Planes, trains and automobiles Buses.

We have been getting down with some bus travel, y’all.

This is enjoyable in part because I am a crappy flier; looking out the plane window before takeoff, I will regard the scrubby dry grass beside the runway with intense love. Why have I never appreciated the ground before? If only I could be down on that gritty desiccated grass I would nuzzle it like it was my newborn baby’s hair.

But also, the bus is more entertaining in many ways. I think we had expected to take more trains, but the bus is often faster and cheaper, and we’re traveling with locals, who regard us with weary tolerance. And we’re seeing the countryside: marshy fields of water lilies, dusty little villages, bare-bones rest-stops where families share plates of noodles and we familiarize ourselves with squat toilets.

Like a plane, the bus has a fair amount of climate variability, except that while on a plane one is typically cold, on a southeast Asian bus one would like to be so lucky as to be cold. (Even on a nice bus, one that costs as much as $12 for a six-hour inter-city jaunt, a little light steaming seems to be the norm at this time of year.) Also like a plane, there’s a restroom at the rear of the vehicle, though local custom obliges the driver to do a fair amount of braking and weaving, so maintaining one’s ladylike hover over the toilet seat takes a fair amount of dedication and muscle control.

Some details are unique to the bus experience, however. The playing of karaoke DVDs during the journey: not like a plane, at least any plane I’ve ever been on. Or, for that matter, any bus I’ve ever been on. By our second lengthy journey I was able to nudge Kevin and say “look, it’s the one with the bonnet again.” (One of our favorite videos seemed to have a Little Bo Peep-meets-Liberace theme.)

Other excitements have included cows in the road, extensive honk-based communication between our bus drivers and the drivers of the surrounding vehicles, and, most excitingly, roadside construction. At one point, as the road narrowed to accommodate some maintenance work and the bus tilted sideways to drive partially on the shoulder, I was not able to prevent myself from leaning in the opposite direction, as though my leaning would be the thing that kept us from rolling over the guardrail and down a hill into a marsh. Actually, though, it totally worked, in that we did not roll over the guardrail and down the hill into the marsh. (Relevant: When I say “guardrail,” it would be best if you’d picture more like a fairly thick string, hung from wooden stakes at about thigh height. Sometimes adorned with multi-colored flags — presumably for extra safety — and sometimes not.)

Here was maybe my favorite part, though:

The seat covers. Ride our bus line, and spend the whole six hours with your butt on Slutty Little Mermaid’s face. As my dad would say: Such a deal we have for you!

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