After not coming down with some sort of chronic gastro condition in the first week traveling in India, I conceived this pipe dream that maybe I could get away with not being sick. Given my recent bowel history in South America I know that was fool hardy. Hell, I still had to walk the ecoli/gardia/Delhi Belly gauntlet for a whole 3 weeks more, but the dream had taken seed and my confidence grew with every day I remained outside the outhouse. But I didn't dare articulate the thought out loud. That would have been the end of me.
It could be argued that I got off light since we were eating fantastic food in Gulmarg and drank the tap water. You might argue that this very circumstance disqualifies any claim to genuinely experiencing India since shitting your brains out is up there with the Taj Mahal. Well, I don't agree. We ate our fair share of street food in Delhi, lived in a shepherds hut in the mountains for a week and shook hands with innumerable pleasant, albeit, most likely parasite infected Indian people. I gave myself ample opportunity to ingest something less than desirable with the potential to chain me to the squatter for an indeterminate amount of time.
Last night as I touched down in Hong Kong, stool fully intact, I was beginning to pen this boast in my mind. I was considering my pitch to hand-sanitiser companies in an attempt to maybe acquiring a sponsorship and becoming their "poster hands." But then I woke up this morning.
After my first two trips to the toilet either side of a shower, I tried to convince myself that it was not in fact diarrhea. When I considered going all the way back to the hostel an hour later to get more toilet paper after using my last few squares in the public latrine in Victoria Park and, I had to concede I had the runs. In clean and shiny Hong Kong I had the runs. Damn it! Shit!! Damn!!! Argh!!!!
I don't need to articulate the misery of walking around trying to absorb a culture whilst your posterior sphincter simultaneously puckers like a horny teenager with tuberculosis. It's horrible. It goes without saying. But it could have been worse. I could have still been in India, with not only my guts crippled by explosive diarrhea, but also my pride.
Given that Hong Kong is a shoppers paradise, I soon found myself browsing underwear stores since I was onto, or should I say into, my final pair of undies. All my other underwear smelt like 6 weeks of ski socks, giving rise to a debate of which would be the lesser of two evils—the painted jocks or the athletes crotch. With the imminence of an outpouring of fecal affection, I didn't throw back Immodium or carbon pills. Instead, I shopped.
Retail therapy. One shop after another. Calvin Klein, DKNY, the odd department store, H&M, all interspaced by pit-stops at McDonalds for a McPorcelain special. I flicked hangers with one hand while I draped possible purchases over the other, comparing cuts, colors, support and price. It kept my mind off my now sore and raw derrière and standing around considering boxers didn't have me traipsing all over the city stirring up my rebellious guts. I passed the day as blissfully as I could sifting through mens underwear and the odd grannies pair by mistake.
While I might not be basking in my anticipated solid poo-phoria, I did score some sweet jocks for my discomfort. In the end I was drawn to the H&M offering that quite fittingly pronounced, "Got ya now!"
Yeah, you did. Yes you do.
Other than that, I thought Hong Kong was kinda shit.