Matt vs Chicken

It’s stinking hot. The sun is blaring on another beautiful day in Bali, there isn’t a cloud in the sky and it must be around 37 degrees. I’ve worn a white singlet top and my skin is already starting to singe in the 5 minutes we’ve been walking from our hotel to the beach. There is a thick layer of grime covering me, the kind which can only be experienced in an Asian country.

Despite the scorching heat, Matt is starving. It’s lunchtime and the big dog’s gotta eat.  While I’m struggling to stay upright, clutching a bottle of water to my chest like it’s a pound of solid gold, Matt’s on the prowl for food.

There is a bevy of cafés and restaurants on our street, each one with shaded lounge chairs, big umbrellas and comfortable brightly-coloured cushions. The cafés and restaurants have views of the beach and, most importantly, air conditioning and free wifi. But Matt has something else in mind, he is on a mission, and we march right past them.

It’s like a really bad episode of Man vs Wild, except what’s really happening is I’m on my honeymoon in Bali and my husband has a craving for Nasi Goreng that, apparently, restaurant quality food won’t satisfy. I am getting first degree sun-burns through my SPF 5,000 sunscreen and am probably on my way to extreme dehydration. Til death do us part? Try ‘Til the last week of our honeymoon do us part’.


“There it is!,” Matt declares proudly. I look up and focus my eyes on what he is pointing at. On the hot sandy beach sits a small metal food stall, shaded by a large yellow and red striped beach umbrella. It consists of a counter, glass covered shelves and a wok. There is no refrigeration and no sink in sight. The glass shelves hold containers of cooked food I can’t identify, except the chicken carcass with flies buzzing around it. I look over at Matt, he is beaming.

“Chicken Nasi Goreng, please. What are you having, Phoebe?”  Ummm, what? Did I just hear that right? Chicken Nasi Goreng. CHICKEN?! In case you missed it in my description above, I’ll summarise it for you again. It is the middle of the day in Bali, an appalling 37 degrees and we are standing on a beach in front of a street food stall with no refrigeration or hygiene standards and Matt wants to eat the chicken, sans flies I assume. He’s officially lost his mind.

Looking terrified, I study the contents of the glass container. I need reassurance and smile tentatively at the lovely woman who is eager to serve us, she smiles back a big, friendly toothless smile. Thank god I’m vegetarian. I order a Nasi Goreng with corn fritters while my ‘better’  half sticks with the Chicken. It comes to a grand total of $2.50.

I’m not sure how familiar you are with the term ‘Third World’ but generally, eating outside restaurants in a third world country is strongly discouraged. But this doesn’t matter to Matt and for reasons I cannot explain, he is determined to get his hands on ‘authentic’ Nasi Goreng and, undoubtedly, ‘authentic’ gastro. He wolfs down every last bite of his chicken Nasi Goreng.

It takes longer than I thought, but by breakfast the next morning Matt doesn’t look very well. His skin is a funny shade of ash grey, he’s sweating profusely and having a hard time swallowing. Normally accomplished at working a breakfast buffet, he sits at the table staring at his empty plate, concern etched across his face. I am guessing the suspicious chicken doesn’t seem so good anymore.

Suddenly Matt’s body goes rigid and he jerks back in his seat, sitting bolt upright and clutching the chair’s arm rests. “NO!” he screams in a panicked tone. He jumps up from his chair like he’s been shot out of a cannon, shouting “I’ve got to go.” He snatches the room key from the table and runs off toward the elevator, shoving tourists and small Balinese people out of his way as he goes.

Two hours later and Matt still hasn’t surfaced. I am settled into a prime spot on a sun lounge by the hotel pool, reading a book. I look up from the page and squint at the moving object on our hotel room balcony, it is my husband. The sliding doors are ajar and Matt, on all fours, has crawled his sorry carcass over and stuck his head out from in between them. He looks weak and desperate, struggling to lift his arm to signal for my help. I sigh and put my book down, we board a flight for Singapore in exactly 4 hours.

The next 36 hours are traumatic. That afternoon, on the plane to Singapore, I find myself clutching two full airplane ‘sick bags’, one in each hand. Matt used them while in his seat, only 12cm away from me. After we land it is clear this little problem can’t be fixed with some Imodium and a bottle of water. We go straight to a Singaporean hospital where he is immediately admitted and kept overnight, while I spend the last night of my honeymoon alone in an airport transit hotel room. My honeymoon is everything I dreamed it would be.

Trust Matt to spend $1.25 on dodgy chicken which ended up costing us $2,500 in much-needed medical treatment. I meant it when I said ‘in sickness and in health’ during our wedding vows, I just hadn’t expected him to test the boundaries of those words so soon.



I’d love to hear your stories about travel nightmares! Share them in the comments below. If you love littlegreybox, share this post with your homies and help me become a rich and famous writer :)

21 Comments on Matt vs Chicken

  1. Love your story, I ended up with a burst appendix on honeymoon in Mauritius. Not the best honeymoon ever!


    • Hahaha thanks Lynne :) I’m glad you could relate! Your story is far worse than mine :)


  2. Omg so many people can relate to this. At least he was all better by the time you got home. My partner and I booked a week away to Bali and stayed at the Marriott and ate at all the best places, no roadside chicken in sight. Needless to say we both ended up in the hospital in Bali overnight and then back at Royal Perth and again a day after our arrival in Perth. It baffles us what we could have eaten – possibly the fish? Or the ice cream which we had with waffles at our buffet breakfast? Turned out to be Giardia and we lost 10% of our body weight after this trip. The weight was never put back on so quite a big change to us these. There’s nothing like bonding in hospital beds overseas to make your love stronger.

    As a doctor also, I can strongly recommend this book from – “A health guide for international travellers.” If you go to a travel clinic or GP they have them and have really practical advice about what antibiotics you might need for different travellers diarrhoea or what vaccinations you might need. It’s easy to get excited about a holiday and not think about the potential dangers (we certainly did) and this is the perfect little bible for TRAVEL :) Would recommend it to all. :)

    Loved reading your story. We can all relate to this! XOX


  3. Hi, I just read your article in and I found it very interesting to read as I’m an Indonesian who is currently pursuing my study in Perth. I, personally, even don’t encourage myself to take the food in those small metal food stalls because the hygiene standard is sooo poor..big time. Apart from the beautiful beach and its breath-taking view..please be careful when it comes to all the food stalls next time. Hopefully your husband is okay now :)


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2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Indonesian Cuisine and Food experiences (Lombok and Yogyakarta) | Fresh, Delicious & Healthy Foods
  2. Why travel insurance is essential | littlegreybox

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