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.’
King Of Bus - Vang Vieng - Laos

 

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,

Lexicon

Half Rhino / Half Monkey / Half Centaur
Keyboard Abuser
Cruise Director
Inventor of the Cupcake
Dare Devil
Introvert
Extrovert
Middle-Vert (no such thing – I just made that up)
Zen Master (one day)
Concert Cellist
Rambler

26 Responses

  1. Johnny V

    I just keep wondering when you are going to start having fun… Perhaps you should take in a movie for entertainment. I hear Tom Cruise might have a new one coming out.

    Love you Brother

    Arrivederci

    • Lex

      Hey Johnny,

      The fun actually starts tomorrow. The Fun Mobile is scheduled to pick me up at my hotel at 9am… Filled with strippers, jello, midgets and balloons. And a panda.

      Just joking, I’m riding my motorcycle alone for the next few days. I will try to do something fun (or funny) in your honor.

      Give the Mak Atak a big hug for me.

      Miss you brother. Arrivederci right back at ya!

      Lexicon

  2. Don Langford/Gliding Eagle With Dog Spirit

    Oh, Great Founder of STINC,

    I am loving my vicarious journey. Thanks for taking me along. Beats the the hell out of renting Nicolas Cage movies from Redbox.

    Just got done casting Sweeney Todd. I was hoping Nicolas Cage would have auditioned for the show. I would have put him in the barber chair and made a little meat pie for you. Maybe it’s the only meal worse than cold dog!

    Blessings
    Don

    • Lex

      Thanks Don… Never heard of Sweeney Todd, so not sure what you are saying. But I do know this for sure… I would much rather eat cold dog again than watch a minute of any Nicolas Cage movie (except of course, ‘Raising Arizona’, which I have seen a hundred times and will watch again one day. Classic!)

      Sure, my stomach/pancreas/throat hurt for 2 days after the dog. My eyes and brain and senses are trashed for weeks if I catch a glimpse of a crappy Cage movie. Give me the dog. Hold the Cage. No more Cage! No more Cage!

      Lexicon

  3. Chris Johnson

    Another winner.

    And this time you’re making me jealous. Not about getting turds dumped on me in a theatre. No, the stuff about the motorbike. Yaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhoooooooooooooo!

    Cool.

    • Lex

      Thanks Bro… this motorbike adventure is epic. Getting ready to ride 3 more hours in Southern Laos to Tat Lo to play in the waterfalls and swim. Yahooooooooooo!

  4. Mark Leaman

    Love the Lexpedition updates Lex! You should seriously be writing for a travel blog or something. By the way, is the pale white guy with the slightly bulging belly the one you are claiming is now tan?? I’m gonna mail you some spray-on bronzer. Keep up the good work!

    • Lex

      Hey Leamo,

      If you can tell me which travel blog or something to write for, maybe I will consider it. I really don’t want to have a job now, unless it was in the midget porn business (again). Just joking.

      Seriously, I am glad you like the Lexpedition. Missed you and Marlo and the kids at Thanksgiving (yet again). See you in a few years.

      Lexicon

  5. Gaetan Dugas

    Gaetan My Boy,

    Yeah sure, I would love to be on the back of that motorcycle with you. Hitting all those potholes and ruts in the road going about 55. At the end of an hour you would not be the only one who could hit those high notes! How do you say “Crotch Rocket” in Laotian?

    Your number one friend and Ground Zero of the Nicolas Cage Fan Club.

    Gaetan

    • Lex

      Thanks Gaetan. Come join me on this trip. We’d be laughing the whole time.

      I know you like Cage, but you also wear clogs. So it doesn’t surprise me.

      Lexicon

  6. Joe Luber

    Lex,

    I love following you on your Lexpedition. Had lunch w/Joe II and his family today and were discussing his 1st business venture (with you) making fake drivers licenses in our basement. Shannon informed us that you were committing felonies and could have gone to prison.

    Geoff was very proud to have his 1st drivers license at nine years old.

    Ernie and I are going on our 1st cross country Luberpedition (Louisville to L.A.) in May.

    Take care and God Speed

    Joe

    PS – I talked to your Dad at the Yum Center a month or so ago. He looked great.

    • Lex

      Thanks Mr. Luber,

      First of all, since I don’t want to comfirm my role in any previous illegal activities, I will let my imaginary friend answer this…

      Hi, I am not Lex. Yes, Joe and I made fake ID’s at your house right before Spring Break. And at my house. I also made them at Vandy. We made the best ones in town. There was another guy (our friend) who was making them over in the Audobon Park area, but his were crap (he is a subscriber to the Lexpedition, so when he reads this, he’s gonna laugh/get mad)

      The fact that I never went to jail and have never spent any serious time in the hospital defies gravity and reason. If I had a dollar for all the illegal crap I did when I was younger, I’d have a lot more money than I do right now (you do the math.)

