BALI – To dengue or not to dengue

Did you ever have the feeling that your life has turned into a black comedy and you are watching from the sidelines? I think its a coen brothers movie as they always confuse me. The script go’s something like this.
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It starts of as this typical midlife crisis thing. Woman wonders or this is it in life? Is there anything more to life again then being a mum and a waiting wife. So she go’s out and seeks out people from her past, and digs up lots of sweet memories. But after all the memory diging decides to returns to her life with the intent to make it work.
When due to lots of different factors the woman’s  life appears to fall apart she decides to go on one last adventure with her daughter before school starts. Hoping that during this quest she will find her adventurous self and independence again and upon return see things in perspective.
It starts out great.. Her daughter was an absolute trained pro travelkid on the plane and they got to see their future house from the airplane. Although she gets a warning at the airport for leaving her card in the ATM machine while her daughter ran away. But thanks to the backpacker kindness the card gets returned and she has faith. This is what it’s all about. Stranger kindness.
 Its humid and the smell and feel of asia make her feel alive and at home again. It brings back so many fantastic memories and she feels like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders.  She can do this, She is ready for this and it will be the trip of their lives.
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She starts the trip with taking surfing lessons as that was on the top of her bucket list for years.. She’s loving it!! But soon enough realises she might have needed a little bit more physical preparation. She feels free and alive as she is riding down the waves. But she feels half dead and like an old lady when she try’s to paddle back up.  After 3 days her beaten by board and waves body call it a day. But she is determined to finish what she started. It might just take a little longer.
After goodbyes thank you’s and paying at the surfclub she realises her bankcard is gone. Panick! Looks at the room – Looks at the surfclub – Checks again and again and again.. No Luck. Time to think and count and see if she can make it with the back up card. No Stress. Thats why she has a back up for things like this. So no stress.
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Out of nowhere her daughter gets sick she has a fever that is going through the roof. Is it just a fever? Is it just a flu? Is she being over worried? 2 nights go by as she didn’t want to be the worry sick mum.  But there was no sign of improvement and fever was around 40 degrees.
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Counting on the kindness of locals she finds a dr,  and the nurse came to the guesthouse. The nurse drew blood in the room, the fan is turning while her child is burning up and screaming like it is being slaughtered. The nurse gets nervous. The woman is not sure at this point what kind of nurse this is. For all she knows she could be a vet. And where is this dr?? After the nurse leaves the childs temperature rises to 40 again and the woman is unable to get it down. Still no idea or the people around her are trustable. She contacts anything and everyone she knows while trying in all sorts of ways to get the fever down. She panics she wants to shout and cry but knows it won’t help her daughter so she does what she can and try’s to keep it together.
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Later that evening the dr stands at the door with the lab results accompanied by the nurse who still seems pale from the screaming of her child. The dr go’s over everything and examens the child. The dr seems kind and knowlagable. He gives lots of information and will not leave before all questions are answered. The lab results are inconclusive. It could be dengue it could also be an infection the values are right on the edge so he can’t be sure. To be sure the child has to be treated for both and she has to be monitored. The mother would have to check for signs of dengue hemmorage and the bag for hospital needed to be ready. If any symptoms like a rash would show up she would need to be rushed as then it would be life threatening. Medication and fluids needed to be given every four hours also through the night. But the mother checked every half hour just to be sure. Days now that she didn’t sleep. All else there was to do was wait and hope for her to get better.
Even with the meds the fever is still above 39 except for that one time. As the fever dropped. She took the child into the stroller and runs to the ATM to get money for the dr and to buy more water and juice to make sure she got her fluids.
She runs back as even in those 5 minutes outside the childs seemed to do worse again and was crying. She was crying louder when the mother tried to leave her in the care of someone from the hotel. So there was not much choice and the woman was telling herself she did the right thing.
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Back in the room fully loaded with money to pay the dr. She gives the child, fluids and medicine and the child go’s to sleep. The woman lays next to her watching the fan turning and feeling the burned up child next to her. Same scenario for days now.
 Outside is a thunderstorm,  the hot loud and humid kind one. As the thunder blasts through the room she jumps up and realises something. She shouts nooooo and starts to cry. But child doesn’t react. She searches and searches only to confirm her fear. She has the money for the dr,  but the the card. Where is the card?. …….
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She had already lost one she could not have lost the back up. She runs down and asks the person behind the desk if he could watch her daughter for 5 minutes. It’s raining again, she runs through the puddles as fast as she can but there was nothing. No card at the ATM. She runs back up to check for the child to find her still asleep.  She runs again to the ATM to get the number from the bank maybe they can save her. She also try’s her normal bankcards but they don’t work in Bali only the credit cards seem to.
Back at the guesthouse she asks the desk to help her phoning the banks number as her phone doesn’t work in indonesia. The guy calls the number for her. She begs the person on the other side of the telephone line to help her, but the only reply she gets is the  words no english. After many transfers and what seemed hours later she gets hold of someone speaking English. Sorry mam procedure not card from this bank then the staff has to destroy. She begs the person on the other line and explains there is a sick child involved but finally has to hang up gutted and dissapointed. She breaks down and cries in the rain at the check in counter of the guesthouse. Ashamed She quickly thanks the guy at the desk for trying to help her and runs up. Her daughter is still sleeping. She looks up the fan its still turning and her head is spinning at the same speed. She cries and cries and cries. Feeling like her brain had left her and worried sick about the little girl she had no idea what to do anymore.
