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Posts Tagged ‘solo travel’

I got burned in Vietnam

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February 3rd, 2018 Posted 5:23 pm

Ok as you might know, I had a little mishap during my two weeks in Vietnam. Didn’t really tell anyone until I came back because I didn’t want people fussing or asking questions. I know I can be quite accident-prone but this is my first time getting hurt overseas 😓 So it was quite an… experience and here’s my thought process each day.

What happened was I was getting off an Uber Bike when I scalded my right calf on the exhaust pipe. It wasn’t my first time on a bike so it’s not because I don’t know how to get off one. I took the bike because 1) it’s faster + slightly cheaper and 2) for the experience since it’s not available in Singapore and I rarely get the chance as a solo traveller.

But the driver dropped me off at the wrong destination. I wanted to go to an eatery on a popular street and he dropped me off at a residential alley wtf? Got very distracted and was trying to take in my surroundings and before I knew it, ouch! I remained so calm that the driver didn’t even know it happened. I gave him a 2-star rating.

Google Maps wasn’t accurate so I kept walking up and down the alley until I managed to ask some locals for directions. Then I continued walking but must have still looked lost because this uncle came up to me and pointed me in the right way. THANK YOU 😢

Sharing some gross photos. Please ignore my hair and fats as I am only human. Plus I was more concerned with whether I would still have a leg after my trip (hello paranoia) than whether my legs were attractive LOL.

17 Jan

This actually happened on Day 2 out of 15 of my trip so I had the wound for pretty much my entire holiday 😭 People were asking how I managed the whole time but the only thing I could really do was to keep calm and carry on. No way was I spending my holiday bedridden for 2 weeks! And when you are alone, you are forced to take care of yourself.

When I reached the eatery, I asked for an ice cube for my wound (only realised later that you aren’t supposed to use ice at all). It was painful but I didn’t think much of it. After all, people get scalded all the time, right? Plus the wound itself seemed fine.

Later on in the day, the blister started forming. Still, I thought it wasn’t so bad. Did some Googling and apparently the presence of a blister means it’s a second-degree burn. Oops should I be worried? Never mind, still looks ok! Or so I thought.

Two hours later, I was back in my room and ran the wound under warm water. The blister had gotten larger by then I was like wtf that’s quite big. In fact it was a freaking heart shape that I was kinda in admiration of.

I sent photos to my group chat with Ling Yue, Clement and Darren. Maybe for reassurance that this was normal. They asked me to poke the blister with a needle and I’m like

no meme

18 Jan

I woke up and the blister had leaked and flattened during my sleep. The layer of skin was still there. I felt nothing. So I just carried on and went to the Cu Chi Tunnels. I was quite scared of getting an infection because it’s the #1 thing they warn about when I was doing my frantic Googling. Plus it was all soil and dust at the tunnels.

As luck would have it, when I was climbing out of a tunnel, I really scraped my wound against the wall and the whole blister skin came off. FML. Kept using wet wipes to clean the wound. Tried applying some of my Dettol hand sanitiser around it to test and it stung like a bitch so I was like ABORT MISSION.

I flew to Hanoi on the 19th and went to Sapa on the 20th. All this time, I was still Googling and everything seemed normal enough. My wound occasionally secreted clear plasma so I wasn’t too worried as it wasn’t pus.

20 Jan

So yup the whole layer of skin was gone. It was at this point when I saw how deep the exposed flesh was and realised that many layers of skin got burned through. I kept hoping that if the wound had to fuck up then to wait till I was back in Hanoi. Told myself ok ok I would seek medical attention when I came back to Hanoi.

Sadly on this day, my wound started secreting yellow pus. Minimal but still. As I am very stubborn, I just kept wiping and cleaning it as best as I could. I went trekking on Ham Rong Mountain with a fellow solo traveller on the 22nd and my wound started pusing again. Sigh. And yes I know I exposed it to more dirt and dust and unnecessarily strained the wound further by trekking. BUT I AM IN SAPA…

I was a little worried but I had no other symptoms of infection and felt physically fine. My wound did not feel painful or hot to the touch (in fact, sometimes it was quite cold – which I thought wasn’t exactly a good sign either as it could mean my flesh is dead or it could be just the weather) and there were no scary red streaks (thanks, Google Images).

