In the loneliest bowling alley on earth, the employees wait for you in the dark. Barefoot, groggy from napping on vinyl coated tabletops, conserving power to a soundtrack of feral cats tearing one another apart in the surrounding bushes. You arrive at 9, 10, 11pm— it hardly matters. You will always be the first, and almost assuredly the only customer. A bottle of tragic whiskey costs five dollars, a sweaty generator in the corner kicks the house music on, sending a litany of ruinous techno pulsing into the night. A lane lights up for the equivalent of $2.18, you pick from a lot of hopelessly battered, chipped excuses for balls, and roll— barefoot, if you dare, as deep and drunkenly into the infinite night as your wild little heart desires.
It might be the greatest place on earth.
Welcome to Luang Prabang Bowling, an establishment so farfetched and improbable to exist that it defies even fundamental understanding. Nestled into the darkest and far flung neighborhood of wild roosters and foot-deep treacherous muddy potholes, this sixteen-lane Titanic of what can only be of Chinese design sits in waiting, a monument to strangeness in rural, communist Laos. Pounded by monsoons, operated by small armies of listless, confused teenagers otherwise huffing on yellow balloons, supported primarily by screaming, drunk Korean tourists— it appears to be, aptly to the land it is built on, marvelously un-killable.