I’m walking through Laos and not looking in the least like Karen Blixen, or Meryl Streep come to that. But it’s not like the doctor is looking like Robert Redford is it? More like Michael Douglas on a bad day maybe. I’ve not slept for 12 hours and sadly it shows. Note to self, go back to Nivea cream because that bloody expensive Rodial cream obviously isn’t working. All this ‘Come off your flight looking as fresh as a daisy.’ I look more like a wilted daffodil, which is the story of my life. To top it all guess what Lynda, who packs the house when she is going away, forgot to bring? I’ll give you a few seconds. I didn’t bring my sunglasses. It’s hitting the 30’s here and I didn’t bring sunglasses. It’s not like I don’t have enough. I have about three pairs (all back home, of course). We look at The Mekong river which is beautiful and see all the restaurants along the river front. If I felt just a little better I could enjoy this but all that is on my mind is the tatty hotel we have to go back to.
‘Are you hungry?’ asks the doc.
‘I’d rather find a hotel first,’ I say.
So, we continue walking and by now I am starting to feel like we’re doing a Kilimanjaro climb.
‘I can’t go any further,’ I groan. ‘I’m so knackered and I feel rough.’
We’ve stopped outside a small hotel with vacancies. I’ve never rushed into anywhere so fast in my life.
‘We have one room, only tonight but tomorrow we do have room.’
Am I so sleep deprived that I’m not hearing people’s words properly.
‘Can we see the room?’ asks the doctor. ‘Or do you not actually have a room.’
‘Oh yes, we have a room.’
Thank goodness for that.
‘Can we see it?’ asks the doc again.
Ah smart idea Dr Watson. We don’t want more toilet seats in our hands. Or, should I say my hands. He happily takes us to the room, which is actually perfect. Nice loo, seat stays on. Apart from the wailing rabid cat outside it is perfect. You get used to wailing rabid cats in Asia so that’s okay.
‘We’ll take it,’ we say in unison.
‘And tomorrow night?’ asks Andrew.
‘I have other room for you. I show you.’
It’s getting better and better. We accept both rooms and I trot away happily with Andrew to the first hotel, trying to work out how we will explain to the owners, or should I say the young girl who doesn’t speak any English why we don’t want their room. We can’t very well say it’s grotty can we? Meanwhile my phone bleeps with another update on Bendy.
Oh James, you have no idea.
We arrive at the other hotel and the girl isn’t there.
‘What do we do with the key?’ I ask nervously. ‘We can’t just leave it on the desk, someone might steal it.’
We creep upstairs like burglars and quickly pack the few things we took out of the suitcase and drag all our stuff back downstairs. We peek around the corner to find the girl still isn’t there and hurry out. We decide to take the key back the next day.
Finally we fall into bed and can you believe this? I can’t sleep. Meanwhile the doctor snores contentedly beside me. The cat howling like a banshee and a dog barks in sympathy. I pop a sleeping pill into my mouth, ear plugs into my ears and finally sleep.
I awake to no sign of the Doctor. This is not unusual. I often wake to no sign of the doctor. He isn’t one for telling me where he’s off to. At least not all the time, and I blame it on him being a man.
I’ve just showered and dressed when he rushes in.
‘I’ve found us an even better room I think,’ he exclaims.
‘Oh,’ I say.
Three rooms in 24 hours, this is amazing.
‘This American guy named Andy owns a place but he’s booked, unless, of course you don’t mind sharing a bathroom.’
My look must have said it all.
‘No, right, I thought not,’ he says quickly. ‘But his brother has a place, we can go and look at the room there.’
So, off we trot. It’s hot and I still don’t have sunglasses but things are improving you have to agree. And the Mekong river looks beautiful.
Andy is very nice, if just a bit excitable and maybe a touch over friendly but you can’t have everything can you. The room is nice too.
‘Ooh, this would be nice for tomorrow night.’ I say.
‘It’s very quiet,’ Andy assures me.
Oh Good, no banshee cats then.
‘Come round for chocolate pancakes and coffee. My wife makes the best.’
Sounds wonderful. To good to be true in fact.
‘For a small charge,’ he adds.
You see what I mean, I’m never wrong.
He advises us where to get sunglasses and we make that our next stop before deciding to go back to the original hotel, you know the one don’t you? I know it’s hard to keep up but do try. After all it’s not that many hotels is it? We arrive and again there is no one there. A guy sitting on the wall outside asks if he can help. Andrew explains and hands back the key and we begin walking back to our current hotel, you know the one? Mind you, I’d understand if you don’t because even I’m getting confused now and it happened to me. We get part way up the hill when the guy comes running after us waving the key.
‘Mister Andrew, you went to wrong hotel.’
We turn and stare at him.
‘No, that’s the key to the room at your hotel,’ says my very confident clever husband.
‘No, no,’ insists the man. ‘You went to wrong hotel last night. You not booked here.’
He points to the hotel next door. And let me tell you this is a very nice hotel too.
‘You booked in there,’ he says.
‘But,’ begins Andrew.
‘Me thought you Andrew Hall.’
Andrew who? I don’t believe this. We wander slowly into the hotel and check if we have a reservation.
‘Yes sir, for four nights,’ says the man behind the reception desk.
‘Can we see the room,’ asks Andrew.
I’m getting a sense of Déjà vu.
We check the room and it’s perfect.
Somehow in less than twenty four hours Andrew and I had managed to book ourselves into four hotels.
‘I suppose that means the chocolate pancakes have just flown out of the window?’ I say.