Being mugged. Being in a bus crash. Getting kidnapped. Catching a horrible tropical disease. Earthquakes.
These are some of the many things that I worried about before heading off for a year of travel. Of course I should have realised that when the time came for my luck to run out that it would be my own stupidity that caused it – and end up sending me to hospital.
The day started pretty well – after an earlyish start, we had a beautiful boat ride across the Andaman sea to Ko Phi Phi. I was with my friend Jo from back home,and who’s working as a volunteer English teacher in Krabi at the moment, and we were on our way to meet another friend Nick, who was on holiday from England in Phuket.
The journey was lovely, as we passed a series of dramatic, limestone islands along the way. Soon enough we were at our destination, and met up with Nick at the harbour. We were picked up by someone from our hotel, and walked across to the other end of the town and up a long flight of stairs to our hotel. It was a bit of an effort getting up the hill in the midday heat – but at least I had the prospect of a lovely view to keep me motivated. That would turn out to be my undoing.
It only took a minute or two to check in, and we walked across to the room. I was really excited about seeing the view, so walked straight across the room and through the open glass door onto the balcony.
Except of course it wasn’t open. Looking back on it now, I don’t even remember the impact really, it happened so quickly. One minute I was walking across the room, the next I was standing on the balcony surrounded by shattered glass. That first moment of realisation seemed to last an eternity (that’ll be the shock then) before I gradually became aware of lots of shouting, people all around me, and then, finally, began to see blood everywhere.
It turns out the glass was very, very thin non-safety glass, and it had shattered into sharp shards that had sliced into my skin in various places. Before I really knew what was going on, a guy from the hotel had hoisted me onto his back, carried me down the stairs and popped me into a luggage trolley to wheel me back across the island to the hospital.
I’m so glad my friend Nick was with me (especially being someone I’ve known for so long), as he accompanied me the whole way, chatting away to keep my spirits up (and distract me) from the fact I was now aware that there was a fair amount of blood pouring down my arms and legs.
It must have been quite a sight – the streets of Ko Phi Phi are pretty narrow, and very crowded, so of course everyone was staring at me as we trundled past (bloody typical that the hospital turned out to be right at the other end of the island).
I was a bit concerned about what the hospital was going to be like – but I really needn’t have been. The place was pretty new, built since the tsunami, and within seconds of walking in I was already lying on a bed with five people around me cleaning my wounds. Within no time at all I was being dosed up with local anaesthetic, and stitched up in various places simultaneously (all the while with Nick joking away in the background), and best of all the room was right on the beach so I could distract myself by looking out onto a stunning view. You wouldn’t get that back home.
In no time at all I was back up and out on the beach – all in all I’d been on the island for not much more than an hour in total and I’d calmed down enough to take stock of the situation:
In total, I had 38 stitches (14 on the left forearm, 6 on the left hand, 8 on the right elbow, and 5 each on right knee and shin), plus a few butterfly stitched on my forehead and right leg, and a big bandage around a smaller wound on my left heel. With bandages over each wound I was doing quite a passable impression of a mummy on holiday.
To be honest, I was incredibly lucky – no glass went into my eyes, no ligaments were sliced through, no major marks on my face, and nothing on my back or sides that would have made sitting down or sleeping difficult. The staff at the hospital were incredibly efficient, friendly and professional, they really were superb. And luckily enough, while the wounds were big, they were all very very shallow, meaning they didn’t even really hurt (which is great as I am the biggest wimp in the world when it comes to pain).
In the end it was pretty easy to laugh about soon afterwards (I really felt like a complete muppet, to be honest), and it soon became yet another great way to talk to new people (shame I’m not straight really as every girl in town wanted to stop and talk to me for the next few days to ask about what happened).
In the end it turned out to be inconvenient more than anything – I’d just arrived on one of the most stunning coastlines in the world, and I was now unable to swim, or snorkel, or dive. That pretty much put paid to my plans, so I had no choice but to cancel them and head up to Bangkok.
There was one thing that did really piss me off though – after having my brand new boardshorts nicked after two hours of wear in Bali, I bought another new pair in Singapore. I was wearing them for the first time that day, and of course the glass did a pretty good job of shredding those too. Typical.