Our drunken mob stumbled out of the truck-tuk at the corner of the temple, half-blind from liquor and half-stunned from some incredibly shocking travel/life advice Murphy had given them moments before coming to a halt. Another fifty yards of drunken blathering and the hostel manager was waiting to open the gate for us, surely he’d heard us coming the entire way, he was smiling painfully and pleaded with us to keep it down.
While everyone else was kicking off their flip-flops and clearly ready to crash I looked at Murphy. We both had the same idea – fuck sleep, let’s go rustle up some trouble and see what this quiet little town has to offer in the way of crazy horseshit. Murphy leaves his phone and his wallet behind in case shit gets real. I grab a haphazard wad of Lao-bucks and cram them in my pocket and take a few American twenty-dollar bills and slide them under the insole of my hiking boot for when shit gets real. “Are you putting money in your boots??”, someone asks. “What the hell are you guys getting up to??” Well let’s just wait and see. No one else wants any part of this.
The hostel manager opens the gate for us, shaking his head. We charge down the streets ready for anything. The streets are completely dead, no foot or tire traffic, no music, barely even any lights. Finding trouble here will require all of our expertise in being dickheads.
We hear and then see a group of clearly drunk white guys approaching. It’s the Rowboating Irishman from the bowling alley and a bit of a crew he’s got together. “What the fuck are you boys doing out??” “What the fuck are YOU boys doing out??” Along with some meat on sticks they’ve got a couple beers in hand but they’re going to be extinguished very soon. The mad mick asks us if we want to play a game… Well, maybe. Between suplexes and throwing bowling balls at ceilings we’ve already discovered this guy is a complete lunatic and even though we’re looking for trouble we could be biting off more than we can chew with this guy. “It’s called Odds. I say I’m going to do something and you give me odds that I’ll do it, I give you odds that I do it. We try to get closer together and if you hit my number, I have to do it.” Even in the pissed up state I was in this didn’t sound quite right to me, it just sounds like an excuse for him to do something fucked up since he could just take our number any time he wanted. “Hrm… Give us an example.” He downs his remaining beer. “Well, let’s say I give you 1:80 odds I’ll throw this beer bottle at the next scooter I see driving by, what do YOU think are the odds I’ll do that?” “We really don’t want you to do that.” “No, I gave you a number, now you have to play.” “Hmmm no I don’t think so.” At this point a scooter is approaching and he’s eyeing it up. Here comes an international incident, let’s just start walking away. He doesn’t throw but he looks pretty keen on the plan, as we start walking he and his boys grab some seats on some stairs and shove the meatsticks in their mouthholes.
We see another two white people approaching much more quietly. It’s Pedro and one of the Dutch girls from the bowling alley, looks like Pedro’s picking up, attaboy. As we approach they see us and we wave but they’re in mid-conversation. The gist of it is that she’s not going home with him. She walks away and he shrugs and we jokingly console him. (And we bust his balls for a while – she wasn’t very attractive, he could do a lot better.) “Want to go see what we can do here at 2:30 am?” we ask. He’s totally in.
Around the corner we find a few lingering meatstick vendors from the remnants of the night market. We grab a shitload of different shit and dig in voraciously. They’re just closing up so one of the guys brings us a bunch of leftovers and says “Free, it’s okay”. We stuff our faces and keep going.
It’s past 3 at this point and now there’s almost literally nothing. We’re at the point of calling it quits when a pickup truck pulls up with a sketchy-looking dude at the wheel. “Party with girls?” he grins, revealing constellations of missing teeth. “I’m in”, I declare, putting one hand on the back of the truck. “Get your hand off the truck MacKay”, Murphy warns. Hmm probably wise advice. The driver looks disappointed so he starts throwing out other suggestions. “Weed?” “Coke?” “Opium?” “Ecstasy?” By this point we’re walking down the street and he’s driving beside us at walking speed. “Shrooms?” Our legs come to an immediate halt and our heads snap to ninety degrees.
He pops the cover off of his steering wheel and pulls out two bags of shrooms, hard to say how much is packed in but ballpark probably about 5 grams a bag. He’ll sell them for about $5. This seems like a horrible idea but horrible ideas are what we signed up for. Okay we’ll take them. He drives off.
We decide we shouldn’t eat these in the streets. Next to us is a small temple complex so we climb the stairs, sit down at a table in the middle of the courtyard and begin pulling out caps and stems to nibble on. They sure taste like shrooms. We eat about half of them and decide that this temple complex isn’t quite baller enough for what we’re doing, let’s climb up Mount Phousi, a golden stupa-topped hill that’s lit up all night and overlooks the entire city.
It’s about twenty minutes to the base of the stairs and then it’s quite a walk to the talk. The stairs are unlit and with the canopy over us it’s nearly pitch black, have to be kind of careful as the stairs wind back and forth uphill. At this point Murphy is walking in front of me and his legs start to look kind of different, almost like there are dim red and green Christmas lights on them or something. Hmmm. I blink and shake my head and the effect is gone. Maybe I’m just really tired.
I can’t really say how long it took to get to the top but it seemed like a lot longer than it should have. The view below was great even though there were surprisingly few lights for a city of LP’s size and the stupa around us was beautiful. We were still feeling disappointingly un-shroomed though so we took a seat and get into the second bag. Temple cats were scurrying about and one little white-and-orange temple kitten took a liking to Murphy, jumping up in his lap and immediately went to sleep. Murphy shook his leg up and down. The kitten opened its eyes, looked at him and dug its claws in. It wasn’t going anywhere.
We shot the shit and laughed into the darkness for about half an hour and still didn’t really feel much. I think we got ripped off, for better or worse. It’s something like 5 am at this point so we figure we might as well accept our impending sobriety and go see what the town looks like as daylight approaches. We’re hurrying down the stairs and the temple kitten is staying right with us. It blasts down the left side of the stairs at about double the speed we’re going and disappears into the void. Seconds later it reappears on the right side going the opposite direction as us in a blurry flash of white. This repeated right to the very bottom of the steps.
The town is beginning to come to life. Truck-tuks are out picking up monks, we ask a couple if we can go where they’re going and pretend to climb into the backs of the trucks with them, the truck drivers and monks are unappreciative of our tomfoolerous ways. There still aren’t any establishments open (e.g. to get a drink) but trucks begin appearing with 12-15 women who are dressed like they’re going off to work in the fields or the woods. A handful of stalls are preparing for the day. Some empty tuk-tuks are about but we can’t seem to flag them down, they take one look at us and immediately know it’s best to just keep driving.
Sometime around 6:30 a.m. we stumble back inside the hostel, the gates are open and people are out waiting for drivers to begin their days of sightseeing. I remove the unused Ameribucks from the bottom of my boots and we all crash into our beds.