Living in Squalor in Vientiane, Laos

Good day to you all,

I write this to you sweating on a pink flowered bed of nails on a hot iron frame. Dirty spider webs in the corners of the cracked and paint chipping walls. Windows so dirty they could be used as retro bathroom windows with mildew growing from all corners. Doors that don’t lock and floors that have never been washed with lingering smells that could never be described. I’m living a dive of a hostel which feels more like squatting than anything else. On the topic of squatting, world’s worst squat toilet.

This place feels like Fight Club, if you’ve ever seen the movie you’ll remember the home they squat in, this place is like straight from that street only some people “tidied” it up slightly, just enough to be able to sell it to weary and forgone foreign travelers nonchalant about hygiene. I found this place yesterday, random and thought to myself “what a dump”.

I scanned for bedbugs and couldn’t find any but thought there has to be some here. For some reason I didn’t leave, instead I surrendered and thought to myself “let’s see what it’s like to live in total and complete squalor” just for the fun it. Just to expand my comfort zone and experience what life is like for some people, less fortunate of course. Unless this is your thing,ย  I’ve heard of hippies with bank accounts bigger than their bags who squat in dumps simply because they don’t notice the filth and they like the price. Think dreadful tattoos and dread locks that smell like dumpsters. Oddly enough, simplification is a key component of wealth accumulation. It’s treu(sic)

I digress.

Traveling is getting #%$ING BORING and I need to do something, anything to feel a sense of adventure again. When I did the ropes tubing, I back flipped them both times because I could and everyone else just held on like they were on maddeningly predictable merry-go-rounds as methodically mundane as a less than majestic marriage ceremony for a couple who simply isn’t going to make it and provides a lackluster menu.

I digress, yet again.

This place is 3 floors of filth and fecal matter. I say that because the toilets are like normal toilets but with no seats. If you’re going to make your “less than distinguished guests” hover over something, give them some leverage man!? It’s arguably the worst of all worlds. Also, no toilet paper so just a barrel of disease water. Also, the floor is always wet, but is it water or is it?! I’ll have you know I’ve been going to this “Treu Coffee” place, it’s fruity in a why would people pay what I’m paying for rent for a stale baguette but whatever. Besides buying a crap coffee this morning, I’ve just been walking in and going straight the bathroom while avoiding eye contact with the workers, then being all smiles and salutations on the way out. They don’t seem to care.

First 20 minutes here, I adventure into the dorm, never been in a dorm really and most certainly have never slept in one.ย  I tip my hat (only slightly, so indistinguishable it may of even just looked like a simple nod of acknowledgment) and said good day to you. The group replied “most magnificent, thank you for asking kind sir” while this guy who is half Spanish / French replied “muy magnific mon amigo”. I quipped in my best Canadian accent “This place is a dump, eh?” to which they replied of course and the lady started showing me some bed bugs. This kinda freaked this gent. I inquired and no one else got them and it was in a different dorm but in the same building. Anyways this should have been a warning bell but I decided to stay.

I had a single room which is same price as a double. The single is 1/3 the size, no windows and just kinda like, picture a shed your dad built when you were growing up somewhere, the guys here refer to it as “the hole”. It had no frame, just a really thin piece of foam on the floor and a fan, on the floor next to you. No windows except a big hole with a screen near the ceiling near the hall with a bright light that steals dreams.

There is no division between buildings here, they all just end with the roof higher so in theory you could climb (after getting a tetanus shot) up part of the walls and over into the neighboring buildings and them into yours. The stair case is so steep it should have warning signs and a safety net. I assure you the path the stairs take were NOT in the original blue print. When standing on the top or bottom floor and looking up it’s something else. It kinda reminds me off a really big tree fort you’d build as a kid, no real rhythm or reason just build and that be the path type of thing. Furthermore, the power in our room for the fans and lights isintermitent, electricity is a privledge, when is the last time you thought of that?

It’s weird but after spending the majority of the day just going in and out of consciousness on this uncomfortable bed in what could best be described a “Sh!t hole”, I don’t really mind it here.ย  Right now I’m writing this while checking some stocks and they are playing a game of chess. Later I’ll go eat dinner somewhere for a buck and probably have a drink. If you’re sleeping in squalor like a bum, a slight buzz is a must I believe?

Conclusions? I have none, I’m just sweating in a crappy place for a day or two and get this, it has access to a free unsecure wifi connection from somewhere. Tonight I’m paying 25,000k a night to stay in this spacious triple slum with 2 guys I met from New York last night. Actually, my conclusion is that anย  internet connection is more important to my happiness than any creature comforts and if you’ve never slept in squalor, try it sometime, it’s kinda fun.

Tips hat,


  1. Jessi

    February 13, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Rob, I read your every single post from beginning to end, even though I rarely comment.

    I have to this time, though.

    And it’s a complaint, so brace yourself.


    Stop freakin’ saying “I digress”!! Digress all you want, but stop saying it after every paragraph, lol. Okay, it’s not quite that bad, but you do say it in pretty much *every* post at some point. You don’t have to announce it as a transition every time. ๐Ÿ˜›

  2. Rik

    February 13, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    I noticed this early on, along with “chagrin” and “egregious”, but who am I to tell people how to write…

    I digress… ๐Ÿ˜‰ haha!

  3. Fe

    February 14, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I like the spontaneous and hilarious way you tell stories. I find it fun and don’t care if you miss dots in “i’s” and crosses on “t’s”. I like it even more when you can still find humour about “living in squalor”! Just like choosing a book, it’s the content, not the cover…for me anyway.

  4. Rob

    February 14, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Noted, now lets never speak of this again.

  5. Sarah

    February 23, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Wow! That makes the place I stayed at in Cambodia sound like a palace. I couldn’t bring myself to leave because the staff were so lovely! But in the end, the squashed god-knows-what-huge-bug splatter on the wall, gobs of toothpaste (not mine), broken toilet, ceiling mounted fan that I was sure was going to detach at any moment and land on my head and bed bugs (nasty buggers too!), got the better of me. But if you like the sound of it, I’ll give you the address ๐Ÿ˜‰

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