Getting sick in Indonesia
Have you got Ill when travelling I can think of nothing worse. Andra from Our World Wander shares what it was like getting sick in Indonesia. Andra from Romania, a full-time lawyer, and full-time wanderer.
“Madly in love with Asia and especially with the Indian subcontinent, in 2016 my husband and I left our office lives and embarked on a one year trip. Now we are back home and share our trip through our blog. Our travel stories are about people, local culture, doing homestays and searching for quiet places. You can find us here or on Facebook
Four years ago I read an article on my favorite magazine, National Geographic, about a mesmerizing place called Raja Ampat in Indonesia. I am not a big fan of islands, I will always choose the mountains instead, but somehow I got hooked on this Raja Ampat.
The more I researched about it, the more I wanted to go there. And eventually, last year my husband and I celebrated our birthdays in the incredible Raja Ampat. And trust me, we’ve been to a lot of exotic places, but this one was a whole new level of paradise.
After one week of totally enjoying our secluded island, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling extremely weak and febrile. My husband checked my fever, and it was so high that I literally couldn’t stand up and walk. I immediately took some medicine that I had with me and moved our bed outdoors to sleep on the terrace where the air was colder.
The next morning I was barely speaking. I couldn’t feel my legs, and the fever went down only a bit. On top of this, I couldn’t hear properly, I had the feeling that there was something in my ears and I had no taste. I was eating bananas and not feel a thing. The next day, seeing that my condition was not improving, we decided to go to Sorong, the capital of West Papua, and find a doctor.
We went to two hospitals. In the first one, a public one, they could barely understand English. They just handed me a prescription for paracetamol and antibiotics and sent me to rest. At the next one, a private clinic, there were no doctors. A nurse looked at me, told me that I had the flu and gave me another prescription. I was trying to explain that at home the flu does not manifest like this so it must be something else. But it was all in vain.
Given that I couldn’t fly (the pressure in my ears was unbearable), we decided to rest for a couple of days in Sorong. But I was not feeling better. The fever was gone, but I was still extremely weak, with a sore throat, pain in my ears and lack of taste. When we finally decided that we should really fly out, we got in the first plane to Makassar.
Makassar is the central city on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Undoubtedly more civilized than Sorong and with better facilities. We checked-in at a hotel, and they recommended us a private hospital nearby. We went there, and the doctor told me that I was experiencing the powerful flu. Ok, I gave in and embraced the fact the fact that I had no dengue fever or malaria or whatever else I thought I was having.
I got a rigorous treatment, and the doctor recommended me to stay in bed as much as possible and rest. So goodbye travel plans! We were grounded for at least one extra week. I started to feel better from all the antibiotics, but each time we would leave the AC room and go out to eat I was feeling the same sensation of soft legs and weakness in my body.
After two weeks of treatment, the doctor stopped the antibiotics and told me that I could travel. We were supposed to fly to Bangladesh, so I definitely didn’t want to lose that flight. It was frustrating enough that all my plans for exploring Sulawesi had been washed away.
The moment we got to Dhaka, we went to the public hospital, as I had read that it was a very good one, and did tons of investigations, to make sure that I am ok, given that I was still weak and with a very red throat. The tests came out ok, but they all indicated the flu. I was starting to feel that Asia is conspiring against me. Because at home, the flu for me means no more than a couple of days of rest, tea and paracetamol.
So I confronted a renowned doctor in Dhaka who was incredibly kind and explained to me my situation. He said that I was hit by the powerful flu, very common in tropical areas. But because my body is not used to this type of virus, I reacted so violently. It actually took me so long to recover because the doses of antibiotics that had been prescribed to me were too low.
They were based on Asian standards whereas I needed stronger doses to fight with my European body. And he ended his speech telling me that I should definitely spend some time in a less humid area and with cooler temperatures.
This time I really didn’t want to spoil our trip in Bangladesh. So we went along with our initial plan, did some sightseeing and a cruise. I was still weak but just didn’t want to give in. But eventually, we changed our flights and left Bangladesh one week earlier than we were supposed to and went to the only cool place that we could find in that time of the year in Asia – Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. My lifesaver place!
After only one day there I was feeling so much better. So after five days there I was as good as new. I actually realized that sometimes we really need to listen to our bodies. Because I was definitely not used to so much humidity and the moment I went to a place feel more like home I was instantly better. But it was a long month for me, a painful month which I hope I don’t get to experience ever again.
And yes, I did have travel insurance which in the end decided not to use. The treatments and the doctor visits were so cheap that I didn’t want to hassle with all the papers. But had it been something more severe for sure I would have used the insurance.
So try and stay safe during your travels and take care of your body. Sometimes it is challenging to avoid getting ill and then you just have to listen to your body. To take proper rest and pay attention to your doctor’s orders.