Retro WoogsWorld. The Year was 1997.

The year was 1997, and Mr Woog and I were in the middle of a 2 year backpacking trip.  We were based in London, where we worked day jobs and backed it up with pulling beers at night. We would fill up the coffers and look at a world map and plan a 3 month stint somewhere.
Back then, a 24 hour bus trip to Prague did not scare me.

Back then, a concrete floor with a filthy mattress did scare me, and more often than not these were the standard of our lodgings.

Me, Mohammed and a camel names Moses.
During one of our tours, we found ourselves in Egypt.  Now I was not such a big fan, especially when our time there coincided with a massacre where 60 were killed at the Valley of the Kings and we happened to be there the day before. I wanted out.
We got back to Cairo and looked at the Lonely Planet.  We thought it might be good to travel overland to Dahab, a Bedouin fishing village on the Red Sea with Saudi Arabia in the distance. On the map it looked like a short jaunt over a wee desert to reach Sharm el sheikh, which was where we were to go next to get to Dahab.  
Without my knowledge, Mr Woog booked 2 tickets on the local’s bus. Turns out that little part on the map was 510km and the locals bus had no windows, no air conditioning, no women but an abundance of dust and chickens.

To say I was pissed off was an understatement to the extreme. I would still rank that fight as one of the all-time top ten.

After days of travel, the sight of the Red Sea was extremely welcome. Mr Woog went off searching for some accommodation while I minded the bags.  He came back soon, saying he had found an absolute bargain.  The one legged inn keeper showed me a windowless concrete box with 2 camp beds in it and this was the deluxe room because it had a lock on the door.

I thanked him for his trouble, shot Mr Woog a look of pure hate and went and rented a cane hut on the beach for a week. With beds. And a window and a lock.

We quickly slipped into Dahab life. Before we knew it we had spent 2 weeks getting stoned and playing backgammon with the locals. I could tell some backpackers had arrived years ago and had never left, so I thought it was best we packed up and moved on.

We continued to travel overland,  this time into Israel and this time in a bus that had air conditioning AND a loo. People that say travelling vast distances overland is the only real way to see a country can go and bite me. It was total shit.

Arriving in Tel Aviv was a welcome relief. There were beautiful shops and beautiful people but very little choice in places to stay.  We ended up at a youth hostel sharing a room with a close relative of Pauly Shore,  if indeed it was not Pauly Shore himself.

Next day a suicide bomber attacked, killing people in a nearby cafe.  I wanted out. Our time in Tel Aviv was cut short and we headed to the airport.  We called our parents from a payphone from the airport, reverse charges naturally, to say we were OK and were about to board a plane to Turkey. Flying El Al Israel Airlines up the back in the smoking section is only something I want to do once.

We landed in the capital of Ankara and spent a glorious month discovering Turkey. Remember we were travelling before twitter and the Internet and relied mainly on guide books and other backpackers for suggestions of what to do and where to go. We travelled to the centre of Turkey, where Mr Woog showed a fine skill set for happy pant wearing and pot throwing.
And we travelled to a place called Cannakale, which is better known to Australians as Gallipoli. It was one of the best things I have done. You would have to have poison running through your veins not to be moved by the area.
Our plan was to reach Istanbul and meet up with some friends do to a little partying. And a little kebab eating. and a little sheesha pipe smoking. And a bit of rug buying.  I had survived several near death experiences, but little did I know my greatest survival challenge lay just around the corner.
 

We met up with our friends in Istanbul as planned.  We were all staying in a hostel which had a very social rooftop bar, situated within walking distance to a lot of the action. Mr Woog and I were romantically ensconced in some bunk beds with 4 others in the room.

On the second day I started not to feel so crash hot.  And about 12 hours later,  I was erupting from both ends with alarming vigour and regularity. But that was nothing. The worse was yet to come.

My condition deteriorated quickly. I spent hours in the bathroom,  lying on the floor with my face on the cool, grime encrusted tiles. I was then moved back into my bed where I spent days with the chills,  the sweats, stomach cramps which were akin to full strength labour and natural based hallucinations.  Every sip of water I had was quickly followed by an hour of pain so intense,  I figured death was better than this…. and hoped that it would be quick.

I started thinking about religion and wondered,  what if the bible bashers where right? Then I figured I was quite a good negotiator, so I would have a fair shot talking God into letting me into Heaven,  if indeed that was the case.

