How to Travel Safe when Eating in Exotic Locations #DukoralContest

Dukoral Canada Facebook Contest #DukoralContest

GTA Parent Writer: Rob Mitchell @BobEEats


As much as I may pride myself on being born with an 'iron stomach' or a streamlined constitution, every condition has its limits. I certainly consider myself an adventurous traveller ( hint: What to know what kind of traveler you are? Take the quiz now)

For a tumultuous period of my life I spent an above average amount of time travelling, mostly for business and quite often in far-off locales. Everyone has to eat, breath and navigate their way through whatever situation they may be in. For me, the best part of any foreign destination was the adventure of tasting different, tantalizing and authentic meals.  The 'authentic' part, while a key distinguisher for uniqueness, is also the element that can test those limits on that iron constitution and become the price to pay for the privilege of enjoying some of the world’s most exotic foods.
I've always subscribed to the same philosophy of the outspoken Chef, writer and TV personality, Anthony Bourdain. He articulates that statistically, in order to experience truly amazing tastes you will have to endure that odd time when you suffer the consequences of a constitution-clearing episode that will make you curse Mother Nature herself.  The flip-side to Bourdain’s philosophy is that those tastes are totally worth it - and statistically you should be able to recover and live to enjoy another fantastic meal. 
Taipei, 2009 was a testament to understanding those limits and learning lessons about 'authenticity'.  After travelling through various cities in far east countries with a like minded colleague, I met my match in a bustling night market alley. We were just stepping out of a grueling meeting with Chinese executives and so tired and hungry that we foolishly picked a little noodle stand because it was the one without a line-up. Now, he and I were used to ditching other workmates that stuck to boring hotel bound offerings to elbow our way through a crowd of locals at busy street stands to chow down.  'Street food', particularly in Asia, is where you will find the greatest, most experiential life and palette changing tastes. Frequenting them is how familiarity can lead you to make poor decisions - like dining at the stand that others don't want to wait for.
Food pit stops on one of the many tours of China


 

Lesson 1

My colleague Chris, had sharper instincts that evening and made the safest choice, marinara on fettuccini. I on the other hand, still driven by my pervasive quest for 'palette expansion', chose some kind of fish and pickles noodle dish - this was the only time that Chris and I had a different dish from the other in 4 days (lots of shared plates in them parts...). The evening ended uneventfully enough and I made my way to my hotel room to grab as much sleep as I could before having to catch a 7:00AM flight to Hong Kong in the coming morning. 
It kicked in at about 8:10PM, just as I was finishing off a quick report back to HQ on how the day's meetings went. It started as an unnatural knock at my abdomen that let me know that something in there wanted out! Uh oh, you know you're in trouble when you rapidly progress from too hot to too cold and gurgles lead to rumbles. A quick call to Chris affirmed that he was alright, the fish and pickles dish was 'too authentic' for me and that I needed to brace myself for a night on the 'flip-side'.  There's nothing as lonely, disorienting or unsettling as having to spend an entire night 'clearing house' when you're not at home.  There was not a position my body could contort into that would lead to a full minute of feeling comforted. Whatever blade the fish pickle bug was stabbing me with from the inside was both sharp and dull and attacking me like a prison shanking. I tried to find the strength to drink enough water so I could toss it back out again and my dickhead boss kept pinging me about receiving the report on the day's meeting (he never ate anything but diet coke and snickers bars, no matter where he was..).  This most memorable, dark and painful travel eats experience went on throughout the night and did not end until well after touch down in Hong Kong the next day. It left me in a compromised state to get through that day's meetings and shutter at the thought of what would have been an amazing Cantonese lunch (missed expansion opportunity). 
Lesson 2
I learned lessons about limits, endurance and how to trust that spending a bit of time to line up with the locals is totally worth it after all. Despite surviving the harrowing day, I still hadn't eaten in about 24 hours and dinner in Hong Kong that evening was yakatori chicken skewers, served rare (yes, rare) at a popular little tucked away place along with a couple of locals that recommended it. It was one of those meals that forever changed how I viewed culture, food and existence on whole - totally worth it, totally.
If I had it to do over
I might have considered taking Dukoral before departing for my business trips so that I could eat with less worry.  I could have saved myself the excruciating pain and lack of sleep during extremely packed business travel. ( I still cringe at the thought of yogurt I ate while in India that caused me to have crazy diarrhea)
New Delhi Business Trip
New Delhi Business Trip

You can win a $1000 Air Canada gift card to get you traveling or a Go Pro Camera.  Be sure to SHARE with your friends for extra entries and have a chance to win one of 6 weekly prizes of a $100 Neutrogena Travel Pack. 
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About Dukoral:
DUKORAL®* is indicated for the prevention of and protection against travellers’ diarrhea and/or cholera in adults and children 2 years of age and older who will be visiting areas where there is a risk of contracting travellers’ diarrhea caused by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) or cholera caused by V. cholerae. Protection against diarrhea caused by ETEC starts about one week after the 2nd dose and lasts for about 3 months. Protection against cholera starts about one week after the 2nd dose and last for about 2 years for patients over 6 years of age. A booster dose is required beyond 3 months for travellers’ diarrhea and 6 months (patients 2 to 6 years of age) or 2 years (patients over 6 years of age) for cholera.
To help you remember when to take your dose, you can download a free app for your smartphone here. This app will program the dates for each dose into your smartphone, so you can check one more item off of your to-do list.

Where to get Dukoral?

Vaccines411.ca is a useful website which may help you find a location that offers DUKORAL®. Other locations may be offering this vaccine. Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional, including your pharmacist.

Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional, including your pharmacist, today to find out how to help protect yourself against travellers’ diarrhea and if DUKORAL® is right for you.

You do not need a prescription for DUKORAL® for protection against travellers’ diarrhea, unless you are a Quebec resident. In Canada, if you are taking DUKORAL® for protection against cholera, the vaccine does require a prescription. DUKORAL® is available at your pharmacy, doctor’s office or travel clinic. The DUKORAL® vaccine must be stored in a refrigerator at 2° to 8°C.
For protection against travellers’ diarrhea, a primary immunization requires 2 doses taken orally at least 1 week (up to 6 weeks) apart, with the last dose taken at least 1 week before travel. Full dosing information is available: http://www.dukoralcanada.com/taking-dukoral
Did you Know?
Over half of travellers’ who visit high-risk destinations like Mexico, the Caribbean and Africa will be affected by travellers’ diarrhea caused by Enterotoxigenic E. Coli (ETEC). However a recent survey has revealed that four out of five (79 per cent) Canadians are not as travel savvy as they should be about the potential causes, symptoms and risks of an ETEC infection. Bacterial enteropathogens, such as ETEC, are thought to cause approximately 80 per cent of cases of travellers’ diarrhea, which is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms including fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. 

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