Tag Archives: Health

Racing to Cambodia – on passion, hospitality and being sick

May 2016

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Man it was hard to leave Bangkok. We loved the family atmosphere at Toom’s place and will be forever grateful to him and all the people staying there for our time together. But our visa time was rapidly coming to an end and so we had four days to make it to Cambodia.

On spontaneous hospitality and a lot of passion

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As it was still unbearably hot and no clouds in sight we decided to look for accommodation in Chachoengsao. We asked and asked but it was all too pricey for us. It already got dark when a passing road cyclist took pity on us and ended up leading us to a friend’s place. There we would be sure to find a place to rest and spend the night. And oh my how we did!

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Mit Saladin and his family created a very special place indeed. The Saladin Cafe is a former workshop / now cafe / restaurant / bar / future hostel. They are in the progress of building some rooms where travelers can stay and we got to test one of them. It is in the cellar with very low ceilings and will thus be one of our most memorable sleeping spaces.

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Love the atmosphere! There was also a toilet and a bath tub but fortunately not ready to use yet…

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… which is why we got to use the family bath room! And this is hands down the most beautiful nature bathroom I have ever seen!

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Of course it helps when there is no winter :). In the morning we enjoyed some freshly made noodle soup and got together for a photo shoot with Mit Saladin and his family. What a fantastic start after our break in Bangkok!

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Going to Cambodia

Afterwards we left the populated areas and enjoyed the hell out of the small roads leading us to Cambodia.

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And just before we entered a natural reserve we rolled over another big mile stone: The first 10.000 km! Not that numbers are that important but it amazes me that you can get that far on a bicycle. Not an engine powered car / motorcycle / plane, no, just a simple bicycle. Here’s to the next 10.000 km – I wonder where they will lead us…?

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For the time being we were still in Thailand, cycling through a natural reserve. We had been warned before that it would be dangerous cycling through as there are elephants living here. And said elephants are known to chase cars and motorcyclists. Oh well. The only evidence of those beautiful animals we saw were those heaps of shit. Which seemed most interesting to a bunch of butterflies. What can I say, tastes vary a lot!

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It was still unbearably hot during our last days in Thailand. But the appearing clouds promised a soon to come rainy season and with that some relief from the heat.

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We cycled past many of these spirit houses that Thai people often have in front / near their houses.

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On the very last day of our Visas we finally entered Cambodia. Shamefully I have to admit that I was a bit confused about which side to cycle on. After leaving the crowded border most people seemed to drive on the right side which did confuse me a bit. Eventually Torsten asked me why I was cycling on the other side of the road. Ooops! After almost two years of driving and cycling on the left side it had become so normal that I totally forgot to check about Cambodia’s road laws. Oh well!

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For the rest of the day we turned away from the main road and cycled on dusty dry roads towards Battambang. Temperatures were at an all new high today and as I had an appointment for my last rabies vaccination at 5pm, it turned out to be a bit of a race against time and against the wish to just lie down in the shade and consume a bottle of sugar cane juice per hour.

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But we made it, I got my vaccination, we found a hostel and I got really sick the very next day.

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Which made us stay in Battambang for a week. With lots of tea and coffee, baguettes from one of the bakeries and ample down time it wasn’t too bad for me, but Torsten was getting restless. But sometimes there is just not much you can do except to wait it out. After about a week I finally got better and we set out towards Pnomh Penh. More on that next time!

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Island days on Koh Payam

April 2016

So how to cycle in Thailand and not spend some time on an island? Exactly. That’s why our next destination was Koh Payam, just a couple of hours off the coast of Ranong. We spent a few days there, enjoying the beach, sunsets, cycling around, cooking and eating out, doing nothing. Not a lot of stories to tell here, so enjoy the pictures:

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It was pure bliss until we were innocently looking at some coffee at a shop and I felt something climbing up my leg… Wait. I looked down only to see a baby monkey on my leg trying to bite me. So this was not a deserted beach with monkeys in the trees or the monkey forest in Ubud. This was in the middle of the main village on Koh Payam and apparently the coffee shop owner’s pet monkey was trying to play with me. Or something.

Anyway, nothing really happened but as there is still some danger of getting rabies, this incident cut our island time a bit short. So we left Koh Payam first thing next morning which was also my 30th birthday… More on that next time!

