or backpack or motorcycle. Doesn’t mean I am a VIP or my backpack is VIP caliber or that my motorbike is any good. Stickers are notorious liars.
Here is a photo of ‘King Of Bus’ pulling into the Vang Vieng bus station. Cracked windshield and all. You can see my amateur VIP body taking this amateur VIP photo in the windshield reflection of the VIP ‘King Of Bus.’
This is going to be a very short Lexpedition update. I am in Phonsavan, Laos right now. About 25 minutes away there are a series of bizarre relics/pots called ‘The Plain Of Jars’. My friend Donnie was telling me about them at my going away party back in October (By the way, I counted at least 149 people who crowded into my house and backyard to say goodbye to my amazing house and help me start my trip correctly. What a party! Thanks everybody!)
Back to the Jars… I had never heard of them. So today I visited them. Pretty cool. Thanks Donnie! But the photos from today will have to wait for another day.
I rented a 250cc Honda Baja dirtbike from Jules Rental in Vientiane 6 days ago. So right now I am touring around Laos on my own motorcycle, driving about 6 hours a day, from one city/village to the next. On amazing roads with very few cars and no cops. And no radar guns. Twisty mountain roads. Dirt roads. Steep climbs and falls. Soooooooo sweet! Yahooooooo!
I had absolutely no plans to do this… To rent a motorcycle, stroll, blaze around remote Laos on my own, and speed up and down roads and paths along the way. But here I am. Maybe I can strap a big loudspeaker to the back of my bike and grab a karaoke microphone (wish I still had my Mr. Microphone – ‘Hey good looking, I’ll be back to pick you up later.’)
Then I’d ride around Laos singing the greatest hits from Captain & Tennille, Abba, Neil Diamond, Nine Inch Nails, Weezer, Feist, Snoop Dogg, Run DMC, the Beastie Boys, Jack Johnson, Ozzie Osbourne and Freddie Mercury at the top of my goofy Latvian lungs. I can hit the high notes. I can hit the low notes. My amazing vocal range has been compared to Prince, Mariah Carey, and that fat gay dude on American Idol. That’s how I work the crowd. Sing a little, wave, make ’em smile, then slip off into the distance. ‘Peace out! Make sure you tip your waitress!’
I will add some pictures and videos of my motorbike adventures soon… I have ghetto-taped a tripod to my helmet and a second tripod to my front handlebars, using duct-tape, of course. So I am shooting great videos of me screaming up and down the Laos roads and canyons. Being careful, of course (yeah, right), but pushing my edge and having a blast.
Don’t tell my mom, but I seriously mis-judged some distances on my crappy map a few days ago. Ended up driving two hours in the pitch dark, by myself, in a jungle, trying to get from one small Laos town to the next. Luckily my bike kept going and had enough gas, and my headlights did not fail me, and my tires did not pop. The next day, some guys in the next village told me I was crazy. Turns out that the jungle was a massive tiger preserve. So if I would have had a mechanical failure, I might have been tiger meat. Oh well. Seriously, please don’t tell my dad either!
Laos is still my all-time favorite country. I just extended my initial 30 day visa for another 3 weeks so I could do this motorcycle tour. How sweet is that? And I have to say, that even though I am only 6 days into my 18-day motorbike adventure, this crazy dirtbike tour is on my Top 10 all-time favorite experiences. Every day I have been smiling like a little schoolgirl and amazed at how much fun this country can be! Wahooooooo!
Outside of Luang Prabang a few weeks ago, a bunch of us went to the Tat Kuang Si waterfalls about 40 minutes outside of town. Words cannot describe the blue water or the amazing layers and heights of the falls. But the best part, for me, was the rope swing. I’m a sucker for a good rope swing. Or a bungee jump. Or the ‘jumpy’ at a kids party. So here is a video of me on the rope swing near Luang Prabang. Jumping into the clear blue waters.
Here is a photo of the lower area of the waterfalls, with people swimming, jumping off the falls into the blue water, and people waiting to swing from the tree rope swing.
And a few days later, Noor (Holland) and I were at the Blue Lagoon, a beautiful spot about 30 minutes via moto from Vang Vieng. There were rope swings, a trapeze swing, and a tree with several massive branches to jump from. The top branch was probably 20 feet (6 meters) up, and the bottom one was maybe 10 feet (3 m) above the blue water.
This photo shows the many rope swings, rope ‘hammocks’ and tree branches for jumping, swinging, diving and swimming at the Blue Lagoon. See how high the top branch is? I swung many times from the lower branch on the rope swing (see video below)
I spent many hours swinging from one rope to the other like Tarzan, or jumping off the tree limbs, or swinging wildly on the rope from the tree. Even though I’m 42, the 14-year old kid inside of me loves to swing and climb and play. He gets to play, I get to drink coffee and beer. Win/Win for both of us!