      OK, here’s Lex again. OK, I’m back. I sure hope nobody assumes I did illegal stuff. That might hurt my chances of ever getting a job again (I hope to never ‘work’ again), running for political office, or becoming a Zen Master and having my own Zen Center.

      Have fun on your cross country tour. Take a Mr. Microphone and hit all the dark karaoke bars you can find!

      Lex

  7. Denny Baby Schoeny - Weeping Buffalo

    Lex, I am two times ill…

    # 1 – How seething with envy I am about you (not me) biking through a tiger jungle in the dark. Or the biking anywhere any time at all!

    # 2 – Thinking back on all the time I’ve wasted watching Nicky Boy going through the motions. I bailed when he did some crap movie set in New Orleans where he played a horny (supposed) brilliant garbage collector.

    And the # 3 of the two… I laughed myself sick picturing you doing the Mr. Microphone thing while flying down a Laotian dirt road, where the Captain and Tennille are gods!

    Love, Denny Baby (color me green!)

    • Lex

      Thanks Denny Baby,

      Glad I made you laugh. That’s my goal in writing this crap.

      Not sure what crappy Cage movie you are talking about. Luckily, I never saw it. Also not sure about your math and how you say ‘two times ill’ and then you have three points, and the third one says ‘# 3 of the two’

      WTF Denny Baby? Were you smoking crack while you were typing this?

      Love ya brother.

      Lexicon

  8. Melissa Beckham Born

    Be safe!! Keep on having fun …for all of us! We are loving your adventure from a-far.

    • Lex

      Thanks Melissa. I am trying to be as safe as I can be… because it’s very hard to travel when you’re dead (it’s true, look it up on Wikipedia), and I want to see my amazing family and friends again. Give Mark a big hug for me. I miss bumping into you guys and your sweet new baby up at Dundee Tavern and the Loop. Lex

  9. Jay "Big Daddy" Elliott

    Lexicon of Love — Glad to see that you have perfected the watermelon for your dives off the various rope swings around Laos. Is anyone named “Paul” over there?

  10. Shannon Gullett

    Lex, looks (& reads) like a lot of fun so far.

    But, I hope “rope swing” take 2 is coming soon. Nice header into the water on take 1! Watch out for the tiggers – they like pouncin’ the best…

  11. Holly Holland

    Wow, everybody needs a Monday morning wake-up call from Lexicon! You are better than a cup of primo coffee, a laid-back start to the week, and sore knees and elbows because of teaching four yoga classes yesterday. Speaking of which, John says you gave me a shout-out on the last Lexpedition so I have to catch up. I’ve been traveling for work to Portland, Maine, where it is NOT 85 degrees and there are no tire swings within 600 miles. One of my colleagues does ride his bike to work in a foot of snow, so he has Lex-magna powers, but other than that it is still Jebruary in the states even though the calendar says March. I laughed out loud reading your post today. Thanks for always making me smile and glad to be your friend. Hit the gong bowl a couple of times just now and smiled at Hanuman on the wall. Can you hear? Love and hugs, Holly

  12. Chief Alcohol Acquisition Officer

    Sa Bai Dee Lexicon,

    Sounds like you’re pounding the ground-round in Laos… Yessssirrr! You spreading the Honyak message as well? Maybe set up a Honanon chapter in the tiger preserve?

    But really, Nicolas Cage is a Rock Star, like Michael Bolton when he sings, “When A Man Loves A Woman”. For my money, it just doesn’t get any better than that, especially when he uses a Mr. Microphone and a slinky as a noise maker.

    I think the Honda looks more like “King of Dirt Bike VIP” than ‘Dirty Harry’!

    Keep ’em comin bro

    CAAO

  13. Danny Spitler - Grayshark

    OK….I’ve got Pam convinced that we are touring Laos later this year combined with a visit to the Spitler School in Siem Reap. That also means that there is no way that she will be allowed to read the Lexpedition prior to our trip. Don’t forget the look that she has in the photo taken from our sleeping accommodation on our hike through the tribal countryside in Sapa, Vietnam. The look that said, “I don’t need five stars, but you need to pony up for at least a half a star.” Keep on trucking brother. The kids as Spitler School are waiting for you to teach them all about Nicolas Cage.

  14. Sonja Federa

    Richard and I agree that you might just change your mind about Nicolas Cage after experiencing night buses in South America with old Schwarzenegger movies running full blast at 2am in screeching Spanish. Richard might be Austrian, but there is a limit to patriotism!

  15. Bella Preston

    Hi uncle Lex. Just got pink eye right before school starts. How did you survive the tiger range?I beat Oma at jenga.Jeff and Kim go to Texas this week.

    Love,
    your cousin,
    Bella

  16. Annie Cracker

    Catching up on past Lexpedition editions because I just got on board. I do have to take credit for your rope swing expertise. You only learned to do that so well because of all your practice swinging out in front of TARC busses from the rope swing on the tree in my front yard. I knew that would come in handy one day.

    Love ya!