**A Legless Fool true story at legless HQ**
British expat amputee in S. E. Asia
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'On the road again'
Legless in Vientiane, Laos II
The most convenient train for me to catch that day from Ban Takhli to Bangkok was at 11:30 in the morning, this was due to arrive at Hualumpong at 15:05 and it would give me a couple of hours relaxing and drinking tea at the tea stall that I use there, before Graham arrived. Loy had decided to accompany me to Bangkok because she said that she was visiting a friend there, so I thought this would be okay because once we reached Hualumpong I thought that she would quickly go to stay with her friend. The train arrived at Ban Takhli 30 minutes late that day, this was not really a problem for me because I had a lot of time to kill at Bangkok anyway, but the train was free seating and it was full and all of the seats were taken, so initially we had to stand up, I eventually found a space for myself on one of the steps near a door and I just quickly sat down and took my leg off. The train was not only full of people, there were bags and boxes everywhere in the carriages, even next to me at the exit, there were huge sacks of fruit. After about one hour the train stopped at Lopburi and a seat became available for me, so I quickly donned my leg, made my way to it and sat down. Loy was still standing but she was chatting with some other Thai people who were also standing and seemed quite happy. About two more stops down the line, I spotted another seat that had become available, so I pointed it out to Loy and she quickly went to sit on it. On this train to Bangkok, I usually go for the occasional cigarette to one of the open doors, but today I was not going to take the chance of someone stealing my seat whilst I had a smoke, so I just sat and tried to ignore my nicotine craving for today.
We must have made a lot of time up on the journey because we arrived at Bangkok on time, we went straight to the tea stall that I always use there and I sat down on the smoking side of the stall and lit a desparately needed cigarette immediately that I sat down. I was looking forward to chatting with the staff that I know at the tea stall, because I hadn't seen them since the last time that I was there two months previously on my way to Penang. The staff working that day was not anyone that I knew, which was a pity because the regular staff usually let me keep my bottles of beer and sandwiches out of my coolbag in their ice containers to cool down before my journey. The next problem was that they had no tea, the new staff obviously didn't know how to make it, because the tea that they usually make there is delicious, they offered me a coffee which I declined, because it is the one thing that I am totally allergic to, so I had to settle for a beer instead. "Oh well! I shall just have to force myself to drink beer early today."
Loy just hung around outside the tea stall and didn't seem in any hurry to go anywhere, she knew that I was meeting Graham today so I thought that she was probably just interested in seeing him. Graham arrived at just after 5pm and we introduced ourselves, we quickly started talking and we both sat drinking beer. Loy eventually left us and I thought that she had gone for the night, Graham and I sat chatting about many things including Loy herself, because we had exchanged quite a lot of emails and he knew all about my present predicament on 'Parasite Farm'. I then had to go to an ATM machine, because my bank had realised that they had made a bad mistake by removing most of my funds from my account without my knowledge and they had replaced it for me, I could only do this when Loy (chief parasite) wasn't around, because I didn't want her to know that my bank had put the money back into my account. After getting some cash out of the ATM machine I went back to the stall and continued drinking beer and chatting with Graham, then to my surprise, Loy turned up again and it put a bit of a damper on our conversation, because I explained to Graham that Loy now worked as an English teacher and she could understand what we were talking about if she heard us. I asked Loy to go and buy me some chicken curry puffs for my journey, I also asked her to get me some small change in Thai bank notes just in case I needed them for emergencies in Laos. When she had gone to do this for me, we could then carry on with our main topic of conversation again which included her . Loy returned after a while, gave me a bag of curry puffs and my small change and then left again, Graham and I then carried on with our conversation and consuming more beer until it was time for me to catch my train.
Just as I was about to go to the train, Loy turned up again saying that she wanted to help me to carry my bags to the train, Graham then took care of the beer bill for us both, which was very kind of him, we said our goodbyes and then Loy went with me to the train, me carrying my coolbag with my thermos mug, beer, sandwiches and curry puffs and Loy carrying my bag of clothes and toiletries. We boarded the train stowed the bags and I sat on my seat, Loy then asked me to take care of myself, gave me a peck on the cheek and left. I had already had quite a lot of beer that day, but I then opened my coolbag, got out a bottle of beer opened it and filled my thermos mug, I was hungry then so I started eating my curry puffs too and the train started slowly pulling out of the station. I took my leg off and just relaxed drinking my beer and eating curry puffs and getting absolutely legless in two dimensions. Next stop Nong Khai!
