6 ways to not be a d*ck in hostels …

6 ways to not be a d*ck in hostels …

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 3.03.12 pm

Sex on bunks, nudity, and poop in unusual places …

I’ve been on the road for 8 weeks now, which means a lot of time in hostels. It’s quite different to the first time I did a big trip (at 21) though. Sites like booking.com and hostelworld didn’t exist. You rocked up, sometimes guided by your trusty lonely planet, and crossed everything they had a bed, that wasn’t dirty and packed with too many beds or idiots.

Read more

Are you allergic?

Are you allergic?

Milk, egg, peanut, fish, shellfish, wheat, nuts from trees and soya…

Then there are dermatitus, eczema, psoriasis and hayfever… the list goes on!

I certainly don’t recall too many kids on the playground at school when I was little who couldn’t eat pretty much whatever they liked or touch anything they wanted, other than one poor kid who blew up like a blowfish when someone threw some peanuts at him.

Then again he may have been choking on the nut rather than having an anaphylactic fit… the details are vague…

It seems we’re becoming more and more allergic to things that once seemed part of the everyday.

I say we, because I’m including me in this sentence…

Once upon a time I could eat whatever the hell I wanted and put whatever skin creams full of perfumes and pathogens on my skin whenever I liked, until one day when I was about 24 I used some skin cleanser that turned my face into a bubbling lava pit of blisters (yes it was as sexy as it sounds) and I started to “react” to certain creams.

About a year later, I’d gotten on top of the skin issues by using non-fragranced and PH neutral products to wash, moisturise and beautify myself, then I discovered I’m lactose intolerant.

I’d always assumed being gassy and bloated by dairy products was a normal part of consuming them, apparently not.

I now come to a familiar cross-roads in my life prior to going to Vietnam, a malarial risk country.

The question is “to take the antimalarials?”

The chemical structure of DEET

I have been informed (by a travel specialist doc…. FANCY!) I should be ok if I cover myself in DEET laden insect repellant… aside from the fact that I’m pretty much allergic or “react” to most insect repellents, there are many reasons I don’t really want to take the antimalarials…

  1. They can make you sun-sensitive… CMON I’m already a pasty ranga, I don’t need to be ANY more sun sensitive
  2. They cause yeast infections… ew
  3. They negate the Pill…
  4. Nausea and vomiting

…and a whole bunch of other, albeit rare side effects that are pretty gross… I’m talking about Doxycycline by the way, one of the only antimalarials that the pesky mozzies aren’t resistant to yet, and the most commonly used of the bunch.

So tell me? Are there any good sensitive insect repellents out there that DO contain DEET?

Do I put up, shut up and take the malarials? 

Gin and Tonics could be the answer! Tonic water contains Quinine – which has anti-malarial properties… so I could just get rip-snortingly drunk each day… the Quinine can fight off the malaria and the alcohol could fight off the stomach bugs (as discussed in “don’t trust a ham sandwich“)…

UPDATE! – Thanks Mum 🙂 Apparently you can get a safe for sensitive skin insect repellant containing “Picaridin” instead of DEET… huzzah! OFF is the only brand I can seem to find in Australia that has it.

Don’t trust a ham sandwich…

Don’t trust a ham sandwich…

The root of all evil

There are a few things i’ve learned about unsafe food so far on my travels that will hopefully assist me and my stomach in the future…

Imagine for a moment… you’ve woken up in the idyllic setting of a Railay Beach resort in Thailand, keen to get around doing some rock climbing, or scuba diving or generally hang out on the beach… you wake up 1/2 an hour before you have to so that you can gulp down 2 imodium with water and lie there fingers crossed that they take hold for the next few hours… you know at this stage that if you stand up at any point, you will be calling god from the porcelain telephone all morning or worse things will come from the other end… you know this because this is the same routine you have had to endure for the past week…

… all because of a ham sandwich… a last-minute… “yeah whatever, that will do…” ham sandwich…

The kitchens of Thailand, as a general rule don’t really follow the same strict refrigeration rules and regulations we have come to enjoy in Australia, and their preparation procedures can sometimes leave a lot to be desired as well. I know you’re probably thinking “duh, of course! Why would you even eat a ham sandwich over there?” and my answer would be… 

“Yes… I’m an idiot” I didn’t think… I thought I’d be ok… and I let my concentration lapse. 

