Morning! (Lao style!)

I’ll admit, I didn’t use to be as flexible and tolerant of less-than-ideal situations. But since I’ve started traveling more and more the past few years, that has clearly changed. I’m down with the crappy beds, the offensive toilets, the long bus rides, the questionable behavior and the totally different mindsets. I can deal with a lot.

Yet this morning was almost too much for me.

Before I review the morning, let me just clarify that I have had some of the best mornings of my life in Lao. Waking up to hear the Mekong rushing by was both invigorating and calming. Turning over and seeing three sets of curious little eyes staring back at me made me laugh out loud the second I figured out what was going on. Seeing the sun rise as the procession of monks collected their morning alms was surreal.

But this morning was neither calming nor surreal. It started like any other morning. I woke up in the border town of Houay Xai, Laos. I brushed my teeth. I washed my face. I got dressed. I went to go grab my wallet so I could have breakfast at the cafe at my guest house. As I moved my smaller backpack, something didn’t look quite right. My small plastic grocery bag with my food in it wasn’t there. Then I noticed it… little shreds of material, little pieces of paper… I had been visited by a rat in the night! My leftover gingersnap that I’d bought in Luang Prabang for the two day boat trip was gone. It had been inside a ziplock bag, inside the grocery bag mind you! The still-sealed pack of instant noodles I bought last night… gone! The gum was missing as well. My saltine-like crackers were chewed open and partially eaten. Then I moved on to my small backpack where one of the outside pockets had been chewed through and my sunblock container was completely ravaged! Barely controlling my disgust, I quickly grabbed a Clorox wet wipe and cleaned everything I was saving. I tossed everything that was wrecked, packed, checked out and went somewhere else for breakfast!

I am now sitting in a cafe in Chiang Rai, Thailand sipping a mocha green tea, wondering what upsets me more… the fact that I slept through everything or the fact that the damn rat ate my gingersnap!