Nong Khai, the border and Laos - Because I had fallen asleep quickly when they had made the bunks on the train the night before, I woke up very early the following morning, when they brought breakfast for me it was still just 07:30 am and by the time that I had leisurely eaten my breakfast and had a cup of tea we were just approaching Nong Khai station, this was excellent timing for me, because I now needed a cigarette. I checked my coolbag and it still had three large bottles of beer in it and lots of corned beef, blue cheese and tomato sandwiches that I had made for the journey and when the train had completely stopped, I put my leg on, carried my bags off the train and found an area where I could have a cigarette, there was already a Japanese guy there doing the same thing and we chatted a little whilst we were both smoking. After finishing my cigarette, I went to the ticket office in the station and tried to book a train back to Bangkok for the evening of the 22nd July, but they only had a few upper bunks available for that night, so I booked a lower bunk for the evening of 23rd July instead, I had no timetable to keep to and I quite like Vientiane anyway, so an extra night there would be fine with me. I then took a motorcycle trishaw to the 'Friendship Bridge' which cost me just 30 baht, on the way there the driver tried to divert me to the visa assistance shop, but having experience this time I just told him to go straight to the bridge. At the Thai immigration on the bridge I stamped out of Thailand quickly, then went to the bus ticket kiosk and I was surprised to find that the bus across the bridge was 20 baht today, it was only 15 baht the last time. When I got on the bus all of the seats were already taken, so I just stood up on the journey across the bridge, it is only about a 3 minute trip anyway. On the Laos side of the bridge, I disembarked, stowed my bags on a seat there and went to collect the visa-on-arrival form and the Laos immigration form from the booth there, I filled the forms out quickly and then joined the queue at the visa kiosk.
When it was eventually my turn at the kiosk, I handed him the filled out form, my passport, $35 US dollars and a photo, this I had ready because I had experience this time, but the person at the kiosk then asked me for one more US dollar and he told me that because it was Sunday, they charged an extra one dollar, this I didn't have I had just brought exactly $35, but he took 40 baht in Thai money for the extra dollar required. I then went to sit with my bags, have a cigarette and wait for the visa, it was very quick today, the visa was ready just as soon as I had finished my cigarette. So I collected my passport, wrote the visa number on the Laos immigration form, I collected my bags and went to the currency exchange counter there, after my last journey there I had estimated that I needed about 2,000 baht exchanged and I was given 515,000 Laos kip, the exchange rate had dropped since the last time that I was there, but I still reckoned it was sufficient for me. At the Laos immigration kiosk, I was quickly processed through Laos immigration and on the Laos side of immigration, my false leg was hurting a little, so I sat down on a bench there, took my leg off for a while and had a cigarette. Whilst sitting there many Laos trishaw drivers approached me wanting to take me to Vientiane and quoting what I now know is ridiculous prices for the journey, but I just dismissed them all and told them that I was getting the bus. After I had finished my cigarette, I put my leg back on and padded it with a handkerchief that I carry for this purpose, I then carried my bags to the bus stop just 30 metres away and sat on a seat there, again many trishaw drivers approached me and again I dismissed them all. After just a couple of minutes the bus arrived, I found a spare seat, stowed my bags near me and just relaxed, they had a sign in the bus saying that the price was now 5,000 Laos kip (about 20 Thai baht), it was only 4,000 last time I came, so I put it down to the increase in fuel prices now, it was still relatively cheap for a 22 km journey. On arrival at the bus station near the market in Vietiane, I then knew that I had to get a trishaw to the guesthouse, there was no alternative, so I started negotiating with the drivers on the road there, they were all asking ridiculous prices again, but one eventually came down to 10,000 kip (about 40 baht) and I realised that it was the best price that I was going to get for the 3 km journey to my guesthouse, so I agreed and got in the trishaw.
