How to turn 31.
Celebrating my 31st Birthday in Vang Vieng, Laos.
This is how I normally look on my birthday…
I’m pretty sure that I’ve never in my life turned a new age without being bundled in a sweater of some sort, usually accompanied by a down coat, gloves, a knit hat, a scarf. Chicago is cold in January.
So, when I knew I’d be traveling this year on my birthday I had only one goal in mind: to be in a bathing suit. Vang Vieng seemed like as perfect place as any to spend the day. Especially considering that I’m verging on the age where I’m too old to do that shit anymore.
When I woke up that morning Gus was, thankfully, alive. I really was worried that he’d had a concussion and would end up dead or in a coma. Not that I really know what falling asleep with a concussion does but I’ve seen enough movies to know that you’re not supposed to do it. He was pretty much worse for the wear though, so he stayed in bed leaving me on my own.
Luckily, when you’re in a backpackers mecca you are so rarely actually alone.
I had lunch with Guti, an Israeli I’d met the night before. We watched an episode of friends, ate chicken, waited for his bus. And then I latched onto a few people from my hostel and off we went to the river.
I spent the day drinking whiskey buckets, kissing random boys (I lost count but I’m pretty sure my days total was somewhere between 15 and 20…), rocking beer pong, getting a lap dance (see video: I swear I don’t remember it lasting that long…or making out with him quite so much…), getting spray painted, dancing, partying, meeting new friends, having an awesome time…
And later, back at the hostel, as I fell asleep debating over dinner, I woke up to Ami, another Israeli, and a whole group of people, singing Happy Birthday, bringing cake balls lit with Hanukkah candles.
And later, I forced myself out to Q Bar, to talk with random travelers, to dance with random people, to eat more cake lit by more candles brought from a English man I just met…
I was tired. And drunk. And forced myself to stay out until just past midnight before going back, crashing in my hostel.
It was the first birthday I’d ever had away from home, away from wherever it was I was living in Illinois (be it Chicago, the burbs, or Chambana). It was my first birthday without a winter coat. And it was my first birthday surrounded by strangers.
It could have been a lonely day, but everyone went so far to make sure I was having fun, to make sure that everything was special. And its days like that that truly make you realize how amazing this world is. How amazing the people of this world are.