As many of us have said before,
“99% of what we worry about never happens, and the other 1% we can handle.”
And so it was with our fears of Malaria, and fears of the side-effects of the drugs to prevent Malaria. It’s a well-known fact that some of them make you feel really sick, and who wants that to ruin your trip.
First of all, I was given Doxycycline, an antibiotic that apparently is also effective against Malaria, but not with the adverse effects of Malarone or Choroquine or Mefloquine. It was great. No side effects whatsoever, and I think it helped get rid of the cold that I caught there more quickly than normal, and also with the odd upset stomach. T took Malarone and also did not have any negative side effects, but then he has an iron stomach; he could eat rotten food and still be fine!
Second of all, I think I saw one mosquito in all five countries – ONE! Of course that’s all it takes, but still one would expect a few more mosquitoes, especially in wild countries like Borneo. Heck, we get more mosquitoes in one night in Canada than we saw during the entire trip through five countries: Philippines, Borneo, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
The Long Haul Flight
Second, we worried about the WRONG things! We should have been much more worried about the long long long flight. They should call it “The Endurance-Test Flight”.
On the way there, my feet and legs were so swollen that I could barely bend my ankles. The skin was so stretched that it was painful and I wondered what would happen if my skin should actually burst. This was a worry worthy of concern.
Leaving at midnight, already tired, it’s hard enough to sleep sitting up for 15 hours, packed in like sardines, but even with a sleeping aid pill, I only fell asleep in 60-second bursts, jerking awake every few minutes. It was Hell I tell you. This is what we should have been all a worry about. No matter how many neck pillows and head rests you might use, sleeping sitting upright is almost impossible. It was a test of fortitude, strength, tolerance and perseverance. T never slept at all. Nope, we agreed; never again.
Yes, we tried every trick in the book to get an upgrade. Nada. No. Plane is full. Of course for an extra 4000 dollars each way, we could have booked First Class. Chump change for some maybe, but sadly we are not in that category.
But there is something even worse that we did not worry about. We knew it was hot in Asian countries. We even checked the average highs and lows in winter of each and every country, but what we did not know was how stifling hot it is every day. 30 degrees anywhere I have been in Canada does not feel so hot that it takes your breath away. No tropical country that we’ve travelled to has been so hot that you cannot breathe; that you feel like you are suffocating! We’ve been in humid countries before but never like this! The air is so sultry and heavy and sweltering hot that you feel like you are being smothered, or choked.
The local people said,
“The sun is different here.”
NO KIDDING! You had better believe it is. It is a scorching, blistering heat that feels the same as putting your head in a hot oven.
That’s still not the worst part. It took us a few days to realize why we were both also so weak, light-headed and dizzy almost every day when we were out and about. Our blood pressure would shoot up so high that we would feel ill, then when we returned to an air-conditioned hotel room, we would start to feel better.
In the end, I had to stay indoors between 10 am and 4 pm every day, going out in the early mornings or waiting until around 3-4 when it started to cool off a little – and I mean just a little. It was still 27-28 in the evenings. The only exception was place the one place where we had a pool, where one could sit in the hot shade, and cool off with a dip in the pool.
One or both of us would probably have ended up with heart-attacks if we had not been very careful. We had not anticipated any worry in this regard before leaving, but this is definitely something one should worry about, especially if you have high blood pressure to begin with.
Multiple Countries/Multiple Flights
Finally, the other shocker. Well, we should have known that it would be hard travelling to so many countries, and we did, but we just did not know how hard.
Even though there was not one glitch, not one missed flight, not one messed-up hotel reservation, not one incorrect date for a flight or a guide or a hotel, it was still an experiment of intestinal fortitude. This was a trip for really young people who can happily drag luggage through miles of airport terminals, can take multiple flights with ease, can hop on a tricycle taxi with a 4-inch bench to sit on – errr-bounce around on, who can hoist themselves up on a boat when waist-deep in water, who can hop up on a horse-drawn buggy and bounce over rough pot-holed roads without bursting into tears, and can do all of this with ease. We are young – just not that young. Stop laughing now; age is all a matter of perspective.
To the people we met along the way, we thank you for your generous comments like,
“Wow, you don’t let your age stop you from great travel adventures. That’s so cool.”
Well, thank you, but we’re done – at least with any long-haul trips.
Now don’t misunderstand. We have no regrets, absolutely none at all. As the upcoming posts will reveal, we had some of the most amazing travel experiences and wild adventures that we have ever had. So no, no regrets.
Perhaps, in the end it is best that we did not know these worry-valid things ahead of time. We might never have gone, and we would have missed some of the most memorable adventures of our lives.