Friday, 18 November 2011


I spent one night in Singapore, mostly eating as much cheap Asian food as I could before leaving this continent for a rather more expensive one.

Anyone reading this will vividly remember my post from Bukit Lawang a few weeks ago, where I talked about a jungle trek I did to see some wild orang utans. I have one pair of flip flops with me, and one pair of trainers. I wore the trainers for the two day trek, and for the volcano trek a few days after that, which resulted in them being rather muddy. In fact, they were completely covered in mud and so dirty that I didn't really know where to begin cleaning them. So I didn't.

Aside from a misguided attempt at rinsing them in a lake (which left them wetter and smellier, rather than cleaner or less muddy), they pretty much stayed safely packed away in a plastic bag in my rucksack. After another week and a bit they still weren't getting any cleaner by themselves, so I still didn't feel like cleaning them. I considered just leaving them behind somewhere, since I might not even need them for the rest of my trip, and didn't feel like carrying unnecessary, muddy weight.

As I alighted at the airport in Cairns I admitted on an immigration form that I had been in contact with foreign forests/lakes in the past few weeks, which lead to them asking me if I was carrying any items which might have some mud/earth residue on them. "Yes..."

After a cursory glance at my clay clogs the customs official started saying "I'm sorry sir, I'm afraid..." - at this point I'd resigned myself to surrendering my trainers - "I'm going to have to clean these for you".

"Oh really... oh no... well that sure is a bit of a blow. But I'm not one to argue with an officer of the law, and I am confident that you will do all that is necessary to remove any remains of organic material from these shoes of mine. "

My shoes were thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, and are now good as new.
Thank you, Australia. Thaustralia.