Saturday, 6 September 2008

Time and Space

Read carefully, this might be hard to follow. Stop reading if it starts to hurt and please consult a doctor first.

As we have followed our route through this part of the world one of the amusing things for me has been the generous manipulation of time and distances quoted for journeys. There is no method in the distortion, just madness. Being an expert on all things mad I will attempt to comprehend and explain for you all.

It is as if the local cartographers and chronography guilds have been on strike for the past few years. This is all the more poignant given the abundance of time keeping devices and lonely planet guide books that are sold every 10 paces. Actually after giving it a couple of seconds more thought it is no wonder the guilds are on strike given the dubious authenticity of the books and watches being sold at every ten paces.

Still it makes traveling all the more exciting. One never knows if 5 minutes in in fact 5 minutes or a whole hour. Is 20 kilometers 20 kilometers, 20 miles or 200 kilometers ? Traveling by road seems to be the worst culprit, especially when in a bus. The time quoted as far as I can fathom is the optimum time for the driver to drive an empty bus from point a to point b without stopping. There is a delicate balance which exists between when someone will think a bus trip is too long and will chose to fly or catch a train. The optimum times sit upon these thresholds.

Rail can be challenging. I actually have a theory that railway stations should be named railway stationaries. You can spend a lot of time - stationary - waiting for a train, even at the station of origin. Mountains of irony for all!

When we checked in for our sole flight from Laos to Vietnam I was flummoxed and appreciative of the computerised flight information screens. They had printed apology stickers on every screen saying that the information could not be trusted.

If you are traveling in this part of the world add at least 2 hours onto any trip time quoted. Do not trust distances, they may be as the crow flys. Think of them combined as the hungry drunk crow flying and you will not be surprised.

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