Generally, admitting yourself to hospital during a trip isn’t something you look back on with fondness but it’s not often you get your own room with AC and a reliably hot shower, decent WiFi and three meals a day which you select off a menu delivered to your bed whilst you watch movies on HBO. I think the only real downside was the fucking IV drip, I’ve never been to hospital before, I’ve never had to have a drip and it’s not an experience I ever wish to repeat. And this is a fine example of why you should always take out travel insurance, kids.
Yes, you might play it safe, just stay on the beach sipping piña coladas, no chance of falling off a cliff or crashing a bike or plunging to your near-death if the bungee cord snaps, but if you get some manner of disease then no amount of being careful is going to stop that from happening. This would have cost me nearly £4000 if I wasn’t insured but to be fair I managed to identify and check myself into the best hospital on Bali despite my fevered confusion.
I was feeling worse than I’ve ever felt in my life, including that time I got smashed on Jägerbombs and genuinely thought I was dying the entire next day, when I arrived at BIMC Kuta at some god awful time in the morning. I’d done some Googling and this hospital had come up a couple of times as having excellent staff fluent in English. That’s what I needed in my life. I stumbled in, Tarrant in tow, and asked to see someone. A bit of paperwork later and I was lying on a bed being asked about my symptoms. I don’t remember much, I was so bastard feverish, I hadn’t eaten properly for a week and sleep was something that only happened to other people, but I remember them putting a drip in my left hand and saying something about antibiotics and tests for dengue and malaria. I had a chest x-ray too at some point, I think before the drip went in, fuck knows, but lung infections were mentioned, then they said they had no space there so I was going to be put in an ambulance and taken to BIMC in Nusa Dua.
And what a lovely place it is. That’s where I spent the next five nights of my life being diagnosed with and treated for pneumonia which would explain why my lungs were constantly trying to escape through my throat, and gastro which would explain why it felt like my internal organs had liquified and were seeping out through my arse. Back to the drip though, it started getting red and swollen and quite painful so they had to move it. Fuck my life, it hurt, it hurt so bloody much, I wouldn’t wish it on my enemies. It doesn’t help that I’m way more squeamish than my face would have you believe, just the fact that I had the bastard thing in there made me scared of my own hand.
They tried putting it in the side of my wrist which hurt even more and it didn’t work. I’m not even ashamed to admit I was in floods of tears, I wouldn’t let them touch me again that night, I didn’t need the bastard saline, I was drinking so much water through boredom that I was pissing like a racehorse. They knew this too because I had to piss in a jug then let them know I’d done it. More than one nurse would study me with a raised eyebrow and comment, “You pee a lot!”
The next day they brought in a nurse to put the drip in my right hand but that was all bruised up where they’d taken blood everyday because I’m a delicate fucking flower. Again they went for the side of the wrist, again I bawled my little eyes out and insisted they try the top of my wrist which finally did the job and I could spend the next couple of days being scared of my right hand. Great. I also had to shit in a cup for the first three days so they could check for parasites or something. Can’t they give you a bigger cup for stool samples? I mean, I’m not talking a three-piece tupperware set or anything but it’d be nice not to have to stuff it in there with a stick once it was a bit less fluid-like.
But no, really, my time in hospital wasn’t that bad until everything started repeating on all the channels. I watched Iron Man twice which isn’t awful because I absolutely love Iron Man. I watched a lot of fishing programmes about monster fish with huge teeth. I even watched a show about cake. Can you believe there’s a show about extreme baking? I’m not even shitting you. Extreme baking. Once I was able to eat properly again and could fart safely I was allowed to walk around the ward with Tarrant, who visited every day, as long as I wore a face mask so I didn’t infect everyone with my gross lungs. I was getting cabin fever though. I was starting to wonder if outside even existed anymore or if there’d been a zombie apocalypse they’d failed to inform me of. As much as I enjoyed my fresh papaya and watermelon for breakfast, and my lunchtime sandwiches, and my pasta dishes with ice cream for dessert I was so happy when I was released and didn’t have to tell someone every time I had a piss any more.
Though being hospitalised isn’t even the reason I hate Bali. Okay, that’s a bit much, I don’t hate Bali, although south Bali did ruin Indonesia for me. I know I liked Java because I told anyone who’d listen that I liked Java but I don’t remember actually liking it. All I remember is the scumbags in Bali. Really liked north Bali, loved Ubud, but south Bali is a godforsaken place full of people who just want all of your money. The taxi driver who demanded Rp300,000 for a ride to hospital that was worth less than Rp100,000. I was clearly very ill, I even offered him Rp200,000 straight off the bat because I didn’t want an argument, I just wanted to get there. So fuck you.
The mechanics that charged us Rp300,000 to fix a flat tyre, a job that we later found out should only have been Rp40,000. We had no idea, we were vulnerable tourists stuck with a flat in the middle of nowhere. Some guy pulled up on a scooter and offered to help us and next thing you know Tarrant is off on the back of his bike and I was left to assess the situation; I’m stranded here, my girlfriend had gone off to fuck knows where with fuck knows who and I had no way of contacting her to make sure she was safe. We were basically at their mercy and yeah, he helped us. Out of the contents of our wallets. So fuck you too. It’s not like north Bali where you know you’re being overcharged but it’s not by much. In the south it feels malicious, you feel like you’ve been robbed.
I don’t ever need to return to Bali, it’s beautiful in the north, it really is, but you’re constantly on your guard which just isn’t necessary in Indonesia. Somewhere like India you just deal with it because that’s how it is, but after Java Bali was just hard work. Ah, Java. I regret not spending more time there. The Javanese are so genuine, if they talk to you it’s because they want to talk to you, not because they want to flog you something.
Everything is so much cheaper too, everything from the accommodation to the food. The food though, I liked it at first but does get to the point you want something that isn’t some manner of fried carbohydrate. When I was released from hospital my doctor told me I needed to keep myself healthy, drink lots of water and eat fruit and vegetables. I stared at her. How? How can I eat healthy vegetables in a country that fries bloody everything? There are a few veggies strewn through a nasi goreng but nothing that’d make any manner of difference to your health, and they’re fried too. I could have sworn the oil was starting to seep out of my pores at one point.
You can get other food though, we applied a lot of sop bakso, meatball soup, to our faceholes until we had a long, hard thing about how the meatballs were made. We usually bought it from street vendors and at one place the meatballs were laced with bits of bone and god knows what else and I had visions of them blending whole chickens and fashioning the ensuing substance into balls. Yeah, I’m a crap carnivore. Nasi campur, pronounced nah-si cham-poor, became a favourite because it’s a collection of animal and soy proteins with some rice and if you buy it from one of those little warungs where everything is just laid out on glass shelves and someone just throws it all together with their hands it’s usually got a bit of a spicy kick to it too. But yes, you get over it. You get to the point where you’re actually craving steamed broccoli. I never thought I would crave steamed broccoli.
I still want to come back to Indonesia though, I’ve heard good things about Sumatra, I’m not done with Java, I still need to dive the Komodo islands and explore more of Flores. I think I mostly enjoyed the country but it didn’t overwhelm me with all of the feels and a lot of the tourist attractions are prohibitively expensive for backpackers on a bigger trip. I wish I had more positive things to say, and maybe if I return and my lungs don’t try to kill me, and I try to do less in a small amount of time and relax a bit more, and if I don’t set foot on fucking Bali, maybe I will.