When Andrew and I were in Burma (Myanmar, whichever you prefer to call it) last summer, we went on a day trek in Kalaw. It was great, and had we had more time, and knew it was a possibility, we would have signed up for the entire three day trip that ended at Inle Lake. One of the best parts of trekking is the people you meet from other countries and the conversations you get to have that are often more varied than those you might have with your fellow Americans if you will. (Don't get me wrong, it's always fun meeting Americans on the road. I find Americans can almost always tease each other in a way you can't always get away with with someone from a different country/culture.) Anyway, we happened to hit it off with the four French travelers, and we quite liked our guide who was born in India, but has lived in Burma for the past, I don't know, 20 years? And then, there was "this effin' guy."
In other words, aside from actually meeting very cool people and having fun conversations (Tony, Raquel, I'm talkin' to you!) and then looking forward to meeting up with them again… It's sometimes equally wonderful to finish something organized and be back on our own again.
"This effin' guy" was a professor (in his late 50's I'm guessing) from Ukraine. And no matter what the conversation was about, what kind of plants we saw along the way, someone spotting an interesting insect, you get the idea… "This effin' guy" had to jump in and compare, and every time he did, he began with a very authoritative (picture if you will Jon Stewart trying to pull off a Russian accent) "In My Country…" It was so excessive and over the top, it quickly went from eye-rolling annoying to playing along and almost encouraging him to compare just to see what he would say. Especially because he undoubtedly started each statement with "In My Country…"
In Sapa, Vietnam, there was "The Girls Girl." Lena Dunham's French doppelganger turned her nose up at the idea of only visiting a country for two – three weeks. "I want to see everything, and really get to know the culture!" She exclaimed, and then continued to put down short term travelers, even though she was only staying in Vietnam for one month. I rolled my eyes and inwardly suggested she move to a different country for several years.
Here, in Laos, there is Anya. Anya is originally from Germany, but spent the past several years studying at NYU. Admittedly, a fabulous school, but not fabulous enough to have taught Anya everything about everything. Although, after three days of trekking with the girl, I am thoroughly convinced she really does know everything about everything. She certainly talks like she knows it all… She even knows more about American culture than I do! (At which point, I was ready to throw down my backpack and get "Oh No You Din'nt!!!" on her, you know, just to entertain Andrew.)
Let's just say, after two solid days of trekking, and a night full of roosters, my patience with Anya was wanning. Although proud of myself for dealing with the leeches, a sticker bush arm piercing, spiders, roosters, mud, dirt, public showers, sticky rice for the seventh time in a row…I wasn't sure how much longer I could last with a less amusing version of "In My Country…"
Luckly, only the morning portion of the trek was difficult, and the final stage of the trek was all downhill, which was easier for me, but that kind of tricky "easy" where you know you'll need to borrow your grandmother's walker or in general will need to avoid stairs or steps of any kind. We were all so excited to get into the truck and head back to Luang Prabang… and then our dreams of cold beers and hot showers were halted. For an entire hour and a half by some Laos road construction. By the time we arrived in Luang Prabang, picked up our things, assessed the dirty laundry situation (see the floor below), showered, called Momma on her birthday, it was past dinner time. We made it through dinner, barely, and then to bed before our early (no roosters this time) wake-up call for the slow boat up the Mekong River.
Where we slept:
What I spent: