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Fun Sally — Getting It On With Peanut Butter in Laos

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Fun Sally, pronounced Phongsali, is not feeling the love. She possesses a disdain for me and every other bone-rattled traveller disgorged from the dusty mini-van arrivals terminal onto the chicken scratched road into town.

Fun Sally eyes you warily, peripherally, as you mince from guesthouse to guesthouse, all six of them, and are waved away. That is, if you get the wave — a dismissive wave acknowledges your presence — more likely, a slack jawed blankness that is the envy of a neophyte zombie scuttles what little hope you might still harbor for an overpriced dingy room.

Best to pack a hammock or a tent. There is a good chance you will be gazing at the stars and groovin’ to the hits of the Mosquitoes & the Dengue tonight. Slappity slap! Knock yourself out.

Painting of house in Phongsali, Laos, by Michael Britton

Painting of house in Phongsali, Laos, by Michael Britton

Feeling peckish? Fun Sally cannot be bothered with your din din. You’re too much trouble. And there is no menu to peruse. Fun Sally will see to it that you depart her withered bosom trim and svelte. And good riddance to you. Another bright-eyed bunny seeking the wisdom of the world has already stumbled off of the bus and into Fun Sally’s prickly embrace.

Perhaps Fun Sally is wise to the tacky tarnish — like that shoddy Saturday night tattoo on your ass — that tourism brings to insular communities. Perhaps by dissuading the good traveller and withholding her salubrious favors Fun Sally can keep at bay the hordes of espresso slurping, Christ! This place is expensive for Lao, holiday makers that would poison Fun Sally’s couldn’t-give-a-shit well.

Perhaps Fun Sally is shy. Without a wall to fold into she feels naked, unsure and embarrassed. Her bush has not been clipped for a while and her toe nails could use a trim. A paint job wouldn’t hurt either. She flees behind the thin sanctuary of a mask — a panty liner that absorbs and suffocates her Mona Lisa smile.

Fun Sally has a habit — she has a predilection for slathering peanut butter from the bitter hills of Myanmar to feed the percolating troubles of China. Peanut butter? Yessirree! I’m talking about ice, ya baa, methamphetamine. A little pick me up for when life takes a whopping dump on your pretty head. That’s peanut butter in the lingo.

Fun Sally is a small town, well, barely a town. It is an overgrown adolescent with a sullen and grunting attitude, that is serviced by four, or is it five? Western Unions. Only the dopiest and desperate of travellers avail Western Union for their funds. But if there are discrete payments to be made Western Union is your man.

Fun Sally is chock-a-block with pricey pick-up trucks and BMW sedans with four-wheel drive. Just the sort of transport a cabbage farmer needs to transport his produce to market. A hell of a lot of cabbage needs to be moved to make those car payments.

Fun Sally has a cop. His beat leads directly to a hammock. Save for a short detour to the market to stock up on the day’s supply of donuts. The law closes up shop at ten each night. No need to ruin a pleasantly uneventful day with having to answer the unseemly and unlawful peccadilloes of felons and other assorted nastiness. Early to bed, early to rise. The easy sway of the hammock beckons.

Head off into Fun Sally’s yonder hills: After a few miles of rutted, dirt roads that a goat would refuse to trek, beyond the last Acha village, is a well-maintained road coming west from fuck-knows-where heading northeast to the big C. Do not tarry here. Do not stop to pick that crusty nodule out of your nose while pondering the mysteries of the jungle. Spin your little Vespa scooter around and flee for your life. Putt … putt … putt. Bumpity-bump.

Before squirming out from Fun Sally’s squatting ass on my face, like that large, oafish girl who used to beat the childhood crap out of me, I have a painting to do — it is what keeps me grasping onto those few tenuous threads that tie me to what little sanity I still possess.

An arrangement of small wooden sheds in heavy foliage overlooking a pond where fish gleefully nibble at floating disposable diapers and turds languidly sunbathing upon the still, choleric water, attracts my finely tuned eye.

A crowd gathers behind me as I paint. They are awed. Honored even. I am accorded a humble welcome to Fun Sally. I am now known as He Who Travels Far to Paint Our Shit House.

The author, painting

The author, painting

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Filed under: Laos, Travel Stories

About the Author:

I like the velocity of travel — it is the constant motion, like the flitting movement of a loaded brush over canvas, where a rhythm develops and is occasionally syncopated by thwarted plans or minor disaster. It is a way of living and an exploration of the outer world and my inner landscape. There are dangers in such a way of living. Rarely are there external dangers; what is to be feared is the habit of exchanging nullity for nullity, drifting from visa to visa until either the money runs out or the earth simply swallows you. Painting and writing is the binder that holds my center together while also compelling me onward. To what end I do not know … these are voyages of discovery. The destination, if there is one, will manifest itself at some point.

has written 28 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
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