The Beeper Bus

The “sleeper” bus from Vientiane to Savanaket was a joke. The driver honked all night even though there was barely any traffic on the road. It should be called the Beeper Bus. Or the Honkey Bus, whichever is funnier.

This ride reminded me of the sleeper bus I took in Vietnam 10 years ago: it was from Ho Chi Minh to Dalat. The driver honked all night and I made the same joke. Since Laos and Vietnam border eachother, I wonder who got it from who. I’ll blame the Vietnamese because they’re the bigger country.  I have tons of respect for the Vietnamese. They’ve fought off the French, the Americans, the Chinese (just to name a few). Nobody messes with Nam! But back to this Beeper Bus, or the Honkey Tonk. Otra! Otra!

First, I didn’t know that there would be actual beds on this bus, I thought it would be one of those seats that recline to 170 degrees and make your knees say, “Why bother?” and “And f**k you!” At 3 am in the morning.

But there were beds! I was assigned to seat B8. James was assigned B9. I saw a B8, but no B9. It turns out that we had to share the top bunk.

I winced, what if someone took this bus by themselves? Then what?

Would he or she have to sleep next to a stranger? Can anyone answer this? Not enough people speak English here for me to attempt an investigation.

On to positive endeavors. Food. The next time you have it, if it’s not Thai and if it doesn’t feel like Vietnamese and you’re somewhere in Southeast Asia and it’s damn delightful to your five senses then it’s probably Laotian.

 

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The "sleeper" bus from Vientiane to Savanaket was a joke. The driver honked all night even though there was barely any traffic on the road. It should be called the Beeper Bus. Or the Honkey Bus, whichever sounds funnier. . . 📢 🚍👎💓 This ride reminded me of the sleeper bus I took in Vietnam 10 years ago; it was from Ho Chi Minh to Danang. The driver honked all night and I made the same joke. Since Laos and Vietnam border eachother, I wonder who got it from who. I'll blame the Vietnamese because they're the bigger country. . 🇻🇳👊 I have tons of respect for the Vietnamese. They've fought off the French, the Americans, the Chinese (just to name a few). Nobody messes with Nam! But back to this Beeper Bus, or the Honkey Tonk. ✨🙈🛏 First, I didn't know that there would be actual beds on this bus, I thought it would be one of those seats that recline to 170 degrees and make your knees say, "Why bother?" and "And f**k you!" At 3 am in the morning. 👍 But there were beds on this bus! I was assigned seat B8. James was assigned B9. I saw a B8, but no B9. It turns out that we had to share the top bunk. . 😳 . "What if someone took this bus by themselves?" . ☮️ Then what? Would he or she have to sleep next to a stranger? Can anyone answer this? Not enough people speak enough English for me to attempt an investigation here. 🍲 . On to positive endeavors! If it's not Thai food and if it doesn't feel like Vietnamese food… You happen to be somewhere in Southeast Asia and the food looks damn delightful to your 5 senses then it's probably Laotian food. I'm a 30 year old woman and my relationship to food borders on infatuation. Thank you Asia. 🙏

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Hello Laos

Laos is tranquil, beautiful and hot! While it is more expensive than Thailand, the food is delicious. Spent a few days in Vientiane (spent half that time in Skype calls and working) and now it’s time to move on!  ❤ The things that I liked was the influence of the French and how the monks add a splash of color to any scene. What still bugs me is the currency (it’s 8,000 kip to the dollar) and the subpar internet connection at our place but we found a coffee shop that had better connection. They’re open from 9am to 6pm. Closed on Sundays.

Day 2 in Taiwan- A Note About Women Traveling Solo

It never occurred to me why the idea of a cat cafe might sound appalling for some until I saw this. Nobody wants fur in their tea. But Taiwan is one of the cleanest cities I’ve been to and it’s also one of the most urbane.

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Minimal Cat Cafe in Taipei

I’ve been fighting jet lag and feeling loopy these past few days and yet, I made the egregious decision to walk alone to another cat cafe. The Minimal Cat cafe which is anything but minimal of friendly felines.

During my second journey through this city alone, I was reminded of a few things that I used to take for granted:

I am Latina, I am a woman, I am alone. Everyone is Asian, I stand out and I’m not being harassed. I felt a few eyes lay on me for a mili-second and wondered if this is how celebrities felt like in New York. The kids, had no problem staring at me. Classy stuff.

Back when I was 20 years old, after I had backpacked through two continents by myself, women had often asked me which countries I’d recommend for a woman traveling sola. I always said, “Not Latin America because machismo is rampant. Southeast Asia is a good place to start.”

