Want to know what the biggest bonding topic on the backpacker trail is? Do you really? I don’t know if you can handle it….
Oh fine, it’s poop.
Stop blushing. Everyone does it. Why can’t we talk about it! Well, after a few rum and cokes and a couple weeks on the road, talking about bowel movements becomes a lot easier for travelers.
Everyone has an embarrassing bathroom (or a missed bathroom, in my case) moment. What good comes from not talking about it? You stew in your own self-pity thinking you’re the only one that something like that has ever happened to. You get depressed or PTSD from the “incident”. That’s not healthy in an already stressful situation that travel is at times.
I’ve made some great friends by swapping embarrassing poop/bathroom stories, I really think it brings people closer together. Just to prove that sharing is caring, here’s my story of **spoiler alert** pooping my pants:
It was a couple years ago; I was in Vietnam.
I have Celiac disease and should stay far away from gluten for a plethora of reasons. But, in Hoi An they have these fried wonton-meets-nachos concoction that I threw caution to the wind for. I kept trying to convince myself they were gluten free. They weren’t. As the days went on, I started having a strong urge for the potty every morning bright and early. But once I darted out of my bed and to the bathroom the rest of the day was smooth sailing, so I really wasn’t too alarmed.
Well, one day in HCMC my friend and I were staying in a dorm with 6 other gals. The urge woke me up bright and early and I went straight to the restroom (why do they even call it a restroom, anyways), only to find it occupied by one of the other ladies of the room. I realized she was showering and remembered she didn’t speak English.
I lightly knocked on the door a couple times with barely a response. I sat back down on my bed hoping to wait it out. .00002 seconds later I determined that was not an option and bolted to the elevator to get to the common room bathroom (I was on the 4th floor).
As the elevator pinged the floors up to me, my condition rapidly degraded. Sweating was hitting my in full force. To the stairs I went.
Well, you can probably see where this is going, I made it maybe one floor before, op, um, well, I shit my pants. By pants I mean little sleep shorts.
So there I was, standing on the stairs at 6am of a bustling hostel with shit about to run down my legs. I forged on to the common room bathroom.
THANK GOD the common room was empty at that ungodly hour. I barricaded myself in the bathroom only to be met with a bum gun and no paper products at all. Looking back now, I should have been hysterically crying at this point but I think the sheer shock of it all kept me calm and able to think rationally.
I finished my business, buried my undergarments in the deep depths of the 2 inch tall garbage can (sorry housekeeping….) and hosed myself off with the bum gun.
I marched my ass back to my dorm room to find that the wretched shrew of a bathroom hog (I’m sure she was lovely), was out of the bathroom and I immediately scrubbed every ounce of embarrassment and self-pity off in the shower until I felt like I couldn’t get any cleaner. Then I promptly started a bonfire on the 4th floor to burn my favorite sleep shorts… or buried them in yet another teeny garbage can because fire is frowned upon indoors.
I cried myself back to sleep for a few hours.
Now, when my friend and I woke up for the day, I was faced with a decision: to tell her or to not tell her. Because of my digestive disease/problems, I have grown to be pretty open about my potty times and feelings so OBVIOUSLY I told her. It was like a movie, there was that moment of awkward silence where the two characters stare at each other with dramatic music in the background. I was either going to break down sobbing or laughing, I chose laughter.
We rolled around on the floor laughing at how ridiculous it was, then, I almost shit myself again so that stopped abruptly.
For the rest of the trip, I had a bit of PTSD. Every time I even had the thought of needing to poop, I was like a soldier on a mission to find the nearest restroom. Remember the don’t touch the floor game as a kid? I went around like that with bathrooms, I always had to know where my next bathroom stop could be at any given time. And don’t even get me started about wet wipes, I had them in every pocket at all times, I slept with a pack next to my pillow.
And because I shared my experience with my friend, we were able to laugh about all my neuroticisms the rest of the trip.
I’m laughing just writing this. I think this blog post is going to make my mom proud.
Now because of this story, I’ve been able to out poop story plenty of travelers on the road. It puts me in an elite club. Again, a club my mom should be proud of. Sure, everyone goes to HCMC in Vietnam and eats pho but how many shit their pants!!?
Now, go forth! Share your travel potty woes with your fellow travelers! I’ll never forget the girl who pooped herself while running in remote Cambodia, or the guy had to find a plastic bag to go in on the side of the highway.