Before jumping into my Burma coverage, I need to share a disturbing problem I’ve had on my round-the-world trip: birds love to shit on me. Apparently, I have an invisible target on my head, viewable only to winged creatures. Yes, when spelunking through caves bats have crapped on me (and on others). Sure, in my pre-RTW days a bird has occasionally defecated on a new sweater. But in the last 2 years of gallivanting, there has been an alarmingly sharp, exponential rise in craps. To be fair (to me – not to the birds), I’m outside quite a lot more than in my lawyering days. Regardless, I have yet to cross paths with another person who has been crapped on so frequently or so vociferously:
The Official Birdcrap Counter is at 9 since April 1, 2008.
What does it all mean? To the mirth of those sitting nearby in internet cafes, I have Googled whether most cultures believe that bird shit is lucky. Per Wikipedia, if one or more birds defecated on you or your property in Russia, it is good luck and might bring you riches. There are a slew of Yahoo! Answers threads directly on topic, with typically asinine responses. And of course, in each country where a bird has crapped on me, the locals are customarily thrilled on my behalf, and have often asked me to go with them to buy a lottery ticket. No, I’ve never won.
Given the pattern of Birdcrap Counting that has woven itself into my travels, I figured it was high time that I documented the crap for my readers. And so, without further ado: behold the craps that have fallen upon my person in the last 22 months.
Craps 1 & 2: Paracas, Peru.
When winding my way up the coast of Peru, a visit to Paracas made perfect sense. Known as Peru’s Galapagos, the Islas Ballestas and the Paracas National Park are home to cormorants, penguins, condors, pelicans and flamingos, as well as dolphins, sea lions, turtles, sharks and more. Unfortunately for me, the sheer volume of birds meant that I was statistically doomed to be shat upon. Which I was, twice. And every other tourist in the boat got out unscathed.
Crap 3: The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
En route to the lovely Isla Española in the Galapagos Islands, a trail of giant frigate birds followed our boat in its wake, weaving to and fro above us. Of course, this meant that one of them took a shit. And of course, it landed on me. Given the size of these birds, let’s just say I needed more than 1 shower to clean it off.
Crap 4: Gandantegchinlen Monastery, Ulan-Bator, Mongolia
The Crap: Pigeons are considered good luck in Mongolia, and feeding them is encouraged. As a result, there are plenty of pigeons to go around, which becomes abundantly clear when visiting a monastery, aka a pigeon-feeding zone. Crap #4 had me spluttering with rage when a pigeon let one loose on my head and then landed next to me and looked up, expecting food. He did not get any.
Crap 5: Ko Phang-an, Thailand
A month of yoga on a tropical island should translate into a state of total zen. And while I was calmer than I’ve ever been, Crap #5 didn’t make me smile. There might have been a small temper tantrum on Haad Salad beach.Yeah, well I’m watching you too, birdie.
Crap 6: El Nido, The Philippines
Spending several months in El Nido gifted me some of the happiest memories of my life – and Crap #6. Nestled into the Bacuit Bay and surrounded by huge karst cliffs, the town is ground zero of a multitude of bird species, one of which took a liking to my small head. The unfortunate event occurred while I was scaling one of the limestone cliffs, so by the time I returned to town I stunk like it was nobody’s business.
Craps 7 & 8. Nyangshwe, Inle Lake, Myanmar
Another twofer, courtesy of Burmese birds. The first crap occurred while I was standing outside of the beautiful Mingalar Inn, my home in Nyangshwe for the week. I had, of course, just showered and washed my hair. While talking to the owner about my day, a magpie let a huge one rip and it landed squarely on my skull. Trying to explain the Birdcrap Counter to the hotel was a huge fail, but at least Honza and Sergey, two new traveling friends, had a good laugh at my expense. That night, as the 3 of us were drinking wine, another bird crapped on my head (and on my bag – it was a spread-out crap). On the bright side: I had witnesses for my 2nd twofer of the Official Birdcrap Counter.
Crap 9: Yangon, Myanmar
In the midst of recounting the travails of my head’s attractiveness to flying animals, a pigeon decided to punctuate the tale by shitting on me in Yangon. The fact that I was actually talking about the Official BirdCrap Counter to a Canadian couple whilst the crap occurred was extraordinary. Being Burma, a crowd gathered within seconds as the 3 of us doubled over with laughter at the side of a busy street, wondering what had us so out-of-control.
I’m currently in Bangkok and now cringe when I see birds flying above me. What does all this mean? I have a small head to begin with, so if we are talking pure surface area, I am baffled.
Why birds, why?
I’m curious to see if broadcasting the ‘bird problem’ makes it go away. Next stop is Angkor Wat in Cambodia and I’ve been told there are plenty of birds there. I’ll keep you all posted.