When you visit a new country (or move to a new place as an expat as I recently did), it’s important that you research the possible dangers, along with the wonderful tours and adventures you’ll go on. My husband and I have recently moved to Phuket,Thailand (after visiting several times while we were living in Dubai and falling in love with it on the first landing). Our comfort level with the place was truly at a ten out of ten. Any of the small irritants of settling into a new place were easily overcome because of the huge number of positives – like the food, the amazing people, the gorgeous beach, lush greenery, cheap cost of living and so on. BUT, I forgot to also pay attention to the possible dangers (no, I’m not talking floods, but that would be a good guess considering what’s been going on in northern Thailand and parts of Bangkok)… I’m talking about creatures, big and small, that you have to look out for.
One day, I was sitting in my beautiful little pool villa, writing away, minding my own business, when I caught Zorro, my cat, out of the corner of my eye. He was the perfect depiction of a Halloween cat and he was fuzzed out so much, he looked twice his large, 15-pound kitty frame. Alarmed, I went out to investigate. He was looking over the back wall and was obviously petrified. I tried to coax him down but he was frozen in place. I went out the front door, around to the back of the villa to investigate what was freaking him out. Well, I rounded the corner and just about stepped on a very large (I’d say he was about a four-footer), shiny, black snake. Holy Crap! The good thing is it seems that what they say is true, they’re more scared of you than you are of them. He immediately slithered away up a banana tree and over the neighbor’s wall. My heart was in my throat but both Zorro and I were untouched. Phew!
A smaller beast that I forgot to beware of and that had a much more uncomfortable impact on me than the snake encounter, was the very nasty, intestinal parasite. Microscopic, yet deadly. Again, my comfort was my downfall. I puff out my chest and say confidently, “I live here now. I can eat anything and everything, just like the locals.” Well, my somewhat virgin intestines had a different take on the new situation. The locals have had their whole lives to develop a tolerance to these little beasts. Me… not so much. I always claim to be an adventurous eater and the first few weeks we were here, we ate from every little hole in the wall and sidewalk vendor we happened upon when we were hungry. My reward… five days of fever and chills, headache, cramps and… well, you know what comes with that.
1. No walking around barefoot (especially at night) and make lots of noise as you’re coming around corners.
2. Ease yourself into the local food, carry anti-bacterial hand wash at all times, and don’t put fingers in mouth until thoroughly sanitized.
3. Always have a back-up supply of anti-biotics. You can get them over the counter in Thailand!