Once again, it has been a bit since I’ve posted considering I have time here, but for some reason, it seems to be flying and my knee can’t heal fast enough. My cousin arrives tonight and I resume my travels with her Thursday after two tourist filled days in Bangkok.
I didn’t plan on coming to Bangkok and now that I’m here, a part of me doesn’t want to leave, but that almost always seems to be the case. I’m a little concerned about my leg and traveling, but other than that, I’m not too stressed because I know I can come back anytime. I’ve pretty much decided I’m in this thing/adventure of mine for the long haul but I had a hard time verbalizing it as I feel badly, almost guilty, for not really wanting to go back to the United States. I’ve talked to some other long term travelers and they have said they felt the same way at first, but get accustomed to it. I guess for me, as long as I know I can make a “visit” home, then I don’t feel as bad- I’m not entirely deserting my country and my friends and family, LOL.
At some point, I need some stability and to “settle” long enough to find some legit work in my field and possibly make some money. I don’t want to be out of the work loop for too long and I’m researching some options here in Thailand. Unfortunately, The Overseas Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics does not have a representative in Thailand, but they do have a local branch. Now I just need to find something in English or learn Thai! I also want to look into competing again, but before I can really get back into the gym, I have to let my knee fully heel.
And yeah, that brings me to the gym… After hitting up a few hotels, I went to a gym, Virgin Fitness. I loved it, but they have a crappy membership package and if I join, it would be my most expensive membership ever! But I could live there, honestly, they even have sleeping pods and it is in a shopping mall that has a gourmet grocer so all of my favorite things under one roof!
I’m definitely happy I’ve enjoyed my time here in Bangkok, especially considering the reason I came. I’m going to see how the next few months/weeks go and make some decisions. I still have that wanderlust bug so I need to feed it, but maybe after this next jaunt through some other parts of SE Asia, I’ll get my fill for a bit and “settle” again. I may even look at booking a ticket home for a bit. I have loved staying at Hom and hope to come back. It’s been so nice to have good people around, a comfortable bed, and a great kitchen!
Did you know there are over 1 million luxury hotels in Bangkok?! I made up that statistic, but it really seems possible, they are everywhere, and that’s not including the cheaper hotels and hostels that cover the city. I recently read somewhere that Bangkok was the most visited city in the world in 2016 and with all those people coming and going, the staff at large luxury hotels can’t possibly know all their guests, right? With that in mind, I’ve been experimenting with “crashing” some hotel fitness centers and pools, and it works.
It first started at the Sofitel. Another traveler gave me a day pass to use the amenities on their 10th floor spa area overlooking Lumpini Park. When we arrived, nobody asked for the passes (given by the MOD the night before). I used the fitness area and spent the afternoon by the infinity pool. Not a bad way to spend the day when you can’t walk much! I then went to the Grand Sheraton because I know somebody who stays there. I asked if I could sit by the pool, so he walked me over and I stayed, lounging on a chair under the natural trees, a little oasis in the heart of Bangkok.
I went back to the Sofitel, feeling “safe” that I still had the guest pass, and again, no questions asked. I worked out, swam laps, and showered in their immaculate facility with shiny off white marble like floors. Because that visit was a success, I decided to be a little more adventurous. I hit up the JW Marriott, just across from my hostel. I did some recon and was directed to the pool. The staff even opened the doors for me. I did order a salad so as to not draw any attention to the fact that I was ultimately stealing real estate there. For the price I paid, it’s worth it because you cannot get a one day pass to a fitness center here in the city, much less one with a pool that’s within walking distance to me.
I love the pool and ambiance at the Sofitel, but I have to take a taxi there, so that costs me a few bhat. The fitness center is definitely doable with a variety of machines and free weights, but I have to say, the JW Marriott wins in that regard. It has more equipment than many small gyms and for my purposes, it is very practical. The pool area is set up to look like a garden and doesn’t offer the views that the Sofitel does, but hey, swimming is swimming and I need it! The Pool at the Sheraton is quite nice too, but I didn’t go to their fitness center, it is on a different floor.
