The place I stayed in Don Det was horrid. Absolutely horrid. The door didn’t close (let alone lock), the windows were ripped screens, there were holes in the wall, the toilet was gross, there was no sink, the “shower” was a tap at knee-level, the mosquito net had massive holes in it, and a water buffalo tended to loiter near my balcony.
But this I could deal with. I used my extendable lock to (somewhat) fasten the door closed, I sprayed down the bathroom with the bum gun before every use, I did constant bug checks, I kept my space from the water buffalo, and at night I wrapped myself in the mosquito net the best I could, praying the big bugs would stay away.
Side Note: for those that haven’t been to Asia, the bum gun is a hose-like thing you spray yourself with post-doing your business.
But alas, the big bugs did NOT stay away. I’ve dealt with ants in my room, I’ve seen cockroaches here and there, and I once had a grasshopper the size of my index finger in my hair. This was different. It felt like a massive bug invasion of my personal space.
There was the cockroach I killed that was dragged across the room by an army of ants (see photo below), the steady stream of spiders on the bathroom wall, and the two giant grasshopper-like creatures that I chased around the room with a flip flop.
But it was the night a spider the size of my hand crawled out from under my bed that I broke.
Within 2 minutes I’d gathered my belongings and fled (literally fled, speed walking like a champ) the premises. But it was getting late, a rain storm was coming, and I had no clue where to go.
I was in the guest house restaurant, describing my plight to my fellow Canadians when some Israeli dude walked over (let’s call him Israel) offering me his room for the night. This sounds sketch. I know it sounds sketch. But after a couple Beerlao’s, pure desperation for a room without (what I believe to be) man-eating insects, and the encouragement of my fellow Canadians (they said they’d met him on a slow boat once, though later admitted they hadn’t actually spoken to the guy), I agreed.
Walking to his hotel, Israel mentioned there was only one bed (regret. definite feelings of regret) but quickly followed with mentioning he had a girlfriend (sliggggghtly less regret). We arrived and, aside from the condom wrappers and cigarette butts strewn about (apparently his Parisian girlfriend had just left and the man is a slob), his room was a dream. Hot shower, air conditioning, tiled floors, real walls…it was too good to be true. I mentally prepared myself for the fact that I was about to be mugged and murdered.
I wanted to enjoy my last few precious hours of life so I headed to the local Reggae Bar (sans Israel). It was fun. But as the Laos curfew neared, I knew I had to brace myself and go join Israel in my death bed.
I arrived to him watching Modern Family. This was a good sign. Axe murderers don’t watch Modern Family…right? I awkwardly brushed my teeth and crawled into my side of the bed.
Turns out, Israel was just a super nice guy looking to do a good deed (thank god). We had a life chat, listened to some Israeli music and had a full-fledged bedside singalong to The Beatles (he played guitar, I sang backup. It was all kinds of adorable).
In the morning, he woke me up saying he had a boat to catch but was leaving me money to pay for the room and I could check out at my leisure. This was still too good to be true; there had to be a catch.
Call me paranoid, but I checked under the bed for a dead body. Nothing. I checked out of the room. No extra charges. He’d paid in full. So, when all was said and done, I met my Fairy Godfather in Laos in the form of a man from Israel.