Readers share their tales of travel woe . . .
The hippy, hippy shake
It was 1971. I was travelling on various buses and trains with an Aussie friend on the Hippy Trail to Kathmandu from the UK.
We were in Afghanistan on a local bus to destinations east. I had recently become intimately acquainted with the infamous "Delhi Belly", a condition with a vast geographical reach, particularly on the Indian subcontinent. I cringed and puckered with every bump in the road and prayed fervently for a stop.
Finally we came to a halt at one of those primitive roadside dwellings masquerading as a tea shop. I rushed in, desperately inquiring about a toilet. It never ceases to amaze me how the word "toilet" is understood almost internationally. I was directed outside, but outside all I could see was a landscape of sand dunes. On closer examination, I could see a few heads sprouting amongst the dunes. Okay I thought, al fresco! Not being in any condition to argue the toss and putting prudence aside, I selected a dune and assumed the position. I entered a state of instant protracted bliss. My state of bliss was further illumined by the thought that humanity's greatest invention thus far just had to be soft toilet paper.
One night in Bangkok
After 10 days holidaying in Koh Samui, Thailand, we flew to Bangkok. The guide who met us at the airport suggested a river dinner cruise the next evening so we signed up.
The van that picked us up from our hotel dropped us off at the river cruise terminal where there were hundreds of other passengers. We finally found the correct boat and boarded and sat on a plastic seat at a table. There was a loud musical group entertaining up the bow of the boat and then they brought out the food and laid it out on to the top deck. My favourite prawns were included in the buffet meal, so I put some on my plate along with the salads and lukewarm cooked items.
Next morning, I felt terrible and had the most violent diarrhoea I had ever had, and we were going on an all-day bus trip to the ancient city of Bangkok (from before the new Bangkok was established). At the first stop I needed to find a toilet, only squat ones with no toilet paper. Luckily I had a few tissues in my bag. The next stop, same thing, and I didn't even have time to look at the reclining Buddha.
Finally we made it back to our hotel, I didn't feel like eating any dinner and my husband was blaming the prawns I had eaten the night before, but the next morning he had the bad trots too so all we could do for the next few days was lie on the sun beds by the hotel pool next to the toilets, ready for a quick trip to use them.
We boarded our Qantas flight back to Sydney, we had joined the Qantas Club so we could use their lounges for our holiday, but we both felt so ill we could not even bear the smell of the food.
Finally we arrived back in Auckland, and went to the doctor, I had cholera and my husband had giardia, all caused by the food on the top deck of the Bangkok River dinner cruise not being kept cold in the sultry humid evening air, and cholera is a notifiable illness with the New Zealand Health Department so I had to answer many questions from them.
In future, we will take notice of warnings about eating food which has not been kept refrigerated. Probiotics do not stop you from getting ill.
Mrs Beverly Wilson
I was travelling with my partner in Malaysia and we stayed in a comfortable middle-of-the-road hotel for a few nights in Kuala Lumpur and then we flew one morning to Kunatang on the other side of Malaysia.
During the short half hour or so trip I began to feel slightly unwell and got worst as we landed and travelled to our resort accommodation. By the afternoon, all I wanted to do was curl up and lie in a darkened room.
My partner did look slightly worried and tried to get me out to go for a walk, which I did but felt no better. Dinner time rolled around and again my partner tried to coax me to the restaurant to eat and unwilling I went along still feeling absolutely terrible. As we walked to the restaurant through the bar area I saw the espresso machine and said maybe I could have a little coffee. I did and shortly after I was hoeing down food and feeling good.
Looks like my sickness was actually coffee withdrawal as in the hotel in KL there was only instant coffee.
We'll be sending out Tecmasks to all of these readers. We've got 15 face masks to share. The masks have a fancy filtration system that wards off 99 per cent of BFE and PFE particles smaller than 2.5microns. Plus, they're comfortable to wear and look pretty cool. We'll share more readers' sickness stories next week — drop us a line if you have a tale to tell .