Finding the Gate to Hell; Culture shock in a Chinese Bathroom.

This is a cautionary tale of travel. Ok, cautionary but hilarious. I was thumbing through my pictures of our trip to China and oddly, I found this photo. It looks like a bathroom floor but in reality, it’s the entrance to hell; at least that’s what I thought that day…

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So how did I end up staring into the abyss? It started in Vietnam. When we travel, we like to wander and we wandered into a “restaurant”, for lack of a better word, for some Pho. The #1 Rule of travel is “don’t drink the water” especially in countries that have signs everywhere that say “don’t drink the water”. The first thing I noticed as we enter, is a lady sitting on the floor pulling cooked chicken off the bones and putting the meat in a bowl. The stack of bones was about two feet tall, so I concluded that she had been at it a while.

We sit down, order Pho and drink some strange packaged beverage while we’re waiting. By the way, Pho is a noodle/vegetable soup kinda thing and I ordered mine with meat (not chicken).

Our meal came, it was good and we left. I spent the next hour trying to identify what kind of mystery meat was in my soup and finally gave up as it was probably better not to know. That night, my stomach was not very happy. Soon we go to Cambodia and things go bad fast. Four days later we’re in China and while I felt okay, my digestive system was having epic problems.

I always believed that I had two things going for me; a garbage gut and a twisted sense of humor. The first was a mess, the second was having a heyday. I couldn’t help but think of all those movies in which so and so slipped a laxative into someone’s drink and the hysterical bathroom scene that followed. I looked around for cameras, thankfully there weren’t any.

While in China, we took a bus tour and ended up near Changping. After forcing myself to eat lunch, the proverbial “sh#t hit the fan” and I was in desperate need of a bathroom. It was a chilly day and I was wearing multiple layers of shirts and a coat. I finally found a bathroom, sort of.  Picture a large room with stalls and no doors. On the floor, a hole. No rails, no hooks and to my horror, no toilet paper. Apparently it was a “bring your own” kinda place.

I stood over the hole, peering into the abyss seeing only darkness with no bottom; I expected flames. People were walking by. I realized that I was now in hell and was running out of options quick.

They say necessity is the father of invention and I was at critical mass. I learned three things that day; The gate to hell is way too small, Pho is an evil soup and that I came in wearing a t-shirt and left in a halter top. Desperate times and all that.

Finding the exit as fast as possible, I stealthily made my way to the bus, waiting for the maintenance crew to run screaming from the building in search of the culprit.

Ultimately, I was able to leave the country without being arrested and forced to clean that building. It took an additional two weeks to clear that nightmare from my system. It never occurred to me that I would ever catch a stomach bug, but I forgot one important thing; Pho is a soup and that soup usually has a broth and that broth is made with water and that water probably came from a faucet that has a sign above it that says “don’t drink the water”. I do also hope the maintenance guy is done with his therapy and back to living a normal life.

Happy Travels

 

 

 

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