There is something about holidaying in Asia that always makes me feel a little like Karen Blixen, you know, the woman depicted in the film ‘Out of Africa.’ Different continent I know but you get my drift.
It is rather romantic to think of myself as like her of course, aside from the syphilis, hers that is not mine. Let’s clarify that before rumours start and as lovely as Andrew is, he isn’t Robert Redford.
Anyway, back to holidaying in Asia. I always transgress as you know. So, let me tell you a little about the romance of our holiday shall I? Be prepared. It isn’t anywhere as romantic as ‘Out of Africa’ I mean, really, did you expect it to be? This is me we’re talking about. Let’s face it starting a holiday with your other half sniffling and coughing is no fun. The Doctor (aka Andrew) decided to catch the flu before we left. Okay, he didn’t exactly decide to. That would be a bit silly wouldn’t it? The point is we became those passengers from hell. You know the ones? The passengers everyone avoids. The passengers you dread will be your seating companions. That was us. Of course, you try to hide it. But it is a little impossible when Andrew had a choking fit and I’m doing my first aid bit in an attempt not to have him die on the plane. We finally arrive in Bangkok where we have a seven hour stop over and I get my first update on Bendy from my stepson James.
‘Hello, just to say Bendy is well and enjoyed the biscuits, treats and milk earlier, as you can see in the photo here. He spent most the day sleeping in the lounge, although is always welcome to go upstairs for quiet time.’
I feel a little better knowing Bendy the cat is okay but by now I’m feeling a bit rough myself and the Doctor is barely able to speak for the pain in his ear and sinus and I start wondering if he’s perforated an eardrum. That’s just wonderful. He claims never to hear me half the time as it is. Now he’ll have a really good excuse to claim he doesn’t hear my nagging. We trudge to the departure gate for our next flight. It’s now pm and we have six hours to wait for the flight to Laos in South East Asia. I’m so tired but the air conditioning is so fierce that all I can do is shiver. The Doctor lays himself out on three seats and tries to sleep. Everyone avoids us which is good in a way because at least we have plenty of seats to ourselves. If only it weren’t so cold. Seven hours later (the flight is delayed. I bet Karen Blixen never had these problems) we finally board our flight to Laos. It will take one hour and the time there is pm. We’ve lost a whole night’s sleep and feel crap to boot. But at least the Doctor is out of pain. He can’t hear a thing mind you but he’s out of pain. We both just want to get to Laos, to our hotel and to crash out. Well, that’s simple, I hear you say. You’ve no idea. This is us we’re talking about Lynda and the Doctor remember, not Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.
The plane lands and we depart with throbbing ears and sinuses and queue for our visa. We then collect our suitcase and It looks less bulky to me and I say as much to the Doctor.
‘Don’t be silly, it’s your memory. It looks the same.’
It doesn’t you know but who am I to argue with the doctor. We get a taxi to the centre and tell the driver where our hotel is. We’re dropped off and walk up a short hill and Andrew says,
‘This is it.’
I’ve never felt more relieved in my life. I trip over a stray cat and follow him to reception where a young girl greets us. She doesn’t speak English and just looks curiously at us. After trying to make her understand that we have booked a room for three nights she finally makes a call from her mobile. A man talks to Andrew in broken English. Andrew gives his name and the man says,
‘Ah yes, Andrew. No problem.’
The phone is handed back to the girl, who takes a key and leads us through a dingy kitchen, out to the back and then into the tiniest room I have ever seen. She closes the door and I look around me. The bed linen looks like it hasn’t been changed in weeks and there is a strange musty smell about the place.
‘We’re paying thirty dollars a night for this,’ I say, struggling to keep my eyes open.
The doctor looks like he couldn’t care less.
‘I’m too tired to care,’ he mumbles.
I trundle to the loo and stare at the dingy shower. Oh God, is that a cockroach making itself at home. I don’t believe this. I’m feeling decidedly jet lagged now not to mention shivery and achy. Now my stomach feels dickey. I’ve been here two minutes and I’ve already got deli belly. I lift the lid of the toilet seat only to have it come away in my hand. What the…
‘Andrew,’ I begin angrily, ‘the toilet seat …’
At that point I sit on the loo only to have it break underneath me. I’m halfway between the floor and the loo when the doctor walks in.
‘What are you doing?’ he asks to a chorus of wailing cats from outside.
What does he think I’m doing? Toilet seat yoga? Honestly men!
I burst into tears.
‘The toilet seat broke and don’t say it is because I’m overweight. I’m not staying here,’ I blurt out. ‘It’s a dump. I want to go home.’
I want to go home? Have I gone mad? It’s nearly killed me to get this far. If I have to do a return journey now it will be in the body bag our insurance agreed to pay for. Can things get any worse? Andrew sneezes loudly.
‘Let’s go and explore and if we see another hotel that is nicer then we’ll check out of this one.’
If we seriously don’t see another hotel nicer than this one I’m likely to slash my wrists. I swallow my malaria tablet, dash to the useless loo one more time and tiredly follow him out for a walk.
To be continued.
Part 2 A new hotel and a promise of chocolate pancakes with a twist.