My Bout of Extremely Explosive Thai Tummy

My Bout of Extremely Explosive Thai Tummy

My stomach is a mysterious pit of reactionary behavior. It has no problem handling lethal amounts of Taco Bell. But it also has its sensitive side, leaving me ill for days after eating a bowl of [un]Lucky Charms that were recalled because of the green food dye. True story.

Before going to Thailand the only Thai food I’d ever had was a few bites of some rice and veggie dish years ago in Florida. So I played it safe when I got there, slowly indulging to avoid the sudden onset of Thai Tummy. I started with mostly Western breakfasts and lunches with foods I was already used to.

This plate just screams “I’m a 12 year old picky American who’s totally missing out on awesome food”

Sushi should be safe, right?

Then I finally graduated to proper, but light, Thai lunches including my personal favorite Tom Yum Soup (though I still avoided most of the shellfish).

Appetizers: Tom Yum Soup, some Thai fried egg omelette, and spring rolls

Then I had my first intimate encounter with a real Thai dish. Two days before leaving Phuket it was (still) down pouring and my snorkeling trip to the Phi Phi Islands had to be rescheduled for the next day. So I decided to treat myself to a fancy, slightly expensive dinner and try something I’d been drooling over since I arrived: Thai green curry with coconut milk and beef.

I’ve never had curry before, and despite my love of Mexican food I’m not really a fan of things that are too spicy. This dish was basically too spicy for my mouth to handle. But I was determined not to look like a wimpy tourist so I ate most of the meal like a champ. Then I cooled my burning tongue with two scoops of coconut and chocolate ice cream before taking a leisurely stroll back to the hotel to relax in the jacuzzi.

It all looked so good going in

It all looked so good going in

Even mixed with rice, still spicy as hell

I should’ve just stuck to this deliciously cold ice cream for dinner

I called it an early night in preparation for the last full day of my trip—boating, snorkeling, shopping, and going to a Muay Thai fight. It was the perfect rainy evening really. That was, until I shot awake at 3am feeling like I had been stabbed in the stomach by a ninja of the night.

The pain pierced my stomach to the beat of the pouring rain on the glass sliding doors. Then it hit me—I need to be on the toilet and I need to be on it now. Actually, I should’ve been in the bathroom like 10 seconds ago. And WHY ON EARTH were my shorts still on? I ran faster than I’ve ever ran in my life and luckily made it just in time. I hoped that was it. One bout of violent illness was enough to get whatever that was out of my system, right? So I made my way back towards the bed but siiiiike—the urge struck again before my second butt cheek even touched the mattress.

The second time I made it back to bed was a bit more successful and I tried my best to fall asleep in a pool of sweat. But sleep was impossible. Literally, every five minutes I’d get the immediate urge to projectile-empty the entire contents of my stomach out of whichever end provided a closer escape route. I was crying, confused, and absolutely disgusting. Suddenly the idea of taking a strong sleeping pill and sleeping naked in the tub seemed like the most reasonable solution.

Now, I’m a lady, I’m not supposed to talk about disgusting things like bowel movements—especially ones as abnormal as this—but holy shit. Literally. I finally understand the whole “I’m not sure what end it was going to come out of” saying, because several times I found myself looking to see if I could successfully move my rather thick American thighs far enough apart to vomit between them while on the toilet. WHY WAS THERE NOT A TRASH CAN IN THIS BATHROOM?

This went on for hours before I was finally able to get back to sleep. I woke up ill, had to cancel my snorkeling trip, and suddenly I was furious with Thailand. The front desk lady offered to bring me juice, but instead I asked if she could bring any sort of bread-like substance similar to toast. Does that even exist in Thailand? She sent a runner out and he came to my room with a croissant from Starbucks. But it smelled like Thailand. It didn’t taste like it, but it had that spicy curry smell that lingers in the thick humid air and as sick as I was, I just couldn’t really get past it. I just laid there sipping Sprite and water, hoping I could pull my shit together long enough to run out for some Imodium. I had come equipped with Pepto Bismol chewables but every time I put one of those in my mouth it induced pink vomit straight out of my nose. All I could think was “I have to get some water in me before I end up dehydrated and in the hospital” followed by “Oh fuck, I have to get on an airplane for a 30 hour flight tomorrow, how long does this shit last?”

