And I remembered my “motion sickness wrist bands” secured two inches from the palm of my hands. I packed salty snacks and a bit of water, but just enough to keep my palette wet and not enough to make me need to constantly go pee. And hell, I’ll admit it, I’ve even got a little Nora Jones on my i-Pod to soothe me to sleep. Yep, I’m back on a bus and this time I’m ready for it.
I just failed to calculate one little detail. This is an overnight bus, headed for southern Vietnam. The roads aren’t so curvy as they were in Laos. In fact, these roads are quite straight, in a forward direction that is. Motion sickness is not the issue, but space, oh space for one’s body, for sleeping, is a precious, precious thing.
I’ve always longed to be tall, often lying that I’m 5′ 11′ even standing tall to make 6 feet (I just make 5′ 10″ at the doctors) but in a 5′ 6″ x 1′ (literally, a bed one foot wide) sleeping cubicle, like a coffin, a sardine can compounded for one, I really do wish, for once in my life, that I was just a tad (a foot maybe) shorter. And with my feet slipping into a little nook beneath the head of the bed-seat in front of me (are you getting the picture?) my knees and shins lean against (tortuously squeeze might be a more apropos description, but I don’t want to be melodramatic) hard cold steel. Lumbar and hipbar and neck bar dig into my back awkwardly angled at 20 degrees, providing just enough incline for the backpacker behind me to stick his (yes, smelly, but mine are too) feet beneath my head.
Now, I mentioned the roads being straight (at least on the horizontal, x-axis plane), but not on the vertical, y-axis plane, (yes Dad, pat yourself on the back that’s math lingo I’m using as a description). By which I mean potholes, lots of them, and water grooves, and earthquake riffs, and ripples from floods, and all sorts of pavement inconsistencies and malformities, and middle of the night mini-bed bumps and jumps and god-awful, back-breaking, moto-destroying dips and divots and things that, well, just need to be fixed by a simple road crew so as to not wake me up in my half sleep and 1/3 dreamland.
And then there’s the swaying. I know the laws of aerodynamics and the center of gravity for automobiles. Why would I pick the top bunk? (Yep, we’re stacked two high and three across on this bus bound for, Nha-Trang I hope). Everytime the bus attempts to pass a moto on its right and an on-coming semi on its left, the bus sways back and forth as it maneuvers the 1.5 lanes, and us on the top, well we get the worst of it and in my dreams I think I’m on a tiny boat, lost at sea of course.
Fear not though, if my little bed-space or the bumps or the rocking don’t jolt me awake, the blinding lights from those semi-trucks our bus driver just barely avoided will surely wake me up. Or maybe the loud honk as the driver lays on his horn for even the faintest glimmer of movement in the roadway ahead (I’m pretty sure he’s hallucinating).
And if I make it through all that, the honking and the lights and the swaying and the road jumping on the y-axis and my sardine can down-sized for one, just maybe, maybe I’ll get some sleep tonight.
Doubtful. The driver lights his cigarette to begin another bit of chain-smoking (at least 100 kilometers worth), and that’s an aroma that will surely not sing a lullaby to my oh so tired mind. I’m so glad I brought my wrist bands and my Dramamine, but why, oh why did I forget my horse-size, elephant-tranquilizing, sleeping pills?
And the better question: why did I get back on a bus?