Nightmare in Phuket

I took this sunset pic on Karon beach last night. So beautiful it made me feel sad to be by myself. This is the kind of scenery you're supposed to make out to. Little did I know that things would take a sudden turn for the worst. . .

Made it Phuket all right the day before. Since two flights had just landed, it was a piece of cake to get a cheap minivan ride to Karon beach for 180 THB (6$) instead of a cab ride that would have set me back 700 THB. I'm staying at a cool and funky guesthouse called Casa Brazil. Check out their website and book here if ever you are in the area.

Well, I thought that Chiang Mai was a bit too touristy for my taste, eh? Phuket is a hundred times worse. It's a good thing I decided not to stay in party central Patong, for it's even worst there. But Karon and Kata beaches (I'm smack down between the two of them) cater to Scandinavian tourists for the most part, and it feels extremely weird to see menus offering Swedish food, etc. That's package tourism for you. . .;-)

Didn't do much the first night, but had an early start yesterday. It looked like it was going to be a glorious day, and I walked the length of both Karon and Kata beaches before lunch. Later in the afternoon, I went back to Karon beach and was able to bum a chair and an umbrella for free for nearly two hours. Took quite a few dips in the Andaman Sea, which felt like heaven given the heat. Came back to the guesthouse to shower up and went out for dinner. Since I missed the sunset of night before (it's quite early; around 6:30 to 6:45PM), I made my way back to the beach to capture the sun going down.

Wandered around the various street vendor stalls afterward, before heading back to Case Brazil. I was listening to my IPod when I stared to have strong cramps. I've been lucky enough to have Thia food agreeing with my stomach since the beginning of my trip, but I knew that something was wrong. My head started spinning, my extremities were going numb, and it began to get a little scary. As a matter of course, diarrhea hit me but didn't make me feel any better.

After going like 5 times in the span of 10-15 minutes, I knew it was probably a smomach infection. But stomach infections are not supposed to make you pass out, and I was beginning to have black outs. Went down to the front desk to ask if there was a clinic nearby, but of course everything was closed on a Friday night.

I guess I wasn't a very pretty sight, because immediately the guy at the front desk said that they had to rush me to Patong Hospital. He didn't even call me a cab, he took me there in his own car. Getting to Patong was a veritable hell, what with it being a busy Friday night and party people were everywhere. Of course, we had to drive along the club- and bar-filled streets to get to the hospital. It probably didn't take that long, but it felt like an eternity for me. I was having difficulty breathing, and I was blacking in and out of consciousness. I guess that it was a stomach infection but mixed with my seafood allergies. There was likely something in my food, or it was cooked alongside seafood, or something like that. The long and the short of it is that I was feeling like hell.

I had trouble walking out of the car and remaining upright, and I knew that this was going to be a long night. Had to go to the toilet twice before the doctor could see me the first time. No sonner had I handed the lady my passport than I started puking. Which, in itself, is crazy because I never puke. I mean, at my age and I partied pretty hard during my college and university years, I blew chunks all of two times in my life. The third time made up for lost opportunities, let me tell you. I'll spare you the details, but I did manage to fill up half of a plastic grocery bag. It was so gross, you have no idea.

At that point, they had no choice but to plug me to a machine that pumped liquid inside me for a few hours because I was now totally dehydrated. Passed out for a while and woke feeling groggy and basically like shit. Imagine your worst hangover times ten.

I now have 5 medications to take for about a week. Must stay out of the sun for a couple of days (hello, this is southern Thailand!), no spicy food (hence no Thai food), no soft drinks, no booze, and a lot of rest. In a nutshell, the complete opposite of what someone booking a few nights on various Thai islands is supposed to do.

Still, all in all, I'm doing okay. I was extremely weak this morning and couldn't even finish breakfast. I was allowed to leave the hospital around 2:00AM, and didn't get much sleep. I wanted to climb to the Kata lookout today, but that was out of the question. So I just read Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Raises Hell and took it easy. I'm pissed to be paying good money to be here in Phuket and not enjoying it, yet I'm taking the ferry to Ko Phi Phi tomorrow and I'd rather feel better when I get there. Both Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta have more to offer than Phuket, in any event.

