#30 from SE Asia
From Eastern Thailand
March 13th, 2010
Warning: This story is gross, without any photos. Read at your own risk.
I have been reluctant to publish this one. Part of me thinks, ‘This is in bad taste.’ Another part of me thinks, ‘Dwight, you have been in bad taste your whole life, so why change now? Go for it.’
Let me tell you a few things that were NOT the grossest things on this trip.
1. Watching people in NE Thailand eat 4″ long deep-fried water bugs.
2. Returning to my hotel in Hanoi after an evening of beer-drinking with an Aussie professor and I stumble down an alley to see some men barbecuing a puppy on a skewer. (hard to believe that this would not be the grossest)
Before I go any further, I am going to quote Jack Nicholson. He said that there are 3 rules that old men should abide by:
1. Always show your kids and grandkids that you love them.
2. Never pass up a bathroom
3. Never waste an erection
Well, I am NOT going to write about #3, to your great relief, or disappointment.
It’s #2 that I will try to express.
I am at an Internet cafe in the Mekong Delta when I suddenly feel nature call. No warning at all. Only nature is screaming this time. I explain to the people that I need to use the toilet. An old man leads me out back. But he does not take me to any of the small buildings. Instead, he leads me to a pond that is about 8 meters wide, fetid grey in color, and smelling to high heaven.
Now, I am in a hurry. My walk is stiff and rigid, and my pucker factor is high. To put it simply, I really do not want to shit my pants. Every old person’s nightmare. Well, the old man points to this rickety little bridge, just a plank, that leads up to a platform covered with a few modesty palm fronds. I have no choice but to scramble up this steep slope without any hand rail. There, about 1.5 meters above the stinking pool, I must squat. Quickly too. Nature and pressure does the rest. SPLASH! Some of the water splashes onto my backside. GROSS!
As I am pulling up my pants, I hear a serious thrashing coming from below. I look down and I see that my floater is being torn apart and eaten alive by a massive swarm of catfish! It didn’t have a chance!!!
In a minute my shit is gone.
Suddenly, I am sick to my stomach. The old man is waiting for me. But I am dizzy. I must descend this plank, without any rails, above this swarm of catfish. Oh I fear that I am going to fall in! I am truly dizzy and sick. I clamor down the plank and I almost fall in. But I leap to the edge onto dry ground and fall forward. As a retired mountain climber, I know that it is always tougher coming down a mountain than going up it.
I walk back to the Internet Cafe. But for the rest of the day, I am profoundly puzzled.
Here is the line of my illogic.
Man eats catfish.
Catfish eats man’s shit.
Man eats catfish.
Get the idea of where I am going? Now to the best of my understanding, man AND catfish are NOT photosynthetic creatures. So where are the energy inputs here? It seems that this is a violation of the 1st law of thermodynamics: Mr. Farley, my excellent HS physics teacher, taught me that Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed.
I start to think that I may be onto something here. Maybe I have just solved the food-energy problem. Patent it and I’ll make billions. Fat city here I come.
But that is for when I return to the USA. For here I am sitting in an Internet Cafe in SE Asia late into the evening. I have drank too much beer and I have only had one meal today, after riding a long distance on my bike. I am REALLY HUNGRY.
Time to go down to the open market and see what is available. And what am I going to eat?
Well I don’t know. But I will tell you one thing.
You can bet your sweet ass it won’t be no catfish!!!