Getting sick in Thailand
Here is my most valuable advice I can give you regarding how to significantly decrease your chances of getting sick in Thailand…DO NOT TURN ON THE AIR CONDITIONER! The fabulous hot temperature reliever is really nice for the hot Thailand weather, but it really is a vacation killer in disguise.
I was unaware of this wonderful tidbit when I had landed in Bangkok. I had big plans while in Thailand. I was going to see temples, eat great food, and catch a tan while spending two fabulous months on the island of Koh Tao. But most importantly, I was going to get my divemasters scuba certification.
So, when I arrived in Bangkok, turning on the air conditioner when I first got there was the worst thing I could have done. Why? Because within twenty-four hours after arriving I managed to get myself miserably sick; all thanks to the AC unit! My two month adventure turned into a two week nightmare.
Let the sick times roll!!!
When I landed in Bangkok I felt the difference in temperature immediately! I had been traveling in Europe up until then and it had been a chilly January, so the weather in Thailand was a real treat. However, the temperature was a bit to hot and heavy to enjoy in a stuffy hotel room. So what was the first thing I did? I cranked that AC to maximum and went to bed! This was the beginning of a shit-storm of snot, toilet paper, and vomiting. Yay, Thailand!
Waking up that morning feeling a bit rundown wasn’t something new, I figured it was just the regular fatigue I usually experience on the following day after travel. My plan for the day was to see the sites and culture Bangkok had to offer! I lucked out getting to see half a day’s worth of temples and people before I felt the familiar sore throat setting in.
By the time I got back to the hotel I was dragging my feet and felt like shit! Not even twenty-four hours in Thailand and I was sick! I sat in my room for two days. Super!
Then the time to take the nine hour overnight train to Surat Thani where I was to wait for a few hours to catch the hour and a half bus ride to the five hour ferry ride to Koh Tao. I got to do all of this while being sick!
What I was really hoping for was I would get a good nights sleep while on the train and feel better by the morning, but that was not the case. However, on the positive side of things, I did get to shit and piss over the standard Asian toilet, which is just a hole in the ground, on a moving and rocking train while trying to balance by holding on for dear life with one hand on a handrail while wiping my ass with my opposite hand…so that was a party.
Finally getting to Koh Tao was a treat, and I will admit that I was feeling a bit better due to the excitement, but I was still not the Mandi we know. I was not even to the worst part of my cold/flu yet.
The room I booked was a humble, yet clean, apartment building a few blocks from the beach. I was sick so I didn’t care at this point where I was from anything, only that I wanted to be in bed and get better so I could begin my Scuba diving certifications.
The best thing about the apartment (although some would argue otherwise) was the fact that there was NO AIRCONDITIONING!!
About thirty rolls of toilet paper, a failed first attempt at my diving certification (do to the inability to equalize), fifteen pounds lost due to me vomiting on my thick snot phlegm in my throat every time I was at rest to long, and two weeks of misery, I showed about a fifteen percent improvement in health.
It was at this time I decided it was time to cut my trip short and head back home to the States where I could get better and have the medical care I would need if I didn’t show improvement in my health. Fortunately, I did get back to a hundred percent health about a week after getting home…it was winter…in Minnesota…and it made me get better. Chew on that!
Now we know why we DON’T USE THE AC WHILE IN THAILAND!!! You never know if those filters are clean. Also, air conditioning is bad for you in general, especially if you are a diver of any sort.
However, on a positive note, I did manage to get my Open Water Certification! It was hard work and very stressful. It was hard because I really needed to be able to equalize, otherwise I would not have been able to complete the dives needed to obtain the certification. But somehow I managed to get it done. The congestion let up just enough to where I could equalize! Yay!
Obtaining my Advanced Open Water in Mexico was significantly more simple and enjoyable. Probably because I refused to turn the air conditioner on. 🙂