I’m sitting right at the back of a fifteen-seater van in which there are definitely more than fifteen people. We’re all squashed together like sardines sweating profusely and panting from the heat. We’re being driven through Laos. It’s very similar to Cambodia actually, but there are more hills here. The inevitable bladder ache has set in. I try my best to ignore it because there is no way of knowing when we will stop for a toilet break, could be in five minutes, could be not at all!
The van suddenly pulls to a stop in a small village. We all squeeze out one by one to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. I look at the roof of the van overloaded with everyone’s backpacks and smile to myself, I love travelling in Asia. I decide to look for a toilet with some other passengers and spot two girls wandering up the path, I follow them. I walk under a wooden building past a local man washing something in a plastic tub. I notice that it looks like someone’s home. Kayleigh is following me closely along with a British traveller with a bandaged and painful looking foot (tubing accident, obviously). We find a small queue in what looks like someone’s kitchen. Yes, it is someone’s kitchen. I am in a stranger’s home about to use their bathroom, I feel a bit silly and rude. A Laotian lady is stood over a sink washing some rice and is smiling happily at us. We try to use sign language and facial expressions to ask her if it’s okay for us to be here. She just smiles, points to the toilet door and nods, then gets on with cooking her lunch.
We use the toilet one by one and thank her repeatedly as we leave. Still smiling she laughs at us softly, then holds out her bowl of rice to offer us some lunch! Unfortunately, the horn is beeping so it’s time to get back on the van, so we thank her again and run back out to the road.