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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