In a word, Bali Belly is hell. Or maybe death. Either way, it’s not awesome, and definitely a great way to forcibly spend a week in the horizontal, please-just-let-me-die-by-Wednesday fetal position.
Before we moved to Bali, we read the do’s and don’ts about traveling in Indonesia, and were even cautious slash wise enough to follow them. Do wash your hands often. Don’t lick the money. Do buy lots of bottled water. Don’t mistake the butt hose in the bathroom for an oddly placed drinking fountain.
What could go wrong?!
Well, for starters, our health. Rapidly. You know it’s a hot day in hell when I am forced to stand up and walk out of beautiful a dance performance because I foresee a near future of puking on the European toddlers seated in front of me.
So What Exactly is Bali Belly?
It’s the wonder that is traveler’s diarrhea, also known as Montezuma’s Revenge, Rangoon Runs, Delhi Belly, Turkey Trots, Mexico Turista, and Hong Kong Dog, among others, and the most common sickness for travelers in the world.
Basically you have ingested something your insides have taken massive offense to, for good reason or not, and are left to deal with your body’s ridiculously uncool reaction.
In Bali, this usually stems from:
- Contaminated Food – From everything I’ve read, people traveling to Bali should avoid consuming unpeeled fruits and vegetables, meat/poultry/fish that’s been kept out for too long or not properly handled, any and all raw foods, food/drinks from street vendors, and spicy foods. So basically good luck.
- Contaminated Water – Avoid ice or drinks with blended/shaken ice in them, and be sure to brush your teeth (and rinse your toothbrush) with bottled water.
- Your Travel Partner(s) – Another perk? Bali belly loves company, as misery tends to do. Whoever said ‘sharing is caring’ must have lived in a goddamn bubble.
Alright, My Belly has been Bali’d. What Now?
I can’t speak for everyone, or their level of Bali bellyness, so instead I’ll outline my steps of action, which seem to have kept me alive thus far.
- Purchase travel health insurance the moment you’re almost too sick to function. I suggest World Nomads‘ basic deal for $335, good for 6 months of coverage.
- Walk slowly to the street whilst horrified travel partner (and the one likely to be gifted your sickness at any looming hour) fetches a cabbie.
- Puke in the street while making wild hand gestures explaining Bali belly to confused teenage and old man onlookers, who may or may not assume you’re telling them you’re pregnant, and/or playing a spontaneous game of charades (hint: it rhymes with The Schmexorcist).
- Wipe sweat from upper lip and try to mask facial expression wagers of how-long-it’ll-take-till-I-puke-in-your-cab to suspicious cabbie. Blow cover by asking to go to the nearest Bali Clinic. If you’re in Ubud, the 24 hour Toya Medika Clinic is a solid choice.
- When doctor asks if you’d like an anti-nausea shot and multiple pills promising a future of better health, say yes please, and yes again.
- Go home. And by home I mean the $15/night homestay you’re staying in, and ask to extend your stay, as any sudden movements will absolutely result in heightened tummy anger and/or death.
- Request that your now-infected travel partner take a walk in extreme heat and humidity to the nearest convenience store for drinks containing electrolytes – in Bali, these are Pocari Sweat, Aquarius and Sporade – and sip till you can sip no more.
- Lay down for 4 days in a row. Eat occasional slice of white bread or two crackers with anti-death pills. Curse the concept of food. Continue to lay down.
- Day 5, and suddenly feelin’ alive! And ready to eat food and walk around and do general human things again!
- JK. Nope. Not ready. Lay back down.
- Baby step your way into the human world once again. Purchase large bottle of Dettol hand sanitizer and consider adding it to your morning coffee. Scratch that idea and vow to have the cleanest hands in Southeast Asia.
- Purchase Acidophilus probiotics from nearby pharmacy. Take them daily and hope they’re convincing your tummy to be less shitty from here on out.
- Celebrate cautiously with Bintang.
Good luck, travelers.