Travelling with a New Boyfriend & The Bali Belly
Dear reader, a lot has happened since we last spoke. I got a boyfriend – noun 1. a rare and mysterious creature typically hard to come by – and I travelled from London to Bali for a wedding with said boyfriend. At first, I was reluctant to invite him, as my track record with exotic holiday destinations isn’t great. From acne in Fiji to Montezuma’s revenge in Mexico I hoped that Bali would be a different story and since I couldn’t bear taking another long haul flight alone, staring blankly at my pale complexion in the economy toilet mirror, I thought that having a sexy travel buddy would make things all the more exciting.
We began our long-haul journey of new relationship exploration with a glass of bubbly at Heathrow and unlike my usual solo missions, time flew by. The next thing I knew we were snuggling somewhere over India and hijacking the complimentary snacks basket at the back of the plane. The only moment of vulnerability occurred after the 14-hour mark when the cabin lights were switched on for landing, kindly revealing more bags under my eyes than a shopaholic’s return luggage. Dark circles aside, we arrived in Bali without a hitch.
Our first day in Seminyak was spent lounging by the pool, where I chose to embrace the humidity and rock a top-knot bun for the first time in our relationship #nothighmaintence.
After the wedding, our next stop was The Gili Islands otherwise known as paradise. To celebrate our first night on Gili Trawangan, we watched the sunset from a secluded beach bar. Mr S raised his icy cold Bintang and we toasted to our holiday and letting my top-knot down, I asked the waiter to keep the mojitos flowing.
Within a short, three-hour period our holiday transformed from a picture-perfect poster in a travel agency to that gruesome scene in the movie ‘The Beach’ where a freak shark attack turns paradise into a living hell. In my case, the proverbial shark was a local stomach bug which had now made its way from the ice in my mojitos to my gut, sending me hurling towards the hotel.
With tears in my eyes and gritted teeth, I asked Mr S sweetly if he would mind sitting on the front balcony. Sensing that he didn’t have a choice, Mr S agreed to battle the mosquitoes out front while I christened the only toilet we had located outside the opposite end of the hotel room.
The next 48 hours made my previous imperfections (dark circles and top knot buns) look like stunning features on a catwalk model. Not only was I vomiting and going to the toilet every hour but since I wasn’t eating I was fainting in between rounds. The first five times I deployed the shower, sink tap and even a recent Spotify playlist to drown out the dreadful sounds but very soon I stopped giving a f*ck. The lowest point was watching the sunrise over the palm trees from the bathroom floor and an unidentifiable insect falling in the middle of my forehead then jumping straight off again because even it couldn’t bear the sight of my limp, lifeless body.
By day two of the Bali belly, I could barely lift my head off the pillow. Instead of packing up his things and jumping on the next boat off the island, Mr S set out to find a cure.
After seeking some wisdom from a toothless Balinese woman (and getting completely ripped off), Mr S returned to the hotel room with a bag of lifesaving supplies that I recommend everyone takes if they ever find themselves in this dreadful situation:
- Norit – A locally available brand of activated charcoal used to absorb toxic substances in the body
- Pocari Sweat – A Japanese electrolyte drink which can be consumed three times a day to replenish fluids lost while sick
- Oreos (For him) – A delicious chocolately biscuit taken to ease the stress of dealing with hideous, near death partners
Another day passed by with my only exposure to light being from the outdoor loo, at least the Norit and Pocari had begun to work their magic giving me enough energy to pick a new Spotify playlist to drown out my sorrows.
The following morning breakfast arrived at our doorstep and to be safe I only ate the plain toast and cornflakes (with a dash of bottled water). It wasn’t glamorous or tasty but it just might have just saved me, as I soon felt well enough to peel myself off the bed and take a shower. Mr. S left the hotel briefly to go for a dive, no doubt feeling more at ease with the sharks and other life-threating marine life.
To say thank you to Mr S for looking after me, I decided to dress for the first time in three days. It felt great to finally be able to wear one of my pre-planned Bali outfits, as that’s the first thing you do when you know you’re going away with a date. I completed the look with a generic stick of lip balm from Poundland and half shaven legs (I didn’t have the energy to do a full leg). Mr S smiled as he rushed through the door an hour later, I think he was expecting to find me on the bathroom floor half eaten by geckos.
By the second last day of our holiday, I had managed to get myself to the best medical centre on the island (with the help of Mr S of course) It was the best decision I’d made all holiday as I was finally able to get the help I needed to enjoy the last sunrise from the beach (and not the toilet).
As we approached the hotel checkout desk, the staff who had been so lovely to us shared a giggle. I immediately panicked, what were they laughing at? Did I have a suspicious brown stain on my white dress? Was there a leaf in my hair from so many nights spent in the outdoor loo?
Sensing our confusion the concierge revealed the reason for their exaggerated amusement, ‘You are the honeymoon couple who never leaves the room and always orders room service…happy couple!’ he said.
Now it was my turn to have a serious chuckle. These people thought we were a newly married couple too caught up in the throes of wild, holiday sex to leave the hotel.
Somehow Mr S didn’t find it as amusing, the only action he’d gotten all holiday was a wave from a one-armed turtle which he showed me repeatedly on his GoPro.
While it certainly wasn’t the holiday we were both expecting, my sickness did force us to explore the deep, dark crevices of our new relationship and to say I bared my soul to him would be an understatement. Maybe my act of bravery and his commitment to ordering room service night after night just to be with me did warrant a proposal after all.
While Mr S reclined on the beach chair, I strolled down the sandy altar in my white beach dress and new, malnutritioned Bali body.
‘Do you want to marry me?’ I asked Mr S, batting my eyelashes which had half fallen out from stress.
‘Absolutely not.’ he laughed.
Gazing wistfully off into the distance, I remembered a time when I would Uber home from his flat in London just so that I didn’t have to do a number two at his place.
Those my dear reader were the good old days.