With our final night in Luang Prabang upon us, we decided to celebrate our farewell to Laos with a standard Laotian cultural evening activity of 10-frame bowling, yes, bowling. Joined by our two Kiwi friends (i.e. New Zealander for those of you unfamiliar with Bret & Jemaine), we embarked to the infamous Luang Prabang bowling alley, known throughout the city as the "after-hours bar", as every other alcohol-serving institution shuts their doors at 11PM on the dot.
After an initial 56 under my belt -- a fairly easy score to obtain when 6 frames are required to break a score of 5 -- I was slowly warming up to the slightly uneven terrain of our lane (since apparently Laos standards require multiple dips and curves, and an overall veer to the left in their bowling alleys). Julie, seemingly unable to break 100 on well-designed lanes, obviously bowled one of the best games of her life. But all of these details are naught, as the true purpose of this post is the story of the man named Bob.
Despite enjoying the majority of the bowling alley to ourselves, as the nightly 11PM-onslaught of backpackers was still several hours away, we were soon joined by approximately 1 dozen of the drunkest Laotians in Luang Prabang. Stumbling into the alley with grins across all their faces, we were immediately approached by one of the most inebriated of them all - A man who referred to himself as Bob. For the next 60 minutes, we enjoyed the repetitive occurrence as follows:
1. Bob bowls gutter ball, turns to us, laughs hysterically
2. Bob bowls 2nd gutter ball, laughs further, walks over to us, shakes someone's hand (he was not discriminatory in this regard), asks one of four questions:
- What's your name? (This one eventually faded away after about 5-6 identical answers)
- How you know Laos? (Translation = How did you hear about Laos?)
- Texas? Texas BIG state! (not really a question, but the look in his eye after such a statement implied an answer was required - to which we would say, "yes, Texas IS a big state."
- How you... know Laos? (technically same as 1st question, but with greater pause)
3. Bob's friends call him as his turn to bowl is up
4. Repeat steps 1-3 for next 9 frames (per game that is)
As Bob continued to drink a nice combination of whiskey chased by beer, he somehow not only became more eloquent, but also seemed to be doing better on the lanes as well (at one point I believe he had 4 off-balance strikes in a row). Nonetheless, after each and every bowl, we slowly were able to piece more and more information together about, what we can only describe as, the happiest drunk in the world.
To summarize - Bob lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, has 3 children, they travel to Laos every year, his children don't like Laos since it is too hot, Bob moved to Knoxville from Laos when he was 10, he loves Elvis Presley, he loves buying people beer (especially those of the "whiter complexion"), he also loves spilling said beer all over their table with a hilariously apologetic grin on his face. Oh yes, and finally, Bob is a "mechanic" (i.e. paints Nissans at a dealership).
After about an hour or so or learning the high-level details of Bob's life, and he learning the same 4 questions of ours, his "bowling/drinking bell curve" finally caught up with him, as once-strikes were now replaced by countless gutter balls. As his friends, who had apparently turned into world-class bowlers since stumbling into the alley only an hour ago, decided to banish Bob to the sidelines, he joined us for the remainder of the evening, continuing to repeat his 3-4 questions again and again. And while some would find such an "interaction" somewhat annoying or obtrusive, the drunken happiness of Bob was all we needed to make our night one for the ages.
Onto the pics: