Grossness

I’m almost a month into my sabbatical which means 1/12th of it is already over! Amazing how time flies when you’re struggling to make it through each day. What have I learned? I’m a lot more squeamish than I used to be, or maybe I gave myself too much credit for being adventurous when I’m really a crotchety old homebody. I don’t remember being so grossed out 13 years ago but now I’m grossed out all the time, and our accommodations are generally much better than they were 13 years ago. Maybe traveling with two young children causes me to be squeamish on their behalf. I am, however, starting to overlook things that I would never let slide at home. My kids have been exposed to things that never in a million years would I have exposed them to under ordinary circumstances. They’ve slept on some of the filthiest bedding I’ve ever seen and eaten things that probably shouldn’t be eaten. Food preparation is sketchy business here and I feel like the “fingers crossed” policy that we’ve adopted is like playing Russian roulette with our health. We’ve already suffered some non-fatal casualties. I don’t know if it’s because I became a corporate attorney or married a neat freak or what but it turns out that I’m a bit of an OCD germaphobe which is causing some serious anxiety. I think I’m handling things pretty well considering what I’m dealing with. For example, the bathroom sink drain of our “hotel” in Nha Trang (more like a hostel) is merely a pipe that empties out onto the bathroom floor, which also happens to be where we shower. Therefore any byproducts from brushing our teeth or washing our faces just spill onto the floor!

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How ghetto is this bathroom?

I can’t really complain because you get what you pay for and this hotel room is US$8 per night. Even though there are holes in the sheets and mildew in the tile grout, it’s clean by VN standards, and at least there’s air conditioning and hot water.

Most bathrooms have regular toilets but once in awhile, especially if we’re out in the countryside or at a hole-in-the-wall eatery (VN takes the concept of hole-in-the-wall to a whole new level), we’ll encounter one of those old-school basins in the ground that you have to squat over.

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Because they’re invariably located next to the kitchen where food is prepared, massive roaches like to hang out there. The sight of a four inch roach scuttling out of a bathroom used to send me into hysterics but during a recent encounter at a relative’s home, I simply conceded under my breath, “Ok Mr. Roach, it’s all yours, I’m just going to hold my pee.” In conclusion, OCD germaphobes should never visit Vietnam. EVER.

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