I happened to be in a bar, talking to a super hot girl from Denmark. The stories were usually answers to questions she had about my bike trip and as the stories I told her reflected the stories I write in my blog, slightly depressing with glimmers of hope, sad and tragic, usually over dramatic. Before I knew it we both sat there silently with a table between us, thinking about the tragedies and sorrow of some of the experiences in my life, neither one of us feeling the urge to lunge across the table and seduce the other in furry of saliva exchange and curious fingers. Those are good stories but not the type that get you a mouth exam from a Danish med student’s tongue. So being the charmer I am, I told her the story about one of the most embarrassing, humiliating, awful, yet funny stories about the time I shit my pants in Vietnam. It’s not generally a story most people flaunt or brag about but I’ve told a few people prior to this in more of a confession format rather than a story and the results have been surprisingly hilarious. By the time my beer was almost finished and the last details of that dreaded day were explained, I found a beautiful girls arm around my neck and a hand clenched against my knee as she braced herself from the rib splitting laughter that brought tears to her eyes. Some guys talk about surfing 35’ waves, some guys just wear a muscle shirt and look pretty, I tell girls the story about the time I shit myself and I can guarantee you they will understand me allot better than the other guys when I dash off mid meal on our first date to an Indian restaurant.
I had been in Vietnam for over a month already; I had had gut rot and diarrhea since Papua New Guinea three months prior. Succumbing to the crippling pain in my stomach and endless rolls of toilet paper, I went against my unreasonable manly stigma about going to the doctor. “The last time I saw I doctor was when I had a brain eating parasite in Africa and I would have died if I didn’t see a professional” I preached to the Physician in the clinic who sorted me out with some basic Anti parasite medication and de worming tablets. I woke up one morning after nearly a week in my hotel room bed in Hanoi feeling healthy and revitalized. More importantly I fought the urge to sell my bike and head back home because up until this point my trip was pretty shit, little did I know how shitty it was about to get. My morals were high and my spirit to finish the trip and enjoy myself was barely enough to leave the city behind me and embark on a new adventure all alone this time.I left early in the morning to beat the rush hour traffic in the city and skipped breakfast all together. Reaching the country side and the open road it was nearly ten o’clock and my stomach did a good job at reminding me of the forgotten meal. A nice little family restaurant on the side of the road sent my stomach into a throbbing belly ache at the sight of it. As the only customer, the woman tending the hot pots of rice and boiling soup was shy and excited that a white guy on a motorbike was in her front room looking for some food. I ordered my meal using all the best and polite Vietnamese words I knew and she was so overjoyed I was concerned she wanted to adopt me. So far so good, this is much better than feeling sorry for myself in a hotel room. ‘I can’t believe I forgot how fun it was to ride a motorcycle through this country’. My Pho Noodle soup came in a delicious waft of garlic, beef, and mint leaf. I don’t handle spicy foods well and I know this, but like that last beer that tips us over the edge and we know we shouldn’t have, a scoop of chilly fell from my spoon and mixed among the mid-morning feast. Mistake #1. It was hot, I mean really hot so an Ice Coffee helped wash it all down. Mistake #2. I don’t even drink coffee and there’s a good reason for that. Full of hot liquids, chilies, and coffee, I hit the road again before anything had a chance to hit bottom.
The drive was nice but like any road in Vietnam, it was bumpy. The constant ups and downs have a tendency to loosen things up on the inside. The final hump into the small rural town was enough to dislodge whatever forces where holding the torrent at bay. It was urgent but I still had a few minutes grace before all hell broke loose so I needed not panic… Unfortunately however I just drove into the biggest small town in Vietnam. I dare not stop because most restaurants only have a trough out back to pee in for men and women, asking to use a toilet without buying a meal is absolutely unheard of in Vietnamese culture so my best bet was to take a jungle dump once I got to the other side of the town. The houses just kept on going and the pot holes and bumps in the road just kept getting worse. I painfully counted at the kilometer markers, ticking away each km as it was a new Olympic record. Six kilometers later I hit the end of the metropolis but with the extra speed also brought a more ruthless barrage of ups and downs on my seat. Tears in my eyes, I came to skidding stop onto a grassy shoulder next to a lightly forested patch of trees. I couldn’t drop my bike with all the weight strapped down on it in fear of breaking off indicators, clutch levers, and mirrors. I desperately struggled like a rabbit caught in a snare to get my bike up on its center stand but the slope of the hill, compounded by the soft ground and weight on the rack made my predicament very bad. Using all my core strength to lift my bike and the shift between sitting to standing was a cocktail of unpleasant movements, it was like a script for the sequel of ‘The Perfect Strom’. The chili soup and coffee tore at my insides screaming for freedom, someone just turned on a washing machine in my stomach, drain cycle. A heroic fight but the battle was lost the moment I left the comfort of my porcelain throne that morning. Against my best efforts for control, I was defenseless against the chemical bomb that just exploded inside my gut. It came. I stood there shitting my pants on the side of the road watching the gruesome stares I received from families on motorbikes driving past. All I could do was keep my motorbike on its wheels and wait until the gush of partially digested food finished oozing from all escape roots out of my briefs, off the legs of my shorts and down the back of my legs.
There’s a sudden change of mentality as everything switches from panic and disparity to disbelief and shock. There was a small muddy stream just down the embankment and it took every bit of optimism and positive thinking to salvage my pride and moral from this unfortunate event. “no big deal, il just clean myself off down there, wash my clothes and put new ones on” All good in theory but of course shitting your pants in Vietnam is never so practical. My bike popped up on its center stand with ease (of course it did) I trudged down the embankment being careful to remember where I walked as I left a trail of human fertilizer on any bush or tree that brushed me on my way past. I did my very best to be methodical about the order of cleaning myself off but I’m not ashamed to say I was new at this and it got everywhere. Now humiliation is a funny thing, I’ve experienced it allot life and thought I was calloused to it even in this situation however the man mustering his heard of water buffalo introduced me to a whole new level.
Anybody who’s been to Vietnam will know that the people have little to no boundaries about privacy and personal space. The one man who saw it all whilst grazing his buffalo took it upon his rightful duty to call everyone he knew and invite his extended family to the spectacle of the white guy who just shit himself in his front yard. At that point I was completely naked crouched in the muddy stream washing away the embarrassment that coated the lower half of my body. Now there is humiliation and then there is this, men and women alike dismounted their motorbikes and grouped around at the top of the river bank plugging their noses and giggling as they took cell phone pictures of me like I was monkey doing tricks for biscuits. This wasn’t the way I had planned on going viral on YouTube. It seemed like nothing could possibly get worse but it did. In my rage of self-consciousness and anxiety, I clumsily dunked my soiled shorts into the muddy stream to clean them however I forgot my blackberry and money were still inside the pockets.. I was considering calling my mom and crying but I couldn’t even do that because my phone was now dead. Eventually all the spectators except the guy grazing his stock left and I also continued on my way. Moral of the story is that if you’re going to shit yourself, you mind as well do it with a smile on your face and throw up the peace sign.