A Cautionary Tale…
Location: Doi Inthanon – highest mountain in Thailand.
The air was cool and my girlfriend [a Thai clone of Nicki Minaj] was playfully stroking my back. We dozed lazily in the shade of my motorcycle. It was my birthday.
Six months prior, I was a government employee with “good benefits” and a dying soul. Knowing my youth was evaporating, I went rogue. I quit my job, sold my possessions and purchased a one-way ticket out of hell. My only plan was “adventure.” Everyone said I was crazy.
On the side of the mountain, it was undeniable that I made the best decision of my life. The thought crossed my mind that I may actually be the happiest man on Earth.
Of course, this is a dangerous thought to entertain. Once you do, the universe finds a way to….humble you.
All was not perfect on the mountainside.
There was a tempest brewing in my gut, likely from the mystery meat steamed bun that I had for breakfast. The pain was escalating, fast.
My bowels felt like a balloon being inflated by a helium tank at a birthday party. I was in trouble. I leaned over, kissed the girl, and said “I’ll be right back.”
Clenching my ass, I carefully got up to go look for a toilet.
The race was on…
I got very lucky. Just when things were reaching panic time, I spotted a dirty cinder block latrine.
With my stomach distended from gas, I stiffly shuffled inside. It was the classic squat toilet with fecal matter bespeckling the walls around it. [Photo is actual toilet]
In Asia BYOTP [Bring Your Own Toilet Paper]
There was no toilet paper inside. There never is in Thailand. No worries, I was prepared for this. I had my day pack over my shoulder and I always keep half a roll stashed away for exactly these occasions.
I simultaneously reached for the roll of TP in my bag while furiously trying to unbutton my shorts.
The bag was empty. My emergency TP was no doubt “borrowed” by the aforementioned girlfriend.
It took all of my strength to halt the release process my body had already started. Sweat dripping from my brow, I re-buttoned my shorts and frantically searched for a solution. There really wasn’t much time to play with at this point….
“Ahah, YES!”….I remembered that there was a little shop nearby. “I can make it there and back in time,” I thought.
After awkwardly speed-walking to the shop, I managed to ask for toilet paper in a more elegant way than pantomiming wiping my own ass. The cute young girl behind the counter smiled and said, “Mai mee” (Don’t have) and pointed 100 meters up the mountain to a second, little shop.
I politely nodded in understanding. In my head I screamed, “Why the F#$& doesn’t the shop directly adjacent to the bathroom carry toilet paper?“
The answer, of course, is TIT – “This is Thailand.”
I looked up the mountain. It may have well been 100 miles away. I’d never make it. I sheepishly looked at the pretty young girl, turned, and returned directly to the cinder block latrine.
The ancient Thai squat trap…
During the explosive evacuation of my digestive system, I experienced “lost time.” When I came to, I was relieved to find that I had maintained the proper squat angle and avoided shitting on my shorts and ankles.
My thighs were burning from holding the squat. If my quivering legs failed, I would fall into my own waste – and the diseases of all that came before me. If I stood, I would drip said waste all over my shorts and legs. Of course, I had no TP to clean up.
So squatting I remained while I tried to think of something.
This is why you should always carry a knife…
My cotton boxers around my ankles were the only choice I had if I was going to get cleaned up. The problem was I had no way of removing them because my feet needed to stay firmly planted to the ground to maintain the squat.
I instinctively snatched my pocket knife out of my front pocket, flicked it open with one hand, and proceeded to slice my boxers off of my legs. Then I carefully made use of every square inch to get clean. I silently thanked my underwear for its sacrifice and tossed it into the waste bin. Legs burning, I triumphantly stood and pulled my shorts up over my free-ballin’ self.
As soon as I walked out, I inadvertently made eye contact with the cute shopkeeper. She awkwardly yet politely smiled at me and looked down. She was no doubt wondering if I had completely shit myself.
In accordance with the exceedingly polite Thai culture, she mercifully concealed any amusement in order to help me “save face.”
As we say in the South, “Bless her heart.”
The morals of the story are….
1. ALWAYS carry some toilet paper when you travel to the third world. Don’t leave home without it. You can either buy a compact travel roll, or flatten your own and keep it in a zip lock bag.
2. A man should always have a knife on him. If anyone asks, just say, “In case I need to cut my underwear off”…then hold eye contact and walk away.