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Her Take: What to Expect from Food Poisoning in Thailand

Food poisoning is shit in the most literal sense of the word. One minute you’re loving life, consuming pad thai and beers like a champ, and the next you’re staring down the hole of beaten-down toilet wondering if a quick dose of Thai whiskey would in fact kill those ants constantly crawling around the outer seat edges. When food poisoning in Thailand hits, it’s not a quick “excuse me one minute while I relieve myself” moment, but more like a “dear mother of all things holy if only the sink were a foot closer to the toilet I would not have to move for the next 24 hours” kinda feeling. Kyle and I were staying in Tonsai Beach on the west coast of Thailand for a few days, and planned to take part in the popular rock climbing courses available. That is until I woke up at 6am, two hours before our scheduled climb, feeling like a small volcano was about to erupt in my stomach and spew from every available orifice.

It all started the day before when I woke up and couldn’t quite muster the energy to do much of anything. We finally surfaced at about 11am and rented a kayak to paddle over to Phra Nang beach, which is rated one of the top beaches in the world. However, even when we arrived I still found it difficult to really appreciate the sights. It wasn’t apparent what the issue was at this point, and for the most part I just thought I was having a lazy day. Night came, and at dinner I mentioned to Kyle how tired I was.

“Uh oh,” he responded, immediately remembering the lead-up to his full moon party poisoning extravaganza.

“I hope you don’t have food poisoning,” he said.

“No, I’m sure I’ll be fine,” I said nonchalantly.

Famous last words.

The next day the pain hit at 5am and finally after popping a few leftover pills from my last bout of food poisoning in Cambodia, I manage to fall back to sleep until about 11am. Then, for the next 12 hours until passing out in the evening from pure exhaustion, I experienced more sickness than an overly ambitious 16-year-old who thought it would be “cool” to chug a bottle of vodka with his friends. It was bad. Really bad. One minute I was laying face first on the bed, making an incomprehensible groaning sound, and the next I had launched myself up (but not fully up, as I learned that if I hunched the right way the pain would decrease ever so slightly), and slammed the bathroom door. The best part was the team of ants that had begun to form around our bathroom garbage, bringing whatever goodies they could find back to their queen and quite possible laughing at my entire dilemma in the process.

food poisoning

What I looked like for most of the day

To make matters even better, we were staying in a small bungalow with no wifi, no electricity from 6am until 6pm, and were constantly kept company by two massive cockroaches who enjoyed scurrying across the floor when you least expected it. My only form of comfort was the gatorade Kyle kept bringing me, and my iPod with the sound of Jim Dale reading Harry Potter audiobooks. The difference between the two is that the latter wouldn’t repeat on me an hour later and resurface looking much like it did before, only with a few extra crackers.

food poisoning in thailand

The amazing view that I never really got to enjoy

We made the executive decision to skip rock climbing and wake up early the next day to head to Koh Phi Phi. On the ferry we ran into three other people who also suffered from food poisoning after eating at a seafood restaurant. I can’t say for sure where I contracted the poisoning from, and to be honest at this point it could be from anything. Chicken, prawns, pasta – you name it and there will be some way that soul-sucking bacteria can work its way into your meal in Thailand. Just keep in mind that if you are coming to Southeast Asia for an extended period of time, you have a strong likelihood of feeling like death for a day. My only advice for getting through it is said best by mine and Kyle’s good friend David from back home: “Hydration. It’s the first step to being awesome.”

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