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Regrets and Illness on Koh Tao

koh tao

From the moment the ferry got close to Koh Tao, I was already filled with regret. After spending the last week and a half on Koh Samui for my friend’s wedding, I thought I’d had enough island time, but that wasn’t the case. While parts of Koh Samui were certainly beautiful, particularly the area where the wedding took place, my room at Iyara Beach Hotel & Plaza Samui and Fisherman’s Village, I found Chaweng to be loud and dirty. The tourists walking around without shirts on and trucks shouting from speakers about an ice bar or muay thai fight became too much for me.

koh tao

Credit: Sammi Eubanks

Koh Tao, however was much smaller, quieter and cleaner. Once we had time to walk around the island, I immediately wished we’d had more time to spend there, but it was too late. We’d already set aside the next month for Vietnam and still had to get back to Bangkok, apply for our visas and book flights. This was all during the military curfew, of course. So we both had to make the most of our short time on the island.

For the three days on Koh Tao, I’d booked myself an advanced SCUBA certification course with Big Blue Diving Resort, where I’d be staying in their free dorms. Sammi spent the days running on the beach and snorkeling, staying at a hotel down the street. I only saw one small stretch of beach, while Sammi got to see the beautiful scenery in the pictures above. I was immediately impressed by the cute cafes that lined the main street and how clean the beaches were in comparison with those on Koh Samui.

koh tao

Credit: Sammi Eubanks

I’m not the most confident of divers, but I was lucky to have a great group in my class of Brits and Canadians. The conditions were perfect for those two days of classes and I got to see a wreck and so much sea life. I missed the whale shark that had been spotted in the area, which I would have loved to see. During that time, I got some terrible blisters from my fins that only got worse when I kept taking them on and off. The constant wetness and sand didn’t help either, so they quickly got infected. They didn’t heal for another month.

After completing the course mid-day, I had the opportunity to sign up for a night dive, but I passed as I didn’t want to spend more money with another month left in the trip. Instead, I went to dinner with Sammi, but on our way there, I immediately felt sick. I rushed to find a bathroom at a nearby hotel and realized that my months of eating whatever I wanted had finally caught up with me: food poisoning had struck.

koh tao

I wasn’t sure what it was that made me ill, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was the chicken curry from the dive restaurant. I was on the verge of tears thinking about going back to my dorm room and shared bathroom back at Big Blue in my condition, so I packed up and went to Sammi’s hotel room. I spent the next twelve hours in pain, sweating, heaving and crying on the bathroom floor. The charcoal pills I was prescribed were even worse coming back up. Thankfully, I felt much better the next morning in time for our ferry.

If I could do it all again, I would have spent a week on Koh Tao diving and sightseeing before going to my friend’s wedding for three days. I would have been more wary about what I ate and would have splurged on a hotel instead of slumming it in the dive dorms. I would have been more confident about my abilities in SCUBA diving, as I have the knowledge.

Have you gotten food poisoning while traveling?

Mentioned in this post
  1. Big Blue Diving Resort
    Attraction in Koh Tao Thailand

    Koh Tao Thailand
    077 456 415

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7 Responses to Regrets and Illness on Koh Tao

  1. Steve September 12, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    Yes, I caught food poisoning in Vienna of all places. I blame it on the Chinese meal I eat. I was the only person in the restaurant and I think the rice was reheated.

  2. Lizzy September 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    I actually have never had food poisoning before luckily. I think i’ve been partially lucky with being vegetarian as i often end up going with completely safe things to eat- although i’m probably jinxing it now!

    Lizzy at Nomad Notebook

    • Caroline September 12, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

      @Lizzy I’ve gotten other sicknesses from salads, but yes I definitely wished I’d avoided the chicken! Thanks for reading.

  3. Tracey September 12, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    Good thing you had the option of heading to the hotel room. Being sick in a dorm is hell. I’ve luckily never had food poisoning while travelling, but I have dealt with severe motion sickness that sticks around for days, or just general upset stomach from being thrown into a new environment with intense heat, strong smells, strange food etc (Egypt). That’s when homesickness tends to hit too. :-)

  4. Laura September 16, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    eek! What a bummer. I always seem to get sick when I travel and unfortunately those are the memories that stick with you when you think back to that particular place. Maybe you’ll get back there again one day and have a do-over!

    • Caroline September 16, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

      I know, Laura! Such a bummer. But I am definitely going back one day.

  5. Darren C October 3, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    Had 3 bad cases of food poisoning during my time in Thailand. The worst case reminds me of your own, I spent the day doing a course associated with my job, I had a chicken fried for lunch at the course center. On the way home in the mini bus I started feeling ill, I manged to wind the window down and throw up.

    The bus dropped me off at the point where I left my motorbike, still feeling ill I managed to find a toilet, I spent the next half hour there throwing up and emptying my bowels of diarrhoea. I summoned the strength to get on the bike and ride home, made it home but not without crapping in my pants. After that, like yourself it was 12 hours of agony on the bathroom floor, what a relief to get home though.

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