21 March 2008

Laotian in Motion Tour, Day 3

The sleeper train, a great idea in theory, works out less well when there is an accident on the tracks and the train is delayed indefinitely. At first, it was two hours, then three to five hours. I finally just went to sleep and when I woke up at five in the morning, we still hadn't left yet. While I lay awake thinking to myself about maybe just bailing and taking the bus, the train started to move. We are now going to be in Nong Khai sometime around 6 in the evening, about nine hours later than planned. This is fine, I suppose. I should be at the hotel by nine in the evening. The hotel is right in the middle of the city and has air-conditioning and cable. We'll see if it lives up to my high expectations.

Still, the train isn't bad at all. I was able to sleep with no problem except that the light never went off. I was able to cat nap all morning long and when I finally got out of my pod around noon, the trip was more than half over.

The toilet on the train is great. It's just a hole in the floor. Luckily I haven't had to take full advantage of the facilities, but if I do, I assume there will be some disaster.

The roads out the window here look pretty good actually. Definitely rideable. I ordered lunch a while ago, but still nothing. As this is Day Three of the tour, I am waiting for Day Four for the pain to begin. The pain and the frequent use of the hole in the floor.

From my conversation with Jim yesterday and last week with Neal, I have been thinking about wealth distribution and how it is one of the most chronic problems in the world. We can see it on a world level. We can see it on a nation state level. We can see it at a state or provincial level. We can see it at a city level. As much as we can, we want to keep the poor and rich separated. Or the rich want to stay separated from the poor.

I think probably the last thing that Jay-Z wants you to think when you are listening to 'Takeover' from the Blueprint is, 'Hey, it's been a while since I listened to Illmatic.'