Viengsavannh Guesthouse, Thai Embassy, Food and Beer - When I arrived at the guesthouse, the staff there remembered me and told me that they had just one room available and it was an aircon room and would cost me 250 Thai baht, I asked him if the following day they had any cheaper rooms available and he said that they did, so I told him that I was staying for three nights and that one night in an aircon room would be okay. He then photocopied my passport and I said that I would pay him for the three nights now, that way I would know exactly how much money that I had in my pocket to spend. He worked it out on a calculator and gave me a total price of 610 Thai baht, I asked him how much that was in Laos kip because I had exchanged money now, he worked it out on his calculator and he came up with 170,000 Laos kip, so I paid him, I got my key and put my bags in the room. It was still only 10 am in the morning and I now wanted a cup of tea, so I went to my coolbag, got out my thermos mug, biscuits and some teabags and went back outside to their domestic area. I knew from before that they didn't have tea there, that is why I brought my own and some biscuits, because I knew that they had hot water, I asked him out of politeness if I could use the hot water and of course he agreed, so I had my first cup of tea of the day there. I sat on my now usual seat in the grounds there and just enjoyed my hot tea and biscuits and then sat smoking cigarettes. I remembered my sandwiches in my bag and I asked the guy there if I could put them in their refridgerator in the kitchen there and again he agreed, so I placed my sandwiches in their fridge. Many other people arrived at the guesthouse over the next few hours, but they were all turned away and told that it was full, I was very lucky that day.
I sat on my seat there drinking lots of tea as usual that first day and many of the other guests staying there came and sat down, others walked past and everyone said hello to me and I reciprocated. After many hours of watching people come and go, I realised that I was the only Caucasian staying in the guesthouse, the guy who took care of the place came to sit with me when he was not busy and we chatted together in Thai, Laos is the same language as Thai, very minor differences, so it is very easy for me. I asked him about the guests staying there and he said that they were mainly a fifty / fifty mix of Africans and Phillipinos. In the late afternoon after many cups of tea, biscuits and a sandwich, I decided that I had to go to the internet cafe and check my email. So I took a slow walk to Rue Naxay and went to the internet cafe that I know there, I had about 450 emails waiting for me, I know that most of them are just rubbish anyway, so I just went through them deleting the ones that I classed as spam and keeping the ones that looked interesting for viewing later. Some of the interesting emails are scams that I play with and I enjoy just playing them around, letting them think that they are going to scam a lot of money from me, I like to learn about the different modus operandis (MOs) that they use and seeing how they react given certain conditions, it has become a pleasant way of passing the time for me on the internet over the last four years or so, just a hobby really and I am keeping copies of all of the emails and false bank account statements, false government approvals, false legal documents, etc. for a future book that I have plans to write about these scammers.
I spent a couple of hours in the internet cafe, because I also had to do a little SEO work for my websites, trying to keep them fairly high ranking on the search engines, especially for my new internet name of Legless Fool . When I had finished at the internet cafe, I made my way slowly back to the guesthouse, I was trying not to push my leg too much today because tomorrow I would have a lot of walking to do going to the Thai Embassy and back again. Back at the guesthouse later, I sat outside at my usual seat, took my leg off and decided to have my first beer of the day, so I ordered a beer Lao and just relaxed watching the other guests come and go. Some of the guests sat at a table near me and would make polite conversation, just asking where I came from, what I did and they also asked me what happened to my leg, so I had to tell my story many times to different people. Most of the people that spoke with me were Phillipinos and the majority seemed to be employed in Thailand as English teachers and were just in Vientiane renewing their visas like me. One of these a tall guy came and sat with me and we talked about many things, he told me that his name was Joe and he was working in Bangkok as a physical education teacher, we talked for a long time and I offered him a beer, he refused and told me that he couldn't just drink socially like me, he said that once he started drinking he drank quickly and couldn't stop, I accepted his explanation for declining the beer and we just carried on talking again, he was a very nice character and someone that I found that I could talk to very easily. A few of the African guests walked by us and one of them that I had seen earlier nodded to me and smiled. A little later, Joe retired to his room and I was the only guest sitting out there, I grabbed a couple of my sandwiches from the fridge in the kitchen and just sat there happily munhing my sandwiches and drinking beer. Later one of the guesthouse staff that I know came and sat with me and started chatting to me in Thai and we chatted for quite a long time. I knew that I had to get up early the next morning to go to the Thai Embassy, so after finishing my beer, I went to my room at a reasonable time, set the alarm on my mobile phone, had a nightcap from one of the bottles of Thai beer that I had brought with me and then quickly fell asleep.
