Driving through the Monsoon | Bali, Indonesia

Our car is quarter submerged in water as we drive in and out of water filled ditches. The rain is pouring and we can barely see out of our little rental driving in and out of blindness – our windshield wipers work their very hardest.

Road – water – wipe – road – water – Watch out for that lake I mean pothole – water – wipe.

Traveling during monsoon season in South East Asia is typically not a problem. Except when you find yourself on some partly-paved backroad, after midnight and the monsoon rains have come to show you wrong.

Traveling during monsoon season in South East Asia is typically not a problem. Except when you find yourself on some partly-paved backroad after midnight and the monsoon rains have come to show you wrong.

Cortisol levels out the roof, theres nothing we can do except to keep driving at the edge of our seats until we reach civilization again.

After a few hours of this, Jonas starts to look very unwell. Ive never seen him like this. I start thinking of Jonas’ mother telling me to protect him and to please not go to South East Asia. I shake the thought away. Its close to 3am at this point, and he is white as a ghost. The monsoon rains aren’t giving way and we’ve been driving with the thought that any second could be the last. Sounds dramatic, but the reality is that this is dangerous. It’s the adrenaline that keeps us in the moment, focused on the road ahead. Literally, any bad turn could be that turn for the worst. That fatal car crash. We just need to get out of these vicious rains. Bloody monsoon. Im scanning our offline map for a hotel and there it is! Just around what looks like our god forsaken last bend! We made it. The village of Kintamani.

Normal people would surely pay whatever they have to pay at that point to hop in a bed but of course, being the budget backpackers that we are and being the country that is Bali, I haggle. I haggle at 3am for our room. Less out of necessity and more out of respect for the culture norms. It just wouldn’t be right to make a transaction in Bali without a bit of a haggle.

Normal people would surely pay whatever they have to pay at that point to hop in a bed but of course, being the budget backpackers that we are and being the country that is Bali, I haggle.

The room is like some Chinese emperor’s den. The bed is intricately carved out of dark wood with those old luck symbols that we associate with the Nazis. The room is actually the most decadent I have ever stayed in – too decadent for most tastes unless you are in fact a Chinese emperor.

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With high fever, I tuck Jonas in and hope he sleeps it off during the night.

The next morning it is clear we need to see a doctor. Ive never seen anyone this ghostly white before and I start to have Dengue suspicians.

Google says the nearest hosptial is 4 hours driving away. There’s no way. He needs a doctor now and I sure as hell am not going on that road again.

I go to the hotel staff who have made a rather nice home for themselves in the hotel lobby, laying on the luxury wood and velvet couches with their girlfriends and buddies and watching some Indonesian version of Vh1. Maybe it’s the circumstances,  maybe it’s the place but while it’s a beautiful hotel, it is strange. It could be because it’s too decadent, too imperial or perhaps because we are some of the only guests there.

“My boyfriend he has Dengue or something like it. High fever – I’ve never seen him like this. Please take us to the nearest doctor immediately” I beg.

He looks at me as if this has totally ruined his plans of Vh1 binging for the day and thinks of a way to make some ruppees from the situation. He suggests we should just book a few more nights to see how his sickness pans out.

Without a better word, Im flabbergasted. “Stay a few more nights and see how it – my boyfriend looks like hes dying!  Where do you go to the doctor? We need a doctor now, take us to the village doctor.  Take us there.” Something like that emphasizing the part about taking us to the doctor.

Reluctantly he dials his friend to bring a second motorbike.

5 minutes later and we’re at the village doctor. Jonas almost fainted on the ride over but we’ve made it.

There’s really no indication that this is actually a doctor except for the fact that people are waiting. Doctors and waiting are quite synonymous experiences. Five women loiter outside of the one room building cradling their newborns. It’s hot and dry out and flys buzz around, landing on one infant’s eye to anothers.

Our hotel guys lead us inside. The floors are dirt and the walls might as well be too. A young Balinese girl, around 23 with the biggest smile is weighing a newborn and warmly chatting with a young couple. She gestures Jonas to sit on the bed.

