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The Bucket

Lake Lugu straddles the border of Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces in South West China, and is home to one of the few remaining matriarchal societies. This group of people are known as the ‘Mosu’, a subgroup of the Naxi tribe. We didn’t see any Black Widow type behaviour, but it was obvious the women hold a strong position in the area. The lake itself lies 2,685 metres above sea level and is crystal clear, mainly due to a prohibition on swimming. Hazell disregarded this constraint as she went in after her sunglasses one sunny afternoon.

We left Lugu Lake early in the morning, in order to reach the main town before the daily road closure took place. Here we transferred for the 7am bus to Xichang, a city in the south of Sichuan, which makes none of the guidebooks for good reason. The next 48 hours turned into a classic Chinese bus journey. Our end goal was Kangding in the West of the province, and the only way to get there from Lugu was two eight hour bus journeys. We left high in spirits and looking forward to a scenic ride through the mountains. We were used to the distance factor in China, having been in many travel conversations which contained the phrase, ‘Oh it’s pretty close, only a ten hour bus ride away.’

Within roughly 25 minutes of leaving Lugu things started to turn ugly. As we’d boarded the coach there was a box of tissues and some small plastic bags available at the front. These utensils came into play early on in the game. We had begun ascending into the mountains and the roads were sweeping back and forth causing the bus to rock with increasing volatility. This was the cue for the woman behind me to expel her breakfast into a bag reminiscent of those you put your carrots in at Sainsbury’s; only this one was filled to the brim with her breakfast of noodles and dumplings. Then, in a show of heart warming empathy and compassion, the man who must have been her boyfriend, added to the bulging transparent bag with his own load. This merry little dance continued for nearly all of the journey. It stopped long enough for the overflow to form a magnificent crust in the isle, toasted to perfection by the enduring heat. Added to this concoction were numerous cigarette butts, glistening globules of phlegm and the offcasts of unidentifiable, vacuum packed meat snacks.

The road began to deteriorate further and a sheer drop developed to our right hand side. Twisting and turning, the driver danced with oncoming lorries while yelling down a mobile phone and chain smoking. At times the traffic ground to a halt in front of landslides which had wiped out locals houses and blocked the roads, all a symptom of the recent heavy rain. We began to fear the journey would have to be aborted, but we continued, as did the sick and the smoking. At this point the colour had drained from Hazell’s face. I duly performed my role as loving boyfriend and attempted to comfort her. I had successfully diagnosed her condition as travel sickness, but inexplicably my remedy of prolonged viewing of the 1998 DMC Technics World DJ Championships was rapidly declined. There really is no helping some people.

We eventually descended towards Xichang and there was a lift in mood on the bus as the locals drew nearer to their hometown. Hazell and I were less enthused. We drew closer to a town that appeared to have been a testing ground for the latest in atomic warfare equipment. Our hearts were filled with relief as we staggered off the bus, while at the same time heavy with the realisation we had arrived in another of China’s many assholes. Having enjoyed the experience so much, we scurried to the ticket office to book our place on tomorrow’s death wagon to Kangding.

We awoke with renewed optimism the following day, having had a good nights sleep in a reasonable room. The bus was leaving from a real bus station and appeared to be cleaner than yesterday’s effort. This superficial level of hygiene was, inevitably only temporary. Things began well as the flat and comfortable roads led us away from the city centre. Hazell and I were feeling rather smug as so far there had been no projectile vomiting. Then, to paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, we were just outside Xichang when last nights chilli beef began to take hold. I twisted and turned, crossing my legs as I took deep breaths. The bus moved into the mountain ranges and began to bounce and twist. I looked at Hazell with fear in my eyes. No words were needed, ‘Oh no’, she muttered. ‘Take the Immodium, quickly’. ‘I fear things may have progressed too far’ I replied. ‘I need to get off, I need to get off.’ A sweat formed on my brow as the driver sped higher and higher into the mountains. ‘We can’t just stop, where will I go. I need to go now’. ‘Just hold on’, Hazell pleaded. ‘Not an option’, I snapped back. ‘There is only one thing for it. I’m going to have to use the bucket.’ Hazell’s face sank into her hands, muffling the words, ‘Oh God no’.

The superiority of the second bus was confirmed by the use of buckets above small plastic bags. This minor improvement afforded larger volumes of bodily fluid to be expelled by passengers. One such bucket lay next to a seat at the back of the bus, which at this early stage of the journey was uninhabited by other travellers. I’d made my decision and hopped to the back, lowered my garms and perched over the receptacle. Hazell opened the window in preparation and then the gates of hell opened. A huge grin spread across my face as I stared at Hazell who didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. This was it. I’d reached a new stratosphere of manhood. Head in the clouds, ass in a bucket, the relief was joyous. The euphoria was soon shattered as a man headed for the back of the bus. Unbelievably, I had been fairly discreet up to this point. ‘Get up!’ Hazell yelled. ‘You can’t stop a man in mid flow’, I pleaded, ‘it’s bad Karma. Or something.’ Therefore, I held my ground, though at this point I feared I may have committed a terrible social faux pax.

All fears were rapidly dispelled however as the man walked past and smiled while I chirped ‘Ni Hao’. He then promptly went to sleep on the back seat while I finished my business. I love China. You are free, at times even encouraged, to push the bounds of human decency. Shitting in a bucket on a bus? No problem. I shan’t even bat an eyelid. My sentimental rumination was soon disturbed by a stark realisation. I had not approached this situation with a necessary level of foresight. Pants down, on a hot bus, with a bucket of your own slop is a tricky situation to be in. Therefore I proceeded in true British fashion. I covered it with tissue and pretended it never happened. It transpired that I need not of worried, as another group of men boarded, sat next to my potty and enjoyed the ride. Good old China.

I did however, act with a certain level of concern for my fellow passengers. At the next toilet break, I was of course ahead of the game. I therefore did the walk of shame down to the front of the bus, as other travellers disembarked to use the external facilities. Many looked away or held their noses as I exited and washed the bucket out in the nearest stream. I smiled politely as I returned the bucket to it’s original position, ready for it’s next intake of bodily refuse. Needless to say, it remained dormant for the rest of the journey, and we were both relieved to arrive in Kangding and breathe the fresh mountain air.

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  1. June 30, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Great post, very informative. Keep up the good work, Thanks.

  2. Chars
    July 8, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    The plus side of this poo entry was that it was highly amusing (and Chapman-esque). The down side was I read it whilst enjoying a relaxing lunch in the sun. Food and bowel stories are not friends. Love reading it all though- hugely jealous! Haffun, love Chars xx

  3. Weaver
    July 28, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Amazing! 🙂 definitely my favorite post so far!! Looking forward to the next installment!! Good skills!
    Xx

  1. January 7, 2011 at 8:25 am

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