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Walked for an hour, alone to get to the Spring Day Pet Cafe

James and I have a pact to spend three hours apart everyday so one of us always has to leave and find a coffee shop to work elsewhere. For me, there was always some dread …  “I am not in the mood for some fuckers hissing at me today. Fuck it, I’ll just go to the same Starbucks, it’s closest.”

I love Latin America. Heck, I’ve gone back many times and have plans to return. I, along with many women I know HATE the hissing and cat calling. It’s even more disrespectful that the hissing disappears only when I’m out in public with a man.

A guy once began to hiss at me and stopped only after he noticed that I was with James…as if to say, “Oops, that’s his property.” I threw a rock at him, yeah, a rock. I don’t recommend instigating violence. For the record, he immediately walked away when I did that, they always do.

Anyway, I don’t feel that dread in Taiwan. Its only been my second day but I’ve taken the train at night and walked through the bustling street food night scene by myself. I’ve been to Asia before so the worst that can happen is for some hustler (man or woman) to come up to me and try to start a conversation.

As for the fur in my tea? That’s not gonna happen. The cats here love the warmth of the espresso machine and they love the warmth generated from human contact – many were sitting on people’s laps. I’ll never see this many cats hard at work. I am loving the culture.

 

Happy travels!

Jane (Juana in Spanish)

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That’s me crossing the Mekong River from Cambodia to Vietnam. It was my second time traveling alone. The baby fat has burned off since.

About me: I’m a digital nomad, going on 3 years. Learn more about what I do for a living and my services by visiting my naked Facebook page and connecting with me on Instagram @janednomad

 

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Cat became obsessed with my backpack. Wonder if it had anything to do with the catnip inside.

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Driveby Rio 2016 Olympics & What the Media Got Right

DISCLAIMER: This blog was written by my partner in life: James. Some edits were made and my thoughts were included. Enjoy!

It was a great, exhausting day.  We arrived at 6:30 and had two and a half hours to find a place for our bags and get to the first venue.  The scene at the bus station was a cluster crap, with taxi lines and bus lines hours-long, so we quickly figured out a way to walk through Rio to get to the train and skip that first transportation step. Jane: The 30 minute walk through town reminded me of Cuba, forgotten old buildings in dire need of a new paint job.  We ate and made it as the first events were starting.

Track & Field was cool – we saw a world record in the 10K women’s final, set by an Ethiopian.  She was dominant.  Then, as the block was winding down, we saw an epic duel between a Brit and Belgian in the Long Jump (part of the Heptathlon) as the other athletes were being eliminated. The Brit set the Olympic record on one of her jumps.  The Belgian then tied the Olympic record on her last attempt of that round, and then set the World Record during the next round.  The Brit tied the World Record and that’s how it ended. Jane: I cheered and yelled! Where else is it that acceptable to cheer and yell for a country you have no personal ties to? Perhaps many but this was the first sports event that I ever attended.

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So I understand that you get a better view by watching this at home but actually being here is a different experience. The energy and support that you feel from the crowed is an incredible.

The duel made the event run long, and we only had 90 minutes to get to the next venue for Women’s Volleyball.  But that was more than enough time, like the crowds weren’t too bad and the transportation system is legit in Rio.  The workers kept telling us the wrong thing, but we’ve been traveling for nearly two years so that kind of thing barely slows us down at this point.  We ate and arrived in plenty of time.  The U.S. was dominant over Italy, but the Italian fans were so obnoxious that it added some tension and excitement into the proceedings. Jane: I wanted to yell “Boo, you Italian” or “USA! USA” instead I yelled, “USA you’re the best, yeah! Woo!” and tried to be louder than those obnoxious Italian fans.

Once they went down two sets, the Italian fans started booing the Americans before every serve.  The Italians stole the third set and this just got the fans riled up more.  Leave it to Italians to spit on the Olympic spirit.  The Puerto Ricans were trounced by the Netherlands, but a few of them looked damn good getting beat.  And whoever was in charge of music played nothing but Puerto Rican (and Cuban for some reason) music during the match. Jane: The referee sounded like Jason Bateman in Dodgeball only unforgivably cheesier and he kept talking smack! He made mildly racist remarks. At one point, he called the Puerto Rican girls, “Cubans” and immediately corrected himself. Also, Pitbull is Cuban. At least he got it right when began to play music by J.Lo and Ricky Martin. I would’ve appreciated some Marc Anthony.

