Sunday, 30 July 2017

Troubled travelling bowels

As a traveller, I'm always been amused that if you are off the beaten track, the consistency of one’s poo is a perfectly acceptable topic of conversation - even among complete strangers.
For this last kind of trip, we packed both laxatives and Imodium – both got a good run (excuse the pun).  The family WhatsApp has been abuzz with commentary as has the lunchtime conversation.

Like me, Sass also had a ‘slow’ start to the trip. I was a little concerned when she suggested it’d been a week – but then I got this message on the family WhatsApp:

Elle, as usual, took out first prize.

Her first effort, after some delay, was at a tourist site where there were only two women’s toilets and a queue. I got this distressed message:

She says she was traumatised. I suspect the woman who went in after her was even more traumatised!
Further into the journey, we pulled into a village in Mongolia for lunch and she was desperate for the loo. Our guide showed her were it was – behind the restaurant – and then she was back, nearly crying, saying I needed to go with her. We had to call past the local shop to buy some toilet paper – a delay that left Elle pale and sweating. Sass came with us as we ventured past discarded building material, old cans, rusting sheets of iron and other junk, arriving at the wooden shed with a drop between the floor planks – the toilet. The smell was strong (or to quote the film Kenny - "There's a smell in here that will out last religion.") In Elle went and I held the piece of wire that functioned as the door closure, already committed to hanging on if this was my only option. ‘Gee she’s having a very big, long wee…’ commented Sass, based on the noise emanating from the dark, stinking space behind the door. Eventually she emerged ‘That.... was a poo’ she whispered, so as not to distress the Asian tourists waiting their turn. Oh dear.
This isn't the loo - this one was much fancier! In Mongolia, all toilet paper goes in a bin. Be grateful photos aren't embedded with scent!

I’ll spare you her thrush story, but will say that when we finally found a lovely English-speaking pharmacist when we first arrived in UB from Hong Kong (where no-one could understand the issue, despite our best charades), she quietly muttered ‘suppository?’ Amazingly, for once in my life, I didn’t see fit to correct her and tell her it was actually a pessary. Anyway, we got that sorted.
Geoff has forbidden me to share his stories - shame.
And while everyone has had the runs, I was backed up to billy-oh! Go figure.

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