I have never gotten sick while traveling.
Until this moment.
Flashback six months ago, my hubby and I went to the Philippines for a three week long vacation seeing family and friends. It was a much needed break from the stress of work and daily life in the United States.
Apart from the people that I miss dearly, what is the next I miss the most? FOOD!!! You got it. Filipino food! You can cook all the Filipino dishes you want here but there is nothing like eating them the way it should be back home. Fresh home grown vegetables and fresh seafood. Everything is fresh, not frozen! I don’t know but it just tastes different.
Did I mention that there’s lots of new restaurants to check out too? And all those childhood junk you grew up eating that you know is not good for you but because you can’t find them in the States you just had to satisfy a craving or two? My mind was just reeling from all the endless food possibilities.
Now, don’t forget I went to visit my brother and his wife in Singapore and that quick weekend getaway to Phuket. THAT was one big food trip! If there is anything, anything I would go back to Singapore for, it would be the food. Next to my brother, of course. Their hawker centers are just amazing! They are a foodie’s dream with the variety of food and drink choices, it would take you days to sample each and everyone plus, they’re cheap too!
Thai food, I love, love, love. I guess I cannot emphasize it enough. I was in Thai heaven when I tasted original Tom Yum soup in Phuket. The ones in our local Thai restaurant paled in comparison. Sorry!
So you get the picture. My vacation was centered around food. I was stuffing my mouth and belly every chance I get, checking a food item off my list of foods to eat in the Philippines and of course, eager to try new food in Singapore and Thailand.
I remember clearly our last meal in Cebu with my family before they took us to the airport. It was at a Chinese dimsum restaurant in one of the big malls in the city. Steamed rice, siomai, fried lumpia, crab pincher, the works.
Then it suddenly hit me. I felt the beginnings of hyperacidity. So I slowed down. I thought it would go away in a few hours. At the airport, while waiting for our delayed flight, I was having the “munchies” and ate some flavored fries with my hubby. Nope. Didn’t sit too well with me. So I had some hot tea. That helped a bit.
In between rushing to get to the plane and the next quick airport transfer, I forgot temporarily about my upset stomach but when we sat for our four hour flight to South Korea that was when it hit me, again, and severely this time. I was in no mood to have any conversations at all with my hubby so I slept, which is what I usually do anyway when in flight but uncomfortably feeling the acid build up in my belly.
And then I did something for the first time on a plane – I declined the meal that was served! Let’s just say a couple of cups of hot tea and a bowl of hot porridge were my mainstays for the entire flight. I was officially sick.
I know what you are thinking at this point. Yes, gluttony serves you no good. It is my fault for overeating, blah, blah, blah… And I know it is a sin. Forgive me. But you just can’t say no to all the delicious food that you have been missing for years. You just don’t eat cereal when you’re on vacation, unless you are on a budget. *Insert excuses* It’s not like we eat like this when we get back to the real world. We were on vacation! Isn’t that what normal people do? Dieting is almost nonexistent, although mind you, I was eating small portions, just a lot of different portions. *End of excuses*
When we got to our next layover at Incheon International Airport in South Korea, which by the way is one of the top airports in the world, I was ready to pass out. I really thought it would all go away after resting my stomach for a couple of hours. I have never ever had THIS before. I told my hubby we have to go to a pharmacy and get something. I have everything in my first aid kit BUT antacids, darn it!!!
We rush to the nearest airport directory but couldn’t find the pharmacy, maybe, because it was just too freaking huge or maybe because I was just so feeling not well. Good thing we found a real person in the information counter who could possibly help us out. Yes, there is a pharmacy but it opens at 7am. Geez! It was only 4 something in the morning when our flight arrived! And you call this one of the top airports in the world? No 24 hour pharmacy? What if someone really needed an important medication?
I wasn’t really dying so it was not yet an emergency so hubby and I decided to just sleep until the pharmacy opens. We found a nice quiet spot with leather lounge chairs, take note, for tired cranky passengers like us. I set my alarm for 7am and hoped and prayed I would be able to sleep. And I did, thank God!
This wasn’t the nice quiet spot we found but I just wanted to show you the comfy lounge chairs, and reclining ones at that too. We were also stationed close to the airport’s shower facilities that open at, guess what, 7am.
My alarm goes off and I wake up promptly, feeling a little bit better but not quite. I went to the shower facility and thought that a nice quick hot shower might help. It was clean, spotless and modern. The lady at the front desk gave me a face towel, hairdryer and soap. Refreshed and ready to face the world, I felt like a human being afterwards. My hubby does his own thing too and then finally, we were ready to go find that pharmacy.
Upon getting there, we asked for Tums from the Korean lady behind the counter (didn’t know if she was a pharmacist or not), she didn’t understand at first but I mentioned stomach and acidity, her face lights up in recognition and then she picks up a box from the wall cabinet and says “like zantac”. It was a small white box with mostly Korean markings on. “Ranitidine”, “H2 blocker” and “antacid” were the only English words. She muttered some instructions hastily in broken English which I had a hard time picking up and just nodded yes and paid for it.
As a nurse, I wouldn’t normally take medicine without reading its instructions/directions. I was suspicious about this unfamiliar box. But as a sick person who really needed relief after such a long night, I was ready to take anything, medical training be damned!
After about an hour, I was back to my usual self and ready to eat breakfast. What?! I was starving!!! I didn’t eat much at all during the flight and all that tea made me more hungry. You would think after my ordeal I would be swearing off food for the rest of the trip. Not this lady. You can hear my stomach growling. But being the good nurse that I was (ahem), I started slow and had a bowl of steaming hot yummy Korean soup for breakfast.
All it took was just one pill. In a matter of minutes, I was okay.
Have you ever gotten sick in your travels? Did you take the local remedies?