The second day and the Thai Embassy - I woke up before the alarm rang the next morning, I carried out my usual morning ablutions, put my leg on, picked up my mug, my tea bags and biscuits and went to sit outside. I made myself a cup of tea in the kitchen outside and sat at my usual seat, I knew that I had about an hour to kill before I made my way to the embassy, so I had time for a couple of cups of tea before I had to leave. Whilst I was sitting there, many of the other guests came out, but they went straight out of the guesthouse grounds and didn't linger, many said good morning to me and I responded to them. When I did leave the guesthouse there were no other people around and I just slowly made my way down to the embassy quite leisurely. When I arrived at the embassy the grounds were packed with people, there must have been about three hundred people queueing there, so I just joined the back of the queue. Everyone seemed to have passports and documents in their hands and I didn't even have an application form yet, so I thought that I could get one at the counter when I eventually reached there and fill it in quite quickly. The queue moved very, very slowly and after one hour of queueing and standing my false leg was beginning to rub my amputated leg and it was aching quite a lot, I had to keep trying to shift my weight from one leg to the other to try and ease it. One of the female staff at the embassy was walking past and must have noticed my discomfort, she asked me if she could help with anything and I asked her if she could get me an application form, this she did for me and I was grateful. The queue still moved very slowly and the constant standing was definitely getting to me, I was now in continuous pain from my amputated leg. The person behind me started talking to me and asking me what the problem was, he was from England too, so I could talk to him quite easily and I told him about my amputated leg and prosthesis and he seemed quite sympathetic.
After about two hours I eventually reached the front of the queue, I handed the official at the counter there my passport, my completed visa application and two photographs and I was just waiting for him to ask me for the visa fee, but he held up my passport and asked me where the photocopy of my passport was, I told him that I didn't have one, so he handed me my passport back and said that I would have to get it photocopied. At this point I was devastated, I had queued for two hours, my leg was in a lot of pain and now I had to find somewhere to photocopy my passport and I didn't know where to do it near here. The English guy behind me must have seen my dilemma and he quickly told me that there was a place just 300 metres away where I could get my passport photo copied and he went on to say that he would go and do it for me. So I waited until he had finished his application and then we both went outside the embassy gates, he told me to wait there and he took my passport and started walking down the road, I lit up a much needed cigarette then and looked around for somewhere that I could sit down for a while, but there was nowhere, so I just had to stand again, but I could smoke now which seemed to help. The guy came back with my passport and photocopy about ten minutes later and we went back into the embassy grounds, there was a very long queue off to the right on the entrance to another building there and I wondered what this long queue was for, I mentioned it to the guy with me and he told me that it was the queue to pay for the visa and he would have to go and queue there now. I couldn't believe this, I thought that you just paid when you handed in your visa application and passport, so I just went back to the counter at the front of the still long queue there and I handed the official my passport and the photocopy, then I had to go and join the back of the other queue to pay for my visa. The last time I came here someone came to apply for me and I just collected my passport the next day, so all of this was new to me now. The queue waiting to pay was ouside of the building waiting to go in and I didn't know how many people were inside already, so it was going to be a long time in this queue too. It took one more hour of queueing before I eventually paid and received my receipt for the visa and I was very glad to leave there in the end. In total I had been standing and queueing at the embassy for more than three hours and my amputated leg was now extremely painful as I gradually made my way back to the guesthouse at a very, very slow pace. When I eventually got to the guesthouse I found my mug in the kitchen where I had left it, I made myself a hot cup of tea, sat at my seat, pulled my prosthesis off quickly and checked the stump for damage, the skin wasn't ruptured, but many areas were very red and very painful to the touch, so I just let the fresh air flow around it and enjoyed sitting down for the first time in three and a half hours.
