Tuesday, February 16, 2010
You Ever Had One of Those Sinking Feelings?
If there was going to be a single rite of passage for me on this trip, it was going to be my two day slow boat adventure up the mighty Mekong River. The scenery would be exotic, the hours would be long, and I would finally have a better appreciation for the writings of Joseph Conrad. Yes, I am that nerdy. I borrowed a copy of Heart of Darkness from a fellow book worm in Austin, Texas with the very intent to read it as I slowly chugged along through the jungles of Northern Laos. I might even catch a glimpse of the overweight Marlon Brando commanding a small tribe as Colonel Kurtz if I am lucky. But sadly, it was not meant to be.
I know you have heard this story a thousand times and it will sound quite cliche, but there I was, waiting on the banks of the Mekong waiting for my boat when I received some disturbing news. It seems that our boat had sunk in the dangerously low waters about half-way between Luang Prabang and Pakbeng. No one was hurt in the accident, but it still felt like someone had ripped my heart out and stomped on it in front of me. We were provided with the option to take a speed boat (i.e. a 5 person canoe with a jet engine attached to the back), which we quickly declined due to the almost certain death that goes along with accepting such an offer. How dare the Gods of the River curse my trip with such an unfortunate turn of events. How am I ever going to gain the necessary life perspective that I so desperately seek if I can't even have two days to slowly meditate on a boat about it?
That was when our tour guide turned to me and offered a full cash refund. "But I paid with a credit card" I said, and she apologetically answered that she could only refund me in American dollars. I soon realized that I would get my money back at a better exchange rate and still get to keep my credit card points. Screw Conrad and his 130 page novel, I want my air miles!! Besides, I had already done a book report years ago, which received rave reviews from my high school English teachers, correlating Heart of Darkness with Led Zeppelin's smash hit "Stairway to Heaven". It really was brilliant. I guess some people get to have their cake and eat it too.
I later found out that Mariana and I would be flying to Chiang Mai on none other than Laos Airlines and my joyful spirit quickly faded.