For advice on severe allergies, visit the Anaphylaxis Campaign website www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/living-with-anaphylaxis/young-people or drop us a line info@anaphylaxis.org.uk / 01252 542029 /@ACOutthere/@Anaphylaxiscoms

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Travelling with allergies part 7: To the beach!

"Hello again!

Castaway!
Having spent some time in Bangkok and then Chiang Mai and after a hefty 8 hour coach trip (not to mention the 2 hour rough ferry ride!), we eventually arrived on the beautiful island of Koh Toa.

A quick freshen up before heading to the golden sandy beach with a calm bright blue sea lapping at the shores while the sun set. We headed to a western restaurant for our first meal on the island where I enjoyed a grilled chicken breast with salad and potatoes, ones again relying on my allergy cards to do the communicating.


Did anyone order a pineapple...?
The next day we all enjoyed a lie in before walking to the beach for day one of what turned out to be many of tanning. We walked along the main beach Sairee beach before finding a suitable spot to rest as the 30 degree heat took it out of us and we were all dying to go for our first swim. For lunch we choose one of the many beach side restaurants where although not very hungry we enjoyed some chips between us. I quickly got the impression this tiny island was mainly run by western owners and its income primarily from us tourists so it was surprisingly hard to find the Thai restaurants we had been so used to. I finally crumbled after almost 2 months since leaving home and enjoyed a wonderful steak and chips that evening!

The next day I woke and had to refresh my cooling pack for my adrenaline injectors again. I've been using this since arriving in the 25+ degree heat back in Bangkok. It's a small pack with beads which absorb water keeping the adrenaline from getting to hot. The pack is pretty easy to use - I simply submerge it in a sink of water for a few minutes and it will stay cool for a few days...magic! The pack is made by a company Frio, and I've used it abroad before. I would really recommend it if you're thinking of travelling to hot places and need to take your adrenaline.
 
Our week on the island was mainly focussed on relaxing with daily beach trips, swimming and playing beach ball. For a couple of days we rented scooters allowing us to get around the island in minutes which was SO much fun and a must do!

Big boy toys
We discovered a restaurant on the beach which had a BBQ on the beach every night (living the dream!) so I could see exactly what and how every thing was being cooked. I ordered a chicken kebab served with a grilled baked potato and sweet corn from which was AMAZING and so cheap. I enjoyed it so much we returned for our final night where we all chowed down on kebabs after my previous success.

With the large number of tourists populating the island, eating out was made easy by the large western menus which were impossible to resist! Not necessarily a bad thing though, as after so long away from home, I'm already looking forward to Australia and its promise of a taste of home again. 

After starting off what would be a slow tanning process, we left the island and headed to Phuket in southern Thailand where we spent four days. Unfortunately our hostel wasn't in a great location as the beach was a 20 minute drive away, so we settled for laundry, repacking and relaxing instead. After many daily chess games and trips to the 7 eleven for snacks, sadly our time in Thailand came to a close.

BBQ on the beach!
I've really enjoyed Thailand and would strongly recommend it to everyone!  Although the traditional Thai cooking dishes are not all suitable and risky, there are many dishes which are suitable and I've actually really enjoyed. Having allergy translation cards has been incredibly useful at all times and made ordering simpler.

We packed out bags on the 12th December - by chance exactly 2 months since leaving home. The next day we caught out flight to Singapore where we would be spending 5 days staying with some of Ollie's family before catching a flight to Darwin, Australia. 

Check back soon for a shiny new Singaporean entry in a few days!


Stephen :)"

PLEASE NOTE: While the content of guest posts is checked for validity and accuracy at the time of posting, the Anaphylaxis Campaign is not responsible for the contents of, nor endorses the advice or information held within posts written by guest bloggers. Official information and advice can be found at www.anaphylaxis.org.uk.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Travelling with allergies part 6: A Thai-tanic Experience


"Hello there!

Hello Bangkok!

After a pleasant flight from Chengdu we landed in Bangkok where

we met my friend Josh who has spent the last two months alone in India travelling and will be with us for the next few weeks in Thailand. Our first priority, after reaching the hostel, was dinner and we found the menus very different to Chinese menus. There was a good selection of grilled meats and fish along with traditional green curry and pad Thai dishes. I enjoyed a grilled chicken breast with French fries having successfully used my Thai translation cards for the first time!
The following day we visited the famous Khaosan road to purchase some more appropriate clothing as the constant humid 35C heat both day and night was a real shock to our bodies. Equipped with vest tops and shorts we enjoyed a few drinks on the world famous Khaosan before I explored one of the many thousands of 7-Eleven's next to our hostel with the hope of some Western and English ingredients on products (after struggling with a lack of choice in China).  I was pleasantly surprised to discover a wide range of products including chocolate, biscuits, bread and more, all with English ingredients and fair prices.


The restaurants in Bangkok provided a range of dishes.  Grilled meats are popular and seemed safe to order as they were generally plain but of course I used my allergy cards.

One evening we went for a foot massage. I could see oil was used so I used my 'picture' allergy card showing no nuts to check it wasn't a nut oil. It turned out to be coconut oil so for £2.40 I enjoyed a 30minute massage.