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She contacts her husband for help. The husband gets in contact with his bank and they promise to do what they couldn’t do before. Up the limit of the card for groceries. It will take 2 days or so, for those two days she can’t do anything and she needs to keep her fingers crossed that her daughter won’t need to go to hospital within those two days. But after that at least there is a solution to her stupidity.
Its the middle of the night the childs fever starts going down from 40 to 39 and the woman can breathe again for the first time in days. She checks the fever every few hours and by the morning she is sure that she is better. She is relieved. There is a knock on the door and its the dr and the nurse. Proudly the woman shows them how the fever has finally gone down sure that they are off the hook now.
The dr explains that dengue can still not be ruled out and that she should stay around and have another blood test before leaving to anywhere. As dengue haemorrhage could still happen. The woman agrees but the child doesn’t. Neither does the nurse as it seems that as well the nurse as the child are traumatised from the last experience. They leave and the woman agrees that she will call them for another bloodtest if the fever go’s up again.
The woman has hope and so does the child and the child runs and sings for the first time in days. There is a knock on the door. Its the guesthouse staff. They want to make sure the child is ok and ask if she is sure she doesn’t want to go to a hospital. The woman reasures them that the child is in good hands with the dr and that she is better now. The child runs and sings and confirms the woman words. For the first time in days they go down to have breakfast and all the guesthouse staff are happy to see her better. The owner comes to the room again and tells them that they shouldn’t leave the next day until the child has been ok for a few days. They say they will make a special price and they are welcome to stay as long as they need.
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The woman is relieved and sees beauty in all the kindness around her. After breakfast she and the child go up again as the child still needs rest. On the freshly made bed she finds a credit card. She can’t believe her eyes, It’s the first credit card that she lost. She squeals from joy and contacts her husband but can’t reach him as its the middle of the night in europe. She hopes and prays that they can undo the block. When she phoned for the other card there was such an option in the menu so it has to be possible.
She has hope again, could things be going in the right direction? Could she still get something positive out of this trip? Is the world just teaching her to be happy with what she has which is above all a beautiful daughter? She promises the turning fan above her as if it was god, that she gets it and that she will do everything in her power to be happy with what she has from now on. Just please let things go in the right direction from now on. And let her daughter be healthy.
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 To be sure she takes her daughters temperature about an hour after the dr left. Fever Again!  A few moments later she gets a text that the credit card can’t be activated again. She stares at the fan while thinking of ways how to ask the staff to stay longer but pay later. She also needs to call the dr for another bloodwork. The fan spins and so is her head… again….
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 After thinking about this from every angle she decides to try and get into contact with her dr back in Belgium. The dr also works at the tropical institute and specialises in things like this. So maybe she will have another say about the whole story instead of putting her daughter through this whole ordeal again. She looks for the email contacts but they are not advertised but thankfully she remembers receiving an email once from the reception. She finds the contact details and sends an email with the fever chart and the bloodwork attached. Only problem is that local time in Belgium is still only 6 am. So she waits it out.
After getting no response she tries to phone, in the meantime her husband credited her sim card and it should be working now. They pick up and tell her they received the email but that they can’t open the attachment as its too small and so unreadable. She tries to send a larger file and awaits response. As nothing happens she phones again. They didn’t receive anything. She has one last chance to get the blood work over there before the dr leaves her on call room.  She tries to send it from everywhere and in every format possible.
Ten minutes later she phones again, the credit on her phone now almost finished. They just received her email and are printing the bloodwork as they speak. They read it… And as result they tell her exactly the same as the local dr did. The result can’t rule out dengue so she needs another bloodwork if the child still had a fever, and she did. By the time she got an answer it was too late to have the bloodwork done that day.
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After having dinner together and receiving lots of support from the staff of the guesthouse. Who didn’t make a point of the fact that she would be staying longer and paying later. The woman tried to talk to the child and prepare her for what would happen the next day. Soon she found herself in a situation where she would need to promise the child a dog. Crying about wanting a dog and not wanting injections the child fell asleep. The woman held her and cried with her child softly while she stared at the turning fan on the ceiling. Begging it to make it all stop.  After about 20 fan turns she got herself together and made the appointment for the bloodwork in the morning and asked if they could bring someone extra as she herself would be useless.
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 The next morning the dr and the nurse came first thing for the blood work. The woman was a mess. A week of not sleeping and checking for symptoms every so often. But most of all she felt helpless and worried and scared. And now she would have to break her daughters trust and pin her to the bed so they could get more blood. She was in a state but she did what she had to do. Together with the Dr she pinned her screaming begging child to the bed for the nurse to be able to draw blood. Mummy please stop!! Those words were the hardest words she ever had to hear. Arm one was pinned. Milla managed to turn her arm and bent the needle inside her arm. Causing lots of pain. Straight to the second arm, don’t know what went wrong there. But no blood came out. Her daughter traumatised by needles for life the nurse had to give up. And they both left. Still no blood, still no result. The child was hysterical for another half hour after they left. The mother held her and cried. Cried out of guilt, disappointment, worry all sorts of emotions a mother doesn’t do well.
It took a few days more and slowly the fever went down. 11 days they had spent looking and praying to the turning fan above them. But after 11 days things were over. She wasn’t allowed to travel not far from hospital but they ware allowed to go. Things should be ok now.
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Normally we would avoid zoo’s but since I decided that the rest of the holiday should be all about Milla we stayed overnight at a safari park with mixed feelings. But for once i forgave myself. Milla was happy and I still explained her what was good and bad about the things we saw but she was happy and thats all I cared about at that point.