24 Jan

Because our bodies are so regenerative, a replacement layer of skin had grown over the wound. I read that it’s a good thing that’s meant to protect your wound while they work on healing it and to not peel it. But it still kept leaking pus!!!! Sorry to be gross but I would smell my tissue to check if I should be worried. No odour, thankfully.

Back in Hanoi and very bummed by this point. Was scared to death of infection and already imagining having my leg amputated and wondering if I would have the will to live with just one leg. Thanks ah, Google, WebMD and all the many articles that I read.

I begrudgingly went into a pharmacy (only because I passed by a whole stretch of them while en route to Hỏa Lò Prison), showed the staff my wound and she came back with Silvirin (silver sulfadiazine cream). Seemed quite legit and it cost only 17,000VND (around $1) so I immediately applied it.

Imagine my shock when I was walking around the museum and felt pus — this time orange colour!!! — trickling down my leg. I feel like the cream induces pus. Is that normal? Is that part of the healing process? Huh???? Shitty thing about burns is that the signs of healing and infection are very similar.

Later on in the day, I went to a different pharmacy for a second opinion. The pharmacist was useless and wanted to sell me a 310,000VND cream which I declined. I got some sterile bandages even though I’m not sure whether you are supposed to dress a burn blister. I remember being very upset on this day because no one was particularly helpful.

I wanted a doctor to check if my wound was infected but they don’t have clinics in Hanoi, only pharmacies. The staff couldn’t really speak English, answer my questions or reassure me. I didn’t want to go to a hospital because it was troublesome (though I guess there’s always Uber) and I wasn’t sure if it would be expensive for foreigners.

I felt like the Silvirin made my wound look worse but it didn’t make me *feel* worse so I just continued using it after cleaning my wound.

25 Jan

Still, keep calm and carry on!!! Went for a 2D1N Halong Bay Cruise and I didn’t want the wound to bother me so I stuck a bandage on it. I did a lot of climbing and it was not the best idea because by the late afternoon, the wound was leaking through my bandage.

I got so worried that I asked my tour guide whether they had first-aid on board IF (very big emphasis here because I didn’t want to freak him out) I needed it hahaha. I am sure they do for regular stuff like headaches etc but I’m not so sure about burn wounds 😅

People on the cruise kept asking if I was okay and I’m sorry for grossing everyone out with my wound. I actually think my tour guide was more helpful and calming than the pharmacists in Hanoi. He also advised against using a bandage so that the wound could dry and heal faster.

26 Jan

He was right. Bandages were a bad idea as they kept the wound damp and now I have granulated tissue!!!! I was quite horrified to see this. I didn’t even know what “granulated tissue” was before this but I Googled the appearance to check wtf this was and Google always understands me.

It looks fucking disgusting, I know. Saw it right after I removed the bandage on the night of 25th but this photo was taken on the 26th.

I was too lazy to get ready at 6am for kayaking and I didn’t want to strain my wound or get it wet with seawater so I didn’t join the rest. I still woke up every early though 😞

I felt fine until on the bus back to Hanoi. Somehow it felt like a longer ride than before because the traffic was shitty plus the bus felt a lot more cramped and crowded this time. I started feeling feverish but luckily I brought Panadol.

I still don’t know if I was feeling unwell from the cold weather and so much travelling around or it was a side effect of the burn, but thankfully it didn’t last long. I felt the most physically ill on this day but I wasn’t emotionally upset like the other day.

28 Jan

Surprisingly, the wound started drying up. Never thought I would be thrilled to see hard, crusty scabs, I was still using Silvrin but was a lot more chill about it. Very occasionally there was plasma but I felt like the worse was over.