For now, it’s fun crashing hotel fitness centers and pools, and it saves money! If I were to stay in Bangkok longer, however, I’d pay for a gym membership. In the meantime, it is a good tactic to get in some exercise while traveling and I definitely love being able to lift weights! Do you have any stories of sneaking into hotels? Any attempts gone wrong?
Have you had surgery before? Was it quick and easy? Did you have someone to help you out post-op? Did you know medical tourism is a thing?
As for me, it’s been nearly 5 weeks since I’ve had surgery for my torn meniscus and ACL. It’s clear that something is wrong with me because of the brace and crutches, and given I basically live in a hostel with new people coming and going all the time, I’ve told my story 100s of times. Now I share with you. When I first got injured, I didn’t know where in Bangkok to go for medical treatment, but someone mentioned Bumrungrad International Hospital. They speak English there and that’s what I wanted- to be able to understand what was going on with my knee. Shortly after a quick google search, I learned Bumrungrad is one of the top 10 hospitals in the world and many people go there (and come to Thailand in general) for medical tourism, it’s a thing.
As far as being hospitalized is concerned, I have to say, my experience was a good one from the moment I walked through the crystal clear automatic sliding glass doors into the air conditioned hotel-like lobby. I was wheeled to orthopedics and met with Dr. Panya Wongpatimachai almost immediately. He scheduled me for an MRI later that day, and I got the results the next. It was a Saturday. The doctor recommended surgery but I hesitated to say yes because I was waiting on word from my insurance. On Monday, we scheduled for Tuesday and all of my pre-op stuff was completed that day- no appointments necessary.
I walked in on my crutches on a Tuesday morning at 4:45. I was alone and was met by the Thai nurses. They asked me a few questions, took my bag, and put me under. The next thing I remember is walking through the woods on a fall day and suddenly waking up in a white room with bright lights all over. I was staring at the ceiling wailing in fear and in pain. Where was I and what was I doing? My level of discomfort was indescribable and a few Thai nurses hurried to my side. They pumped me with pain meds and all I wanted was somebody to stand by me an hold my hand. I seriously considered asking the Thai nurse to find somebody, anybody, in the family waiting room, and have them stand next to me, but I didn’t. I writhed in pain for a bit until the sedatives set in, asked the nurse if my blood was flowing, and was eventually transferred to my room for monitoring and care for the next 30 hours. ACL repair in the US is outpatient treatment. OMG- how do people do it? That was a rough day and I was happy to be spending it in the Bumrungrad Ritz. I was afraid to leave.
Post op, I saw my doctor. He again explained to me what they did and proceeded to show me my leg could now straighten. I had bandages and wraps and tubes all over the place but immediately started physical therapy. Everything that day was difficult. Eating, going to the bathroom, washing, sleeping, being in one position and not being able to move.
Before I was discharged, I got another lesson on using the crutches, what PT to do on my own, and I left the hospital with a bag of meds, and ice bag, and a lot of fear. I booked a room in a hotel with a lift for 2 days. It also had a restaurant on site. I couldn’t do anything, even walking a few feet on the crutches was taxing and the next day I had to go back to the hospital for PT. It was agonizing. By the time I arrived, I was bawling my eyes out and when I got to the office, they just put me on the bench, wrapped my knee in ice packs, and let me rest for 20 minutes.
To combat the isolation, increase my chances of getting some assistance, and to save some money, I checked into a hostel. Looking back, those first days post-op have to be some of the worst and most uncomfortable days of my life, but little by little, things improved and continue to improve. I was torn with not wanting to go home but also not having any steady support here, but external forces dictated my decision making process and all in all, I’m glad I stayed in Bangkok.