It’s Jonas’ turn and if we were afraid of sickness before, we’re more afraid of possible death at this point.

The young doctor doesn’t speak a word of English and so our hotel guys translate the curious situation. Nonchalantly she gets a needle and some miscellaneous solutions all the while cracking up at some jokes by our hotel guys. Its more like three adolescents gossiping whilst creating slurpee concoctions at 7/11 rather than your typical immunization visit.

With her beautiful smile she stands over Jonas with her needle – which yes, I know you’re wondering and I carefully eyed to ensure it is at least new.

“She needs you to pull down your pants” one of the hotel guys pipes in.

A quick shot of apparently some B vitamins in the butt, a bag full of miscellaneous pills, 1 young coconut, a platter of exotic fruits and a $5 doctor’s fee and I can see life coming back into Jonas. All of our worst fears subside with those first rays of light just as quickly as the sun rises. We are thanking the gods and once again we are on the road.

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What Vaccinations do I need in Southeast Asia? Here’s a checklist and some important info and links:

  1. Check your Immunization Record:
    1. Hep A?
    2. Hep B?
    3. Tetanus?
    4. Adult polio booster?
  2. Typhoid Shot – get it
  3. Malaria Tablets – talk to your doctor
  4. Talk to your doctor in general

Mosquito Repellents:

While it is unlikely you get Malaria, it is common enough to get Dengue Fever – which also isn’t the nicest and can be fatal if contracted a second time. Take preventative measures like bug spray or natural essential oil spray.  Here’s an old one on how to make DIY natural essential oil mosquito repellent (they are effective!). Sleep with mosquito nets.

Other Notes:

World Nomads has a great article on vaccination info as well. They actually recommend Rabies vaccination and the Meningitis shot for travel in Nepal during the monsoon season. Rabies one isn’t too far fetched as looking back on it we were chased by a vicious dog in Borneo. Naturally, we carried a baseball bat with us after that incident on our walks through the neighbourhood. If you miss a vaccine you can get them in Southeast asia easily.

Hospitals in Southeast Asia:

Bali// BIMC Hospital Kuta Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai No.100X, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia | Phone:+62 361 761263

Malaysia// Hospital Kuala Lumpur Jalan Pahang, 50586 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Singapore// Singapore General Hospital Outram Road, Singapore 169608 | Phone:+65 6222 3322 | Open 24 hours

Thailand//

//Bangkok Adventist Hospital 430 Pisanulok Rd., Dusit, Bangkok 10300 Tel: 02-282 1100, Thailand |Phone:+66 2 282 1100 | Open 24 hours

//Bangkok Hospital 2 Soi Soonvijai 7 New Petchburi Road, Bang Kapi, Bangkok 10310, Thailand |Phone: +66 2 310 3000

Vietnam//

//FV Hospital Ho Chi Minh City 6 Nguyễn Lương Bằng, Tân Phú, Quận 7, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam | Phone:+84 8 5411 3333

//Bệnh viện C Đà Nẵng 122 Hải Phòng, Thạch Thang, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng, Vietnam | Phone:+84 511 3821 480

//French Hospital Hanoi o1 Phương Mai, Đống Đa, Hà Nội, Vietnam | Phone: +84 4 3577 1100 | Open 24 hours

Cambodia// 

//Sen Sok University Hospital 1986, Phnom Penh, Cambodia | Phone: +855 23 883 713

//Royal Rattanak Hospital  No.11, Street 592, Boeung Kak 2, Toul Kok, Cambodia | Phone: +855 23 991 000

Laos// French Medical Centre on the corner of Simueang and Khou Vieng Roads | More on Laos Healthcare and vaccinations here on Travelfish

Myanmar// Recommended private clinics in Myanmar Burma

Sasha

Writer and Founder at DO YOU EVEN TOURIST?
Passionate traveller. Sea gypsy. Digital Nomad.
No fixed plans and not intent on arriving.

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