Our time in Thailand was filled with some major highs and some of the lowest moments of our journey.
We’ve been to Thailand before and this is the 3rd time for me, but this would be the longest either one of us would have spent in Thailand. Our plan was to travel from north to south and use 3 places as a home base so we weren’t constantly traveling. When you are nomads it’s nice to have some extended period of stability. That was the plan.
With any thoughtful plan, expect to adjust as life throws you a curveball. As we landed in Chang Mai I felt really ill with extreme fatigue and weakness that I’ve never felt before. I thought maybe after months of not working out, lots of fatty foods, and irregular sleep had caught up to me in some way. I was sure some rest in Chang Mai would cure it, but as I rest more, the worst it got. After visiting an elephant sanctuary were I felt my chest pounding and my body giving out on me, I needed to figure out what was wrong. Nothing like this has ever happened to me. Isabella and I were both really worried. Was I having some form of a heart attack? Every bad thought race through my mind, especially since we were not sure how to deal with the situation in a foreign country.
We both kept an active monitor of my condition and noting any changes. We didn't want to be surprised, especially since we didn’t know how to reach emergency services or communicate with the local people. We had to figure out how to visit a doctor, maybe a specialist, along with a bunch of other things as well. We had plans to travel around northern Thailand that we had to limit. Our apartment stay was coming to an end and we needed to figure out how to extend without moving while I was in this state. We wanted to see a doctor before we move on to potentially more difficult regions for healthcare (or determine if we need to head back to the States). And I was also worried about going to a hospital in southeast Asia as my experience when I was backpacking through Vietnam many years before was not good. Where do you even start to find an English speaking doctor and specialist in Thailand?
We were surprised. Many Thai hospital sites were in English and you can make an appointment from the site, including picking a specialist. There were expat sites that gave feedback on doctors. It seems like many doctors spoke English. But how much will everything cost? We have international health insurance, but it was essentially catastrophic coverage with high deductible. And I wanted to do a comprehensive cardio check-up, which in the US would cost thousands of dollars. When we got to the hospital a cardio nurse checked me in, went over cost for different service upfront, and discussed what she thought would be best, which we could adjust based on the doctor's consultation. I was shocked. The price for a full suite of tests, including some very expensive ones, came out to be about the price of a fancy meal on an evening out. It was affordable. What was even more extraordinary was the experience. There was always a nurse or a guide to help you around the hospital so you don’t get lost when doing the tests. The facility was modern and quite nice. They were in constant contact with me on ETA for different things and was apologetic when the doctor was only 5 minutes late. The doctor was friendly, candid, and world-class. I am sure not everyone's experience is like this, but it was pretty perfect.
The diagnosis was a little embarrassing. My cardiovascular system was extraordinary healthy. I knew that this could be a potential outcome. If that was the case, then what I was feeling was likely a consequence of my flu I had a month before. The doctor also confirmed that it is common people have these type of symptoms after a severe flu. So after being cleared physically and it allowed me to start being active again, pushing through the extreme fatigue whenever I felt it. After a short period of working out and being active, I quickly recovered. Knowing is half the battle.
After recovering and adjusting to the remaining time, we traveled to Phuket and Bangkok. We explored different islands, learned freediving, visited many temples, and ate a lot of amazing food (check out our video blog here). Thailand is not only a beautiful place to visit (checkout pictures above), but it has great modern infrastructure. I guess that’s why there are so many expats living there.
This is why we are so behind in our videos and blogging last month and of course Isabella caught a cold just a week back. So we continue to be behind. Life of a nomad isn’t always just amazing sunsets and beautiful places. 😉