It can strike at any moment. One second you’re in a van full of nice foreigners like yourself, on your way to the beach, ready to soak up some sun, and then it happens. A slight change in the consistency of your abdomen. Then you’re in the back of the fifteen-passenger van sweating profusely trying to figure out your slickest exit strategy. Everyone around you is contently staring out the window, iPod in ears blasting some inspirational Coldplay song, and all you can think of is: How can I casually ask the bus driver to stop at the very next gas station?
“Oh hey, uh…Dara, can we possibly stop soon? I’m parched. I need a new bottle of water.”
LIES. You have a full bottle of water under the seat you blasphemous pig!
The van comes to a stop and everyone takes a thousand years to get out, and then you go into full sprint towards the dirtiest bathroom you’ve ever seen so you check out the men’s room and it’s much cleaner so you just go for it. You’ve completed your dirty work and of course there’s no toilet paper, but luckily you’ve been accustomed to the bum gun* and you’re confident enough that you can get by.
*A bum gun is a hose attached to the toilet that you use to spray, obviously, your bum instead of using toilet paper. Upon returning to America, you will desperately miss this device. You may even reach behind you only to find imminent nothingness.
You walk out of the public restroom with a skip in your step feeling like an entirely new person when you see…street food. And you are hungry, everything you just ate when straight through you. Hmm…you’ll get it anyway.
You point to the mystery meat and utter a half-assed Thai sentence that has the wrong tone and even worse pronunciation.
They respond in full Thai and they speak so fast that you have no idea if they said pork, chicken, or beef. In turn, you point to whatever looks appetizing on a stick and it’s only 40 Baht! You scarf it down on the bus confident that there won’t be any issues with the glorified meat mix in the future.
You arrive at the Cambodian/Thai border. All goes well, things get stamped, and paperwork gets filled. It’s a beautiful day and you can see the ocean from where you stand. You’re looking for the bus driver who’s going to take you to your next residence, but he is nowhere to be found. But didn’t they say he would be right here when we got through the border?
So you and your pals call your lovely Khmer friend who knows everything and he swears that there should be someone with a sign ready for you. After ten argumentative phone calls you discover that your driver is a bit far away and you have about an hour to Netflix and chill, well, remove the Netflix part, you just straight chillin.
The beautiful day that it was suddenly becomes a hundred degree day with one hundred percent humidity, and the only way you could even dream of taking a shower is by taking the hose attached to a local business/restaurant and spraying hot water on your arms and legs. You feel that mystery meat from the gas station creeping up on you.
Oh God. Not now.
“Hey Becca, where’s the bathroom?”
She points it out because she’s a lovely polite English girl who won’t judge you for asking where the bathroom is when you’re clearly in a frenzy on the brink of disaster.
You’re in a sprint again, and let’s be honest this is the only exercise that you get in South East Asia, that and the chaffing that occurs between your sweaty thighs. Hopefully it rubs off enough skin to get a thigh gap. Hope is in sight. You round the corner, struggle down some uneven tiny steps and there it is…
Are these seriously all squatting pans*?
*A squatting pan (squatty potty) ladies and gentlemen, is something I’ve mastered quite well a total of three different times. It’s that thing where a toilet doesn’t exist, but there is a hole in the ground and spots to put your feet, and then you just go for it. It’s really not that bad for number 1. Number 2 is a whole different experience in itself.
So you’re sweating (I keep saying that as if it somehow stops but really you never stop sweating, but I’m highlighting it purely for the entertainment of the story and for you to truly understand how much condensation rolls down your face) and it’s wet everywhere because the way you flush a squatter is by scooping water from a bucket and pouring it into the hole. You can’t remove all the clothes below your waist fast enough because they’re sticking to you. You’re finally free and you get down and dirty in that squatting pan because this is a life or death situation. You’d do anything to get rid of that gurgly flourish in your stomach.
Splish Splash Splish Splash.
YOU DID IT!
You made a mess, but you did it.
You put your clothes back on and strut out of that bathroom like someone who just won America’s Next Top Model. Tyra’s proud of you. We’re proud of you. You’re proud of you. You’re money baby! It was magical and you’re magical.
On the way out, a vendor is selling chocolate milk made with condensed milk and cocoa. Dang, that sounds good.
So you get one. It’s all good in the hood, and your driver finally shows up. It’s a three hours to Pattaya, Thailand. The past is the past, you chug that chocolate milk like a boss, and get in that van hoping for the best and praying to God and Buddha that you’ll make it without a mess. An hour later you might have to ask that sassy Thai driver to stop on the side of the road, but you’ll figure it out when the time comes.
This has been a public service announcement regarding Emergency Defecating Situations, if you or a loved one has been a victim of EDS, stop buying mystery meat on the street and chugging pure dairy. Maybe also consider not clogging your toilet with toilet paper. The sign is there for a reason. Get it together.