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The next stop after the zoo was Ubud. Originally I was going there to do yoga and babysit was sorted. But after what happened I chanced those plans. We would take it easy and it would be all about Milla. So we rented a motorbike and went on child friendly exploring in and around the rice fields and stopped to have a chat with almost every local on our path. We also did a bike trail with ecotours. Me cycling and Milla on the back in a kids seat. We started at mount Batur where we had breakfast with the most amazing view and then cycled down in the rain through local villages and rice fields. Ubud although very busy now still has this friendly relaxing bus around it and the people are so incredibly friendly. And then Im not even mentioning the food. Yummy!
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After Ubud we took a taxi up North to Amed. I fell in love instantly. We stayed in a hut that had no lock. But felt safe none the less. Amed for me was perfect. Small enough so that when driving around the village after one day everyone knew your name. Or at least they knew Millas name. But big enough to find what you need in the supermarkets,  a good choice of seaside restaurant to eat from and the right kind of travellers around that you like to meet.  The beach is perfect for snorkelling? You just walk in and there is an abundance of fish and they put a little temple underwater that attracts the fish. Milla loved snorkelling there and even for me as a dive instructor there was plenty to see. Some reef had been damaged by dynamite fishing but there were artificial reefs trying to make up for that. The local ladies on the beach took their responsibility and shouted to tourists standing on the reef. They cared they know this is their income. Fish and tourism and that is the fish and diving are not there tourists won’t come so plenty.
One day while sitting at the beach there was a pod of dolphins just before us. It was my first time seeing dolphins from land. In my instructor days I’ve seen plenty but I still got excited as a little kid. Well honestly I got more excited then the little kids.
I wish we had more time to explore the lush green surroundings but we only had a few days. One unforgettable experience we had is that we got invited to a local ceremony. A cleansing ceremony before the big festival the next day. aaaah I forgot the name now.
Milla, our neighbour and I got invited by our guesthouse host. When we arrived we were greeted as friends and were introduced to the family. Everyone came to share food while our host explained the rituals. His toddler son was along and was learning from is father how to pray. All dressed up this was an adorable sight. I could have stayed in Amed forever. Its one of those places I could live. Driving our motorbike after dark there is this scent that the jungle only makes at night. It took me back to the beginning days when I was living on Koh Chang. Sweet memories those vivid memories that only smell can bring back. I felt home.
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From Amed we took the speedboat to Gili Trawangan together with a wonderful family we had met a few nights before. I was going to Trawangan to meet some friends. Trawangan always makes me feel old. I think the average age is 18. Especially the one night I went out was very bizarre. After that I was happy just to be a mum. The end of our stay did take another weird turn though.
One night while having dinner with our Canadian friends I had fish. I had been eating fish all the trip which I normally don’t do. But after having a severe headache for a while my face turned bright red. I then started getting a rash on my torso. Also bright red. Then I started to feel sick. My heart was racing but weak and I felt myself fainting. Just in time I managed to contact a friend  to stay with milla and the dr on the island and they put me on a drip with everything they had. Apparently I went into an allergic shock. ooh the joy. It scared the life out of me. And I was out for another day or so but after that I was fine. When I contacted my dr in Belgium to tell her what happened and if or there was anything else I should do she sort of laughed. This could only happen to you couldn’t it. Two medical dramas on one trip. Ha! I guess its catching up with me. As except for motorbike crashed I never had anything wrong with me living abroad.
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From Gili we went back to the place we started. Legian. Same guesthouse same everything. Only this time healthy and happy. We thanked everyone again for their help again in the beginning of the trip and we got treated like family.
When it was time to leave Bali I didn’t want to leave yet. I wasn’t ready to leave all the kindness and smiles around me. Even with the medical drama’s it gave me the energy and the insight that I needed. Be happy with what you have and  now go fight for your marriage to work.
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PS. A year later Milla needed blood work in Belgium. And I asked if they could check for dengue. And it got confirmed that she did have dengue. So now when we travel we need to be extra careful. She is now immune to one strain. But if she would get another strain the chanced for complications have doubled.

