Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

travel health and safety tips?

Posted by exacto on 6/9/2007 at 08:48

i was just reading the feature on travel health and safety tips and wondered if anyone had additional tips or suggestions to add.

for example, i got mugged once in vientiane by two teenagers on a motor scooter who zoomed past trying to steal my pack, which i had foolishly tied to the basket on the push bike i'd hired. they didn't get the pack, but i did get hurt when they dragged me along the street for several meters.

another time, i was really glad when i had some extra pink bismuth to share with a fellow traveller who was suffering from a serious upset stomach.

what other tips or stories are out there than can help make for a safer and healthier trip for us all?

#1 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by exacto on 11/9/2007 at 04:54

i wanted to give this post a bump to see if anyone has additional tips or stories to share. i've been pretty lucky in that i've never been drugged or had someone try the gem scam on me, but i hear other traveler's stories. tilapia? EmJay? marian? anyone?


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Posted by marianwarren on 11/9/2007 at 08:05

Long time no talk exacto

I though about responding when you first posted this but I decided I didn't know how to say what I think on on the subject.

After reading the travel health and safety tips I decided if I were a nervous traveller maybe the tips would be enough to put me off going anywhere.
Maybe I travel under a lucky star but I have never been sick when travelling (I must confess I do clean my teeth with tap water) - my first aid kit is bandaids and paracetamol. Essentials are flashlight, mozzie repellent and sunscreen (tampons too). I take out travel insurance. No vaccinations, no anti-anything pills.

I have been caught once with the 'TAT' overpriced tours scam. I think it is almost a passage of rites that newbies to a country get ripped off once - hopefully not too badly. Once you have been incountry for a couple of days and are more savvy this doesn't happen eg tuk tuks at the bus station - it's a lot cheaper to walk out to the road and hail one yourself.

The worst rip off I've experienced is in Athens where (after a brain deadening 21 hour flight) the taxi driver used sleight of hand with the €20 & €5 notes I'd given him, saying look 2 €5's instead of €25 - got me 3 times before I caught on! Very expensive taxi ride. Experiences like that encourage a greater awareness and I know that won't happen again!.

So my tip is: Be wary not paranoid, there are opportunists everywhere - sometimes our fellows travellers - use commonsense to avoid situations where you may be at risk, but take a chance sometime to do the unexpected - often the most rewarding experiences.

.....Now let us open our books to Psalm 16.

Travel well everyone


#3 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270

Posted by somtam2000 on 11/9/2007 at 14:17 admin

That's a fair point Marian, "use your common sense and be wary, but not paranoid" is great advice.

I've had my share of mishaps during my travels -- I was robbed in Krabi in exactly the way exacto describes, but then I've also been robbed in Sydney, Nice and London, stabbed (UK) and shot at (USA) and hit by a car (UK). In bus and train accidents (one apiece, India and Thailand respectivly) and quite a nasty motorcycle prang (Thailand).

Funny though, I have trouble getting people to travel with me! Though I know a guy in Bangkok who has been in three airplane crashes -- I get worried just sitting near him!

All that said, the vast majority of the above wouldn't have taken place if I'd been using my common sense and had been a bit more wary of my surroundings. I'd hazard a guess that many problems travellers get themselves into occur partly because they're doing something they'd never any consider doing at home.

Use your common sense and chances are you'll be fine

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Posted by exacto on 12/9/2007 at 04:22

Hi Marian! Thanks for the note.

I got caught with the currency notes switch once in Turkey, back before they dropped 6 zeros from their money, and the waiter insisted that I handed him two 1 million lira notes instead of two 10 million notes. I learned to be more aware of the color-coding of currency as a result.

I thought the health and safety article was just a collection of ideas from people who had gone before, a sort of passing of hard-earned knowledge to hopefully help people avoid the same mistakes. That's why I'd asked other people to contribute ideas as well in this thread.

I know that my friends have often been more intimidated to come visit me in Thailand and Asia than they were to come to Turkey or Europe. That's why I thought extra specific info might help people feel more comfortable, knowing what to expect.

I don't take anti-anything either, but I do carry some meds, largely so I'll have them to share if a fellow traveller needs assistance. And while I'm not travelling under the lucky star that you are, I think I've been a bit luckier that Somtam. Holy Cow! Shot at? Welcome to America! Regards.

#5 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by devata on 20/9/2007 at 09:53

I was poking around for info on Pakse, Laos travel (not much here) and saw this post. I'll share what I can.

First I read: "I was robbed in Krabi ...I've also been robbed in Sydney, Nice and London, stabbed (UK) and shot at (USA) and hit by a car (UK). In bus and train accidents (one apiece, India and Thailand respectively) and quite a nasty motorcycle prang (Thailand)."

Holy crap! Maybe Somtam 2000 doesn't want to sit with the "guy in Bangkok who has been in three airplane crashes" but I'm even a little nervous about posting on the same site as him! (-:

I lived in Thailand for 5 years (1990-95) and have been back to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia about 15 times since. I have NEVER been threatened with physical violence, or robbed. Ever.

I can hardly think of a time I felt nervous in any of those countries...and I push the envelope and have behaved quite stupidly at times in the course of 17 years of travel (e.g. wrong places, wrong people, too much money on me, too loud, too late at night, too trusting, too hungry, getting into arguments, too drunk, not knowing where I was, not speaking the language, etc.). I can't imagine how Somtam 2000 got his track record. Just "lucky" I guess. (-;

So, tips:

1. Immodium. Don't leave home without it. Available over the counter in all those places but for a dollar maybe you should have a couple of pills on hand. The ultimate bowel-tightener and you WILL need it at some point. I eat on the streets as spicy as anyone. But somehow it's always the western style food that gets me. I still remember that pizza from Chiang Mai, 1990. (-:

2. This just in from Luang Hans who runs a great resource for Isaan travel. Malaria is increasing in NE Thailand this year. So, bring some high quality bug juice and sit near a fan in outdoor restaurants.

3. LED high intensity headband flashlight. REAL handy. Super bright. Runs forever on 4 AA batteries.

4. A "Pakomah" - Not for safely but useful. It's just a cheap checkered fabric sarong that Thais wear upcountry. Costs $2. But just like it says in Hitchhiker's Guide...don't forget your towel. A pakomah is a towel, napkin, tablecloth, bathrobe, head covering, etc. Handy. And chicks dig 'em. (-;

All four of the above will fit in a 1 quart zip lock. And you'll be happy you have 'em (as well as the zip lock baggie!).

#6 devata has been a member since 14/2/2006. Posts: 1

Posted by exacto on 21/9/2007 at 00:23

hey devata,

great comments. thanks for sharing. i know that my immodium moment was on a Thai Aiways flight from Nepal to Bangkok. i was really lucky that i had the immodium with me in the cabin of the aircraft and not checked with my pack. it was the only way i would have survived that flight.

excellent suggestion on the pakomah too. it's the male traveler version of the sarong. i've used mine as a beach cloth, a bath towel, a bed sheet, a hat, a makeshift cloth sack, a fly-swatter, a tablecloth, a wrap for getting to/from the shower, a way to protect fragile items, a blanket on the air-con bus, and a rope. plus, they look good, which is the most important thing. take care.

#7 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by princessdisaster on 26/9/2007 at 09:00

Every time I go to SEAsia I end up coming home with a graze or cut that gets a little festy (usually on a 12 hour sweaty bus ride) and now my doctor sends me off with Antibiotic cream - the stuff is awesome! Anyone know if you can just buy it over the counter in Asia?

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