Snakes in Bottles

IMG_4344I’m getting seriously excited about our upcoming trip to Thailand and I keep thinking about the trip I had almost a year ago which leads me to wishing that I had written about some of it at the time.  I suppose dragging a laptop around with me on holiday might have felt too much like work, but still, I should have done a bit of documenting. I plan to do a much better job of documenting my travels on our trip to Thailand in September, but it won’t be a rehash of the trip I had last May so it will be missing a few things.

One of those “things” will be a trip to Laos, which is one of the stranger places I’ve been to in my life, and I’m kind of sad that I won’t get to take my husband there because I think he might find it fascinating. I guess maybe we’ll get around to visiting the place at some point, but it definitely won’t be this year.

Also….at this point….I have no idea how we even ended up there in the first place…

The thing about being a middle class English (and by “English” I mean speaking and not from England) chick travelling around Thailand is that sometimes you have no idea where you are or how to get back to where you came from, but you still somehow feel pretty confident that everything will work out just fine. This happened to me a lot in Thailand, mainly because I’m a bit of a “cool, whatever” kind of girl when it comes to travelling so when someone suggests we do something I just say “cool, whatever”.  I do also tend to be a little geographically impaired though, so that might have a little to do with it as well.

945357_10152856057880094_1263558983_nOn one of our many soirées into the heart of Thailand I found myself lost as usual and seated comfortably in an old boat headed to Laos. This was exciting because it meant that I would get to add another name to my “Countries I’ve Been To” list, but I must admit that I was disappointed when I found out that no one would be stamping my passport. It kind of made it feel like it didn’t count.

Anyway, I gleefully disembarked, hopped skipped and jumped up a flight of stone stairs, and then found myself surrounded by one of the most baffling cultural customs I have ever encountered: snakes in bottles.

IMG_4388I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around it. Now I recognize that I tend to get a little over-emotional about things from time to time, but standing in a room surrounded by bottles of pickled snakes was just too much. I need a why and the why needs to be a damn sight better than some sort of magic potion for improved virility.

IMG_4398Our tour guide, who seemed to find the strangest things funny, was delighted to show us bowls filled with whiskey and dead animals. Not too many of our party took him up on his offer to have a taste. Apparently drinking armadillo-infused whiskey is good for your mental health and wellbeing. Drinking rattle-snake infused whiskey is good for your penis. I have no idea what the pickled python or the turtles were for.

IMG_4390The thing is…there were so many! Bottles upon bottles of the things were lined up everywhere. In my real life I am terrified of snakes beyond reason, but this filled me only with a numb kind of sadness and a very real need to get back on that rickety old boat so that I could float far far away from here.

IMG_4391Even today the thought makes me shudder. All those snakes bred for the sole purpose of being drowned in alcohol. For what? To be bought as a trinket by tourists? I suppose they must be a popular item if they feel the need to have so many on display all the time. But then what? Then you have a whiskey bottle with a snake in it. Do you drink the whiskey? I should hope not!

I do recommend you make damn sure that bottle never breaks though. I wouldn’t like to have to clean up that particular mess.

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