Errr as you might be able to tell, I might have picked the scabs because it was so bloody itchy. Sometimes when I felt shitty about the wound, I would tell myself that it could have been at a much worse spot like my face (the horror) or on a joint.

29 Jan

It looks like a very angry red thing…

And then I went home on the 30th. Finally went to see a doctor on the 31st, who gave me antibiotics, antiseptic wash and another cream (why??? I’m so lazy). She was in disbelief that I waited till now to see a doctor and said:

“You are very lucky to survive that.”

“All in all, you are very very very lucky.”

I guess I’ll have a scar but I’m so glad that I won’t lose a leg (you would understand if you have ever watched “The Ruins”). The fear of infection was very real, what with all the dirt roads, muddy pathways, mountain trails, caves and tunnels etc. Especially when you are from pristine Singapore and you are used to having a GP a few metres away.

1 Feb

Looks a lot tamer now but the itch was killing me.

I’m forever amazed at our bodies’ capabilities to regenerate and heal, whether it is a broken bone or even a broken heart. Never ever estimate ourselves. And we only have one body so please take care of it!

3 Feb

Around midnight today. No itch nor pain so far. So yes, I survived all on my own!!!

Despite this little injury, I still had a good time in Vietnam. Nothing can get you down if you refuse to let it 😊 I  actually interacted with a lot more people and made more friends on this solo trip than my previous ones. I miss the cold weather, carefree days, being somewhere new where nobody knows me, and maybe I even miss the crazy traffic.

My first solo trip at 22 (12 days in Thailand)

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July 25th, 2016 Posted 1:03 am

Krabi limestone cliffs

So I just came back from 4 days in KL with my family then another 12 days alone in Thailand hehe. Can’t remember how the idea came about or the exact moment it came to fruition.

While booking my flights and accommodation, I kept thinking that I must be crazy to go through with this. Even told myself that if I reached Thailand and all I felt like was staying in my room to sleep and read A Song of Ice and Fire, that was fine too HAHA.

But I am so glad I did it because it was such an incredible and empowering experience. I had so much fun and met so many awesome people. Loved and enjoyed every moment!!

What made me do it

  • Mainly because I wanted to try as it’s said to be a completely different experience
  • Generally tired of people and urban life and routine
  • I know a couple of females who are frequent solo travellers
  • So I thought, “If they can do it, why can’t I?”
  • Had no problems for my previous free and easy trips with other people
  • All I need is Internet for Google Maps cos I’m horrible with directions (yes I know of the offline trick but having Internet connection all the time saves lives ok)

In fact for Korea, I brought my mum to Jeju / Seoul / Nami Island / DMZ and had no problems getting around even without 3G internet. So surely I can’t fare too badly alone…

Krabi Tup Island

Why I chose Krabi > Khao Yai > Bangkok

It’s amazing where life brings you. Initially I was only considering a short trip to Bangkok because I feel quite familiar with it, having been there twice before. Plus Thai people are very hospitable and warm so don’t have to worry about asking for help.

Then I read about all the touristy things you can do in Khao Yai so that was in my list too. When I did further research, I found out about the national park. More reading took me to Khao Sok National Park which I was keen to visit as well.

But to get to Khao Sok, you need to get to Surat Thani, which is close to Krabi and Phuket. Already been to Phuket in 2014, didn’t think it was that cheap or fun unless you want to party. Krabi seemed to suit all my preferences so I chose it as my starting point.

Decided to skip Khao Sok though because two national parks in one trip seemed like overkill. Plus I got lazy when I think about having to fly to Surat Thani then still take a long bus ride or something to Khao Sok haha.

Turned out these three stops were just nice though! Not too long or short. I got to do a bit of everything: Sightseeing, trekking, island-hopping and beaches, shopping and relaxing etc.

I didn’t plan a lot and everything was in my head. Just had a rough idea of how many days to spend in each place, what I want to do, where the places are and how to get there.

It’s also low season in Thailand now due to the rainy weather. But in return you get cool temperatures, low prices and minimal tourists so give me that any day! No thunderstorm will spoil a trip or your photos more than obnoxious, loud-mouthed PRCs, I tell you.

