Adventurrhea: The Eternal Battle Between Splendour and My Intestines

Jantar Mantar I

How lovely! Do you suppose there’s a Port-o-potty at the top?

Fireworks rocketed heavenward, fizzling and popping, exploding into colour and light. They shone across the curvaceous roof of the Golden Temple, out across the nearby streets, and all throughout Amritsar. Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim alike were celebrating the festival of lights under a blanket of stars, walking barefoot in the night, necks craned back to scoop up so much of the fiery sky.

It was beautiful and serene and majestic. At least, I’m pretty sure it was, as I mostly watched through my hotel window.

A day before I had ordered something called “stuffed potatoes” at a restaurant, assuming that it would be maybe one potato, jammed full of spinach and curd and curry paste. In fact it was a half-dozen potatoes, stuffed with this and other such delicious detritus, and also possibly rocks and moustachio trimmings and shaved gold, and I felt duty-bound to at least make some sort of valiant attempt to consume the mighty offering placed before me. It seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea at the time.


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A Refined, Gentlemanly Discussion on the Delicate Etiquette of Travel Diarrhea


The bathroom of our guesthouse was spacious and was home to a perfectly reasonable number of dragonflies. It had a bathtub, though I don’t think anyone had ever used it, as I’m fairly certain a wild boar had lived in it at some point. Still, we were in the middle of the jungle, and it was the nicest bathroom we had seen in a while. There were four of us using it, and even that wasn’t a problem: after long enough together, you form a mutual, unspoken agreement that bathing is a suckers’ game. The real issue was that it was kind of an echo chamber.

Indonesian food, as it turned out, was a wonder: delicious, spicy, cheap, and plentiful. Our favoured hobby in Bali was eating, and our other activities for the day took on an air of going through the motions before we could engage in our next round of local delicacies. We hiked and toured and photographed, but our minds were always fixed on curried tunas and goat meat dripping with blood-red oils. Travel is food, and food is travel.

But eating that often, and that cheaply, did not come without risk. Every time you entered a restaurant was a gamble you decided to make, a game of southeast Asian roulette. (In this metaphor, “terrifying intestinal parasites” takes the place of the traditional bullets in a game of Russian roulette.)

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Travel Partners: On Sunburns, Smelly Feet, and My Friends’ Poop

You guys are lucky I have stock vacation photos, and don't feel compelled to use more related pictures.

The sunburn was possibly the nastiest and most severe I have ever suffered. The merciless Thai sun had scorched me the colour of lobster, leaving most of my torso inflamed. I quivered when I walked, and wearing a shirt was an encounter with pain I couldn’t even comprehend. When I went to bed, I willed my body into early sleep paralysis and hoped I would not shift while I slumbered. But Bill was worse. His burn was nearly comical in its violence–his absurd hobbling and swollen joints would have been howlingly funny, if I wasn’t already busy howling from my own swollen and reddened flesh. Our daily applications of liquod aloe vera gel became fanatical in their frequency and provision of solace, but we would face trouble when it came to reaching our backs. If we tried to reach with our own hands, it would require the use of joints and muscles that would send us into spasms of pain. Soon, we accepted fate, and began regularly applying aloe to one another’s chapped, repulsive, leathery skins.  It was awkward and embarrassing and absolutely necessary. And after very little time, it simply stopped being weird.

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