There are certain times in your life when you have an epiphany. For Alexandra Wallace it’s every time she’s at the library. For me, it was sitting on the toilet in my $8/night guesthouse. As I sat, staring at the ants climbing across the floor and up the wall, I realized, “Holy shit this is not normal…” If I had been at a friend’s house back in the good ol’ U.S of A I would’ve been appalled at the idea of insects crawling all over the place, but in Asia, I had not only come to accept the fact that bugs will always be crawling out of my drain pipe, but considered the fact that I could sit on my toilet and that it flushed without me filling a pan of water, to be a luxury. What had happened to my life.
Fortunately, the rest of my day included plans other than sitting on the luxury toilet. A van was coming to pick us up and then we would head to the Kuang Si Waterfall, which was about 45 minutes away from the center of Luang Prabang. There would also be a bear sanctuary where we could view adorably vicious creatures.
And adorable they certainly were. There were about 4 bears all of which were lazily roaming around the fairly spacious complex playing and relaxing. I know nothing about ASPCA stuff (except that my aunt works for them and is now being forced to be a vegetarian) but I think as far as captive animal conditions go, these bears were pretty well cared for. But there’s only so long I could spend looking at furry creatures that aren’t Hugh Jackman without a shirt on, so alas we had to depart for the falls.
Walking up the path we came to an area that was inundated with tourists and locals alike. They were all gathered around a few sparse picnic benches and the beautiful clear blue waters. As we wandered further, we came to an area of small falls where people were swimming and the more adventurous were climbing a narrow tree branch to a rope swing catapulting into the pool. I can’t swim (unless I’m drunk), so I stood on the sidelines as an observer watching herds of swimmers jumping in. The Belgian started doing back flips into the water, and dozens of small children were taking the leap until I felt like a major pussy and decided to brave the leap. The scariest part for me ended up not being the plunge into the water, but rather climbing up the narrow, slippery branch to try and hook and pull the rope back to the tree. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of heights, but I am afraid of prematurely falling where there’s only shallow water and rocks. After shaking the entire way across the branch, I did pull it together and make it onto the swing.
Later that night after exploring the town and having Nutella Oreo shakes, while the Germans explored the park and told us we in fact didn’t even see the actual falls, we returned to Luang Prabang. Opting to call it an early night Cely and I headed back to our room, where shortly after we both started screaming. A cockroach half the size of my passport had decided to assert his claim to our bedroom. Cely and I ran into the lobby of the hotel pleading for help. After much commotion we were able to recruit Mark back to the room.
Upon arrival we found the roach calmly perched on Cely’s suitcase.
Us: There’s a cockroach in our room!!!! Kill it!!!
Mark: Well, it’s not really a cockroach, it might be a water bug or something
Me: Genus, species, phylum…I don’t care, it’s a fucking bug. Kill it!
Cockroach: Fuck this shit, I’m outta here (runs back under the bed)
Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I fucking hate cockroaches – you can take the girl out of New York City, but you can’t take New York City out of the girl. Having no other option, I got into bed, wrapped myself up like a caterpillar in a cocoon (hoping cockroaches…ahem, sorry, water bugs, don’t eat caterpillars) and went to bed hoping I was sealed up tight enough. I guess no matter how much you think you’re acclimated, there are just somethings you’ll never get used to.