Forced downtime

Winter in Wellington, New Zealand is a time for grim weather and an office full of cold n flu germs. I spent my week visiting Hamilton and Auckland for work, and managed to pick up a cold in my travels. Being sick and sent home from work isn’t all bad when you’re in your motherland. You can go home to the comfort of your familiar surroundings, know exactly which brand of medication to buy and friends who bring care packages and send well wishes. But when you’re sick abroad, it adds a whole different layer of amusement to your adventure.

When I was in Hue, Vietnam I caught a cold. Despite having a trusty first aid kit overfilled with a lucky dip of drugs, I hadn’t packed any cold n flu meds. I ventured off to the pharmacy which resembled more of a hole in the wall coffee shop type setup. The sales assistant didn’t speak english, but lucky for me I’m pretty good at charades. I walked away with a bunch of different drugs, unsure about what exactly they are and a packet of throat lozenges.

Colour association catches me out constantly when I’m abroad, especially with food. The lozenges were in a yellow packet so I assumed that they were lemon or honey flavour. I was not so pleasantly surprised to find that they were a spicy ginger flavour and made me feel like I’d just taken a bite out of the sun. They did however clear my sinuses rather effectively.

I was about 2 months into my South East Asia trip when I caught this cold, and it forced me to take some downtime. I watched trash tv in my hotel room, sweated constantly in the humidity and forced myself to sit still for a couple of days. It gave me time to respond to those emails I’d been meaning to get to and do a little research for the next part of my journey. I did feel a little homesick in this moment because if I’d been at home with my boyfriend at the time, I know that he would’ve looked after me. Or atleast picked up the supplies I wanted/needed on his way home from work. But being a solo traveller doesn’t offer such a luxury.

The day before New Years eve last year I had just arrived back in Bangkok from Chiang Mai and went out to my favourite restaurant in Bangkok called Dubai for some arab food and Shisha. As I was sitting at my table, already feeling a little under the weather from the days of rain in Sri Lanka followed by a late flight to Bangkok, followed directly by an overnight train journey to Chiang Mai, I ordered an orange juice with the hope that some vitamin C would help the situation. I’d been sitting there a little while before an Arab guy on his own started talking to me. We ended up talking and smoking until 4am, and the next day I woke up with no voice.

It felt like I had swallowed glass in the night, so after accepting the fact that there are no fairies to magically deliver something cold to drink and a concoction of meds, I ventured out in search of a frappacino and a pharmacy. The brands in Bangkok were a lot more recogniseable than my experience with pharmacies in Vietnam, so I stocked up on meds and went back to bed. It was New Years eve and I had no desire to spend it in my hotel room alone surrounded by used tissues.

Later in the day I went out for a massage and then met up with a friend I’d met for the first time in Bangkok 2 years prior. I stuffed my handbag with tissues, took the maximum doseage of drugs, and we went on with our NYE celebrations. I tried so hard not to be constantly blowing my nose, but my nose was running like a tap. This night wasn’t nearly as majestic as the last time this friend and I had met up.

Being sick sucks, there’s no 2 ways about it. But thankfully I’ve never had to deal with anything more than a cold, traveller tummy or a hangover whilst on the road. The important thing is to get some rest and allow yourself to get better, whilst trying not to miss home too much.

So here I am, curled up in bed sucking on a menthol flavoured lozenge, grateful that we don’t sell secretly spicy ones here at home, dreaming of my next adventure, whilst reminiscing on the old. 30 more sleeps to go!

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