The first time I ever went overseas (to Vietnam) everyone was so eager to give me advice. It frustrated me that everyone thought they were a bloody expert when the only slice of wisdom they ever gave me was “don’t drink the water!” It wore thin pretty fast.
I can now say that, however inadvertently, I drank the water and MY GOD I have never been that sick in my life.
Off we went on our glorious honeymoon. It was meant to be three weeks of romantic newlywed bliss, just the two of us. Just us – no intestinal parasites invited, thank you very much.
Six days in, a lovely Giardia infection changed all that. In case you’re not familiar with it, Giardia is a protozoan parasite that infects the small intestine and, without getting too gory, can make you really ill. For me personally, it was the secondary symptoms that were the worst – the violent shaking, the sensation of chinese burns all over my skin and the stomach twisting cramps made the other obvious symptoms look like a cakewalk.
I fell ill on 21st December and it’s now the 18thJanuary; after some heavy duty meds, I can finally say I’m feeling much better, although I still have to take the medication for a while longer. I had to go back to work this week and let’s face it, I really could have used a stiff drink each day when I got home but alas, my liver is shot and I’m not allowed to drink.
The moral of my story is this: when travelling frequently, it’s easy to become complacent. It’s easy to dismiss advice because we are now the experts. Even though I was careful, this has been a big wake-up call for me – I might be reasonably well travelled but when it comes to world domination, the bugs win hands down.
Be careful folks. When people tell you not to drink the damn water, they really just have your best interests at heart.