It’s been a rough 5 weeks, but again, it’s getting better, and I’m getting stronger. My doctor says my ACL will be stronger than ever because with the reconstruction, the ligaments used will graft and be slightly thicker than the original tissue. As far as the meniscus is concerned, well, I’m not gonna lie, it’s a bitch… A bucket handle tear is one of the most severe meniscus tears that can happen and pain, discomfort, and a limited ROM can last for 3 to 4 months. They sew the torn and dislodged cartilage back on to the original tissue and now that the swelling has gone down, I can feel the bump beneath my skin. It’s so weird knowing you have foreign material in your body (there’s a screw in there somewhere, too), but that site also hurts sometimes. So, like always, just keep moving forward, but slowly- one foot in front of the other. Patience, time, and PT (and a good massage) helps but I definitely can’t wait to get back to normal!
Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you crave sugar and sweets? If so, you are not alone, I’m definitely a fan of all things sweet myself. So what do you do to deal with those sweet cravings? Do you”give in,” fight them, or have something with artificial sweeteners?
A while back, well, early December, I completed a webinar that I signed up for through SCAN, a Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition subgroup of the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics. Although I had read a lot about using artificial sweeteners, I wanted to learn more. It’s a topic people often ask about and because I myself like sweets, I wanted to make sure that some of my choices are within healthy limits.
I wrote an article about this subject and here are some bullet points:
Non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) are substances that provide sweetness without added calories like Splenda, Sweet and Low, and Equal.
New sweeteners on the market undergo strict testing and according to the FDA, all approved sweeteners in use in the U. S. are considered safe.
Once an artificial sweetener has been deemed safe, a “No Observed Adverse Effect Level” (NOAEL) is set. It shows how much we can consume without any harmful affects over time for anybody of any age.
A 100 fold safety factor is added into the equation and only then can the Daily Acceptable Intake (DAI) of a product be set. That is the final recommendation of how much of a given NNS we should use.
What does that mean? If the NOAEL of a NNS for the average person is 68,000 mg a day, you add the 100 fold safety factor to get 680 mg/d.
NNSs are much sweeter than sugar, so less is used to get the same sweetness effect, so 680 mg/d would actually be a lot.
There are some controversial issues related to the use of NNS but study results can be tweaked or exclude important factors.
In short, it is safe to use artificial sweeteners, but, practice moderation.
Artificial sweeteners provide the sweetness we crave without added calories, so they can play a role in a healthy lifestyle.
If you want to limit both sugar and artificial sweeteners, that is OK. You can try some natural options, too.
Overall, we need to reduce the amount of sugar containing foods we eat and place an emphasis on eating foods to provide vitamins and minerals.
For more, please read the full article at: http://www.blitzbarz.com/artificial-sweeteners-and-your-health/
We all want to be responsible, right? Well, a big thing on my travel “To Do” list before I left the United States was to purchase traveler’s insurance. I looked at a few different plans and found one that had fairly comprehensive coverage through DAN, the Diver’s Alert Network. Even though I don’t dive often, I thought it would be good to have the added benefits and the policy was honestly pretty cheap for all the coverage it offered. When I purchased it, I mistakenly wrote an incorrect e mail address and never got the information associated with my account until I called three months later from Nepal. I had to “show” proof of insurance when applying for my trekking permits and thought it beneficial to have my policy number on hand!
Fast forward to my injury in Myanmar. Before I even came back to Thailand, one of my friends called the provider. (I didn’t have a strong enough internet connection to make the call on my TextFree app). They asked my details, including when I began traveling (July 7, 2016). They were informed of my accident and told me the steps I needed to take to to get my coverage process started. I began communication with the “Travel Assistance Team.” They make recommendations based on your current medical issue/injury, but they are not the policy writers. Initially, they recommended I go home, but I did not want to leave Asia nor did I want to fly in my condition.
I’d heard medical treatment in Thailand is really good. I learned about Bumrungrad International Hospital and as it turns out, it’s one of the top 10 hospitals in the world. A lot of people come here for “medical tourism.” It’s a thing! I met with the orthopedic doctor as soon as I returned to Bangkok and he ordered an MRI later that day. I got the results the next afternoon: torn ACL and a bucket-handle tear of the meniscus (which I later learned is one of the most serious types of tears). Initially, the Travel Assistance Team did not deem my injury “Emergent” and still wanted me to go home, but I was concerned about traveling that distance in pain and with such a limited range of motion. She recommended I contact claims to see if this type of injury would be covered. I called. It would be covered.
