This road aint big enough for the both of us...
So we were driving down highway 13 in Laos, from Pakse towards the Cambodian border, doing about 55 Km/h in a 50 Km/h zone. Nothing wrong with that you would think…
Well… Better think again.
While approaching a bunch of motorcycles parked on the right side of the road I slowed down a bit, cause you never know if one of them will suddenly get it in his (or her) head to turn onto the road, without looking in any direction, and make a huge red splash on the front of our Little Boat.
Suddenly…. Out of the blue comes a big red touring-bus blasting past us with at least 80 or 90 Km/h
The driver is angrily blowing his horn because a motorcycle comes up ahead and there is no way we all fit on this 2-lane road.
When about half the bus has passed us, it starts to move back to the right lane… Yes, the lane we occupy… and crashes into us, pushing us to the right, where a guy on a motorcycle, (in that group of motorcycles that was parked on the right) starts to look at us with a worrying frown on his face.
Luckily for him I can keep the Little Boat straight and we do not plow into those motorcycles, we do not kill the guy instantly and we do not make that dreaded big red splash on the front of our Little Boat.
Just as luckily for the upcoming motorcyclist, a young woman and probably mother of 5 children, the bus just misses her… and takes off at an even higher speed.
Ohhh, this pisses me off!!!
So, we speed up and pursue that ugly red bus. It is going fast and tries to escape, but we are faster and when we get the chance… we pass him, drive in the middle of the road in front of him and slow down to a complete stop. Just like Starsky & Hutch would have done… if they would have been in Laos…. Which they were not, but that is a totally different story.
When I get out and walk towards the bus I see the damage he did and I see red…. Literally cause the bus left a big red smudge or scrape if you will, on the side of our Little Boat.
When the driver of the bus gets out and looks at me with a “what do you want” look on his face I am faced with a problem… Cause I don´t speak Lao and he, for sure, does not speak anything else than Lao.
So I resort to sign-language. That is… I grab his arm and drag him towards the ugly red smear on the side of our Little Boat and start shouting to him in English.
Something like: “You bloody asshole, you nearly killed us and a bunch of motorcyclist with your maniacal way of driving bla bla bla...” It does not really matter what I say cause he does not understand one word of it, but he surely understands what the situation is.
Then his co-driver joins us and starts to talk in English… a surprise…. And tells me to please calm down. Please don´t shout to us, we are Lao people and Lao people are always nice and friendly and could I please calm down and move my car out of the way and could I please calm down…..
I swear, if he would have told me “to calm down” one more time, I would have ripped his head of his body and used it to re-enact a famous football match… any famous football match. I wanted many things, but calming down was definitely not one of them.
Luckily, for him, Tip joined our little group-gathering in the middle of highway 13 and started to talk to the driver who seemed to understand what had happened and that it was his fault and offered to pay for our damage.
He thought 200.000 kip (24 USD) would do it so I laughed a bit and made him a counter offer of 4 million kip (about 500 USD). (The mirror was damaged and the new, 1500 USD, paintwork was damaged over half a meter).
He laughed and said he did not have that kind of money. I did not like his laugh.
Now a new face joined our ever growing group-gathering on the middle of highway 13. The tour-group-leader. An overweight (to say it polite) middle-aged (to remain politically correct) arrogant (as we soon found out) bitch (no insult intended to female dogs) who demanded we would let “her bus” go on its way to bring “her civilized world tourists” to their hotel. And if I wanted I could follow the bus and settle my petty problem with the driver there.
OK, now I was pissed off again and silently vowed I would not let that happen, not even if I had to throw Tip in front of the bus to stop it from moving.
So I told her, “OK, just give me 4 million kip to cover the damage and we can all be on our way”… which of course she declined to do.
By now Tip had stopped a man on a motorcycle that was passing by and asked him to go to the police-station and ask the police to come and join our group-gathering in the middle of highway 13, which he promised to do.
More “civilized world” tourists came out of the bus and started to wander around, looking at the big red smudge on the side of the Little Boat, moving the mirror (that kind of hung there) and mumbling among each other.
