Everyone knows how it is when you’re travelling; stuff happens. You lose your passport, miss that connecting flight, get poisoned. Y’know. The usual.
I’d been making my way from Kuta down to Ubud, a much quieter, inland area of Bali. I had loved that day; we went to the rice terraces, walking our way through green paddies in the sunlight. Afterwards, we made our way to the coffee plantations to taste some of the world’s most expensive coffee. The Luwak, a cat like animal, eats the coffee cherries, and inside their stomachs the beans get fermented. The droppings then get collected off the forest floor, where the beans get refined and made into coffee. Obviously I had to try it; you would have thought this is what made me so ill, but surprisingly it wasn’t. The things I do for this blog.
Afterwards, we made our way up to Mount Batur, an active volcano in Ubud to have lunch overlooking the stunning scenery. All of us ate from the buffet- the questionable chicken, the soggy vegetables. On the coach back, my friend began to feel very queasy, and once back in our room, she had a lie down whilst I went out. I didn’t feel icky the entire evening; not when we had dinner, not when I had a traditional Balinese massage which consisted of my masseuse treating my body like Play Doh, and not even when I decided to hop on the back of someone’s motorbike to hitch a ride back.
I got myself ready for bed, and settled down, chatting to Jenna about how she had been throwing up all evening, and how curious was it that I felt fine? 10 minutes later, I’m throwing the covers off me and tripping over my own feet in an attempt to get to the bathroom before spewing everywhere. I have never experienced anything so aggressive in my life; a stream of sick with such strength it spewed out of both nostrils and my mouth like a majestic triple waterfall of vomit. As I stumbled back, I told her “you’re not the only one”.
The evening continued in this fashion; throwing up every half an hour for 12 hours straight, Jenna and I taking it turns to up chuck the entire contents of our stomachs. We gave up on sleeping; we talked, laughed and when one of us felt the nausea rise, the conversation paused and then resumed after like nothing had happened. “I’ll be back in minute!” one would say, whilst the other responded with a “Have fun!”.
As I hang over the toilet bowl for the 11th time that night, I hear retching sounds from next door; another comrade in this crusade of sickness has been taken victim. Later, we discover that half the group has been taken down, recognisable by being the bodies lying on rucksacks as we travel the next day, hands holding sick bags and towels over heads to shield from the sun.
By the morning, our spirits were a lot lower. We could not have picked a worse day to travel to the Gili Islands- an hour’s bus journey and a two hour ferry. As we made our way onboard, I felt the sweat trickle down the side of my face, my pasty skin clammy to the touch. “We need to sit down” I hissed at Jenna walking ahead, holding my sick bag at the ready.
24 hours in and I feel like dying. Everytime I sip water, I throw it up and forget eating; I wouldn’t be able to keep it down and I can’t stomach the thought of it anyway. Jenna and I lie in bed on Gili Trawangan Island, contemplating death as an easy escape route to what feels like a never ending bout of food poisoning.
Just as we thought all was lost, the next day we make a miraculous recovery. We all come to breakfast, excited to not be puking every 5 minutes and being able to see the scenery. Food was still questionable; the first meal was precarious as we took bite after bite, our bodies deciding whether to keep it or get rid of it.
They say that food poisoning in South East Asia is a rite of passage; I’d rather just eat the odd bit of dodgy seafood and be done with it.
Ever had food poisoning abroad? What was your experience of it? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to put your email in on the left to subscribe!