Anyway here’s a brief outline of what I did, with minimal pictures. Otherwise I’ll never get around to publishing this post. Might blog more if I have time.

Off I go

My trip was off to a good start even I flew because there was a free photobooth and staff were giving away snacks. And you know how much I like freebies and taking photos 😀

Changi Airport photobooth

  • $45 one-way flight to Krabi (taxes included)
  • Bought a 7-day data SIM card for 299฿ on the plane
  • Switched seats so that two girls separated by the aisle could sit together
  • Elderly couple who borrowed my pen to fill in the immigration card (I’m so prepared for this ok) were very surprised that I was travelling alone and said, “So brave”

Day 1: Krabi Town

  • Took the shuttle bus from the airport (90฿) to Rooms @ Krabi Guesthouse
  • Got a free room upgrade when I arrived 😀
  • Favourite thing about this place was the view cos it’s by the river
  • Checked out this 10-day festival nearby at staff’s recommendation
  • Went to the Chao Fah Night Food Market to eat some more

The guy manning the guesthouse is super friendly and nice. Every time he sees me, he greets me enthusiastically and ask how I am or how my day went. Way to make someone feel welcome! See what I mean about Thai people?

Krabi River

I wake up to this and take walks along this beautiful river daily

Chao Fah beef soup

Had damn awesome beef soup here. Had planned on checking out another night market but it was further up and already dark so I decided to go just back and rest.

Day 2: Krabi Town

  • Went to the Maharaj Morning Market, walked around main town area
  • Visited Wat Kaewkorawaram temple
  • Took a motorbike taxi to Tiger Cave temple
  • Climbed a whopping 1,237 steps to reach the peak
  • Felt so accomplished and most amazing views ever!!!!
  • Sent videos to tell all my friends and family about my feat hahaha
  • Climbed back down and bought a drink to reward myself
  • Had the drink stolen by an asshole macaque
  • Took a motorbike taxi back to guesthouse
  • Bathed and then went to the festival again for food
  • Had the nicest egg with roti in Thailand ever plus lots of junk food
  • Walked to the iconic mud crab sculpture for photos
  • Went to the weekend night market which was super lively
  • Ate and then dapao-ed more food back
  • Damn tired plus it was dark so I took a motorbike taxi back

Shoutout to the two biker friends I have in Singapore who taught me how to get on and off a bike so I didn’t look like a fool when riding one in Krabi HAHAHA.

Tiger Cave Temple Krabi

This is just one side… wait till I post the rest of the photos (if I ever)!

Krabi mud crab

Day 3: Krabi Town > Ao Nang

  • Checked out and admired the river for one last time with a fruit shake
  • Walked further up to catch the open-air shuttle bus (60฿) to Ao Nang
  • Checked into Krabi Forest Homestay
  • Walked to Ao Nang Beach for photos with the swordfish sculpture
  • There’s a lot of street food along the way
  • Checked out the Walking Street shops
  • Ran into another solo Singaporean woman whom I’d met on the airport bus
  • We recognised each other and chatted a bit
  • Stocked up on drinks at the family mart for my fridge
  • Had a damn shiok 2-hour Thai massage

So glad I had ample time and thought of staying at both Krabi Town and Ao Nang. Because they are not near at all and one day is not enough to explore each place. Plus bus services stop at around 6pm.

Ao Nang beach

Taken from Snapchat hence the filters. But all the other photos in this post are straight from the camera with minimal post-processing (only brightened some). Krabi is so freaking beautiful that it’s almost unreal.