On a different note: Getting Asthma and thyroid medication in Indonesia

Before I left for this trip I tried to research if I would be able to get my asthma and thyroid medication in different countries. As our trip spans over a few years, taking medication for the whole trip in advance is just not possible/practical. Unfortunately I found very little information back then, so if you too suffer from asthma and/or hypothyroidism then this might be helpful for you:
As I had some time in Lombok (Indonesia) because we are currently waiting on our visa extensions, I decided to go to a doctor to get prescriptions for my asthma (Symbicort Turbohaler) and my hypothyroidism (L-Thyrox). At least that’s what I thought I had to do. Turns out it was even easier than that.
The first step was finding a hospital. From a recent experience in Bali looking for rabies vaccinations I wanted to find a reasonably priced one but preferably one with english speaking doctors. Usually I don’t mind bumbling along with the little Indonesian I speak / understand, but when it comes to talking medication, blood tests and health I didn’t feel quite confident nor comfortable enough trying in Indonesian. So I tried researching hospitals¬† in the internet and found a few names but still didn’t really know where to go to. So I decided on a whim just to go to the Mataram Public Hospital which seems to be the main governmental hospital in Mataram. I then cycled to the address where it was supposed to be only to find out that no hospital was near. I asked around but people only directed me to a different hospital further away. I didn’t really understand the directions and ended up searching for nearby hospitals on Google Maps. So I went to Rumah Sakit Risa Sentra Medika next.

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Once there I talked to a friendly receptionist (in english) and explained to her what I needed. I also brought my current medication and the packaging as well as a document that I suffer from asthma and need the Symbicort-Turbohaler (in English and German by my German doctor). The receptionist then told me that I didn’t need to see a doctor because I brought enough proof that I take the medication and therefore they can just sell it to me. As to the asthma-medication that is perfect for me because it saves the cost of a consultation. In regard to the hypofunction of the thyroid you need to do a blood test every half year or so to check if you take enough / too much medication. But I figure that can wait a few more month as I feel fine at the moment. The only downside was that they only have medication with 100 nano grams as hypothyroidism is apparently not a very common disease in Indonesia (that’s what the receptionist told me). That is fine for me but when you for example need 50 nano grams you might have to split the pills.

So basically what I want to say: Getting the Symbicort Turbohaler for my asthma and Levothyroxine-Sodium for my Hypothyroidism in Mataram (Lombok) was an easy affair in my experience and I recommend Rumah Sakit Risa Sentra Medika for that. I would also recommend bringing your old medication and packaging and if you’re still at home and thinking about it – some sort of document about the medication you’re taking from your doctor. That might also be helpful in border situations when someone asks about your medication.

Resting and adjusting in Ubud

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In order to take it slow we’ve given ourselves some time to fully get here and adjust. So we sleep long on the first day and only venture out to have the complimentary breakfast. It is delicious but oh so tiny! I am tempted to ask for more but they are already cleaning up. Oh well, at least we’re not cycling today.

We eat some cookies and nuts in our room and hang out, read and chill. Finally at 2pm hunger gets us out of the room again and we’re on a mission to find food. At the moment I miss having fully stocked food panniers and things like bread and spreads ready to eat. But of course we find delicious food and all is good again.

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After that we wander around and take it all in. There is a lot to see.

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Statues of elephants and quirky persons.

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A lot of green surrounds us, there are coconut palms, water is flowing through canals and sometimes there are rice fields in the middle of the city. We see a lot of food stalls and I wish I would understand what they are selling. Learning the language and most importantly all the food words seems to be a priority for the next days.

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The next days are quiet ones. We didn’t really have any fixed plans on when to move on but for now we’re really enjoying just being in one place for a bit. For the first time in months we have a room to ourselves and just that. No one around that we know which gives us plenty of opportunity to process all that has happened in the last months. For me that means that I’m catching up on some blogging which feels really good.

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Torsten manages to get some work done and in between we go out to explore a little bit and mostly to find food. Each time we learn a few more words and understand a little more of what vendors are selling. We find the perfect Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) and Mie Goreng (Fried Noodles).

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On the third day we move to a cheaper room which is on the edge of the city and just in front of a rice field. It is amazingly quiet and so relaxing. The owners are very friendly on top of that and provide a free flow of coffee and tea – nice!

To stay connected we buy sim cards which is an easy affair and works instantly. Getting a rabies vaccination is a bit more complicated on the other hand. Our budget in mind we didn’t feel compelled to do that in Australia and thought it might be easy enough to take care of that here. Well, not really. We call several clinics and none of them have the vaccine or do expect it any time soon. In the end there is one expensive clinic which is still reluctant to provide us with the vaccine as they usually only give it to people who have been bitten by dogs.

So we decide to skip it for now. Rabies is still an occurrence in many of the countries we are travelling to in the next months if not years. But as it is unlikely that we are cycling through very remote places from where we can’t hitch a ride to a hospital or even catch a flight to somewhere in a timely manner we’ll deal with it when we have to. We might still get the vaccination for peace of mind at a later point though.

In the meantime we rest, blog, work, read some more. Actually it feels really nice to slow down and just take it all in. For both of us.