It’s an accident.” The doctor ordered surgery “as soon as possible,” and we got ready. Two days later I was in the OR. I’ll leave surgery in another country for a different post, but all in all, things went well. They kept and monitored me overnight and I was discharged the next day. In the mean time, the Travel Assistance Team was still calling. I asked if physical therapy would be covered. I needed to start immediately. “Call claims,” they said. They also said to get the name of the person who tells me yes or no for MY records, “just in case.” I did. “It’s therapeutic care,” yes, it’s covered. BUT, he said because I did not have a claim submitted yet, he didn’t give me his name/number as he would not be the one connected to my claim. When I submitted everything, I’d get my own claims manager.
On another call with claims, I told them the Travel Assistance Team recommend I go home. Considering I sold my home last year, I felt I didn’t have a home to go to and wanted to stay in Asia (it’s cheaper anyway). He said they like their clients to follow the Travel Assistance Team’s recommendations, and with $14k worth of medical bills now on my credit card, I wouldn’t fight it. They wanted to “repatriate” me home on business class and my doctor signed off on it. I was on standby to see when I would get a flight. There were some issues. They had to send my case to a supervisor in claims. What was going on? It was almost the weekend and now my return home would be delayed. Claims personnel work M-F. They mentioned something about a “trip.” My “trip” was longer than 31 days so there was an issue.
I looked at my policy. A trip is defined as: A period of round-trip travel at least 100 miles away from home to your designated vacation destination associated with the purchase of this insurance, excluding regular commuting and local travel; the purpose of the Trip is business or pleasure and is not to obtain health care or treatment of any kind; the Trip has defined departure and arrival dates and defined arrival and places specified when you apply; and the Trip does not exceed 31 days in length.
“The Trip does not exceed 31 days in length.” I’m screwed. Yet everyone, even claims personnel asked when my trip began. I was confused, disappointed, and angry (at myself for not reading the ‘fine print). But I was really upset that not a single person on the Travel Assistance Team was aware of this. “We don’t write the policies,” they said, but that’s not some obscure issue related to a questionable emergency, that’s a fundamental part of coverage and determines whether you are covered or not! I was frantic that weekend. I made more calls. Here is an e mail I received from a Travel Assistance Team Associate:
Shortly after, I got this one:
As you can see, the Travel Assistance Team cannot make decisions on behalf of the Claims personnel. Long story short (well, that was already long- sorry!), My accident is not covered. I didn’t read the fine print. NOBODY caught the 31 day “Trip” deal. A few days after that e mail exchange, I got my official letter from claims stating I would not be covered but they so kindly offered assistance to help me get home. They can help make arrangements. I was so aggravated, like, I’m a professional traveler! I don’t need help making an airline reservation, I need it to be paid for though!
So, here I sit in Bangkok, recovering slowly with $14k of debt. People ask, “But why is the policy for a year then?” The policy is for a year and will cover multiple trips lasting less than 31 days in that year of coverage. If you want coverage for a longer period of time, you must purchase a different policy, and it’s not offered by all companies. I’ve since learned https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-insurance offers travel insurance for long term travel. And, I cannot purchase a policy because I’m not “home.” Moral of the story: Read the fine print. And be careful. I’m always so careful. That hop off the short wall in Myanmar was seriously the straw that broke the camel’s back or in my case, the hop that tore my meniscus and ACL.
Did you know about this 31 day trip coverage? Do you have any travel related medical nightmares? Feel free to comment below!
The One Thing You Must Do to Lose Weight! (Is that a catchy title?!)
Before I begin, let me first say that because I’ve talked and written about these topics extensively, I am writing in my own words. This tips and techniques not only come from my education in nutrition, but personal experiences as an RD, active adult, and former figure competitor. When blogging or writing on topics related to nutrition and fitness, I always want to do research and have references, but if I do that here, I’ll be writing a dissertation on weight loss and nobody will ever read it! If you want reference or a link, however, let me know and I can provide you with loads of resources.