Even though losing 11kgs in 2 weeks might seem a blessing to some, getting dysentery whilst overseas (I’m lucky it wasn’t worse and my imodium x buscopan concoction worked) isn’t for the faint hearted and can leave you incredibly weak, incredibly tired and it incredibly f*cks up your trip… So here’s a list of things to consider food wise (more so in S.E Asia) to hopefully help others avoid my messy fate: 

  • Don’t drink the water…
  • See above… ice = water… don’t drink that either
  • See above above… Shakes (i.e. Mango Lassi or any Lassi etc.) = water
  • If you are going to drink the water, buy those purifying tablets (even though they taste like crap)
  • Boiling water first also works a treat
  • Bottled water = OK 🙂
  • Don’t drink the shower water and use bottled water to brush your teeth
  • Avoid Cold meat platters, cheese platters
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products (check the labels)
  • Eat where lots of people eat… never eat from a street vendor with no-one there
  • Eat what you can see has been or is being freshly cooked
  • Wash your hands before you eat… there is always poo on them apparently
  • Make sure the water you wash your hands with is “safe water”
  •  Check that the cutlery is not too filthy… cutlery sometimes = hands
  • Beware of raw meats, runny eggs and fruit you haven’t peeled yourself
  • Edit from wordpress comment: Avoid shellfish as the refrigeration temps are all over the place (Thanks Misty!)
  • And the best of the best tip… Alcohol and spice is everything nice! They both contain goodies that kill germs… while this isn’t a foolproof remedy I can recommend this option!

So there you have it… if there are any other suggestions or home remedies to prevent against or cure getting food poisoning I’d love to hear them!

Can I eat that?

Can I eat that?

Is that edible? Are you going to finish that? Can I try some of yours?

Life is a revolving door of food and drink. Major life events are planned around it and the mundane reality of the day is broken up by it.

If you have never tried a particular food before how do you know if you like it or not? I was lucky enough to be brought up in a family where the words “oh I dont like that” food were never uttered and no matter what dish was served, it was expected to be finished. The chef (generally my mum) was always to be complimented… a task that wasnt hard in a kitchen that served dishes like fresh sushi 15 years before the Sushi Sushi invasion, delicious Kelapa lamb curries before greasy take-away indian and hearty home meals that never allowed for leftovers. Take-away food was a once in a fortnight rarity…

Such varied gastronomic beginnings have stood me in good stead for travelling, with a willingness to try new food with abandon… both locally (within Australia) and abroad, the prospect of sampling new food fills me with excitement and a chance to challenge myself… The stand-out memories from every single trip I have been on have revolved around food and drink, the pictures I have taken seem to always have such a theme, from roasted half a pig in Munich Germany, “meat bird” (chicken) in Sigatoka Fiji and the hottest green curry that gave me the ability to see through time in Koh Phangan Thailand…

So the challenge begins. Can I cross off the list of both standard and exotic fare that I have not already tried?

The next trip I embark on is to Vietnam… can I bring myself to eat White ant eggs, soft-shell turtle, fertilised duck egg or raw blood soup? I dont know… do they taste good? There is only one way to find out… though perhaps some of those dishes are too left of center even for myself…

This isn’t going to be some sort of Chanie vs. Food adventure or a mission to eat the grossest dishes out there… I’m sure I can find the most delicious Bahn Cuon (Rice paper rolls), Pho (Vietnamese Soup) or Glazed curries (Glazed curries?) to tempt everyone’s tastebuds but I also wont rule out other “delicacies” if they are on offer…

Except dog… too many of my friends will kill me if I do that.

Come with me on my journey… recommendations on what to sample are welcome and I will endeavour to try them and report back…

White ant soup
Banh Cuon