Thailand’s Hidden Killer: Peanuts

Some allergies don’t develop until we get to a certain age…

Jane’s first travelling experience was mired by the discovery of a rather tricky allergy. She tells us all about her brush with death whilst travelling in South-East Asia:

“The sun looks bigger here than back home.

It’s a different colour too, more of a rich blood orange than the sickly yellow it is back in the UK. I watch this bloated star rise and fall four times from my hard hospital bed in Chiang Mai, whilst my laboured breathing worries the Thai septuagenarian next to me.

There were a few cliches that I’d expected to meet whilst travelling in South East Asia: bed mites in dirty hostels, a few bouts of diarrhoea and a couple of regrettable decisions made whilst under the influence – in the three months I spent out there I  successfully avoided all of them, but I somehow still managed to rack up an impressive 2 weeks out of 12 in a dingy hospital, gamely trying to stay alive – much to the consternation of the other occupants on the ward.

I had the usual string of injections before I headed out here in the October after I finished college. Each time Mum drove me to the doctors was another opportunity for her to dole out another pearl of wisdom. She’d never spent longer than 2 weeks outside of the UK, so the sheer notion of me spending three months in South-East Asia of all places had understandably got her worrying.

“Just make sure you wear mosquito repellent in the evening, that’s when they bite the most.” “Make sure all the hot food you buy is piping hot and fresh – you don’t know how long some of that stuff’s been hanging around.” “For God’s sake don’t even think about walking anywhere by yourself, always take a friend, even if it’s someone you just met.”

Ironically, my Mum never thought to warn me about the bowl of Pad Thai that nearly ended my life at the age of 18.

At first I thought my Fanta had been spiked. There was a hot prickly sensation at the back of my throat and I felt a flush rising up my face. Some Nelly Furtado tune from the 90s was blaring out of tinny speakers behind me and I remember struggling to concentrate on what my new friend was saying. I’d reluctantly accepted his offer to buy me lunch, but it was my first day in Chiang Mai and I needed someone to show me around.

Scott was Australian,  typically sun-kissed and a mess of traveller stereotypes. Matted dreadlocks brushed against his bare shoulders and there always seemed to be a fine covering of sand on his face, to go along with a faint aroma of hashish – he was literally the last person I expected to know First Aid.

When I came to in the bed my worried neighbour told me in broken English that a dirty traveller had stopped by to see how I was doing – she didn’t seem pleased about it.

I never got the chance to thank Scott for saving my life that day, but needless to say he changed my opinion on travellers and peanuts forever.