The (chubby, middle-aged, arrogant bitch) just made noise. Lots of noise, but I did not really listen to it, so I have no idea what she said (well… shouted).
But after a while it started to get darker and things did not really move ahead much, so I decided to compromise a little bit. I suggested that if the drivers assistant would accompany us in the Little Boat, we could all go to the police station together. (I did not want to chase that bus a second time if it decided to make another run for it, so I wanted a hostage).
All involved, and the fat old arrogant bitch who had absolutely no say in the matter, agreed to this and in merely seconds the bus took off.
But then… the drivers-assistant jumped out of our car and started to walk away, shouting something like: “I have had enough of this I am not coming with you”.
Hmmmm… Not the best move to make in front of a pissed off Dutchman.
To make a short story even shorter and to avoid incriminating myself, about 1 or 2 minutes later the drivers-assistant made it back into our Little Boat with some mild encouragement from me, and complained the next 4 hours about his arm that he somehow managed to “sprain”.
At the police station we each told our story while every now and then the fat old hag of a tour-leader (sorry, politically correctness just masks the truth) interceded with dumb arguments until we asked the police to please escort her out of the door, which they did.
Since we had a video from our dash-cam that clearly showed what had conspired (don´t you just love those legal terms) it was quickly determined who was at fault. And even though the drivers-assistant complained about being assaulted, something the police did not seem to be very interested in, it was deemed (again such a wonderful legal word) that the bus-driver should pay my damage… which of course he still could not do as he did not have that much cash on him.
Well, if you can’t solve this by yourselves, we will have to do an investigation and your car must remain here for the weekend, the police stated in an attempt to persuade us to except the bus-drivers offer.
I had heard it all before and played along many times, so I simply replied: “OK, but I guess the the bus must stay here as well, do you have room for all these tourist”?
Laos finest (the police) was definitely not in the top ten of smart people, neither in the top 5 billion for that matter, so they quickly gave up and two of them struggled for more than an hour writing a police-report… on a piece of paper.
How to solve the matter of paying for our damage was beyond them and they thought we should just take the 200.000 kip so they could go home.
I then made the silly remark that we could let the insurance take care of this.
Who would have thought of that?
Naturally the insurance wanted to asses the damage and told us to sit tight for the next few hours… then, an hour later, changed their mind and told us to come to their office back in Pakse (200 km in the opposite direction we were going) on Monday (it was Friday and they would close for the weekend cause in Laos no one has accidents in the weekend).
I had not expected much out of it, but this was beyond any expectations I had. (Maybe we should rename our website to Beyond Anything?)
Now, at 10 PM, things were finished… except for the fee for making the report, the incompetent shame of any police-department told us. A hefty fee of 100.000 kip (12 USD).
I had been very calm and basically enjoyed stalling the fat arrogant bitch of a tour-guide, but more stalling was not possible so I kind of exploded and told them in very colorful English (which they did not understand word for word but the intention was pretty clear) that no way in fucking hell I would pay them a single kip for their shameful performance as civil servants, emphasizing the word servant… as in “to serve”.
Sensing the imminent danger of me killing everyone in the room in my obvious insane display of anger, the bus-driver quickly offered to pay the fee and after doing so almost ran out of the room to his bus.
I felt better after venting my testosterone and delaying that bus for more than 4 hours. I know it is childish and inconsiderate of me, but I just don’t like to be pushed. Not by a big red bus and not by a fat old arrogant hag of a tour-leader bitch.
I am the living embodiment of Newtons third law which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Except in my case the reaction is amplified by an exponential factor derived by various variables from the immediate surroundings. (In this case the knowledge that we would never ever see a cent to pay for our damage.)
Of course we did not go back to Pakse on Monday. We called the number we were given several times but the phone was never answered.
Since we (bus and us) both had the same insurance-company, we notified the Thai representative after we returned home. The promised to take care of it…. 5 times.
When we finally were able to talk to the insurance-company (via Whats App) they promised to take care of it 3 times.
Then they told us the bus was not insured at their company, but they would send us the contact details of the other company… 4 times.
They never did.