You always get travel insurance in case something like this occurs. Last night was in all likelihood one of the worse nights of my life. At least it happened somewhere where I could get medical attention in English.

Here's to hoping that my next report will be more positive. . .=)

25 commentaires:

Katy said...

Great post! It sucks that you had to get sick though but I hope you'll have a good trip overall.

I'm going to Thailand in June (I hope it doesn't rain) and I'm still trying to decide which beach I want to stay at... definitely not one that's overly crowded and too touristy.

Fluffs said...


I am very sorry to hear this & wish you a speedy recovery.

All the best,


Desk Jockey said...

Yikes! Was medical attention expensive? Or, did the travel insurance cover does that work?

Unknown said...

Hey Patrick,

I'm sorry to hear you had to go through that, but I'm glad to hear that you got through it!

Get well soon!

Jessica Strider said...

Hope your feeling better and that this doesn't ruin the rest of your trip. And yes, good thing you had health insurance.

Keep posting gorgeous pictures.

Bryce L. said...

Get better man, what a bummer. There should be a law about getting sick on vacation, not cool.

Unknown said...

Hey Pat, recover your health and take care, reading you is one of the best moments, so, continue your trip, keep away from seafood , enjoy.... you make my day ( except 6 feb 2010, it was a sad day reading you)
Mormegilmarseille, FRANCE.

Unknown said...

Damn! That sounds rough. Glad to see your spirits are still up, considering your situation.

Get lots of rest and get well soon!

Todd said...

Wow, glad you're doing okay now Pat. Sorry to hear about all this. Get better so you can have more fun!


Susan said...

That sounds awful... glad you got the medical attention you needed and I hope you're on the mend.

Cherry said...

Never ever eat food off the streets! Touristy streets or not... it's guaranteed diarhhea and vomiting :) ...but they are delicious though. I never could resist them!

You poor thing!! Get well soon!!

Phuket is prostitute central. If you are looking for a nice, peaceful place, Phuket is not a recommended destination.

Are you staying until Songkran? That is Thailand at it's best. If you are a tourist, that is the best time to see Thailand.

All by your lonely self? Get yourself a nice, young, nubile, innocent Thai girlfriend! :) *tongue in cheek*

ko0ty, get all your vaccinations and immunizations before going. Doctors and nurses in Thailand don't speak English. Tourists learn Thai.

Josiah Jubilee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josiah Jubilee said...

Dear Pat i am wondering. How many people do you estimate read your blog regularly?

Keep the blogs coming . . . i know i enjoy them.

Steve MC said...

Sweet Jesus, Patrick - what an ordeal. I've had alcohol poisoning and dehydration, but NOTHING like that.

Rest up - soak in some good Buddhist calm non-partying just-enjoying-each-breath-'cause-damn-ain't-they-sweet vibes - and be well.

Unknown said...

It's unfortunate that you got sick, Pat, but at least you're ok. Sick in a foreign country can be a terrible think. Glad to hear you've survived. So far.

Unknown said...

hmm, sounds infectious to me (vs allergy).
Glad to hear that you made it past the acute episode. Hope the rest of your trip goes well.

shaneo52 said...

So, It was some funky food poisoning, Pat?
Hope all gets better for you, and wish you a speedy recovery.

Steve MC said...

You know, if GRRM's still looking for a spectacularly gruesome manner with which to kill off your character... this would fit the bill.

CJohnson said...

Haha Pat, I tried to warn you about Phuket! I skipped it entirely in my trip, went straight to Ko Lanta. Phuket is a destination for people who fly in and spend a week there, and then leave, so everything is geared towards taking as much of your money as possible, in as little time.

Sorry to hear about the food poisoning or whatever it is, I ate some bad egg rolls in Cambodia and I was out for two days, but nothing this bad! Although I must admit, throwing up and diarrhoea simultaneously is not something everybody can make claim to...