Ordinarily I’d like to think I’m a pretty strong person, but let me tell you this: I am a needy, whiny, pathetic piece of vulnerable shit when I’m sick. I just want to lay in bed and throw myself a pity party, and I only want my mom to be within a 10 foot radius of me. And I will moan and whine in a “poor me” voice day and night. But my mom was 10,000 miles away, and 11 hours behind me in time. So I Skyped her. And finally after a half day curled up in the fetal position crying on video chat to Dr Mom, I was able to run downstairs to the pharmacy for some Imodium. It was a risky move I did with clenched butt cheeks, but you gotta do what you gotta do when you’re traveling alone.

I’d spent my entire full last day in bed, laughing (on the inside) at the mockery I was making of this gorgeous hotel room. It was a picture-perfect honeymoon suite: multi-room, glass enclosed shower and jacuzzi, huge bed, and a cozy balcony looking out at the Andaman Sea. And here I was, a lone girl soaked in sweat with various liquids and noises coming from multiple orifices. No wonder I’m single…

The pristine bathroom at its height of glory

At least I had a nice view to sob to

The immaculately clean tub I considered passing out in

Oh, did I mention that the sun came out for the first time while I was stuck in bed all day?

Seriously, could I have picked a nicer bathroom to get violently ill in?

I may have missed a day and a half of sunny island hopping and a Muay Thai fight, but the silver lining: I lost 7 pounds! And no, I still can’t even smell curry without wanting to vomit.Luckily the upset stomach had subsided (thanks to tons of medicine) before my flight, and I was able to get through all 30+ hours with only mild cramping and paranoia of grossing out an entire plane full of passengers.


10 Comments

  1. Jenny May 25, 2014

    Such a great post…interesting, funny, very enjoyable to read. Whoever wrote this is an extremely talented writer.

  2. Just Visiting June 1, 2014

    Thanks Jenny. It was definitely not one of my best travel moments, but in retrospect all I can do is laugh. Hope you’ll enjoy reading more of my misfortunes as they happen!

  3. caroline October 31, 2014

    It may have actually been the ice cream that did you in… ICE = water…

  4. Stacey December 9, 2014

    I’m actually curled up in bed in Thailand feeling very sick right now from eating or drinking something wrong and ur story made me laugh thanku was googling medication when I stumbled across this thanku for the laugh ( it hurt to laugh but was worth it )

    • Just Visiting December 9, 2014

      Ahh, I hope you’re on the mend! I was miserable for those few days, just grateful that I got better before my 30 hour flight home. I chewed on some Pepto tablets until I felt well enough to run down to the pharmacy and grab some loperamide. I took the max dose and within a few hours I finally stopped needing to run to the bathroom every 15 minutes. I’m glad I could at least provide a laugh, but I hope you’re over it soon!

  5. Kamila January 31, 2015

    Gosh — I’m reading this as I’m struggling with Thai tummy at this very moment. My boyfriend and I are struggling together actually. Very funny post! On a side note, can you tell me what hotel that is, it looks gorgeous….

  6. Just Visiting February 4, 2015

    Ahh Kamila, so sorry to hear! Also, sorry for the late response as I’ve been without internet for the past week in the Amazon, but by now you’re hopefully feeling much better. The hotel is called the Bliss in Phuket on Patong Beach: website @ http://www.theblissphuket.com. It was a very nice hotel, and when I went back in 2012 it was super cheap. Enjoy your trip!

  7. Jay February 22, 2015

    Thanks for your article which did make me really laugh. Spot on. I managed 25 days in Thailand before the horrors hit me. Been sort of manageable as I have the consutution of an ox but I have a flight back to the UK tomorrow so it will have to be a forage in the medicine bag for some Imodium otherwise the flight might be grounded after I’ve been to the bathroom.

    • Just Visiting March 6, 2015

      Oh no! I hope you made it back to the UK alright! I’m glad I managed to pull my shit together (ha) long enough to make the 30-hour trip back to the US somewhat manageable. I’m traveling South America right now and for the first few weeks I was SUPER cautious about everything I ate. But then I found myself out in the Amazon eating everything that was put in front of me. I got sick, but nowhere near as bad as I did in Thailand. I’m convinced Thailand wreaked a special kind of havoc on my virgin-like digestive tract.

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