#8 CANNGU and south Bali —* Lombok – Gili – Bali *

All good things come to an end. 

After fleeing from Ubud in search of the sun, we drove down to Canngu which stands for the villa filled area north of the main resorts. We knew upfront that this would be the part of the trip where we would leave tradition behind and once I got my head around that it was actually a nice change. We stayed around the famous echo beach where we had working internet and a big clean pool right outside of our spacious room at R&R Bed and Breakfast. We had a week left so we tried to make the most of it.  We tried to relax and prepared for the hard work that was to come when going back to Dubai. But because sitting by the pool every day isn’t really our cup of tea, we explored the surfing beaches by bike, Mark took on some waves in Batu Bolong (Old Mans) and found out maybe it isn’t the greatest place to learn but he looked cool anyway. We also rented a car for the day to head south. Down south we visited Kuta, I know I said we never would but we wanted to have a look if it was really that bad to stay there. It is the best place to learn how to surf but we wanted to know if we could survive staying there. To our surprise the north of Kuta really wasn’t that bad at all. So we decided that next time we would stay here a few days to take a proper surfing course. For some things especially when you have kids organised beach resorts isn’t all that bad as it turns out. After Kuta we drove down to Nusa Dua where you have you have the greger beach with its white sand and turquoise water. We drove on to Uluwatu temple on the south Cliffs ,where we said hi and goodbye to the monkeys one last time.

The Canngu area mainly caters for surfers and expats resulting in lots of great and hip places to eat. It’s one of these places everyone seems to go to these days as it was recommended by almost everyone that was ever in Bali. There is a downside to the area though and that is that is is pretty famous for break ins and it sort of shows as all the villas compete with the height of walls built around them.

Canngu had a little bit of a personal highlight for me on the agenda as well. . But I guess this needs a little bit of explanation. In 2005 I met one of my best friends ever in Thailand, we ran a small dive centre together on a idyllic beach,  lived in the dessert and on a boat diving one of the most beautiful places on earth on a daily base. Most of my funniest travel stories and memories were with this person but we managed to fuck this friendship up by becoming a couple and having one of the most dramatic break ups in history. This resulted in not seeing each other since Egypt 2007. Due to some big changes in his life we managed to get in touch again at the end of 2015 and we have been the best long distance friends ever since. He lives in Australia now and I live in Dubai and Belgium so the chance to ever see each other in real life again was slim. But the gods were with us and somehow we ended up only 10 km away from each other for a day. So we had to meet up and with a little push from my loving husband we did. Almost 10 years have gone by but for a few hours at old mans it felt like I was 25 again and no time had passed! It just shows that true friendship is stronger than time, distance and even drama. We got a second chance in friendship and I will cherish it Im happy my best friend is in my life again. I also believe in world peace again btw 😉

Goodbye Lombok – Gili – Bali, thanks for the memories.