As mentioned in my first “Nutrition” post, everybody is different and has different goals. Once we determine those goals, I figure out how many calories you need to meet them, whether they be weight loss, maintenance, or growth. If you want to know how many calories you need, enter in your information on this site: http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm. I use the little/no exercise option and know that on days where I may do more, I can eat more.
I’m a numbers person and use MyFitnessPal to track my intake (not anymore because I’ve really liberalized my diet since I’ve been in Asia). I recommend you try such an app because it is very eye opening and allows us to see how much we really put into our bodies. It very common for people to OVER estimate how much they burn via exercise and UNDER estimate how many calories they eat. Also, studies show that when people keep track of what they eat, they not only lose weight BUT they maintain that weight loss! Give it a try and eat within your needs for a few weeks. I don’t make promises when it comes to quick fixes and fad diets, but if you do this, you WILL lose weight!
You know what else works really well when looking to lose or even gain weight? Physical activity! For some, that can mean structured workouts in the gym, and for others, simply getting up, out, and moving around.
So, nothing mind blowing here, just eat within your needs, get in some physical activity, and track your calories. It’s not much, but it’s a start, and next time, we will look at food and what healthy stuff you should be eating.
Do you use an app to track your food? How about fitness trackers? Leave your thoughts and comments and feel free to ask questions in the section below.
This is a question I get all the time and one I hesitate to answer in brief or in passing.
In short, you should eat healthy food a majority of the time, but healthy food means different things to different people and there is no one right answer for everyone. When I work with a client, the first thing I want to know is your goals and why you have those goals. Furthermore, are they achievable goals? Once that has been established, I like to know how much physical activity you participate in, what your food preferences are (likes, dislikes, cultural/religious preferences), and I also ask height, weight and age so I can determine how many calories you need based on your goals.
All of these factors are important and become even more so as you travel around the world. I’m constantly learning about different cuisines, food availability, and cultural norms. There’s local foods, and when you’re in a large city, like Bangkok, for example, every cuisine under the sun is available. In just my small area, there is Thai, Arab, Indian, Lebanese, Ethiopian (my favorite), and there’s even a Starbucks, Carl’s Junior, and Burger King in this building.
So, what should you eat? Considering most food preferences, cultural norms, and religious beliefs, most people should consume lean protein, plant based protein, a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and low fat and fat free dairy (if you consume dairy). These are general recommendations and you may choose not to eat some of these foods for certain reasons, but whatever you choose, make sure it’s nutrient dense and varied most of the time!
After spending my first three weeks post op in a hostel with no real cooking facilities, I really wanted a change. In that 3 weeks I found my little grove, but the worst was over and I would soon be more mobile and able to walk. One of the girls at that place told me about Hom and how they have a cooking club. I was so excited I came straight here to check it out for myself.
I was impressed! It’s on the 5th floor of a building that’s home to a variety of shops, fast food places, and a Thai food court. The hostel is new, opened in October of 2016, and everything is fresh, clean, and well decorated. The beds are large, even in the 8 and 10 person dorms and the mattresses are Marriott quality, so you always get a good night’s sleep. Each bed has it’s own light and electric socket which is important these days so we can charge our devices while we recharge at night. There are small lockers to lock up your valuables and you can purchase a key in case you don’t have your own (like me). To make things even more comfortable, you can rent a nice fluffy towel and there are laundry facilities so you can always have clean clothes.
But that’s the boring stuff! The kitchen and rooftop garden is where it’s at! This has to hands down be the best hostel kitchen ever. What’s even better- the staff do a nightly cooking demo featuring various Thai dishes. This meal is then saved and served for breakfast the next day. That is way better than any hostel breakfast I’ve ever had. Sure beats the typical bread, butter, and jam offerings at most places. So far, we’ve had green chicken curry, yellow chicken curry, and stir fried vegetables with tofu. Yesterday we had a pad Thai cooking demo and free dinner.
