Transportation Math (or Maths, if you’re British)

I’m heading to Vietnam next week, which means I have an important choice to make. The bus from Vientiene—a 30-hour killer that has been fondly nicknamed “The Bus Ride From Hell”—costs 50 USD, while the VietJet direct flight clocks in at a whopping 140 USD, including one checked bag.

Despite my dad’s casual suggestion to splurge for the flight, I wasn’t even considering it until I found myself asking to use the toilet in a stranger’s house for the second time within one week because of two four-hour minivan rides with no bathroom breaks. (I will never ever deprive anyone of the toilet ever again.)

Even with Valium widely available over the counter at any pharmacy, maybe 30 hours isn’t such a good idea.

Still, the price difference is A LOT by Southeast Asian standards. Here’s what 90 USD can buy me:

– 240 bottles of water
– 16 nights in a hostel, including breakfast
– 36 entrance fees into a waterfall
– 72 big Beer Laos
– 1.6 kayak day trips
– 7.5 Muay Thai lessons
– 2 overnight elephant treks
– 10 oil massages
– 59 days renting a bicycle
– 43 trips to the all-you-can-eat ice cream buffet in Mae Sot
– 93 big Siam Sato rice beers from 7-Eleven
– 37 bowls of green curry with rice from the Night Bazaar
– 198 bags of fresh pineapple from a street vendor
– 15 all-inclusive nights at the organic farm
– 1.8 two-day slowboat trips across the Thai-Laos border

But put another way: spending 90 USD to shave off about 25 hours of sitting on a bus means that I consider my time worth at least just over 3 USD an hour…



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