I hesitated to write this because I didn’t want to put anyone off travelling to Bali. But I decided that if I fill this little story with fun facts, then you’ll laugh at the comedy of errors that is my brush with dengue. And realistically, hundreds of thousands of people go to Bali daily and they don’t get dengue. Also I managed to travel around the U.S.A for a week with dengue and while it wasn’t the best way to travel, it certainly didn’t stop me having fun and playing tourist.
You see dengue happens. Happens to a lot of people at some point if you spend enough time in a tropical country. Here are some fun facts you should know about dengue: it isn’t actually fun. It isn’t passed from human to human, a pesky mosquito has to bite you. Now I can tell you, I douse myself in mosquito spray every day and night, so much so it would appear to be my perfume of choice. And yet, I still managed to get dengue. Which is not normally a laughing matter, but when you consider the symptoms first appeared as we landed in Tokyo airport, there was nothing we could do but laugh. First the shivers set in and no matter what I did, I could not get warm. The American was concerned because Sioux Falls is much much colder than Tokyo airport.
Then when we got back on the plane to head to LA, the aches and pains and extremely attractive sweats started. Then I got a headache behind my eyes that is normally the result of one or two too many cocktails. It seemed incredibly unfair to be suffering what can only be described as a hangover when I hadn’t had anything to drink…while I was on a plane…after turning 40 twice. Yes I did turn 40 twice. Due to time zones and the way we travelled, I turned 40 once in Singapore and again in L.A. We tried for an upgrade as I was sure the check in lady would agree turning 40 twice was ridiculous. Apparently she didn’t agree and stuck us in the very back row!
So we landed in L.A where the long immigration process began. The American and I were separated as obviously I’m not a citizen, and just as I was about to go through the final stage of immigration, I looked up to see The American being taken away by airport security. Only slightly alarmed (!!!) I raced through immigration and found someone who looked important in a uniform to see what was going on. He was being questioned by Homeland Security for being away from the U.S.A. for so long and for living in Indonesia. Then they informed me the process could take 3 hours. 3 hours!! I have dengue and just turned 40 twice and you want to detain him for 3 hours??!! Thankfully it was over in about an hour and we managed to get to our first holiday spot, where I promptly took some panadol and fell asleep. Possibly not the best first impression I’ve ever made but it did mean my dengue symptoms started going straight away so I could get on with playing tourist.
Now this is all just based on my opinion and experience, but here are some little tips that might help you on your travels:
* Everyone has their own remedies for dengue and as someone who spends the majority of her time in Bali, I’m always getting asked by travellers what to do if you get dengue. I’m a big fan of getting lots of sleep, electrolyte drinks (not cocktails even though they do contain lots of sugar), and panadol. And for some odd reason, fries covered in heaps of salt. Also get to a doctor as soon as you can so they can tell you what to do and what to take so your dengue symptoms go as quickly as mine did.
* Homeland Security in the U.S.A mean business. It wasn’t a pleasant ‘welcome home’ for The American, being detained and questioned, but something you should consider more often, every country is stepping up their security. Try not to get flustered or complain when going through security, because we live in a different age and even though it may be annoying when you just want to get on with your holiday, they are doing it just for our protection.
* Bali airport departure tax is now included in your airfare, provided you bought it after 1st March 2015. If you were super organised and bought your ticket before then, you will still need to pay the 200,000IDR at the airport.
* Bali airport has changed a lot – it’s easily one of my favourite airports now with the choice of duty free and cafes. And if you have a delayed flight, while not as cheap as the beach massages in Bali, there is a massage place just past the iMax shop.
* Singapore airport is a holiday in itself. It’s huge and clean and organised with more shops than I knew what to do with. Lots of eating options too although if you have a late stopover, most of them do close at 2am. There is also a great, although expensive, massage place and just outside the massage place is the snooze lounge. Free lounge beds in the quiet so no more attempting to sleep in chairs or on the floor.
* Lastly don’t be afraid of getting dengue. It’s like anything, you can get sick at home. But do take precautions and use mosquito spray. And if you think you have dengue, go see a doctor immediately. I swear my symptoms were gone quicker because we got onto treatment straight away.
And my last tip is to always carry US dollars when travelling. Even if it’s just enough to grab a coffee or water at the airport. Every airport will accept US dollars while you may find they don’t accept other denominations (unless of course it’s that country’s money). And at 2am, when you are tired and hungry, having even $10US in your pocket will seem like gold.
Until next time, happy travels, safe travels, and when work is getting you down, remember that a holiday is a just a daydream away.