I have a love-hate relationship with my flip flops. I take just two pairs of footwear with me when I go travelling; one is walking boots the other is the eponymous flip flops.
So I usually have no choice but to love them, even when I hate them. Which is most of the time.
There have been many pairs over the years but they have all had a nose for trouble and ultimately ended up needing to be replaced.
Either flip or flop (I can’t remember which one but given what I was doing I’m just grateful it wasn’t flap) fell through the hole of an Indian train floor toilet down to the speeding track below and one pair was sniffed out by a local Joburg dog who ripped them both to shreds before my eyes.
Another pair became separated from each other for 48 hours in Vietnam when a fellow flip flop toting tourist mistook my left one for her own (despite it being a different colour and size). I spotted her from afar two days later and, with no common language to help me, Anglo-Russian relations reached an all time low when I tried to wrestle it from her foot.
The right one of a subsequent pair fell off when riding pillion along an unlit, pot-holed road in northern Laos and it wasn’t until the following afternoon that I managed to locate it (with apologies to the residents of Luang Prabang who had to put up with me lowering the tone of their beautiful city by walking around barefoot for an entire day- well, I wasn’t going to hop around on just one flip flop, was I?).
The laid-back Thai island of Koh Tao witnessed an unprecedented altercation when I pointed the finger at anyone within a earshot of having made off with the flip flops I had placed outside my hotel room overnight. I later recovered them precisely where I had left them – a good mile away outside the shack where I’d had dinner the previous evening.
There’s a Hollywood happy ending to a further incident that took place in Cambodia – you can read more about that in Barefoot, Fat Bottomed Girl. (For avoidance of doubt, although I definitely was the former, at no time have I ever knowingly been the latter).
My most recent pair (pictured) were by far the best behaved but came to a not untimely end on the last day of my six month African adventure. Not that the locals were overly impressed by them – I lost count of the number of times I was asked why I was wearing my slippers out in public. Does the name Havainas mean nothing in these parts? Jeez.
Pesky flip flops and their penchant for getting themselves – or me – into trouble form the corner stone for many of my travelling tales. Typically, total humiliation is not far from the heart of my experiences – usually my own. But I’m generally fairly adept at deflecting blame onto someone or something else.
For Kenyan catastrophes go to Getting Into Hot Water. There are Cambodian capers in Bloody Hell and Indian insights in I See Dead People. I venture to Venezuela in One Night in a Love Hotel and French frolics feature in Zut Alors, Did He Just …? If Laos is to your liking, leg it to Tripping in Laos.
Trust no-one, not even your flip flops.