So in an effort to suck the marrow out of life (and because we’re both sort of convinced that we will never have another holiday once the baby comes) Mike and I are taking an Easter weekend road trip here in Laos.
We definitely don’t fall into the category of people who think that having a baby won’t change things much. If anything, we are too far along the other end of the spectrum. Every time we’ve been on holiday lately we’ve had moments when we’ve looked at each other with fear in our eyes.
In Thailand a couple of weeks ago I glanced across at Mike, responsibility-free and peacefully reading by the pool, and said, “This is the last holiday…”
When I let the sentence trail off Mike looked up at me with a wicked grin.
“Ever,” he said.
Of course – given that we’ve been on holiday in places ranging from Alaska to Siem Reap to Tasmania during just the last year – even if that statement were to come to pass it would be many years from now before you could really call us holiday deprived. This knowledge, however, is not preventing us from viewing the coming upheaval of our footloose and fancy free world with some trepidation.
Or maybe it’s only me that is suffering trepidation. Mike has even been known to say that he is looking forward to the baby’s arrival.
To which I usually reply, “well, I’m glad one of us is.”
Whereupon Mike will lean down to my stomach and conspiratorially reassure the baby that I don’t really mean that.
Except, sometimes, I do.
I am choosing to view this as appreciating each day of the present reality for the freedom it offers and trusting that after the baby does arrive I’ll find many things to love and appreciate in that reality too. Of course, it could also be that I am woefully lacking in maternal instincts but well-endowed in the selfishness department.
Yes, well, whatever it really means it’s part of the reason we’re in VangVieng this weekend. VangVieng is a small town surrounded by towering limestone cliffs that has turned into a backpacker’s must-visit and the adventure tourism capital of Northern Laos. You can raft, trek, bicycle and kayak here. You can rent motorbikes for $5 a day. You can also order happy pizzas (or happy shakes, cakes, or pretty much whatever else your happy little heart desires) all over town. A happy pizza does not, as one tourist was led to believe, come with extra pineapple. It comes laced with marijuana, mushrooms, opium, or methamphetamines.
For those of you who are curious about these sorts of things, if you must use opium don’t mix it with lime juice. I remain skeptical, but the locals and the Lonely Planet Guide insist that this combination can kill you.
We’ve so far stayed away from the happy pizzas, but this afternoon we’re going to brave another famous local past-time – tubing down the Song River. The water level is low and the flow fairly slow, so it should be manageable pregnant. I just hope that once we push off it won’t be too long before we’re past most of the beer bars that line the banks, waiting to refresh thirsty travelers with all sorts of happy concoctions. We went down to check out the launch point yesterday and I haven’t seen anything else like it anywhere in Laos (or the world, for that matter). There were half a dozen of these bamboo river-side bars thronged with hundreds of scantily-clad westerners drinking and gyrating to loud techno music. I don’t know which was odder, actually, the sight of pale revelers throwing themselves off the dance floor and into the river to continue their sojourn downstream, or the sight of thirty monks gleefully taking turns on the monk zipline nearby.
More from Vientiane next week. I hope you are all having a very happy Easter weekend (in the non-drug-induced sense). May it be a time of fellowship, celebration, and gratitude for the good things in the present reality.