I’ve Never Been Sicker: How a Duck Fetus Put Me In a Philippine Hospital
How a Duck Fetus Put Me In a Philippine Hospital
I thought to myself at one point, “I might fucking die in this shit hole”.
What did me in? Well, I’m not 100% positive but it may have had something to do with eating a duck fetus. You heard me right….A duck fetus.
We both had heard a bit about that a strange Philippine delicacy known as “Balut” before travelling to the country. For those of you that don’t know, Balut is essentially a boiled developing duck embryo. People in the Philippines go crazy for this shit and love to eat it warm with salt and vinegar. As the sun sets (in virtually every town we visited), you can hear young children calling out “Balut! Balut” and locals eagerly fork over their pesos for an early evening appetizer. We are usually pretty game to try any regional delicacies as it really is an essential part of fully absorbing the local culture but a good friend of ours had showed us a video he had taken of him trying Balut in Manila and we were pretty put off to say the least.
On our last night in El Nido as the kids selling Balut walked passed us with their big white buckets, Alyse double-dared me to eat one. Now this wasn’t just a dare, it was a double dare and not just a double dare, but a double dare from my wife. There was no backing down.
I bought two eggs and decided that when things inevitably go south after I start to eat them, I should be in a safe place like our hotel room. Kinda like dropping acid or after eating at Taco Bell. So after getting back to our room I cracked the first one open. They didn’t look all that different from normal boiled eggs from the outside but the inside was a different story. As I began peeling away the pieces of shell I could make out the partially grown duck fetus very clearly.
I was starting to really hate myself for agreeing to this bet.
As I stared blankly down at the disgusting fetus in my hand, Alyse burst into diabolical laughter.
I couldn’t back down on a double dare, especially from my own wife because I’d never hear the end of it.
“Well…Fuck me…” I said right before taking a big bite out of the slimy gelatinous mass.
I barely choked the dripping pieces of fetus down my throat having to grab a beer to chase it one down but I managed to eat the whole thing.
I don’t know who had a more disgusted look on their face afterward, me or Alyse. Let me tell you, although I had ultimate respect from Alyse for doing it, she refused to kiss me for days!
The next day we set off on what would turn out to be the loooooonnngggest most horrendous boat ride of our entire trip to the island of Coron. The journey was supposed to take only 6 hours (only, haha) but ended up taking 11! What made it even longer was the Chinese girl spewing her frickin guts out right next us the entire trip. The boat was so packed Alyse was forced to sit on an overturned bucket at the back of the boat holding on for dear life and going between waves of seasickness and periodic dousing from the surging swells.
We arrived into Coron very late, so after finding a cheap guesthouse we went straight to bed. The next morning Alyse and I joined our two friends for a quick breakfast and then set off excitedly to a dive shop to get geared up for our first glimpses of the area’s famed WWII Japanese ship wrecks. About the time I started putting on the wetsuit I started to feel a bit “off”. It seemed to be some sort of stomach issue and because there’s no room for being sick while diving I decided to just bow out, head home and let the girls go diving.
About an hour later I was hit with the worst flu imaginable. I had a massive headache, fever, chills, and was running to the bathroom every 15 minutes. It was literally coming out at both ends. With Alyse out enjoying world class diving I was all alone in maybe the most run down piece of shit room we’d stayed in in all of Southeast Asia.
The bathroom (where I spent most of my time) wasn’t any better…
There was a moment when I thought to myself, Jesus I’m going to die in this shit hole all alone and these fucking cats are the last ones to see me alive.
When Alyse got back from diving she found a Walking Dead reminiscent version of her husband in a pool of sweat. I was so happy to see her, although I was barely able to communicate. She was terrified and took care of me all day and night. In the middle of the night I awoke shaking with chills. I have never been so sick in my entire life and I have eaten a ton of questionable street food on this trip and a lot of even more questionable 20 cent tacos and hamburgers back home.
Alyse said she’s never seen me as sick in 12 years.
While I slept, Alyse kept one eye on me while crouching next to the door in order to steal a weak Wi-Fi signal so that she could diagnose my illness with the black hole of hypochondriac terror that is WebMD. The plethora of foreign diseases I could have contracted raced irrationally through both of our minds. The next day both of us thought it was probably a good idea to go to the local hospital because things weren’t getting any better.
Alyse helped me out the door and got me on the back of a tuk-tuk. I’ll tell you, that 10 minute ride was one of the most frightening of my life and not because he was a bad driver or the traffic was crazy. I was so scared because I thought it was really a 50/50 shot that I was going to shit my pants on the way there.
I was taken to the emergency room which was essentially just an old barn with a window open and mosquitos buzzing around my head. While I was waiting for the doctor I wistfully thought, ‘wouldn’t it be funny if I contracted malaria while inside of a hospital?’
The doctor shows up and if he didn’t say he was the doctor I would have thought he was just some dude hanging out in the waiting room. He was dressed in shorts, a soya sauce stained t-shirt and flip flops so needless to say I immediately felt comfortable with him. As we sat at the reception/assessment area, surrounded by a queue of sick little children and concerned parents, we listened as a baby was born with nothing but thin curtains separating us from the mother. The doc did his assessment, took my temperature, blood pressure and explained to me I didn’t have dengue fever just a very bad viral infection. He prescribed me something for my fever and sent me on my way.
Of course since I’m writing this you know that I survived this ordeal but holy shit was I scared.
You know what’s the best thing about this whole experience though? The fact that I have a double dare in my back pocket that I can use at any time with my wife!
Got any suggestions for double dares for Alyse?
Cheers and thanks for reading,