A couple of hours and many cups of tea later, Joe came to sit with me and he had been at the embassy that morning too, but with all of the people there I didn't see him. Then a few minutes later the African guy that I had seen before came and sat with us to, he introduced himself as Justin and said that he was from Nigeria, so the three of us were quite a cosmopolitan group. After talking for a while it became very clear that Justin and I had the same interests and experience, he was a website designer too and spent many hours each day at his computer on the internet and optimising his sites like me. So we very quickly started talking together about our work and we were using the technical terms involved with it, but after a while Justin said that he had to go to the internet cafe and asked me if I would like to go too, but I decided that my leg needed some rest today and I said that I would take my first voluntary day off from the internet today and I added that I would see him when he came back to the guesthouse later. After Justin had left, Joe said to me that he was listening to our conversation, but he didn't understand any of it at all because he doesn't really know the internet, so I said to him that it was normal and that it wasn't very often that I could have a deep conversation about my internet work because not many other people understand too, so he was not unusual and then he started telling me about his work as a teacher in Bangkok. We carried on sitting and talking there for a long time, it was good for me because my leg was recovering well just sitting and relaxing. At about 6pm I decided that I needed a beer and I ordered one from the staff there, the beer is quite cheap really just 8,000 kip (32 baht) for a litre bottle, which is the same as I normally pay in Thailand. When my beer arrived, Joe surprised me by ordering one for himself too, so I had a drinking partner tonight . We drank our beers and carried on talking together, I was telling him about my problems on the farm and Joe told me about problems he had too, whilst we were talking it started raining, but the seats were under a patio roof just off the kitchen, so it wasn't really a problem and the rain wasn't very heavy. Justin turned up back at the guesthouse then and he joined us again, he didn't drink so he just had an orange juice, he told me that he had done as I told him atthe internet shop and gone to one of the search engines and typed in 'Legless fool' and he had found my websites, he had also gone to my true short story site and had read one of my stories and he started talking about it, it was the story about when I had inadvertently entered and exited Singapore carrying 100 rounds of live ammunition, when just one live round in your posession in Singapore automatically warrants the death penalty and we started talking about just how lucky I had been over this. We were still talking about this when the rain turned into a very heavy electrical storm and we started getting quite wet, one of the staff at the guesthouse came over to us and moved us into the kitchen to a table there were it was dry. So we carried on our conversation and our drinking in the kitchen. I normally drink beer relatively slowly when I am drinking and in quite a short time Joe was already on his second beer, so I speeded my drinking up just to keep pace with him a little, meantime Justin and I fell back into our conversation about our internet work and my stories on the internet and the rain continued absolutely pouring down outside with fairly constant flashes of lightning accompanied by thunder. I found out that evening that both Joe and Justin were leaving the following day after collecting their passports from the Thai embassy, I told them that I was staying one more night because of the lack of seats on the train and we exchanged email addresses to keep in touch with each other back in Thailand.
The other two went back to their rooms before me, Joe had already finished three beers and I was still on my second, so I just sat alone in the kitchen drinking beer, eating my sandwiches which I still had in the fridge there and watching the rainfall outside. I continued sitting there for another hour, I ordered another beer and just took my time with it, I didn't have to get up early the next morning, so no problem. When I had finished that beer, I paid the bill and went back to my room and nodded off to sleep fairly quickly.
Back to the Thai Embassy to collect the passport - The following morning, I woke up at a more reasonable hour for me, I woke up at about 10am. No rush today, so I just slowly had a shower and a shave and then carrying my tea bags and biscuits I made my way to the kitchen, found my mug, rinsed it out and made some tea. I sat down at my usual seat again and just relaxed sipping tea and munching biscuits, a few of the other guests were sitting out there today and a few of them started talking to me and introducing themselves, mostly Phillipinos again, they were all quite pleasant and it seemed that everyone there was due to collect their passports from the Thai Embassy that day. Joe and Justin joined me a little later and Joe told me that he was feeling a little worse for wear after the beers the night before, we each promised to contact each other again back in Thailand and then they both left to go to the embassy, I had decided to take my time today, I didn't want to be standing in a big queue again, so I just set off down the road at about 13:10 and I stopped on the way for some tea at a small food stall, so it was about 13:30 when I got to the Thai Embassy and there were very few people there at that time, so I collected my passport quite quickly.