From the volleyball stadium, we walked through Rio and got dinner and drinks at the this awesome hole in the wall, watched Team Irving (USA basketball team) beat the Serbs, and then caught a bus out of town at 11pm.  We’re beat-ass tired, man, but it totally valió la pena. Jane: I did not look forward to our night bus to Vitoria. We paid for “Executive” bus seats which means that instead of a 90 degree incline, we’ll get a 140 degree incline and unnecessary air conditioning which would be frigging cold if you didn’t have a sarong. But as James said, it was totally worth it!

One of the coolest aspects of being in Rio during the Olympics was seeing how they’re putting on the event.  Oh man, the reports of disarray are so completely true and so completely false in exactly the way you’d expect.  Like Rio couldn’t feel any safer, despite the media’s hype of danger, which we expected after two years of hearing every city we’re going to visit next is Falluja 2004.  For fuck safe, they imported 85,000 soldiers for the games, how is it not going to be safer?  I’m interested in the final crime statistics for the games – I’d be shocked if they’re not superbly low.

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But the reports about preparations being in shambles are so hilariously true. NOTHING is ready for the Olympics, which um, started a week ago. We were at two main Olympic venues, and there is simply no signage or landscaping or anything of that nature.  Just a bunch of ill-informed people (clearly not from Rio generally) with foam hands that say Rio 2016 on them.  Providing one service and one service only: misinformation.  But it was service with a smile.  We have some great photos that Juana will probably put on Facebook.  But like the volleyball venue is one of the principal Olympic venues.  There is one big sculpture of the 5 rings … actually, it’s more medium-sized … which looks good.  But then everything else looks like it’s under construction.  The trees circling the arenas in the area are dead.  DEAD.  Not on dying, dead.  And a cheap wire fence circles the arena, and that has shoddy Rio 2016 plastic shoddily wrapped around part of it.  So ghetto, man.  And right across from the main entrance of the volleyball arena, there is an abandoned building on the verge of collapse with graffiti that says, in English: “Olympics are only for the rich!”  There’s graffiti everywhere.

Oh, and perhaps funniest/worst: exiting the main transit station for the area, you have to descend this long staircase that basically is just scaffolding and is clearly supposed to be temporary.  It sways and seems dangerous.  And I’m pretty sure nobody has verified that it’s not.  The ground all around this area is covered with these dust-colored squares of sod that somebody dropped there, haphazardly, a month and a half ago, never attached to the ground or each other, and then never watered.

It’s so Third World, like in-your-face Third World, such a microcosm.  The flip side of that is that people are relaxed and everything works just enough and everybody has a good time.  We brought in backpacks stuffed with drinks and food, which we knew was prohibited, but c’mon.  It’s the Third World.  We went through security at the Track & Field stadium and the security dude stops us and asks us if we speak Spanish.  We say, yeah, and then he tells us food and drinks are not permitted.  Without even waiting for a response, he says, that’s okay, go ahead.  Like he wanted us to know he wasn’t incompetent at his job, he just didn’t give care about us bringing in food and drinks.

This really paid off at the volleyball venue, because even though the concessions were priced inexpensively (price-gouging at stadiums in the Third World is unheard of), the lines were so long for everything.  At the volleyball venue, the guards seemed to only see my thermos filled with water, so they made us chug that before we entered.  They missed all the other drinks and the food we brought, apparently, and they had free filtered water inside, anyway.  All in all, we had a GREAT time.  I’m delirious right now.

Jane –
As James said, “The Olympics in Rio is like a cosmopolitan of a third world country.” It is what it is and they can’t hide the that. Ordem e progresso? It’s irony. With 60% of the political officials facing corruption charges (source: John Oliver), Brazil is a third world country and there’s no hiding that.
Inefficiency served with a smile is a theme in Latin America and we saw that with the long lines and misinformation. If you’re a down to earth type of person then this will strike you as quirky and maybe even a little endearing. As a result, you will have a great time! If you’re a rich and snobby, you will have a bad time no matter what.

Other random observations:
– An “Info” guide outside the stadium told us that coffee is not sold inside the stadium. As soon as we entered the stadium, first thing on the menu of the food stands? Coffee.
– Coffee is sold hot and in four ounce foam cups with four packets of sugar.
– We saw three buses go over a curb that night. One bus held the women’s volleyball team.
– There are special trains for women who do not want to get harrassed.

jane

femenino

For women only, Monday through Friday. If you prefer not to get fondled or harrassed, enter here in the late afternoon.