Courtney. August 6, 2010 @ 3:30 PM
We usually write each blog in chronological order by city.But for Vang Vieng, Laos - an exception must be made.Two days after our farewell ceremony in the village outside of Luang Prabang, we booked tickets to get to Vang Vieng the next day on an 8 person mini van.Our ceremony was meant as a thank you and to give us good luck on our travels.Day 3 after the ceremony is when you are supposed to take the bracelets off and, from what we understand, is the receivers' luckiest day.And the second the four of us stepped into the mini van the good luck began.
Rather than introducing ourselves by name, we got to know each other on a much more intimate level.These four beautiful English gents and we obnoxious California girls began exchanging stories, jokes, etc - basically held a battle of who was raunchiest - them or us.
Kaberly, Danielle & Courtney have a tradition that began in high school and that we hold strong to this day.First person who calls 'dibs' on a guy has priority.If two or more call the same guy at the same time - 'Rock-Paper-Scissors,' known to some as 'Ro-Sham-Bo,' becomes the deciding factor.Should an event occur in which the first 2 plans don't work out, our last resort is to buy and sell the men to each other for a specific amount of alcohol.In Laos, it is usually one large Beer Laos = one man (which is equivalent to approximately 86 cents).If there is something exceptional about him, a bucket may act as the currency.
So the three single girls had chosen a 1st pick and a back up within the first 5 minutes of the car ride.The 8 of us had become so close in the first hour together that we went ahead and told them about our policy and that we had already chosen who was to be dating whom.The laughed hysterically (I think Beer Laos might have spewed from someone's nose) and said that they had done the exact same thing when they saw us walking up to the car.THEN - we decided to all point to who we had chosen.It turned out we were all pretty much in sync. Chemistry.
Five hours, 16 Beer Laos, and 2 bottles of rice whiskey later, the 8 of us agreed that we felt closer to each other than we did with some of our friends from home that we have know forever. We knew each other on every level that you usually try to keep people from knowing about you, and I think that during the bus ride we assumed that all 8 of us were crazy party animals and not much deeper. But we began to realize how much more there was to these boys when we got off the bus and found that Kaberly had left her wallet, passport, ATMs, credit cards and cash in a village 3 hours away that you can't get to at night.The boys were incredibly helpful and sweet.The took care of everything that could be done at the moment.Carried all of our bags, separated and went off on different recon missions, lightened our spirits….Then they found a perfect hostel for us.It has 4 bedrooms, all upstairs and right next to each other.We 'owned' that hostel because we were the only guests there the entire time.
We decided there was no way we were separating and would all be living together for the duration of our stay in Vang Vieng.These boys are so much like us in every way other than their nationality and their sex.Although gender wise, they may be quite similar. I have never in my life seen 4 heterosexual men (or boys - I think their ages are 20, 21, 23, and 25) so comfortable with each other.It was actually one of the most adorable things I've ever seen when we were at dinner one night and I looked over to see Al's head in Jay's lap while Jay was giving him a neck massage.They were in no way self-conscious, and when I started laughing they both looked over at me, completely oblivious to what I thought was so funny.
Originally, a certain Cali girl (Cali girl #1) had called dibs on English gent #1 and vice versa.Cali girl #2 and Jay had a mutual dibs moment, but for the first few days 'Cali 1' and Jay were dating and 'Cali 2' was dating English gent #1.A few more days passed and the chemistry shifted a bit and they ended up switching back to the original pairs.There wasn't an ounce of awkwardness or jealousy and we were still one big happy family.
Every night we would all get ready together and, after about 2 hours, the boys would get upset, yell a little, threaten us some, and then tell us they couldn't take it any longer and they would meet us at dinner.Except one night: 'Ladyboys Drink For Free Night.'The Bucket Bar in Vang Vieng, did a promotion where men who are dressed as women drink for free and, on that night, our boys took hours to get ready.They couldn't decide if Courtney's dress or Danielle's would make their boobs look better, they didn't know whether a purse would make them look more or less classy, and they insisted on doing their best runway strut down the hall about 50 times before we physically shoved their ladyboy asses down the stairs and out of the door.Because of time constraints, that was the only night that we skipped our ritual.It's quite a lovely tradition: before we go out, the 8 of us sit on one of the beds in a circle; everyone holds everyone else's hands and we all say "I love sharing this with you."And then everyone kisses everyone else on the cheek.And yes - the boys kiss each other, as well.
