A Sarong in My Backpack by Ayun Halliday


By Ayun Halliday

Ayun Halliday explores the hi-octane underbelly of the comparatively cheap backpacker way of life From drug-induced Apocalypse Now re-enactments in Vietnam, difficulty within the crimson gentle district in Amsterdam to an unforeseen come upon on a camel in Pushkar, Ayun deals an armchair portal at the adventure of the shoestring traveler. With a knack for placing herself in to strange occasions all over the world, Ayun stocks the go back and forth tales so much are too self-conscious to bare.

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By this time, I was tenting with Madge, a forty-yearold Australian nurse. She’d noticed my solo fumbling at each new campsite and delicately suggested that we’d both save time if we threw in together. So Madge set up our tent by herself while I rushed to the equipment box to score us as many of the dwindling cot legs as I could. She was a classic good egg. Efficient and cheerful, Madge never complained about the silent, toxic farting I unleashed in our tent every night. My bowels grew more rebellious with every passing day, but childhood conditioning is a stern master.

Experience had not yet taught me that the bootyshaking funmakers are inevitably Australian. At bedtime, Deborah told me that she and Arnold had decided to splurge on a hotel room. Arnold, the last of our group to arrive, had swaggered in from Zimbabwe, full of himself in a tank top and Panama hat. He was prematurely balding, but he had eyes like a jungle cat. Arnold wanted a break from the bush and Deborah wanted a hot shower, so just for tonight they had rented a room at the hotel adjoining our campsite.

If size counted, I’d have been able to shake her off like a bear dispatching a bothersome Yorkshire terrier. Even without the Michelin bulk of my parka, I had plenty of padding, having taken liberal advantage of the free-food-for-staff policy while waitressing at Dave’s Italian 43 A SARONG IN MY BACKPACK Kitchen. I was at least half a foot taller, but she was steely where I was doughy, and much more experienced in the ways of the world. My adrenaline had the tang of real fear, hers of the terminally pissed-off pink-collar worker sick of dealing with clueless college girls.

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