Mr Woog is not good in these situations,  but I insisted he call my Mum so plans could be made to have me Medi-vacced back to Australia so I could say goodbye to my family before I passed away. My mum did not answer the phone,  but HIS mum did,  and she insisted that Mr Woog get me a doctor IMMEDIATELY.

The doctor came with his bag and his hat and quickly diagnosed me with Bacillary Dysentery.

In extreme cases dysentery patients may pass over a litre of fluid an hour. More often, individuals will complain of nausea, abdominal pain, and frequent watery and usually foul-smelling diarrhoea accompanied by mucus and blood, rectal pain, and fever. Vomiting, rapid weight loss, and generalized muscle aches sometimes also accompany dysentery. In rare occasions, the amoebic parasite will invade the body through the bloodstream and spread beyond the intestines. In such cases, it may more seriously infect other organs such as the brain, lungs, and the liver. Transmission is fecal-oral.
 – Wikipedia

Transition is fecal-oral.

That is a fancy schmany way of saying that at some point I ingested someones ploppy. 

It may have been from accidentally drinking contaminated water,  or shaking the hand of some foul unhygienic person then picking something out of my teeth. Or sharing a cigarette with someone who was smoking out of his ass.

It took a week of bed rest to let the bastard ploppy bug work it’s way out of my body. I lost 6 kilograms in one week!  As soon as I was strong enough, I packed up my bag and left that stinky, manky room with the 50 times sharted on mattress and headed to the train station.

Destination? Greece.

We got on a train, sat back and watched Istanbul disappear into the distance. Istanbul had not been kind to me.  I was not sorry to see the back of it and I vowed never to return.

24 hours later I returned to Istanbul.

Our return to Istanbul was done in silence. Mr Woog and I had been boyfriend and girlfriend for two years,  and as I sat on that train as it pulled into the station,  I looked at him and questioned my romantic choices.

Turns out the day earlier  Mr Woog, who was in charge of our travel itinerary due to my ploppy illness, had indeed directed us onto a train out of Istanbul. Which was fine.  But what was not fine was that the train we got on took us to Bulgaria.

No offence to any Bulgarians reading this,  but I had no inclination to visit Bulgaria. And as it turns out,  we could not even if we had wanted to as we were without a Bulgarian Visa.  We were hauled off the train at the border and spent a very tense and unhappy 12 hours sitting in the guards hut,  looking out through the drizzly rain to the bleak fields of Bulgaria.

Now if you think the toilet facilities at the guards hut on the Turkish/Bulgarian border are impressive,  you would be very very wrong.

Eventually a train came along and took us back to Istanbul where we found that the correct train we wished to take was not leaving until the next day. So we had some time to kill in the place that nearly killed me. I was actually starting to feel a lot better and even quite hungry. Well I had not eaten in 8 days.  We tracked down a clean,  well populated restaurant and I ate the best kebab in the world.  Mr Woog and I then found some accommodation nearby.  We had our own room with a TV and shared bathroom facilities which were down the hall.  At the time it was totally palatial.

Exhausted and still not speaking,  we both fell into a deep deep sleep.

In the middle of the night,  I knew something was wrong when I woke up with someone stabbing me violently in the stomach.  Except no one was stabbing me in the  stomach. I looked over and Mr Woogs bed was empty. And then I knew.

Fucking Kebab.

I leaped out of bed and ran like an Olympian,  jumping over Mr Woog who was lying in the hall whimpering “Fucking Kebab…”

I reached the toilet just in time. Now in Turkey,  the toilets are squat toilets and given my urgency to squat and the general laws of physics well….. How can I say this nicely.

Well the best way to say it is the actual toilet remained as clean as the day it rolled off the assembly line.

The wall behind the toilet was a different story entirely.

It was my official low point. Istanbul was giving me a final “FUCK YOU” and I threw in the towel. YOU WIN TURKEY!

The evening was spent cleaning shit off the wall and then adding to it again. Mr Woog was groaning in bed when eventually I returned to the room.  That night was one of the longest in history.

The next day,  we boarded the correct train and refused all offers of food.  We travelled overnight and arrived in Thessaloniki, a northern Greek town. We spent the next week eating meze, souvlaki, spanakopita and moussaka and putting back on the 6 kilos and then some.  Mr Woog and I were so happy to be in Greece.

But no one was happier………….

Than the pants!
The End.