So this next video is a bit long. But you will see how much fun people were having jumping and swinging and swimming. Locals and tourists come to the Blue Lagoon to relax, eat, swing and swim. Everybody is having fun. The Irish guy had trouble trying to swing me the rope, but eventually we made it work. This is probably the 5th time I had done the crazy tree swing that day, but I think you will see how much fun it was.
And today marks the 2-month anniversary of this Lexpedition. Yahooooo! 2 months of absolute adventure, new friends, new foods, and new opportunities. I have also now gone 32 days without diarrhea, 2 months without my cell phone, and 2 months without having to put on a decent shirt. That’s what I call fun! And I am tan. Yahoooo!
Today I will be riding from Phonsavan south towards Pakse, where I will drop off my motorbike in about 12 days. I wish you could be on the back of my bike (for a bit) so you could see how beautiful and simple Laos really is. Until then, I will just have to keep sending photos and videos.
Here is a quick picture of my bad-ass 250 Honda Baja dirtbike (aka ‘Fast Eddie’ or ‘Dirty Harry’, depending on the kind of road I’m on) being fixed (chain tightened) by a ‘local mechanic’ somewhere between Luang Prabang and Vieng Thong. He adjusted my chain and refused to take any payment. The generosity of the Laos people is off the charts, which in turn makes me and the other tourists (I hope) more generous.
All the kids in this tiny village stood around watching and looking at me. Not many tourists ever stop in a village like this. All day long while I am riding, the kids all run out to the road and wave and yell “Sa Bai Dee”, which means ‘Hello’ in Laos. I always wave and try to yell ‘Sa Bai Dee’ through my big helmet and loud motorbike. At first the kids are scared if I stop, but once I take off my helmet and wave and smile, they slowly start warming up to me. Then I make them laugh and give them cookies and balloons. Then more kids show up, and then grown-ups. Laos rocks!
Thanks again for all your great emails and replies to my previous posts. And please, please, please, don’t tell my dad about my tiger night!
And did you notice that I did not include any dog meat pictures in this Lexpedition? Nor did I tell you how bad I think Nicolas Cage is. Well, I’ll tell you how bad he is…. he stinks! Thanks for asking.
While we’re on the subject, I just found out that Nicolas Cage recently unleashed yet another massive turd called, ‘The Season of the Witch.’ I seriously hope none of you saw it. I mentioned in my last Lexpedition that I have created STINC!, which is ‘Start Totally Ignoring Nicolas Cage’. Spread the word. This guy has to be stopped. He will keep churning out crap as long as suckers pay money to watch his crap. We must act now. We must act together. Together we can do this!
If I were back home in Louisville, Kentucky right now, and I happened to walk into ‘The Season of the Witch’, here is how it would look…
Imagine me forking over $9.00 for a ticket (that’s the cost of a very nice hotel room here in Laos.) And then $6.00 for a bucket of popcorn (light butter) that is twice the size of my skull. Then $6.00 more for a Coke (easy ice) that’s twice as big as my popcorn (4x the size of my skull for those of you playing along at home/math-challenged.) That’s $21.00 already, which is a whole day in Laos, including food, hotel, beer, a massage, midgets, and balloons. Then the movie starts. Nicolas Cage appears and tries to act like he is acting. Basically, it starts raining crap.
Then I hear thunder (Cage’s bad acting) and then the movie skies open up and shower crap all over everyone in the theatre. There’s not a big enough umbrella on this planet to protect us from this Nicolas Cage turd-storm. So I walk out after only 7 minutes into yet another Cage-aclysmic abomination. Crying, hard of hearing and totally befuddled…. How does this guy keep getting work?!?!?
Then I drive myself to Cherokee Park, find a quiet park bench, and sit there eating 7 pounds of popcorn and 3 weeks worth of soda for the next 30 minutes. Weeping quietly like a kid who just watched his puppy get run over by a truck. Like that Indian who cried when he saw people littering in the 1970’s commercial, I just sit there and sob. Too much pain… Too much pain.
This planet can no longer tolerate this Soldier of Fortune Nicolas Cage, who tyrannically makes himself feel bigger by pillaging and abusing movie-goers with crap-bombs. We must make a stand. Please join with me. No more Cage! No more Cage! No more Cage! (I see everybody chanting and holding picket signs and torches in the street, screaming ‘No more Cage! No more Cage!)
Damn! This was supposed to be a short update. Wowza! That’s what happens when you get me started talking about Nicolas Cage. Don’t get me started!
Peace out from way over here,
Half Rhino / Half Monkey / Half Centaur
Inventor of the Cupcake
Middle-Vert (no such thing – I just made that up)
Zen Master (one day)