2009 TNT Travel Writing Awards entrant

Author: Nicola Meyenn


“Hayley what on earth is that noise?”  Silence was the response as fear gripped us both!!!  The silence was spoilt by a sudden sharp scratching sound coming from beneath our bed.

“There it goes again, what the bloody hell is it?” We were by then huddled together, wrapped up in our sleeping bags.  Was this the end for us?   Well not in the true sense of the saying but certainly the end of sleep and our sanity for that night while we listened and pondered what was lurking beneath us.

Hayley and I had met at university and dreamed of having a travel adventure.  At the end of our first year we embarked on our first independent overseas travel together, opting for Nepal and India which we felt would be a nice easy introduction! 

After completing our Himalayan Trek, surviving Delhi central train station (need I say anymore) we were, feeling pretty confident and threw caution to the wind.

“Hayley, there is a little road side shop which has awesome Vegetarian Samosas, do you want one?”

Now Hayley obviously had the benefit of hindsight because she said:

“Um, no, I’ll be ok. You go ahead.”

And I did, taking a seat and chowing down on a very nice Samosa.  Feeling very pleased that I had broken the myth of don’t eat from road side shops, we boarded a bus to Rajasthan. 

Only just making it to our hostel, I proceeded to experience that Samosa over and over again throughout the night.  Whilst listening to Hayley say I told you so! Why do people always point out facts that don’t provide you with any sort of comfort, while you are suffering from a near death experience? 

Having lost my street eating credibility and feeling very sorry for myself we travelled to Kerala hoping for some relaxation!  Arriving quite late after hours of arduous train travel we settled for the first hostel that passed our quick visual assessment. 

Our room was barely habitable with a double bed, two chairs and a screen that separated us from the squat toilet in the corner.  Too tired to care as it was only going to be for one night, we pulled out our sleeping bags and hoped to enter the dream realm.  However, the hope of a restful nights sleep was short lived as what seemed like a dance off erupted in our room. 

“There’s that noise again, it sounds like something running around the room I whispered.”

We didn’t sleep all night.  I kept thinking of the endless possibilities of what could be invading our room, Giant Killer Ants? Mute Chickens?  With the first morning light peering through the window, we unwrapped ourselves from within our sleeping bags and dared to look onto the floor. 

But to our surprise there wasn’t anything there.  I quickly did a 360 degree scan of the room paying particular attention to our backpacks and the squat toilet in the corner.  My attention was quickly drawn to a small black tail sticking out of the toilet.  I let out a piercing noise that I don’t think I have repeated since, followed by “RAT ! OH MY GOD. YUK!!!!!”

As we both contemplated the fact that rats had been running all over the floor throughout the night and we could have been devoured by these vermin creatures I felt, well, words can’t describe!  Thankfully all the noise and commotion had forced the rat to flee back down the hole it came from.  With that we jumped out of bed, stuffed everything into our backpacks.

“What are you doing Hayley?  Let’s go.” 

But all she could do was laugh hysterically.

I was very confused at this point as she was obviously suffering from post rat in the toilet stress syndrome. 

“There’s a hole in my undies she says quietly.” 

“Hmm, what, where?   I don’t think this is really the time to be worrying about holes in your undies. When you are travelling it is bound to happen”.

But then I realised what she was on about.  The hole was right in the middle of the crotch and you could clearly see that it had been nibbled out by RAT TEETH!!!!!!!

Hysteria certainly engulfed both of us, I did feel sorry for any other people staying in that hostel, but I felt they should be made aware of toilet climbing undie eating rats!