AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Nepali Belly

India is famous for giving ‘Delhi Belly’ to those people crazy enough to visit. But, it seems to have been hogging the limelight because we’ve found that Nepal is amazingly good at causing upset stomachs and frequent toilet visits.

Part of the cause of upset stomachs in India is because people aren’t used to eating that type of food and the change in diet is too much for their body. The rest of it is due to bad hygiene or dodgy food. Our stomachs are accustomed to eating a wide variety of dishes, from western style food, to Indian curries, Chinese spicy dishes and everything in between. So you can imagine our annoyance at the number of times we’ve been ill in Nepal.

In the last 6 months of travelling Annemarie has had an upset stomach twice and I’ve had it once. Since arriving in Nepal Annemarie has been ill 5 times and I’ve been ill about the same number of times. There’s no way it’s the diet, so either we keep eating bad food, which I doubt as we’ve been ill in Kathmandu, Pokhara and during the treks, or it’s poor hygiene from the cooks. On the Annapurna Circuit trek we spoke to so many people who were getting ill too. In many different villages, days apart, we’d talk to people with upset stomachs, feeling sick or been on the toilet most of the night. We’ve seen the kitchens and the staff and I’m pretty certain their religion doesn’t teach that “cleanliness comes after godliness”. In fact I’m very certain, as proven by the hair we find in our food most days!

Some people would think this as an experience and that it is to be expected. Maybe once or twice and I’d agree, but this many times is just getting ridiculous. It’s not an experience and it should not be expected. To say that it’s expected or even that it’s an experience is to accept it and think that because the country is poor hygiene is a low priority. That is a lame excuse.

From the W.H.O. I quote:
“Each year diarrhoea kills around 760, 000 children under five.

A significant proportion of diarrhoeal disease can be prevented through safe drinking-water and adequate sanitation and hygiene.”

For us getting ill is not much more than an annoyance. We take some medicine, or rehydration sachets and sit it out for a day or so. This is a luxury most people in the countries we’re visiting don’t have and children are especially vulnerable. For the people that live here it could be a life or death situation and yet most of the time it can be prevented through better hygiene and sanitation. We, as the supposedly cultured West need to do more to help educate people. It has already started as the textbooks here include social studies and teach people how to look after food and themselves.

This started out as a complaint at the poor hygiene in Nepal but got me thinking about the bigger picture. Safe drinking water, better sanitation and better hygiene are such simple things. For us it makes the trip better, the country gets a better reputation amongst travellers but mainly it’s the Nepalese that benefit, by staying alive!

Posted from Kathmandu, Central Region, Nepal.

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