Ways Backpacking Can Be Gross

Here is a non-exhaustive list I kept of the things that grossed me out while on my post- college journey of self-discovery. Rated on a scale of 1-10.

1. Being propositioned by a 60-something fat Frenchman

I had three weeks to kill in Bangkok so I bought a map, and every morning I would pick a different part of town to explore. One day, that part of town was an ex-patriot area known for its mix of white middle aged business men and establishments offering various forms of “entertainment” to satisfy their lonely hearts. Lucky for me, this area was also teeming with western food. Since I had not eaten cheese, bread or drank wine for about four months, when I saw a modern looking grocery store with air-con, it seemed like an oasis. Upon entering, I was elated to see several tables set up giving free samples. Jackpot!

As I began to revel in these small pieces of joy, a large, plump and graying European male approached me. We started chatting and before I knew it, I was repeating back to him his hotel address and room number so we could meet up later. A nice dinner, he said, would do me well. Also, he said, he could use some company. As our conversation was ending, he leaned in and gave me a kiss on the cheek. As he pulled away, with his head lingering close to mine, he winked and promised to make our dinner date “worth my time.” Not for all the free croissants in the world. EW.

Gross factor: 7.

2. Finding hundreds of tiny ants in my dirty underwear

Five years later this STILL makes me squirm. The said undergarments were not even involved in an accident, nor overused. After the initial shock wore off, I couldn’t help but wonder if this means I have a pleasant, or perhaps desirable taste? Do I posses some kind of life giving force? Were they bringing this delicacy back to their queen? Ants are after all, a highly intelligent sort. To this day I often inspect my underwear for creepy crawlies before making contact.

Gross factor: 10.

3. Six-year-old enthusiastically eating eyes

As the villagers ate their fishy feast, a bowl was passed around in which people discarded the eyeballs of their respective fish. It was a waste bowl like that used for edamame shells. The bowl ended its sojourn in the hands of an adorable little girl who devoured them in seconds with one of the biggest smiles of delight I had ever seen. Kind of cute, kind of gross.

Gross factor: 4.

4. Tailless gecko living in my toilet

I’m not sure why this has remained such a vivid image in my memory. It may be because in recent history, geckos have been associated with big green leaves, car insurance and Hawaiian shirts. Regardless, people are ALWAYS happy to see geckos. They are like a sign of the tropics. You are on vacation! Let’s watch it eat flies! It’s so cute! Well, the life of a gecko is not all rainbows. For a week, a pale, miserable looking and almost motionless gecko hung out at the bottom of my dingy beach hut toilet. We’ll call him Frank. Adding to Frank’s seemingly pathetic existence was that he was missing his tail.

Well, it would be wrong of me to assume that he was missing his tail. He could have been happy it was gone, I don’t know. But why Frank made the gross list is the manner in which the tail appeared to be lost. Its removal left this hollow, empty, inward-cone like abyss on it’s backside. Frank could of been hollow on the inside, but somehow, he lived. He survived a decapa-tailation. Every time I peed I hoped excess water-soluble vitamins would somehow help him regain vitality.

Gross factor: 6.

5. Giant frog falling from the ceiling straight onto my face while trying to fall asleep

No further explanation needed.

Gross factor: 5. Shock factor: 10. TC mark

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  • MP90909

    #WhiteGirlProblems

    • Oliver Miller

      Didn’t we decide that we weren’t leaving comments like that anymore?  We had a whole article about this.

    • Beea_73

       you wrote that only after went to the author s profile and saw that she was a blonde american looking lady. tell me if it s not true. haaaaahhahaha i caught you!!!

  • Jessica Knapp

    Maybe the title needs to be a BIT more specific to where you were, not just saying “backpacking”. Yes, “backpacking” is a dirty business, but it can be quite enjoyable … not always the horror-fest you describe.

    • amy blaisdell

      Agree with with all of the above. These experiences were all from the same trip in Asia; I suppose I was vague in order to avoid giving any undeserving negative impressions. I feel too overwhelmed reflecting on the positive to put those into words. 

  • hrfe

    I went on these backpacking trips/camps where we wore the same shirt and shorts during the backpacking so that we only had one super gross set of clothes instead of six. My white shirt- despite several bleachings- become a lovely shade of orange from sweat/dirt. Gross.

  • Ava

    Haha! Good stuff. I have yet to go backpacking but ants, geckos, and frogs are all too familiar to residents of Aus.

  • Kathleen

    Frank could HAVE been hollow on the inside. Could *HAVE.*

    • Lee Andrews

      Noted! 

      • Kathleen

        Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound like that much of an asshole about it. It’s just kind of a pet peeve. Funny piece!

      • Lee Andrews

        No worries, I should have caught that ;) Thanks for reading! 

  • Clitty McLabia

    Oh, southeast Asia is full of magnificent little creatures. I once had a lizard poop on my shoulder from the ceiling as I was eating my dinner. 

  • kesh

    What did i just read?

  • hannah

    “One day, that part of town was an ex-patriot area known for *****it’s mix of white middle aged business men” *****its, no apostrophe. you’re welcome. #petpeeve

    • http://robvincent.net Rob T Firefly

       Also: “expatriate,” not “ex-patriot.”

  • Magicmarz

    can I replace the creature in question in both #2 and #5 with cockroaches when I was in Laos? and they screech.

  • rocket

    I just want to share that geckos have always been viewed (at least) by the people from the mountain province here in the Philippines as bearers of good luck which explains why you can find it in so many of their carvings, decorations and of course, souvenir shirts. 

  • Anonymous

    Too few stuff. Was expecting for more =(

    • Lee Andrews

      Ask and you shall receive…One story I neglected to tell concerns an experience I had while being an extra in a Bollywood film. A group of westerners were each paid about $35/day plus lunch, to stand around on this set outside of Bangkok pretending to be reporters in Germany. A pretty darn good backpacker gig. The only real downside was the heat, especially since we had to wear sweaters all day. Thankfully we were supplied with bottles of cold water to drink. Well, on the third day I noticed one of the crew members walking around the set picking up all the plastic water bottles that still had water left in them. He then proceeded to pour all the water from the abandoned bottles together into several, fewer, water bottles. I then watched as he placed these newly combined water bottles back into the water cooler. I had been taking water from that cooler all along!! Granted this was probably relatively harmless, and safer than 99% of the water most of the people in the world have access to (not to mention resourceful, green etc) but how could someone born and raised in the states not be a bit grossed out by this? I suppose this personifies an American perspective but also reminds us of what we have…and also what we waste. 

  • Shelley

    ants on your undies – i guess you’ve high sugar content? 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

      HAHAHA

  • Bridgette Whittaker

    haha!  I really enjoyed this one!

  • Aireen

    gecko shedding their tails off is quite normal. they do it whenever encountered with dangerous/harmful situation. 

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