When I left the Thai Embassy I had the idea of going to the market near the bus station, I hadheard that you could buy cheap cigarettes there and I needed some now. As usual, outside the embassy gates there were many trishaws parked there trying to get customers that wanted to go to the border, so many of them came to me and were quoting prices of 200 or 300 baht to go to the border, so I just said that I wanted to go to the market and again they started quoting stupid prices, so in the end I just turned away and started walking, then one of them came after me an quoted a reasonable price of 7,000 kip (about 30 baht), so I agreed and got in his trishaw. When we arrived at the market it had started raining, so I paid the driver quickly and rushed inside the market under the covers there, there was still rain coming in there in places, so I had to walk carefully. Afer I had walked for about 100 metres and I had seen no sign of any cigarettes, I asked one of the stall holders in Thai where the cigarettes were sold and they said that they didn't know, so I started walking again, I asked many people but I got the same reply each time, so I just kept walking and looking for the next twenty minutes and I had been around most of the stalls in there by then and still no sign of any cigarettes anywhere. I had nothing else really to do that day so I had plenty of time so I just kept on walking and looking. Eventually I came to a small road at the far side of the market, where the market stalls ended, but across the road I saw that there were some stalls that were selling spirits and using my logic, normally where you find spirits for sale, you also find tobacco products too. So I crossed the small road and approached one of the stalls and asked him and sure enough he pulled out a carton of cigarettes, I asked him if he had any menthol ones and he pulled out a carton of Laos menthol cigarettes, I asked him how much they were and he tapped on a calculator and showed me, they were 45,000 kip (180 baht), I had budgeted for 200 baht, so this was fine for me and I bought 2 cartons, I had still not touched any of my Thai baht since I changed 2,000 baht at the border on Sunday and I was quite pleased that I was still working well within my projected budget.
With my cigarettes in a plastic bag under my arm I crossed the market and came out near the bus station again, it was still raining a little, but only like a drizzle now. As usual, when the trishaws parked there saw a foreigner leaving the market they all made a rush for me asking me were I wanted to go, I needed to go to the internet cafe that day, so I replied "Rue Naxay" and as usual they all started quoting stupid prices, so again I just turned and walked away and kept walking, a couple more trishaws pulled up at the side of me, but I had a price for this in my head now and if they didn't agree, then they could go away. Eventually one stopped and agreed to my price of 10,000 kip (40 baht) and I got in. I had to go to the internet cafe because I hadn't checked my email for two days now and the next day I would be heading back to Thailand and staying on the train overnight. At the internet cafe I checked my email, did a little SEO work and then logged off after two hours, I paid them and then took a slow walk back to the guesthouse. Back at the guesthouse, I sat in my usual seat outside and ordered a beer, sitting there sipping my beer, I decided to go to the cafe/restaurant on the crossroads for food this evening and also for a change of venue, the beer is just as cheap as it is at the guesthouse there. So when I had finished my beer, I dropped my cigarettes off in my room and took a walk to the cafe. When I arrived at the cafe a couple of minutes later and I sat at one of the outside tables, the people there recognised me from the last time that I was there four months previously and asked me why I was alone this time, I just gave them an off pat answer and then I ordered a beer and a chicken fried rice with a fried egg on top. The beer was served immediately and my food arrived about five minutes later. I quickly set about spicing my fried rice up using the condiments on the table, I always spice up all of my food, even my sandwiches that I made were spicy, it is just something that I have gotten used to over the years. The meal was very good as usual there and there was not even one grain of rice left uneaten on my plate that night.
I then spent most of the night there just drinking beer, smoking and watching the people and the traffic pass, it is so different to Thailand, there is much less traffic and there are no noisy motorbikes and trucks, all of the vehicles are all well silenced in Laos. At the side of the cafe, they have on off-licence shop owned by them and the owner started closing it up, so I quickly went there and asked her to let me choose a bottle of wine before she closed and this she did, I quickly chose a bottle of bordeaux and took it to my table. I do much prefer a good wine to beer, but it is just that the prices are so prohibitive in Thailand. After closing the shop, the owner came to me and asked me to pay for the wine because they kept it on a separate account to the cafe, so I paid her 60,000 kip (240 baht), you can't even get a bottle of ordinary table wine for that price in Thailand. She then asked me if I would like her to open the bottle of wine for me and I told her that I was taking it back to Thailand with me. I wanted to keep this bottle of wine as something special for my birthday the following week.
