Top-8 countries for barfing while on vacation

It’s a fact of the traveller’s life that you’re going to get sick while you’re on the road.

So writes Ben Abraham in the Sydney Morning Herald’s travel blog, which follows below.

There’s some great food in Peru – ceviche is like God’s gift to tongues. But uncooked fish isn’t always the best thing for travellers, and there’s some other stuff there that can make you violently ill. And it’s not what you’d expect. I ate a guinea pig and was fine. I ate a hamburger and spent four days lying in a hotel room sweating like Renton’s cold turkey scene in Trainspotting.

The first sign is the butcher on the side of the road with his wares laid out in bamboo baskets. Refrigeration’s not big here. Then there are all the weird and wonderful things that are just eaten as a matter of course. Washed down with home-brewed street beer.

It may not be typical, but the sickest I’ve ever been was in Uganda, and I assume it was something I ate, so that’s what I associate the place with. For the record, the toilet blocks of a Kampala campsite aren’t the best place in the world to spend your much-anticipated holiday.

I’ve never actually been to Nepal, but I’m yet to meet anyone who hasn’t come back from there without a horror story. My friends Russ and Rox had an unfortunate case of dual food poisoning in Kathmandu, and found that nothing brings a couple closer together than having to stand outside the bathroom waiting for your partner to finish vomiting so you can go in and have your turn.

Not food poisoning, as such. I just ate so much I felt sick. Every night.

I love street food, and never had a bad experience in India, so when I visited Bangladesh, I was keen for some more of that action. That is, until the girl I was staying with put me off slightly. "See the open drains running next to them on the street," she said, pointing near the vendors’ carts. "Where do you think they get their cooking water from? Don’t. Eat. The street food." Plus, giardia is rife.

You can travel relatively safely in China. You can order food you recognise, or just spend your time solely at that bastion of communist ideals, KFC. Or, you can take a chance, and give everything a shot. Most of it will be delicious. But I defy anyone to plow through an entire Sichuan meal without it doing some atomic damage to their insides.

There’s a problem with Thai food: it all tastes so good. Meaning, you want to try everything. Every bizarre morsel you find in street stalls and markets and restaurants looks like it has to be eaten. The end result will be a few hours riding the porcelain, but it’s usually worth it.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time