Patrick said...

Feeling better now, though I'm far from being 100%. But at least my appetite is slowly returning and I try to drink as much as humanly possible.

We don't quite know what caused it. I never eat food from street vendors. I always stick to restaurants. So it is a bit weird, as I've been eating Thai food since my second day in Bangkok, and I never had any problem. Which is why I think that seafood might have been involved in some way, which would explain the virulent nature of this episode and the fact that I passed out.

Could also be water. I never drink anything that's not out of a can or bottle, but there was a time when I drank ice tea and it was brought directly in a glass. If it was home-made, then perhaps that explains what TKOed me like that.

Anyway, I'm feeling better, if not good, and I'm catching the ferry to Ko Phi Phi in a couple of hours. It really sucks to be missing the Super Bowl, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

I'll take it easy tonight in Ko Phi Phi, but I want to climb up to the viewpoint tomorrow. If it kills me, so be it!:P

Mocker said...

the viewpoint is worth the climb pat i assure you!! its a bit of a killer but the view is just beautiful!!


Jebus said...

Ah dude that sucks, I was lucky and didn't get sick at all when I was over there. I also found Patong to be horrendous and only went in there to visit a book store and for one evening meal, the rest of my stay there was spent at the almost deserted Kamala Beach and then at a resort north (or was it south?) of Patong for a wedding.

It'd have to be even worse on your own, am I an evil bastard for laughing? Yup. :-)

Marc said...

Sorry to hear about this, Pat. I feel your pain, or at least some of it. I just moved to New Jersey from Colorado. I left on December 30, driving to my friend's house in Columbia, Missouri on that first day.

On New Year's Eve, I stopped at a Pizza Hut outside St. Louis, and had half a large pizza for lunch. I saved the other half, and had it for dinner that night at a rest stop as I drove to waiting motel room in Columbus, Ohio.

I watched the ball drop at midnight, then went to sleep. Around 2am, I woke up with an urgent need to vomit. Over the next 5 hours, I puked my guts out every 30-45 minutes for the next 5 hours, until every bit of that pizza had come up. And as Eric Idle described it, years ago, it really opened up the sluices at both ends. I was left exhausted and dehydrated, and it was an effort to make it to the home of one of my publishers, in Bedford, Pennsylvania. I was supposed to just stop in and say hi, but Patti Bonn of Aegis/Aberjona was nice enough to let me spend the night in their guest bedroom.

I finally made to my friend's house in western New Jersey on the 4th day, and gradually I got some appetite back, after a nasty attack of something, probably food poisoning. I hope neither of us experiences this again soon, if ever!

Unknown said...

There are a few types of shellfish poisoning that can be REALLY BAD, as in MUCH more serious problems than vomiting and diarrhoea. The worst side effects (death and stuff like that) are very rare. They are caused by preformed toxins present in the food (the toxins are heat stable so thorough cooking makes no difference). These toxins originate from marine algae which are consumed by the shellfish.

There are four kinds (paralytic, neurotoxin, diarrhoeal and amnesiac) but your symptoms fit with diarrhoeal shellfish poisoning. The toxins cause diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain by fucking with sodium channels on your intestinal cells. When you get efflux of sodium, water follows.

These kinds of FP were so extreme that they always stuck in my head after learning about them for my masters. It's cool to actually know someone who's had it in real life. Of course, it may have had nothing to do with shellfish - plenty of other horrible microbiological causes of diarrhoea out there.

Glad you made it!


Tegan said...

Ugh, that sounds like an awful experience, Pat. Being sick is horrible, being alone and sick is worse. Glad you're okay. But I do have to give you a hard time about something. You go from:

"Well, I thought that Chiang Mai was a bit too touristy for my taste, eh? Phuket is a hundred times worse."


"At least it happened somewhere where I could get medical attention in English."

You don't think there's some connection between these two things? We all want to be tourists in a place with no other tourists, but that caters to us by speaking our language.