We spent about 95% of our awake time laughing in this city.I'm sure there are WAY more hilarious moments that I missed out on but I missed them for a good reason: I fell in love.With the owner of a bar on the river where everyone tubes.He's from Stonehenge and I called dibs on him only a millisecond before Kaberly did (thank Buddha because I would have bought out Beer Laos Co. for this talent). I told him to take his sunglasses off so I could make sure he was as gorgeous as I thought he was (and he was), and I told I was coming back the next day and I needed a map to find him.He drew a 'map' with a river and a square that said 'town' on it.I told him I couldn't read his 'map,' but that I am a stalker, and I needed some more info to make my stalking mission easier.He wrote his name and email address, and gave me the "you're a weirdo. Anything else?" look.My reply was, "no, just your marital status, whether or not you have a girlfriend, what you're doing tonight, and where I can find you later."He ended up coming out with our incestuous eight-some and then I stalked him at his bar the next day.He said he couldn't come out with us that night because it was his turn to stay at the bar (they are building it still and have no security box yet).He said I should come stay with him, but I'm pretty sure he was just saying that because he assumed I wouldn't really do it.Wrong.When I ran into his friend/ coworker at a bar that night, I decided to have him write in Lao (he speaks very little English) where to have the tuk tuk driver drop me off so that I could find my boyfriend (I made him commit to a 3 day relationship about 2 minutes after I met him).
When I showed up he was under the 12x12 foot structure with an India style flat bed, some kind of instrumental music that sounded to me like it was Indian, reading a book.And the look on his face when I walked up was something between 'are you deranged?' and 'how the hell did you find me?'I explained to him that I combined the 'map' he gave me the first day we met and the note that his Lao friend wrote for me to give the tuk tuk driver and then hired a tuk tuk.Simple.We spent the night in the middle of the jungle smoking hookah, drinking Beer Laos and watching the monsoon that hit (HARD) about 5 minutes after I arrived.One of the coolest nights of my life.And so simple, if you think about it.
The next day was recovery day for the family.We sat at Babylon hostel/bar/restaurant (the photo is in this album) for 12 hours (literally 12 hours) - we watched TV and the monsoon, read, everyone was writing in their journals, and the girls worked on the video diaries.That was the first day that we had any kind of serious conversation with each other and that was the day we realized that, although these boys ARE crazy party animals, we were actually with 4 very intelligent, ambitious, good people.
Alasdair Fatkin is 21 and a very good-looking, outgoing lad.We assumed his long term plan was to do something like open a bar in Thailand, but when he and Court walked together from the restrooms to the rest of our group, she found out that he is going to go to medical school and travel around doing free medical work in developing countries for the rest of his life.The good karma he is going to collect from that life choice MIGHT counteract the bad karma he received when he Dutch-ovened the entire mini van and gave 6 of our 8 pink eye.
Etienne Lamy-Smith is half French and half English. Maybe when our trip is over (in about 5 years) she is going to find him and force him into holy matrimony with her.If he refuses, as he has done the last 30 times she asked, she will move into the apartment across from his and stare through his window all day everyday with a telescope.At night, she will use night vision goggles.He is sure to fall in love with her after he realizes how attractive it is when people stare through your window for 12 hours everyday.
Jimbo (James Pellington) is beautiful half Chinese and half English lad, although for some reason he denies his Chinese heritage.He is one of the sweetest people with the greatest energy and is always up for a good time.Also, when Courtney got locked out of her room one night, he let her sleep in his twin bed with him and apparently she was shoving him off and kicking him all night but he let her sleep anyway.We love you Jim Jim!
Lastly but not leastly, is Hey Hey Jay Jay.James Mechie is what we've always wanted in a gay best friend except he's not gay and he's too attractive to be just friends with.He is a cheerleader in uni, he sewed and fixed Court's purse when she broke it, and when she had an insomnia/ anxiety attack he slept in her room with her and she was asleep in 5 minutes.He is one of those people who you can't look at without running up and hugging.
After five or so days the boys decided they were sick of us and it was time to throw in the towel. We have to admit, they deserve an award for every day they hung in after the 2nd.We stood in a circle, did our ritual for the last time, and then we cut 8 pieces of Kaberly's hair off.The boys ate theirs and the girls put them in our pockets.I can give no explanation for that but it pretty much sums up our week together.
Etienne - this is a blog, not a dissertation paper so don't even think about correcting our grammar. LOVE!(not the creepy kind)
P.S."Best monsoon night ever!"