I’m sorry for the constant academic updates…but suddenly…they’ve taken over my life. Remember how I told you that the ship ran out of paper during midterm? Well this time, it’s worse, much worse. We’ve run out of Red Bull. I have never needed Chi Gam’s rent-a-bro service more in my life: “Hi, yes, can you please deliver five cases of Red Bull to the MV Explorer? Location 115 degrees 37.4 minutes west and 18 degrees 4 minutes north. Thanks!” I don’t exactly need the Red Bulls* – but damn, that profit would be INCREDIBLE!
Time at sea is really not all that interesting. The highlight of my day today was when Micah – the three year old bombshell on the ship – got on the ship’s speaker system and wished us all good luck as we were starting our exams. So to make up for that I’m going to try to use this time to fill you in on a few stories that I’ve left out during the voyage. Mostly in order of what pops up first:
The first non-western toilet I encountered was in South Africa. But I didn’t have to use it so it really didn’t matter that the toilet at the school I was visiting was literally a bucket in a room.
But then in India, I found the same thing. Except this time I had my period. Let’s make a quick list of worst places EVER to have your period:
1. Rural Indian village
2. During a one night stand – in the guy’s bed
3. When you’re in eighth grade and think you’re all cool swimming with the boys at Storr’s Pond and then you get on the raft and one of them points at your leg and is all like “eww you’re bleeding!”
4. While working with a group of guys in Mississippi who tell you that you should just squat behind a tree if you need to go to the bathroom so badly because no, they’re not stopping before lunch and no, they won’t give you the keys to drive to an actual bathroom
5. When travelling with a group of guys in Japan
I guess I’ve told you all about my bowel movement this term so I might as well not hold back now…
Onto Malaysia. During our first night there, Cory and I found this fantastic local celebration/performance/outdoor club. All the locals loved us and our blonde hair and kept us dancing and drinking all night long. At one point I asked where the bathroom was and this one lady walked me to a secluded door and said she’d stand outside. She closed the door behind me and I was left staring at a hole in the ground. Not any old hole though…it was literally a toilet bowl, dug into the ground, complete with liftable seat. Which was quite humorous because the only way one could sit on the seat would be by lifting their legs straight up in the air and I really didn’t see any reason for that. So this was all about good aiming. There was even a little spout and bucket in the corner for me to wash my hands with! (cue for laughter from all that have been to a Southeast Asian country – but that’s what I did with it) And then of course when I left there was a guy standing outside waiting for me, holding a fresh, unopened beer in his hand. Umm…thank you?
And then Vietnam…oh Vietnam. Most of the showers in Vietnam were actually in the same room as the toilets, which meant that most of the time when you went to go pee the seat was completely soaked. You were guaranteed to get some part of you wet in some way. And we continued to run into the Malaysia type of hole-in-the-ground toilets too. On our last day at the Mekong Delta we stopped at a truck stop for lunch. The two other girls in the group ran off to the bathroom and when they came back they informed me that they were “not western” toilets. I kind of assumed as much but didn’t ask them for any more details. Then right as we were all about to leave I figured I should just make one quick stop in the bathroom. So I hurried over to the bathroom – I didn’t want to keep anyone waiting – and let myself in to the first open stall. That’s right about when the confusion began. I turned around and saw only a showerhead and a drain in the corner. Okay. I knew that they had told me these weren’t western toilets…and I thought that it was a little strange that they would point it out…but they could’ve told me that there weren’t any toilets! What were my options? Was I supposed to just squat in the center and then use the shower head to aim it all into the corner? Or could I stand in the corner and “lift my junk” (is that another Chelsea Harris reference? Shit…she might be winning at the reference game or something) and aim for the drain? No no no…this could not be right. There had to be some form of a toilet. Convinced that I was wrong, I exited the stall, noticed that I had inadvertently cut a huge line of people, ignored that fact, and ran towards the next open one. Victory: there was a toilet. By toilet I obviously mean a toilet bowl cut into a hole in the ground but that’s much much better than a drain in the corner of a shower. Whew.
And finally onto China (because Japan deserves its own entire blog on its toilets). It was basically the same idea as Vietnam in Malaysia. My favorite was that porta-potties at the Olympics venues were labeled “Squat” or “Western” on the door. Oh and I also thought it was hilarious when I went to the bathroom at a five star restaurant – the bathroom was sparkling marble with big thick doors for each stall. It was super nice. And then the toilets were the same hole in the ground technique. But at least these ones had a handle to flush.
*I was smart enough to stock up on Starbuck’s double-shots in Hawaii. The first thing I said to my roommate: You drink, you die. Caffeine is something I’m NOT willing to share.