We enjoyed our 5 days in Bangkok and being a group of 3 was a nice change.  I also enjoyed the Thai culture and ease of English speaking and writing everywhere - even on most of the 7-Eleven products!  We boarded a train to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand and were even served lunch on board! Although all pre-made I was still able to enjoy the steamed rice and fruit which was more than any of us expected.

We arrived late in the evening in Chiang Mai and took one of the many red open back taxis to our hostel while the monsoon rain was falling. After finding our hostel we headed to the local 7-Eleven store for dinner as it was too late for restaurants. The stores are open 24/7 so are very convenient and after each picking up pot noodles and some biscuits we headed back in the strangely warm pouring rain!

Delicious Food


Our first day here we visited Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple which is located on the mountain rising behind the city. This golden temple was magnificent and also provided an excellent view point over the city and international airport. We couldn't resist a taste of home for lunch so stopped for a quick McDonalds before exploring the old city within the walls. That evening I tried my first Thai green curry.  I used my allergy cards as usual and my curry took 30 minutes to arrive, which is very slow for Thailand, however was incredible.
Demonstrating my culinary skills


The next day we took part in a Thai cooking course, where we had to visit the market to collect our produce before cooking each dish from scratch. I notified them of my allergies and they were very accommodating. My first dish was a coconut milk chicken curry with chilli and ginger. I then created a green curry paste however mine was missing oyster sauce and shrimp paste. I spoke to our instructor who told me that all Thai curry's have curry paste containing shrimp and oyster paste so I shouldn't order any.  This answered my question as to why the previous night’s curry had taken so long as they would have had to make a curry paste from scratch. I'm pleased I had a Thai green curry but wouldn't risk another now I know this unless I’m in an upmarket restaurant.



I also cooked a Thai green curry and a stir fried chicken and basil dish. By the end of the day’s cooking we had all eaten multiple dishes so dinner wasn't required! In the evening I met my cousin who lives in Chiang Mai and he showed us an excellent rooftop bar and restaurant to try during our stay.

We then enjoyed a relaxing day giving us a chance to purchase extra sun cream and mosquito repellent in preparation for our jungle trek in a few days time and the following day we met up with my cousin who showed us around Chiang Mai university on bicycles and then to a local temple. We cycled on some back roads and past the airport before stopping at the airport plaza which had a huge food hall and Western shops. We took the opportunity to purchase Christmas cards to send home and browsed the extortionately priced supermarket which stocked all imported products. It felt just like home - excluding the price! We enjoyed drinks and dinner in a local restaurant that evening and I ordered a really nice rice and beef dish.

After cycling over 25km the previous day we woke late before booking our bus and ferry to Koh Toa in a few days. We also booked our hostel for the first few days there. That evening we created our own dinner of bread with tinned tuna, sardines and cheese along with a yogurt and fruit. All these products had both Thai and English ingredients displayed making shopping very easy.

Elephant Riding
Our last few days in Chiang Mai were the best few days of the trip so far. We went on a trek into the jungle which was incredible, and after three hours trekking with our guide we arrived at a waterfall were we cooled off before continuing past the rice fields and stunning jungle canopy, eventually arriving at the elephant camp in the evening. We spent the night sleeping in a traditional bamboo hut before an early start to give the elephants breakfast, which was bananas. There was a mother and baby elephant which were very playfully and entertaining. We spent most of the morning learning about the elephants and how to ride them bare back before washing them in a mud bath. For lunch we were served rice and chicken which was lovely and filling and a fresh fruit for pudding. We took a bamboo raft back down stream before arriving back at our hostel.

Our final day here we went on a day’s fishing trip to a lake.  We caught many fish, the largest weighing 30kg and taking over 30 minutes to land. A wonderfully sunny enjoyable day with lunch included where I enjoyed rice with fried chilli pork after some discussion and clarification with the waiter (many Thai people speak some English which is a nice change from China). That evening we met my cousin for a final dinner on a rooftop bar which was excellent.  I ordered a rice and beef dish which was a great last dinner.
Catch of the Day

On the 28th November we left Chiang Mai and headed towards Bangkok before catching our connecting bus and ferry to Koh Toa. After over 24hrs travelling we arrived at the ferry having had little sleep. The final part of the journey on the ferry was unfortunately very stormy and bumpy as there was lightening and huge waves making the boat rather unpleasant. We were relieved to be back on dry land on the picturesque island of Koh Toa located of the east coast of Thailand.

We plan to spend 6 days here before exploring other islands. This island is known for its sandy beaches and snorkelling and diving experiences.

Having been in Thailand for over two weeks now we already really like this country and I'm finding it surprisingly manageable with my allergies. There is a lot more English spoken here and lots of English ingredients. Grilled foods and western dishes are also regularly available at fair prices making dining less challenging than I expected.

I would recommend Thailand to you all, check back soon for my next entry from the islands.


Stephen :)"

PLEASE NOTE: While the content of guest posts is checked for validity and accuracy at the time of posting, the Anaphylaxis Campaign is not responsible for the contents of, nor endorses the advice or information held within posts written by guest bloggers. Official information and advice can be found at www.anaphylaxis.org.uk.