I will be the first to admit that I am quite a clumsy person, especially after a few drinks are involved, but the amount of unfortunate accidents I have had while traveling the world is pretty impressive and the list is growing by the year.
I fall over pretty frequently and I am also skilled in the art of falling down things. Squat toilets in particular are my nemesis, especially when they are encased in a cubicle and I am lulled into a false sense of security that there is a wall mounted toilet in there. I back into said cubicle and whoosh; I’m knee deep in foreign urine wondering where it all went wrong.
It’s not just countries that favor squat toilets that are perilous for me; so are countries that insist on having beauty spots with no plumbing, and therefore insist on having toilets that are nothing more than a shed with a bucket in.
Visiting the lavatory while traveling is not the only everyday activity that I manage to turn into an extreme sport. Bike riding, snorkeling and even just walking have almost made me meet my maker over the years.
So, here in all their glory are a few of my stories of stupid injuries sustained while traveling:
1) Toilet injuries – mainly in China.
After the relative safety of a week in a hotel in Hong Kong and various malls and tourist attractions with their wall hung toilets, I was ill prepared for my entry into mainland China, the land of the squat toilet.
After two hours on the train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou where the toilet was broken (oh, the irony), arriving at my destination I was desperate for the loo. So I ran for it. I sprinted into the cubicle and immediately turned round to lock the door and drop my trousers…and there was nothing there bar the squat toilet. Expecting to bump into a toilet and to keep on going is not great, especially when your jeans are already around your ankles.
I ended up with one leg knee deep in the hole and the other leg stuck awkwardly underneath me.
Consequently, my first twelve hours in China were spent in a hospital, waiting for x-rays with a shoe covered in other peoples shit.
That was the worst part: The bastard before me didn’t flush.
I fell down a grand total of six toilets during the weeks I travelled China, but by far the worst one was while on a two day train journey across the vast country.
The facilities on the long distance, Chinese trains are also squat toilets and if I can’t use the bastard things when they are stationary, how hard do you think I found it on a rickety train where the lights didn’t work?
I had to spend two days in a bunk bed, surrounded by five elderly Chinese women and an assortment of dead birds and mammals they were travelling with, nursing a swollen ankle and stinking of piss.
Other toilet related mishaps in China include pissing on myself while on the Great Wall of China. No, I wasn’t on some kind of weird and wonderful hen party, I was camping out on the wall for the night with a group of other travellers and some lovey Chinese tour guides.
I would love to say that my over riding memory of camping out on one of the great wonders of the world was falling asleep under a blanket of shooting stars, but alas, when I look back the thing that stands out most is peeing on my own leg, while drunk and trying to balancing precariously in a corner in the pitch black next to an ancient watch tower. I was balancing awkwardly after having twisted my ankle falling over while climbing up the wall whilst drinking the strongest Saki ever (don’t judge me; the locals were worse than us and were egging us on).
2) Kangaroo and fish related injuries, Queensland, Australia.
This one is fairy simple. While visiting friends in Brisbane we were having a few drinks at their local golf club, where the Kangaroos run wild. A burly Australian chap by the name of Brett took a shine to me and took me to, ahem, sink a few holes down the other end of the club in a golf buggy.
I took a swing with a golf club for the first time in my life and actually hit the ball! Unfortunately, that ball then hit a kangaroo that immediately bounded towards me with hate filled eyes. Still trying to impress me, burly Brett picked me up and threw me over his shoulder, ran towards the golf buggy, slipped over and dropped me, where I cracked my head open on the golf buggy bumper.
Meanwhile, the kangaroo of certain death was coming up fast, so do you know what burly Brett did? He left me on the floor and drove off. Thankfully, some other less cowardly people scared the kangaroo away and I lived to see another day after having my head glued back together at the local hospital. And Brett? He was most put out when I refused a date for the next evening on account of him being a complete tosser.
Also in Australia, I also got talked into going snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. There are two reasons while this was a bad idea from the outset; one, I have a phobia of fish, and two, I can’t actually swim.
I only went in the water as I fancied the pants off the diving instructor and he promised he would stay behind the group with me with a buoyancy aid.
Two minuets in and I was having a panic attack and shitting my pants every time a fish swan near me. As it turns out, there are a lot of fish at the Great Barrier Reef. I had to be winched out of the water like a harpooned whale and given a whiskey to calm down.
3) Morocco – another country, another squat toilet.
Yep, another falling down a squat toilet story. I was in Morocco, driving through the Atlas Mountains, which are obviously quite high. As we neared the top of the steep mountain road, I was over come by horrendous altitude sickness, so we had to stop at a settlement and beg to use their facilities.
By the time I’d asked in rusty French and mimed being sick and they finally knew what I was on about, I had to run into the toilet and what did I find?
There was a fucking goat in the room. I fell over it and vomited in the squat toilet and then vomited some more when I saw and smelt what else was in the hole in the ground.
Then as I felt a tug on my back, I remembered the goat. It was eating my t-shirt.
It was at that point I thought the most ridiculous thing that has ever run through my head: “Please God, don’t let me die down a shit filled toilet being eaten by a goat”.
4) Dicing with death Iceland
When in Iceland, I decided to try my hand a snowmobiling. In order to drive on a snowmobile on top of a mountain, you have to wear a padded leather suit. I was thinking I would look like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider; what actually happened is that I looked like a sausage bursting out of it’s skin s the suit I had been handed was too tight.
Too embarrassed to ask for a bigger size, I thought I would just go with it. All was going well until half an hour in when my knickers started to ride up my bum crack and along with the too tight suit, began to cut of the circulation to my legs.
Driving across the snow at 20mph in a blizzard perhaps isn’t the best time to adjust your undergarments and I did a spectacular wipe out ending up head first in the snow with half a snowmobile on top of me, crying hysterically and looking more like Miss Piggy than Angelina Jolie.
Those are just a few examples, and one day I will write about sitting on the loo and crushing a Gecko with my arse (it’s like stepping on a slug in bare feet but far more traumatizing), dropping my phone down a hole in the ground toilet in the Australian outback and having to retrieve it while only being able to think about the toilet scene in ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ and breaking my hand on the Statue of Liberty.
Oh and incase you are wondering, I am also this clumsy when safely in the UK. I have ended up in hospital twice after changing a light bulb whilst standing on an open toilet seat changing the bathroom light bulb.
Try explaining that to a nurse in A&E and watch them try to keep a straight face.