After my second beer, I settled the bill and then I left the cafe, as I was leaving they all said that they would see me the next day, but I told them that I was leaving the next day, but I would see them all again in four months time. Back at the guesthouse I had another beer and sat in my seat and I chatted with the night staff there for a while, all of the other guests that I knew had left now. I made that last beer last for quite a while, I didn't have to get up early the next day, I just planned to leave the guesthouse at about 13:00 the following day, so I only went to bed when I felt really tired that night and I slept very easily.
The return journey back to Thailand - The following morning, I woke up relatively early at 09:00 am, I went through my usual morning routine in the guesthouse and ended up sitting on my chair on the patio near the kitchen, eating biscuits and drinking tea. Many people arrived looking for a room that morning and the first ones were told that there would be rooms available at 1 pm and that they could leave there bags there and return later, but later arrivals were informed that it was full. The guest house was full everyday and seems to do very good business, mostly with Asians and Africans, I was still the only Caucasian there. A few of the new guests sat down and chatted with me, mainly Phillipinos working in Thailand and I think that the Viengsavannh Guesthouse is very popular because of the reasonable prices and it's convenience for the Thai Embassy. At 12:30 pm, I went to my room to pack my bag and I found that I still had two bottles of beer from Thailand in my coolbag, so I decided to drink one of them now, rather than carry two back with me, so I started packing and drinking beer at the same time When I had finished my beer, I left my room with the key in the door, I said goodbye to the staff and then left for the bus station. I had to get a trishaw to the bus station so on the main road I started negotiating again with the trishaw drivers that stopped. I eventually got one for the normal price of 10,000 kip (40 baht) and went to the bus station. The bus for the border was almost full when I got there but I did manage to find a seat. We arrived at the Friendship Bridge about twenty minutes later and there were quite a lot of people queueing at immigration, but I got through without any problems or pain from my leg. Then I bought the ticket for the bus across the bridge 4,000 kip (16 baht) and boarded the bus, on the Thai side of the bridge again there were a lot of people in the queues for the immigration kiosks, so I just picked up an immigration card started to fill it in and I had a cigarette whilst doing so and then joined one of the queues afterwards.
Once through immigration, I got on one of the trishaws waiting there and I was taken to Nong Khai railway station, I paid the driver 30 baht and then headed across the road with my bag to the minimart opposite. I dropped my bag near one of the tables outside and then went in and bought a beer, the price had gone up a little bit and the cost of a large Beer Chang there now is 45 baht. sitting at the table outside, I opened the bottle of beer, I got my thermos mug out of my bag and filled it up. It was only 15:00 pm then and my train wasn't due to leave until 18:20, so I had a lot of time to kill. Just along from the minimart is a restaurant and there are tables outside all the way from the minimart to the restaurant on the corner of the block about thirty metres away. All of the tables soon filled up with Westerners and quite obviously they were all waiting for the same train that I was, so I just sat sipping my beer and smoking and watching these people and the staff from the restaurant trying to serve them. I found many of the small incidents that occurred there quite amusing, the waiter could speak very little English and many of the customers couldn't speak any Thai, so a lot of the ordering of food was done by just pointing at items on the menu. A typical incident that happened was, there were two European girls sitting at one of the tables about two tables down from me, I wasn't watching them when they ordered, but when the meal was served only one plate turned up, they must have thought that the other one was going to arrive shortly, so one of them just ate her meal. When the second girl's meal still hadn't arrived twenty minutes later and after the first girl had finished her meal a while ago, they called the waiter over and asked him in English where the other meal was, it took about five minutes and then the waiter seemed to understand and went back to the restaurant. A girl from the restaurant turned up at their table a little while later and put a plate in front of the second girl, I could see that she was poking the food around with her fork for a couple of minutes and then she started eating it slowly, then the waiter turned up with a plate of food and started apologising and saying that she had been given the wrong one and changed the plate in front of her, so then she started tucking into the new meal which was obviously what she thought that she had ordered in the first place about forty minutes earlier, I found it all very amusing, two European girls going to a Thai restaurant near the border that couldn't speak a word of Thai and a waiter working at this restaurant that was well frequented by foreigners going to and returning from Laos, who's command of English was almost zero. So this and other minor amusing incidents that happened helped me to pass the time easily, also the beer helped quite a lot too.
