I have these rules in place that mean that I can pretty well eat most things when travelling in Asia and not get sick.
They’re simple rules:
- Do your research – trip advisor is pretty reliable if you know how to read it.
- Go for local specialties
- Follow the crowds – a queue is usually a good thing
- Avoid western food – it’s the preparation and the storage that causes the problems
- If in doubt, stick with fried food
- Drink only bottled water
- Eat only peel-able fruit
- Be careful about ice in drinks
- Be careful about raw vegetables and herbs that might have been washed in local water – although I relaxed this rule when in Vietnam…the herbs with the noodle salads were too yummy.
- Clean your teeth with bottled water
- Under no circumstances eat anything other than French fries or crappy packaged food at airports other than Bangkok, KL, Hong Kong or Singapore. Why? My theory is that by the time you’re sick, you’re in someone else’s airspace/ country.
- I tend to also avoid oysters and clams – or any other filter feeder – in places where I know the water isn’t as great as it could be. Although, there was the exception of an oyster omelette in Taipei – disgusting texture, but on my “have to try when in Taiwan” list. Been there, tried that, won’t do it again.
Up until now, it’s worked. I’ve eaten my way through a lot of places in Asia and tried some weird and wonderful things – ok, not so much weird unless you count the stinky tofu in Taiwan – and have never been sick. Until now.
I’ve spent the last 24 hours lying in bed in our Bangkok hotel room with gastro. Too much information? Sorry. Thank goodness for Netflix, free wifi and The Good Wife re-runs.
What caused it? I’m pretty sure it was a spring roll at Da Nang airport that was the culprit. Yes, I broke my own rule – and have had to suffer the consequences.
I’d done my research – the bar was busy, the spring rolls were fried, and we had it with beer (another theory of mine is that most things, if taken with beer, have their dodginess reduced). I was almost all the way through it when I realised that the inside of one wasn’t as hot as I would have expected it to be. Bo bomm.
Why didn’t I have fries instead? The safe option? Because I chose that at Hanoi on the way to Da Nang and they were – wait for it – microwaved. Yep. And, as such, were soggy, limp and completely inedible. Eeeeuw.
Anyways, I’ve lost a day, but maybe for whatever reason, that day needed to be lost. I’ve caught up on sleep, rested up, and am ready to face the Bangkok heat.
Back tomorrow for the lovin’ life linky with all the fabulous food we tried in Vietnam that didn’t make me sick…
Do you have any tips for avoiding gastro in Asia? Or horror stories? Hit me with your horror stories.
When I lived in Africa I got salmonella poisoning 4 times and it was a shocker. Each time they had to try different drugs. Amazingly – though I was only in Cambodia for 7mths in the end, I didn’t get sick at all.
I’m not sure my stomach is as hardy now but I completely agree with your list, but having said that I’ve had dodgy food here in Oz and a slight dose of food poisoning on occasion.
This one wasn’t as bad as last year’s birthday salmonella incident, but enough to keep me off my feet for a day – & weak for another. You did well getting through Cambodia without it.
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