Quite a cliffhanger I’ve left you with last time, eh, children? Don’t fret, it’ll all be resolved in the shortest order.
And yes, thus begins the tale of my woes. We took a Tuk-Tuk to the Vientiane International Clinic, where I hobbled through the empty lobby and prepared to settle down for a long, long wait. We had about six or seven hours to spare, so weren’t too worried. And we were right not to have been, since the emergency ward was well staffed and completely patient free! I got some medical attention first from a male doctor who wrote me a prescription for antibiotics and sent my girlfriend to buy them from another ward, along with some bandages and stuff. An older, motherly lady doc looked my leg over, clucked a little, looked at my shoes, shook her head and told me that as a doctor she recommends I get new footwear. The docs then stepped back and let a young giggling nurse work over my gross, smelly foot. She did a through job, thorough enough to make me wish for some local anesthetic, or at least a bit of wood to bite down on. The whole thing took about 40 minutes, and cost a bit under 20€, which I hope my insurance will eventually cover. I got instructions to clean my infected crater every day, and let it dry out at every opportunity. Lady doc then heard that we have to travel overnight, and that the wound would have to remain covered for at least 24 hours, and sighed. Stupid tourists never learn. Oh, and while I was there a pretty blonde girly came to the ward, and had to talk about the color of her diarrhea and be subjected to somewhat humiliating (no nudity, unfortunately) examinations while I smugly sat there with my gross foot on a shiny stainless steel tray. So it goes.
So our funds were now short 200,000 Kip. See, we raised about a million each for Si Phan Don, because they didn’t have ATMs there. So I had to raise some more cash, and that’s when I (probably, and hopefully) left my credit card in the ATM. My SECOND damn credit card. Yes, second! Because I left one in a Vientiane ATM about a week earlier. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am just that stupid! My imbecility knows no bounds, I gleefully leap over all and any roadblocks set by common sense. I think I reached some sort of a turning point, after which you become a bumbling middle aged ass. It happens to everyone, sooner or later… I’ve had a good run so far, and I guess entering middle age at 33 isn’t that bad.
I only found out that my card was lost at Don Khone. It was a bit of a shock, because I was now out of credit cards and had to rely on girlfriend’s funds. My beer budget is probably going to take a bit of a hit… And god knows what happened to the second card, my credit might be maxed out and this’ll turn into a very expensive trip indeed.
Finally, after an exhausting wait, it was time to try and get back to the bus station. We had bought a 170,000 Kip ticket down south on a proper sleeper bus earlier, and it was a blessing. The beds were proper, real beds, there was a toilet, the lower floor held first class berths that were almost like cabins, and the upper floor held us, the backpacker cattle. The first class people got the short end of the stick, however. Passengers were shuffling back and forth to the toilet all night long, falling over as the bus sped over bumps in the night. The ones who slept near the toilet also had the smell and the noise to contend with, and the lucky ones whose berths were set farther back, behind the toilet, had to endure the heat and the throb of the engine.
We got down to the Si Phan Don ok, in the end. Our driver sped like a mad man down the well-paved countryside roads all night, and at times it felt like we were about to veer out of control, but after a few honks and some wild gyrations things always went back to normal. We arrived at Ban Nakasang at something like 6:30 or 7am, almost well rested. Walked down the only proper street in town, bought me some 3 dollar, Chinese manufactured, squeaky flip-flops along the way, and bought a 20,000 LAK ticket to Don Khone, the (reportedly) nicest and greenest of the southern Si Phan Don islands. That was that then, we were done with our mega-trip and it was time to lay low and smell the flowers for a while.