I’m going to start a little series for the next few posts, and return to it later, about my mishaps here. I’ve been posting these for awhile, but now I can link them to one another. Besides, telling you that I’m just going to talk about my foolish bumblings, I’ll feel less inclined to try hard to find another topic.
So, M3- Part 1
In Vientiane, most tourists rent motorbikes or bicycles for the day. Given my inability to walk a straight line, avoid corners or fit through doorways without bruising my shoulders, I thought a bike would be the safest option for me.
On Thursday, I rented a bike for 10,000 Kip = 40 baht = $1.30 (see how confusing this is!?), promising to take it back that evening. Around evening, I hadn’t returned the bike and had completely forgotten about that little responsibility. My Kiwi friends told me not to worry, they’d done the same thing and just expected to pay the extra days when they returned their bicycles.
Thus, I kept the one-speed bike with it’s basket, pink bell and wonky chain and lock. Although the steed typically stopped in time, it was often a bit shaky and didn’t scream anything about a high-class ride. Therefore, after having the bike fall on me twice while locking/unlocking it, my friends and I decided it wasn’t THAT important. There are Feraris and Vespas along the the streets of Vientiane, who would want a rusty, wobbly bicycle? They’d stopped locking up their bikes, and I stopped along with them.
Friday night, all of my friends left and I was exploring the night market on my own. Perhaps that was when my sensibilities left me. Perhaps it was when I crossed the International Dateline back in July. I’m not sure if it happened during the nightmarket visit, or later. All I know is I had it when I parked at the night market on Friday, and it wasn’t in the basket on Saturday morning when I went to return the bicycle. Oh, boy.
So, I certainly wasn’t going to lie about the situation. Instead I was going to wait until it became clear to the bike owners, maybe it wasn’t that big of an issue, since they’d almost forgotten to give me a lock in the first place. Nervously triple-counting my money, I arrived to return the bike, pay for my extra two days and see what they thought of the missing lock. Oh, and retrieve my drivers license!
This is chaos that ensued:
Me: Hello, I need to return this bike, I rented (from your mother/grandmother).
Boy 1: Okay, okay. One moment [looks in the book]. Oh, okay. You wait.
Boy 2: [arrives with a note and my drivers license] Okay, you have bike.
Me: Yes, I have bike, and I think I need to pay for extra 2 days. I have three days, and pay for one on first day.
Boy 2: Yes, okay…hmmm, okay. You have key?
Me: Yes, I have key. But no chain. I don’t know – it was not there when I went to get it from the hotel lobby.
Boy 2: You no have key?
Me: I have key – see? This is key. I no have chain.
Boy 2: No key? You wait.
Mother: [arrives, takes my drivers license, dismisses boys, looks at her book] Okay, you return bike. Good. You have key?
Me: Yes, the key is in the box, see – there.
Mother: Key….no key? You no have key?
Me: Yes, I no have cha – Key. It disappeared from the hotel. I don’t know what happened. I’m sorry.
Mother: Oh. No key….hmmm. You wait.
As this point in time I was very tempted to just leave and give up on the whole disaster, but she still had my drivers license!
Father: [Walks up, takes my drivers license, confers with the mother, looks accusingly at me]: The Key?
Me: I HAVE KEY! See. No chain. Yes. I lost it, I think.
Father: [Makes the shape of the chain in the air] You lose my chain!?
Father: You must pay.
Me: Okay, yes, Fine – how much?
Father: 15,000 Kip [= 60 baht = $2]
Me: Okay, here it is. Thank you for my drivers license. I really am sorry, I didn’t mean to do this…it was an accident….Good-bye.
And that was that. Losing the chain was a bigger deal – and the only payment they desired, not keeping it for two extra days.