Ao Nang swordfish

Day 4: Ao Nang

  • Walked right to the end of Ao Nang beach where it’s completely empty
  • Walked back to guesthouse to get ready for my 7-island sunset tour
  • The brochure says 1,800฿ but I paid only 700฿ lol
  • Got picked up and dropped off at the pier to board the boat
  • China uncle referred to me as the ‘S’porean who came here to play on her own’
  • Went snorkelling which felt amazing beyond words
  • Visited several islands and beaches including Railay
  • Dinner on the boat at sunset then back to the pier for a fire show
  • Driven back to guesthouse but I was craving egg roti pancake after bathing
  • So I walked out to buy and brought along a torchlight cos it was dark LOL

Krabi sea

Zero editing! Oh Krabi, you have stolen my heart…

Krabi snorkelling

If I knew this trip was going to make me so happy, I would have done it sooner.

Honestly I can’t believe how pristine the islands and beaches here are despite being such popular tourist destinations. Crystal clear water, clean white sand, gorgeous blue skies and seas. Super lucky that it didn’t rain the entire time during our tour too.

Everyone was so nice to me too, even the boatmen. Also got to know a group of friendly Singaporeans who asked me to join them when they went for massages that night and elephant trekking the next day. But I declined because I had my own plans.

Day 5: Krabi > Bangkok > Pak Chong > Khao Yai

  • Woke up at 5am for the shuttle bus to the airport at 5.40am (150฿)
  • Took a domestic Thai Lion Air flight to Bangkok ($22)
  • From Don Muang airport, took the shuttle bus to Mo Chit Bus Terminal (30฿)
  • Boarded the 11.30am bus to Pak Chong (133฿), 3-hour journey
  • Reached Pak Chong bus station and waited for guesthouse staff to pick me up
  • Reached Bobby’s Apartments at about 3pm
  • Went on a half-day tour near Khao Yai
  • Swam in a crystal clear natural spring then visited a local market
  • Went to a cave where there were hundreds of bats flying around
  • Watched millions of bats fly out of their caves at sunset (video)

Super rushed day because the half-day tour starts at 3pm so I was trying to reach before that. So grateful that everyone waited for me to start the tour!

Khao Yai natural spring

Khao Yai sunset bats

Day 6: Khao Yai National Park

  • I thought the full day tour started at 8am so I woke up at 6.50am
  • Was told that it started at 7am LOL so I had to rush while others waited again
  • Arrived at the national park and went to look at gibbons
  • Omg their mating calls are damn nice to listen to
  • Trekking through the jungle till 5pm but we didn’t see much animals
  • There was a huge waterfall and the fog on my face felt sooo good
  • So tired I wanna die, set up camp, took a shower, had dinner
  • Had a ~revelation~ about how little we actually need in life
  • Falling asleep in a tent to sounds of the rain and animals = priceless experience

I thought the trekking would be on proper walkways and paths like all the other treks I’ve done before but this was literally off the beaten path and deep in the jungle. A woman on the tour had to keep holding my hand every time we went up or down somewhere steep or slippery because my cheap shoes CMI.

Plus I forgot to bring a change of clothes or toiletries for camping due to rushing. Borrowed soap and a towel from the Dutch family who did the camping with me, wore back the same clothes. While bathing I realised actually all humans really need is clean water 💡

Khao Yai National Park

Khao Yai waterfall

Day 7: Khao Yai National Park

  • Woke up right amongst nature and feeling so happy to be here
  • Did more trekking and the family took turns holding my hands to support me
  • At some points, it was so slippery that I did crash into them but nobody fell over
  • Saw lots of birds, butterflies, waterfalls
  • Lichen, a dhole, a scorpion, snakes and even a crocodile!!!
  • Drove up to a two different viewpoints and the scenery is breathtaking
  • Returned to the guesthouse at 7pm+ and had dinner with the Dutch family
  • Exchanged stories about Singapore and Holland

The family of five is so incredibly nice and I’ll never forget their kindness… So grateful for everything, especially how they pretty much helped me to survive the 2.5 day jungle trek.