When my first beer was finished, I bought a second beer from the minimart and I also called the waiter from the restaurant over and ordered a fried rice topped with a fried egg, I ordered my meal in Thai without the use of a menu, so no problems for me . I only drink beer slowly, so it was almost 18:00 by the time that I had finished my second bottle, I needed to take some beer with me for the train too, so I bought two more bottles from the minimart and put them in my coolbag, which was now inside my main bag for ease of carrying. The ber at the minimart is a little expensive at 45 baht a bottle, but on the train a large bottle of Beer Chang is 120 baht, so it makes economic sense to do this. I then picked up my bag, which was now quite heavy, then made my way to the station via the restaurant, where I paid 35 baht for my meal. At the station the train wasn't on platform 1 it was on platform 2, so I had to negotiate my bag and myself down from the platform across the tracks and back up on the platform at the other side, my bag was very heavy for me, because it now contained three one litre bottles of beer and a bottle of red wine. I was struggling a little carrying my bag, then one of the train staff helped and carried it onto the train for me. After finding my seat, stowing my bag for easy access and hanging my sleeveless jacket up over the seat, I went back down to the platform for a last cigarette before we left the station, just as I finished my cigarette, they called for everyone to board the train and as soon as I sat down, the train started moving, I got my mug and a bottle of beer from my bag and started drinking again then. A little later the train staff came around to make the bunks for the night, so I just went to the toilet whilst they made mine and I had a cigarette. When I returned to my bunk, I arranged my beer and mug for ease of access, pulled the curtain part of the way across and because I always have a lower bunk, it is just like a seat with my feet on the floor, I watched the stations that we passed through and continued drinking my beer and the last station that I remember seeing was Kumpawapi near Udon Thani.
When I woke up the following morning, my prosthesis was still on and both of my legs were over the side of the bunk and touching the floor, so I deduced from this that I had got legless in one way, but not in the other . I had ordered breakfast the night before and the train staff eventually brought my breakfast at 06:30, we were at Don Muang station at that time and we should have been at Bangkok by then, so the train was obviously running quite late. My train back to Ban Takhli was due to leave Bangkok at 07:00, so at this rate I was going to miss it. I was still eating my breakfast, so I couldn't get off at Don Muang to save time, but I had finished my breakfast and washed it down with the last of my beer from the night before when we stopped at Sam Sen station, so I grabbed my bag and got off quickly there, I went straight to the ticket counter and bought a ticket for Ban Takhli and I had just ten minutes to spare, so I had a cigarette whilst I waited. The train to Ban Takhli arrived on time and it was free seating, I found a seat on a carriage near a buffet car, I stowed my bag in the overhead rack and sat down for the long journey ahead. When the train was underway, one of the staff from the buffet car came around with a coolbox selling cold drinks and even though it was morning, I wanted a beer to follow the one that I had with my breakfast, the beer was a little expensive at 40 baht for a can and he apologised for the price and said that it wasn't him that set the prices, it was the Thai railways. I bought the beer then and when I took my first sip, I wanted a cigarette, so I thought that I would go to the toilet and light up, but as I went to the toilet, I saw some of the train staff and a transport policeman sitting on the stools in the buffet section and they were smoking in there, so I went in and asked if I could sit there and smoke too and they all said yes. So I sat on one of the stools put my beer on the counter and started smoking and talking with the people in there. I ended up sitting in there for the whole of the journey to Ban Takhli and I had consumed quite a few cans of beer before we arrived there, so this was a new experience for me, drinking on the train in the morning and arriving at my destination at lunchtime legless again. Oh well! it is only once every two months that I have the freedom to do exactly what I want to do and next time, back to Penang!
It was quite a good trip to Vientiane this time, I like Laos anyway and it is much more enjoyable being alone and without the assistance of the parasite to spend my money.
Information for the trip to Vientiane from Thailand I wrote on my last trip story, so to see it click on Legless in Laos here.
Legless fool in Thailand
'Viengsavanh Guest House business card'
Ban Nongbone, Saysetha, Vientiane Map (below)
trip: True legless trip in Asia story - A lost love
My first published book - Legless in Thailand
My new novel, still being written - Ex Post Facto
My home town St Helens, UK and their famous rugby team
Some of my other short stories HERE
Biography of author John McMiken
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