How to become ill in style, whilst travelling
For those of you who know me, you will undoubtedly know I love nothing more than inconveniencing myself by getting sick whilst travelling. It’s almost as if my subconscious self knows that my stories lack so much substance and humour, it shuts down my body until I become infected with whatever virus happens to be trending at the time, then waits for my eventual demise, and thus creates something way more interesting to talk about other than ‘I went to this country, ate some food, saw a monkey, then came home’.
Here are three of my favourite times I was sick whilst travelling. Not the only three, just the best ones; I don’t have time to write a book right now.
1) India, the birthplace of diarrhoea. No story about being ill abroad could be complete without a story about Delhi belly. It is hard to pick just one instance but I think I narrowed it down, and apologies if you already know this story but it is a belter.
I was on an overnight bus in South India with my good friend Yvette, keeping my butt clenched as tight as possible. It had begun. 9 hours later, we checked into a hotel and things declined rather quickly. A few hours in, the sweats started up, closely followed by room spins and a strong sense of doom. After about 24 hours, and in the middle of the night, I hauled myself into the bathroom where the explosions started from both ends. Thankfully there was a well placed empty bucket (which is normally filled with water to wipe your arse with) so I sat there stewing in the humid 30degree heat, delirious and disgusting. There was nothing left. I tried to stand and everything went black.
When I came around, I was lying on the floor with my pants around my legs, and a pain in my forehead. Id blacked out as soon as I had tried to stand, fell through the toilet door, cracking my head in the process.
Well Yvette managed to drag my empty corpse back into the bed where I spent the rest of the evening in a continual state of blacking out, coming to, then blacking out again. It was like being on drugs, but I didn’t have to pay anything.
By morning I was no better and Yvette took me to the “doctors” which was a house with no front door, and a yard full of mosquito engulfed pigs. I was laid onto a filing cabinet, prodded, and some loose pills were placed in my hand then I was on my merry way. It took a couple of days, and a lot of bog roll (much to our shame when we found the hotel staff clearing it all out – you can’t flush it in India) but eventually things got better.
2) Vietnam, the birthplace of something probably more tropical-sounding than Delhi Belly. How could I not include a sick story from Vietnam when I’ve spent so much time there. Of course there are many to choose from once again, but the most memorable was pretty catastrophic and even resulted in my phone being held ransom by Viet Cong.
I’d decided to take a trip with my then boyfriend, Tri, to meet his mother in their hometown in Binh Danh province. This was a very remote village in the Vietnamese countryside; people didn’t speak English and few had seen someone with a pale a complexion as mine. We were only there for a day when I started to feel sick. Sweaty, dizzy, unable to communicate with anyone other than Tri, he took me on his bike to a nearby Doctor. Without realising, I passed out on the back of the bike and my mobile phone was stolen from my back pocket. Not even being aware of this, we arrived at the Doctors; once again a building with no front door, and I was ushered inside and told to remove my shirt. Little inquisitive faces appeared at the window and door, all hoping for a glimpse of the sick white girl undressing for the Doctor. Things got more uncomfortable when I was told I would need an injection in my arse, once again in front of this relentless audience! I point blank refused and told him to stick it in my arm, and he kindly obliged.
Back at Tri’s mum’s house, I was sick and miserable as I saw that my phone was missing. Tri even went to look for it thinking it had just fallen onto the road.
Unaware that my phone had been taken, my parents coincidently tried to call me and when the phone was answered by an ill-tempered Vietnamese man shouting ‘dollars dollars!’, they were somewhat concerned, and alerted all my friends in the country. Tri also spoke to the men with my phone and they continually kept upping the ransom, until I agreed $40 and a place to meet them, but they never turned up. Dumb shits, my phone was only worth $20.
3) Tajikistan, the birthplace of...something I’m not sure of. I haven’t completed a blog about the Mongol Rally yet, but a lot of you will already know that I got quite ill whilst driving through Tajikistan.
I’d started to feel ill at the wheel and things deteriorated fast. I had to ask JD to take over, and asked Tilly, our hitchhiker, if I could sit in the back. I was freezing, despite being wrapped in all my blankets and sleeping bags. I knew things were going to be bad and having not seen a single human being or building for over 60 miles, I was growing concerned about being so isolated. Thankfully we came upon a little farm, surrounded by some yaks. JD went to ask the people if they had a toilet – I’d already explained that my butt was likely to erupt soon. The family signed that this was fine and I was guided in my delirious state to their “toilet”, very modest sized building with the roof blown off, and a small rectangular hole in the centre of the room. I couldn’t have felt more vulnerable and intimidated. I asked Tilly to stand guard in case I fainted. I managed to go in the hole, but when I stumbled to the door way, I sat down and blacked out. When I came to, seconds later, I vomited right there in the doorway. I was ushered inside the building into the family’s living space which was a room with a fire in the middle. JD was able to communicate with them in Russian and organised us staying the night – I was put into a makeshift bed next to the fire, covered in blankets, a shivering, shaking, shadow of a human being. I felt awful, but I absolutely loved how authentic our Tajikistan experience was staying with locals in the middle of the Pamirs. Things didn’t get better, and next thing I knew, JD pulled out a drip and IV line from his medical bag. What the hell would I have done without him?! He stuck a needle in my arm (stabbed me) by torchlight, and held the saline bag until it was empty. It was THE LONGEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE. We left early the next morning – the car was frozen shut it was that cold – but we got going and evetually rolled into Kyrgyzstan.
And that my friends, concludes my top 3. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. Can’t wait for the next one :D :D :D