Bobby's Apartments food

Best pad thai I ever had in my life… gosh the pork was so juicy

Khao Yai view point

Day 8: Pak Chong > Bangkok

  • Checked out and got dropped off at the bus station in the morning
  • 3-hour bus journey back to Bangkok (free bottled water and biscuit provided)
  • Took a taxi from Mo Chit Bus Terminal to Pratunam cos lazy / carrying luggage (160฿)
  • Checked into Baiyoke Boutique Hotel
  • Ate and shopped around in the area till 11pm

Bangkok Thai iced tea

Couldn’t stop drinking Thai iced tea

Day 9: Bangkok

  • Shopped around the morning market
  • Took hotel’s free shuttle bus to Chatuchak Weekend Market
  • Had coconut ice cream, watermelon volcano, rainbow fruit soda
  • Eat and shop and eat and shop and eat and shop
  • Took MRT to Union Mall 2 stops away
  • Whoever said it’s cheap is a hugeass liar
  • Took MRT and BTS to Thong Lo for last day of TGIFest
  • Eat and eat and eat and eat and eat
  • Went back hotel to soak in the tub cos so tired

Bangkok TGIFest

Linus realised I was in Bangkok and told me he just booked a last minute flight here cos #yolo. Then we realised we were on the same flight home on the 20th haha.

Actually I didn’t do much in Bangkok except shopping and eating, especially after he arrived. Had planned to spend a day at Ayutthaya or visit the Grand Palace (3 times in Bangkok and I still haven’t seen its #1 attraction lol) but I got lazy.

The Baiyoke area alone is so distracting because I couldn’t stop shopping. Even a 10-minute walk to Platinum Mall turned into over three hours because there were so many stalls along the way!

Day 10: Bangkok

  • Had hotel breakfast then went back to sleep
  • Met up with Linus and his friend Zach and we went to eat Sabx2 wanton mee
  • Super bohua ok they raised the price to a whopping 100฿ wtf is u srs
  • Went to do more shopping from day to night
  • Went to the supermarket to get drinks with the guys
  • Came back, one kept playing phone game and one kept swiping Tinder…
  • … While I dozed off

Baiyoke Boutique Hotel breakfast

Only trying this cos I had a free coupon… decent but I’ll choose street food any day!

Day 11: Bangkok

  • Woke up at noon and went to eat a free plate of pad thai from the hotel
  • Went on a spree at Big C supermarket where I spent hours and 2,900฿ LOL
  • Walked 40 minutes back to the hotel carrying all my stuff #achievementunlocked
  • Everyone looked at me like I was mad though hahaha
  • Craving chicken rice so went to look for the most famous pink shirt one
  • Passed by the second most famous green shirt one
  • Lazy walk further so ended up eating at the blue shirt one -_-
  • Saw a stall selling yummy-looking pork trotters otw back
  • So I dapao-ed and it was the most worth it and delicious meal everrr
  • Went to use my free 10-minute massage from the hotel
  • Decided to pay for another 1 hour cos damn shiok and legs breaking
  • Impressed at myself for all that I managed to pack and squeeze in luggage
  • Linus told me to “come down for drinks”which also included shit load of food
  • Tom yum soup, grilled prawns and sotong, pork skewers, popiah etc

Bangkok Big C

Bangkok Big C Supermarket

#NeedNoMan 😎

Day 11: Bangkok

  • Did nothing but lazing about and last minute packing
  • Took hotel’s free transfer to airport rail link
  • Boarded TigerAir flight ($106 including checked baggage)
  • Shared a cab with Linus and home sweet home!

Really thankful that Linus was here to help me carry my heavy luggage because I bought so much HAHA. Need no man but still good to have one around, oops. Also I thought I was budgeting very well the first half of my trip. Oh, Bangkok…

Bangkok shopping

Afterthoughts

Seriously unforgettable trip. I did not have any bad experiences nor feel anything negative at all the whole time which is a surprise even to myself. No scams, no harassment, no emoing. Just one big happy adventure. Can’t wait to do this again!

Got lots more beautiful photos and things to share actually so hopefully I’ll find time to post more. Sigh I have so many other fun trips I’ve never blogged about haha.

So pleased with myself for a successful solo trip, getting out of my comfort zone, challenging myself and experiencing so many new things. Some things you will always remember for life and this is one of them 🙂

Tup Island swimming