I hit the buses again today, this time for a short 3.5 hour ride to Hue. Unfortunately, for the two hours preceding the bus ride I was sitting at a computer with an abysmally slow Internet connection, struggling to get my photos uploaded for my two most recent posts. I got the last photo uploaded just as the bus pulled up, so I unplugged my laptop, shoved it in its case, grabbed my suitcase, and ran for the bus. What I did NOT do was go to the bathroom before I got on the bus. And about an hour into the ride I was a tad bit uncomfortable. No worries, I thought, they always stop at least once during each trip – twice on longer trips. So when we pulled into a roadside restaurant, I quickly headed for the toilets.
In almost every other instance, the bathrooms we have stopped at have been sparkling clean. In fact in a couple of places I was required to leave my shoes outside the door and don special plastic flip flops provided just for the bathroom. So I was unprepared for the level of filth I encountered in this bathroom. Any other time I would have just “held it” but this was definitely not an option in this instance. I HAD to go. The floor was wet and covered in mud, so I couldn’t put my backpack down. The stool itself was filthy so I didn’t want to sit down. So, if you can picture this, I unzipped my pants and simultaneously let them drop while trying to hold up the cuffs so they wouldn’t drag on the disgusting floor. With both hands occupied thusly, I squatted down far enough over the stool so as not to pee all over myself, while attempting to balance the backpack on my back and keep my travel purse, which was strung across my chest bandoleer style, from dragging on the floor. And everything was going SOOOO well – until I realized there was no toilet paper. Now, I carry travel toilet paper for just such an occasion. But the toilet paper was in my backpack, which was strapped on my back, and both of my hands were otherwise occupied. What to do? I’ve always heard it said that men are lucky because they can just shake it off, but I’m here to tell you that in an emergency, wiggling, jiggling, and shaking works pretty well for a woman, too. I was finally able to stand up and hold my pants with one hand while the other fished in my backpack for the paper. Bathroom humor makes for never a dull moment in third world countries.
I arrived in Hue at about 5 PM and it is a terrible letdown after Hoi An, but perhaps it will look different in the morning light. I only stay here one night, boarding yet another bus for an all-night trip to Hanoi tomorrow evening. Once I get to Hanoi where I have a better Internet connection, I’ll be uploading lots more photos to the Vietnam photo page, so be sure to check them out in a couple of days.