I’ve only been here for a few days but I love it. Not only that, but my ability to walk is improving day by day, so all around, things are getting better. I’m going to leave a sign out in the morning offering a recipe I want to cook and if other guests want, they can pitch in. I don’t mind doing all the work, I’m just happy to have a kitchen, make some healthy food, and if I can try new recipes to share with others, well that’s just a huge bonus.
So, if you’re ever in Bangkok, check out Hom Hostel and Cooking Club. Stay tuned. I’ll be here for a while still and will post more. Check out the recipes we made under my food and recipes tab!
Can there be love on the run?
Like I always say, I love my travel life and I’m not ready to give it up yet. I’m going to keep on trucking, despite my injury, and see more of this world. I thought I’d want to go home if I got sick or injured, but so far, that’s not the case. An influential factor, however, is definitely going to be budget. Now that I’ve nearly maxed out my credit card with hospital and surgery bills, I may not be able to pay it down enough to even make a dent in that total.
“When will you go home?” A question I hear day after day…
Maybe if I’m sick or injured… Nope, not ready.
Maybe if I run out of money… Doing my best to stay on track (but will deal with my CC bill in time, I’m working on an avenue to have my medical bills reimbursed).
Maybe if I get lonely. Yeah- that’s a biggie and a common theme I’ve learned amongst long term travelers. We get lonely. Yes, you’re surrounded by people, but relationships don’t last, eventually, you leave, or the people you’ve met leave. And I’m not even talking about romantic relationships, that’s a whole other ball game and one that different people deal with very differently!
As for me, I’m single and have been for a long time. Like really long. I’m so used to it I don’t even think about it much anymore BUT that doesn’t mean I always like being alone.
I recently reconnected with someone from my past, but he’s at home of course, in the states. The prospect of simply staying in touch piqued my interest and we’d agreed we would have regular contact. Recently, however, our interactions have lessened and I have to say it has left me disappointed. Oh- and for those of you who know me, don’t worry, it’s not my ex-husband (that ship has sailed long ago). Anyway… So yeah, the thought of having a connection with someone after being alone for so long is kind of exciting but you have to make this travel thing work when there’s someone else in the picture and it can be difficult.
I read all these stories of girls finding “love” on the road, but for me, I don’t even meet men! ? I mean, yeah, there are a million ways, but I can’t do causal hook ups or have meaningless sex and I’m so in shock by what the younger generation accepts as the norm. The younger generation- OMG, I’m so old!!! I hear and read their stories of one night stands and hook ups for fun and I get it, yes, the road gets lonely, but gee I could never participate in that behavior all the time. Some of the stories are straight up raunchy and there’s this whole concept of a lower standard, like you find certain men acceptable while traveling that you’d never get with at home. Sorry to disappoint here, but I don’t have some sultry stories of sexy hook ups or one night stands (well, there was that one time…). But one time, one traveler said she felt badly for me because that was far to little. ?
I’m not alone in this desire to “find” someone, my nomadic soulmate, a travel companion for the long haul… There are websites dedicated to stuff like this. On one, the first date is travel related and the two people involved agree upon a destination and a “who pays for what” agreement. There are Facebook groups to help long term travelers find their soulmate, or simply a weekend fling, whatever your heart desires. But I don’t know, finding someone with whom you have a connection, that to me, seems like an ever elusive concept. It just doesn’t happen, not at home, not on the road, so when I got that message from that person from my past, I won’t lie, my heart did skip a beat. ?
So what will it be? Love on the run, on the road, via email and FB messenger? From an app, or a dating website, or a Facebook group dedicated to helping people find their “nomadic soulmate?” Do you reinvest in the past, focus on the future, or forget about it all in an effort to protect the heart? I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. Perhaps only time will tell. Perhaps Mr. Right will be at the next destination or perhaps he’s finally applying for a freaking passport! Maybe I can create my own travel/dating app and I can help others find love! And then pay off my medical bills! What do you think?!
Have you found love on the road? Do you have a nomadic soulmate? Are you in a long distance relationship? Share your stories in the comment section!