I had been looking forward to our Thailand trip for months, I blogged about it, tweeted about it, just generally couldn’t stop talking about how we would be spending the last part of 2014 in the exotic Far East. I checked my holiday countdown app every morning and every night.
The closer it came to the holiday the more challenges were put in our way, especially in the last week. Mo fell ill with the horrible flu bug that was going around, the same one that was also wiping out most of the staff at work. Our radiator chose this instance to stage a slow leak that seeped up through all the floorboards, but then the icing on the cake was when a bathroom pipe burst during the night and decided to flood all the way through the ceiling into the kitchen below. Just magic. I spent the run up to Thailand making numerous calls to landlords, plumbers and heating engineers, whilst trying my best to avoid my colleagues and Mo’s illness (harsh, but totally necessary).
When everything was fixed and the day came for us to finally set off, I was beside myself with excitement.
After over 20 hours and a few minor hitches (flight delays due to a technical fault with our aircraft) we touched down in Koh Samui. But that’s when it happened; that dreaded flu hit me!! Not just the normal flu either – the coughing, spluttering, retching type of flu with the loudest ,most annoying cough I’ve ever had. I had caught that damn winter bug. I was pretty devastated at the time, but also determined not to let it ruin our holiday.
Flu wasn’t our only problem though… Koh Samui was unfortunately not having the best week weather-wise. The temperature was hot, but the wind was blowing the tide and clouds in, which meant the beach was out of bounds and there was an occasional rain shower in the afternoons. The weather was out of the ordinary for this time of year, but again we were determined to not let it ruin our trip.
Then, with the rains, came the mosquitos. I recently read a blog post on Girl Tweets World about her battle with mozzy bites and I can completely sympathise. I too, seem to be a magnet for these lethal creatures. Within the first few days, my legs (and arms) were covered with red lumps. Again, I didn’t get the normal neat little nips that itch… instead I was treated to the giant take-over-your-whole-calf style of bite, which burned.
Needless to say, our holiday this year included a number of trips to pharmacies. For the flu and throat infection, I was prescribed antibiotics, which I ended up having an overnight allergic reaction to; one of the symptoms being an itchy rash which was a lovely addition to the already itchy bites. So back to square one on that one. For the bites, the locally branded antiseptic was amazing and thankfully helped ease the pain. We splashed out on packs of tissues, cough syrups, Vicks vaporub etc.
So at this point you’re probably thinking that surely we’d had all the bad luck one could have in the space of ten days.
But it’s not over yet…
On the 26th December we saw the heart breaking news of the missing Air Asia flight. Working as a Travel Alert coordinator, I naturally wanted to know as much as possible of what was going on and couldn’t help but follow all the security updates on the situation.
This was a terrible idea on my part, as the next day we were due to travel on our local flight from Koh Samui back to Bangkok. All the news I was reading was about the flight struggling because of the bad weather conditions… and sure enough the day of our flight, we drove to the airport through the worst storm we had seen. Monsoon rain fell from the skies and resulted in all flights being delayed. I have never been a nervous flier, but the nature of what had happened the day before played on my mind the whole time we travelled. Thankfully, our flight encountered only minor turbulence and we were lucky enough to safely arrive in Bangkok (I had honestly wound myself up so much, I could have kissed the ground).
Two thirds of our trip done, I was over the flu and just the chesty cough remained. Brilliant… except on the first night of our Bangkok stay, Mo came down with gastroenteritis.
After a couple of days trying to battle through, it became too much and we decided it was time for him to go and see a doctor. Luckily our hotel, Ad Lib, was right next door to a hospital, one with a specialist gastroenterology department. We went early one morning and within an hour, Mo had managed to see the specialist and get the necessary medication and rehydrants to help him.
All in all, it’s a good thing both Mo and I have a good sense of humour, as it was the only way we managed to get through the trip and by some miracle, still managed to enjoy ourselves.
Why would I bother blogging about such misfortune???
I learned a number of valuable lessons because of all that happened, the kind of things I would normally take for granted.
Number 1: The importance of Travel Insurance
There are so many mixed views and opinions on getting travel insurance, for years I was one of those who was against it. A useless add on that travel agents try to up-sell you to make their commission. After Thailand, I will definitely never underestimate it again. We experienced flight delays a number of times and when you have separately booked connections with little time in between, missing your next flight is always a worry. I did have a number of mad panics which were quickly allayed by Mo, once I was assured the insurance would cover us.
The other important benefit – medical bills. There was a chance Mo may have needed a full endoscopy if his condition had worsened and I was pretty sure they didn’t come cheap. Again, just the peace of mind knowing that we had a plan that would cover these expenses was a huge relief, and we already got our money’s worth from claiming back the consultant fees.
Make sure you always check the fine print though, some policies have restrictions on medical pay-outs and bad weather clauses for flight disruption, so make sure you are completely happy with the cover you are paying for and always shop around!
Number 2: Be careful when buying medication abroad
First of all, I would like to reiterate I am NOT a doctor or medic of any kind. I am simply relaying my own experience. When I was struggling to keep my food down we went to the Pharmacy to ask advice and unlike the UK, they are happy to prescribe antibiotics over the counter after a consultation.
There was nothing wrong with what they had actually prescribed me, however as I’m super fussy when it comes to taking pills (I despise having to take any medication) I am in the habit of scrutinising over the side effects and warnings that are enclosed. In this instance it was a good thing I did as I knew straight away when the symptoms started showing up for the allergic reaction.
Some of the medication didn’t have English translations so I would always make sure you have either discussed it properly with the pharmacist/doctor if this is the case.
Number 3: Kindles really are a lifesaver
I love books. I love the smell of them, the feel of the paper, the act of turning pages… reading is a pastime I really enjoy but never indulge in unless on holiday/travelling.
When everyone started swapping to kindle, I always played the stubborn card and still insisted on lugging my paperbacks around. This Christmas a very dear friend, one that has a greater love of books than I do, gifted both Mo and I with these e-reader devices. And what a life saver they were!
With the weather not as we planned and me feeling too unwell to go out exploring, we did spend a number of days confined to the hotel where there really was nothing to do. Having a number of pre-loaded book on our kindles, Mo and I were able to catch up on all the novels we keep meaning to read. Mo managed to get through 3, I only managed 1 (it was a biggie) and started a 2nd.
The kindle is light, glare-free and a size that was so manageable to carry around. We really would have been quite lost (and bored) without it.
Number 4: Don’t let the unexpected get in the way of your holiday
Yes we were sick, yes it wasn’t ideal but instead of locking myself away I made sure to still go out and see everything I wanted to see on my list. It means that now I’m back home I can still look back and know that I experienced everything I wanted to experience on our trip to Thailand.
I know this reads like a trip of doom and gloom, but I promise you it wasn’t all bad!
Keep a look out for the next few posts where I promise to indulge you in the wonders of Thailand.