We will meet again soon! Emirates has direct flights starting from june.. jeeeeeeeej!!!!!

#7 UBUD ——- Lombok – Gili – Bali

Ubud

The drive from Pedang Bai to Ubud gave me a glimpse of what was to come. And yes everyone is right.. Bali is very beautiful. The main difference between Bali and any other lush tropical paradise is the temples and the grand entrances of the houses. There is no other place like it!!!

By the time we arrived at our hotel it was already dark but even in the dark we were very impressed. Our own specious jungle treehouse, complete with four post bed and bathtub looking over the jungle, was going to be our home for the next few days.

Waking up with a jungle view through the massive windows of a giant hut just  has to make you smile. And if that didn’t then the tiny monkey you spot from your bed would. The few days we had in Ubud sadly enough were rainy but we tried to make the best of it.

First on the list was to explore Ubud itself. Mark had been there about 7 years earlier and as expected couldn’t recognise much as the place had a boom of tourism since eat-pray-love came out in 2010. Even more crowded Ubud centre still has his charm especially if you get off the main road. After getting disoriented in the Market we went to rent a motorbike to help us with the rest of the exploring. In-between the rain we explored the village around our hotel that was set just a few miles outside of Ubud. Breathtaking sceneries to say the least. The green is greener and lusher then anywhere else. The roads are windy and tiny and everything you see is pretty beyond believe. I’m not into finding yourself and all the other floaty things that happen in Ubud. But if there was a place to find yourself I understand why people would try to do it in this place.

On day 2 we set off early by motorbike to visit Gunung Kawi. We were hoping to get there before the package tourists would arrive hence leaving early morning. It turned out to be a little bit further then we and my bum had hoped,  but by the time we finally got there we were still ahead of the large troops. Upon arrival you first have to descent down hundreds of stairs and  Milla did a fabulous job on climbing down. On either side of the stairs you have view over the rice terraces surrounding the temple. After we had finished looking around the temples we were up for a stroll in one of the rice paddies.  Inevitably we all took turns in sliding down the muddy walkways and getting stuck while pulling out the toe bit from our flip flips. Resulting in trying to balance hopping on one foot while trying to avoid sliding down a floor. Somehow I did picture it more romantic in my head. On our way back my walk through Idyllic rice paddies fields  experience took a turn for the worse. I will now never look upon them se same and I’m afraid the perfect picture is ruined forever. Close to the entrance of the rice field there was a pile of runny human poo and toilet paper that we only missed by a few cm. Every person I saw from then on for me was the creator of that pile and in my mind I thanked each one for making sure my careless rice field strolls have only lived a very short history.

I still tried to tell myself that this is nature and you have to take this with it if you want purity and real travel. But at the end there is no way I could learn to like human feces.

Time to take my feces phobia out on the stairs back up. Milla made it to the top on her own while we sang the Diego tune but instead of Diego it was Milla of course. Hup Milla go Milla.. Hup Milla go Milla.. Lalalalalalalala.

Just as we got to the top of the million steps (maybe I’m over exaggerating) floodgates were opened again and we were stuck in a café for a while but that wasn’t a bad thing. The café on top of the hill has the most awesome views over the hills and the rice fields with the volcano in the background. Especially after the rained the view was stunning. The landscape was letting off steam and the colours were amazing. I could have stood there and watched this forever. Instead of standing there we got on the bike to another temple and on the way there it seemed like every new view was trying to top the one before. Breathtaking!!! So my lesson here is the rain sucks big time but it makes things even more pretty when it stops. So be patient when it rains and go out as soon as it stops you won’t regret it.

The other temple we visited was called Puri Gunung Kawi Sebato. Almost the same name but completely different thing entirely. This one was situated around the water coming from the holy springs. The water was caught in a main secret pool and from there on it divided into different pools. On each side of the temple there were public areas. One people used to come and do their dishes or fill cans with drinking water and the other side was used for bathing. The Large pool was divided into two sections. One for woman and one for men. Milla and I went into the one for woman of course and to my surprise bathing actually meant bathing and not swimming. My husband took a picture over the wall before actually realising what was there. And after everyone left I took a few pictures of Milla to remember the crystal clear water. On our way home we passed hundreds and hundreds of traditional and art shops, a container wouldn’t be big enough to fill with everything we want.

The next few days it rained and rained and sadly enough didn’t stop anymore. So with pain in our heart we decided to leave in search of sunshine. Ubud and I however are far from done. I hope to continue exploring in and around Ubud soon.