that time we almost died in Thailand

I received an e-mail this morning that read:

Hi Tara, I love your blog and am living vicariously through your travels! You've been to so many of my bucket list places. Reading your stuff though, it seems like everything is filtered with rose-colored glasses. Have you ever actually had anything go wrong?! I want to hear your stories about when it wasn't all perfect! Love the blog- SLK all the way!
Much love- Paige

First off, thanks for reading! I appreciate it more than you know. And your feedback is awesome. I want to know what you want to read. Now, onto the question...have I ever had a trip go wrong? HAHA! Absolutely, Paige.

In Argentina, I was robbed which I wrote about here. In Laos, a reputable hotel ATM that was across the street from the volunteer guesthouse charged me 12x what I withdrew {almost $600 USD-- a fortune in Southeast Asia} and it was never paid back to me. In Greece, I got so sick one day that I literally threw up all over the city of Athens on a walking tour {see here} and in Chile my camera was temporarily broken thanks to the sand in the San Pedro de Atacama {it has since been fixed and works perfect thanks to the lovely people at Canon}. My second time in Australia, my baggage was basically held hostage while customs was on strike. Have I mentioned my visa troubles in New Zealand?! That country causes me so much head/heart ache thanks to their refusal to give me a fecking green card already {looking at you NZ Immigration}!

And then...there was Thailand. It was one of my absolute favorite trips filled with adventure and beauty and new friends. was the epitome of a trip gone haywire. You might have read the posts about Thailand, but if not definitely check them out! In them I talk briefly about the...bumps in the road {and covering my body}.

If you want a quick breakdown, here it is. My friend Bailey and I went on a 16 day trip through Thailand and in that time I got a staph infection after swimming with elephants in polluted river water filled with their feces. Bailey had finished her antibiotics that had mostly healed the poison oak she acquired back in the states prior to departure, but upon arriving in northern Thailand it had started coming back. And started spreading everywhere. I woke up one morning and my eye was swollen entirely shut thanks to an allergic reaction to...something?? And the icing on top of the cake was going rafting and getting absolutely destroyed by mosquitos that were easily 3 inches long. The bites caused my stomach to swell and my skin broke open. I had a stomach full of scabs by the end of the trip. We were told by my aunt who's a doctor to get some hydrogen peroxide for Bailey's poison oak that by the end of the trip had opened up like flowers and blossomed with puss that spread it even further. Problem, we don't speak Thai and stood 0% chance of finding that anywhere. I actually thought Bailes was going to need surgery, no joke. I put on a brave face, but at one point Bailey kind of broke down and was like..."wtf is going on with my body, T?!" To which I responded {reassuringly} with 'dude, I have no idea...'

So, yea. Of course shit's gone wrong. But I wouldn't trade any of it. It's experience and it makes for hilarious stories. I still talk to Bailey about that time we "almost died in Thailand."  

I don't always write in deep detail about the problems of a trip for a few reasons, though I try to hit on all of it. The first is that it's not the country's fault. It's either poor planning, poor research, or the way the world works sometimes. Unfortunate things happen everywhere. I have never had something happen that would ever make me not want to return somewhere. I'm not that ignorant.

The second is that travel is an incredible privilege. I'm lucky that I have been to all the places I have been and I recognize that. So, despite bad things that sometimes occur, I still feel lucky and the experience always outweighs the shit that sometimes comes with it. Things are replaceable. Money can be re-earned.  Stomach scabs heal {although, I'm pretty sure I have a river monster parasite living in my stomach, despite medical professionals telling me that that is ridiculous and I'm being "dramatic"}.

And the third is simple: it takes a lot of work to write about every detail of a every trip. Especially when you travel a lot. Writing everything that happened over the last six months took me agggggeeessss. Sadly, sometimes details get missed.

^the happy faces of two "survivors" and new friends

^the happy faces of two "survivors" and new friends

I got to travel through Greece with one of my closest friends and I replaced my camera. I got to see Patagonia despite my backpack being stolen. The sand from the Atacama {the driest desert in the world}  costing me some money to have my camera fixed made for one hell of a story when speaking to the repairmen. And I would give another $600 to relive Laos all over again. I hope you know that I try and keep SLK real. The good adventures, the bad moments, and the totally awkward outfit photos-- it's all on here for you.

Thinking about time I visit Laos I'll get my shots...since I went over there in during a massive dengue fever outbreak ...