One way to ensure a comfortable journey along the way of any tour to a land that is so genuinely different as China will be to ensure some safe eating habits while traveling in and around. Otherwise, the “uniqueness” of such a tour could enduce a whole new meaning.
Names for Montezuma’s Revenge (Montezuma was Emperor of Mexico, 1502-20) vary depending on the part of the world concerned, and these usually have comic names, which reflect the embarrassment felt by the sufferer and the amusement in the lucky non-sufferers. Montezuma’s Revenge is also known as the Gringo Gallop and the Aztec Two-step, but in Asia it can be known as Ghandi’s Revenge, Gyppy Tummy, Delhi Belly, the Rangoon Runs, and Tokyo Trots.
The sickness, more formally called “traveller’s diarrhea” (TD), is usually caused by drinking unsterilized or differently-purified water…or by eating foods that visitors don’t take care to consider. One rule of thumb is that if you didn’t cook it, boil it, or peel it…..forget it!
A few other helpful tidbits:
-Drink safe beverages — these include bottled carbonated beverages, hot tea or coffee and water boiled.
-use safe water (bottled, not tap) for teeth brushing.
-drink chilled beverages but avoid ice in your drinks.
-don’t buy your bottled water from a street vendor. Reports of locals filling bottles with tap water, then sealing them and then selling the bottled water as purified water have come out of several countries.
-Avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables unless they can be peeled.
-Well-cooked and packaged foods are usually safe. Eating raw or undercooked meat and seafood should be avoided.
-Dairy products, mayonnaise and pastery icing are associated with increased risk for TD.
TD is a bacteriological illness, always uncomfortable, but rarely serious. Most cases are mild and resolve in a few days with no treatment. If you’re particularly susceptible to stomach sensitivities, a single hit of an antibiotic like ciprofloxacin and knock out TD in a matter of hours. It has an outstanding track record, no severe effects and is widely available. Most TD can be cured by a single dose. Preventatively speaking, Pepto Bismol or an antidiarrheal called rifaximin can be very effective.
Be advised that the suggestions presented here are not not surefire remedies, nor are they sources of a professional opinion. Be sure to consult with your doctor for advice on what will work best for you.
Sojourners shouldn’t be discouraged by the prospect of getting sick. Its fun to travel and fun to discover and eat new local cuisines. The memories of these adventures, chance meetings and surprising experiences will outlast any possible inconveniences of an occasional belly ache.