A crazy thing happened to me in Luang Prabang, Laos. And I’m not talking about watching my sister fall off a scooter on a country road and get the most road rash one human should ever have to endure at one time. And I’m not talking about getting into a splash fight with an elephant. And I’m not talking about staying in what can only be described as a frickin’ palace of a hotel. Because those are all photos to come. Do you see how I get you excited? It’s called foreshadowing, and I’m great at it.
What I’m talking about, is, in fact, when I became Kardashian for a few fleeting moments on a hilltop in Luang Prabang, just trying to enjoy a sunset with an unsuspecting kitten. Here’s how it went down:
There’s a hill in Luang Prabang. A big one. With a temple on it. It’s called Phu Si hill (pronounced poo-see, teehee) and people go up and watch the sunset on it every night. I know what you’re thinking, wow, that sounds so peaceful and untouched! A beautiful place to watch the sunset- I bet there’s monks and baby tigers, and a tiny tea shop where you can sip a lovely hot green tea and hug your family and just generally enjoy the unspoiled beauty that is the country of Laos.
You’d be wrong.
After heaving and wheezing your way up the hill- watching Bryan Gattis traipse up past you, reminding you that he’s run marathons and biked across the nation for Kenyan charities while you sat at home and lethargically complained to your friend on iChat that you accidentally deleted Real Housewives of New Jersey off of your DVR while trying to wipe peanut butter off of your remote control-you make it to the top.
And there you are, surrounded by a hundred other backpackers and travelers, with their tripods and their Instagram videos, and their ironic polaroid cameras (where are you keeping the polaroids in your backpack?! TELL ME). And you realize, as you pull out your iPhone camera, that the Venezuelan backpacker in the Punjabi pants is judging you as you snap photos of the setting sun, deciding later you will use Pic Fx to make it look even more peaceful.
And so, you walk away, and spot a kitten. A kitten who would never judge you based on camera choice, who isn’t wearing punjabi pants, who just wants to be cuddled. And so you go over and pet it. And it purrs, so, even though you’re allergic, you pick it up.
Another backpacker tells you not to. You laugh. Why would I NOT pick up this adorable kitten? Idiot.
And then they’re on you.
First it’s one Chinese man, asking you to smile and pose with the kitten. You think it’s weird, but you do it.
Then, it’s his friend, the one with the tripod- he wants one too. You oblige.
Then, in the blink of an eye, it’s flashbulbs in your face, and someone throws another kitten at you. “Kiss the kitten!” “Hug the kitten!” “Smile here!” “Over here, smile at me!” “Put the kitten on your shoulder!” “Put both kittens on your shoulders!” “Give us a lookback!” “How do you feel about the rumors the baby isn’t really Kanye West’s!?”
And you’re just like “WHAAAAAAAAT”- frozen in time, watching your sister and Bryan laugh at you as you struggle to free the kittens and yourself from the grip of these Asian paparazzi.
“Okay, I’m going to put the kitten down now,” you say, and you push your way through and stand next to your sister. Then, they start taking pictures of the two of you looking at the sunset.
And you realize, Chinese people just want pictures of everything. They document everything and everyone, from the most beautiful sunset, to the tiniest flower, to the most confused white girl holding a kitten they can possibly find.
You’re just one of thousands of photos they’ll upload to their computers.
And as you make your way down the hill, exasperated, you realize, this must be what it’s like to e a Kardashian. And later, as you buy coin purses and headbands and 1,000 stick of incense for $4 you wonder why no one wants your picture now. And you realize, this must be what it’s like to be Mickey Rourke.