Being eaten alive in Asia Pacific

Today I'd like to share my more memoriable encounters with parasites and animals on the trip thus far. Meeting these pests have come at some cost to me, whether it was in the form of physical scarring, money, or just plain mental grief.

I'm sure everyone the world over is familiar with mosquitoes. But I never knew there was a species of bloodsucking fly until I got to New Zealand. They're called the sandfly and you'll only get bitten by a female as they need your blood to facilitate egg laying. Below is a picture of my legs as they looked on January 17. The larger pink scars are from mosquitoes. The smaller browner ones are sandflies. The sandfly bites itch more and last much much longer than mosquito bites. Now, in early February, the sandfly bites have transformed into pervasive purple scars.

A medley of mosquito and sandfly bites running up my legs

While I was in Bali, I visited a place called the Monkey Forest. I did not feed any of the monkeys nor did I try to touch one. I sat on a bench to wait for my friend in the bathroom and a monkey came and bit me on my arm for no reason.

At my doctor's recommendation, I started the two-week program to get vaccinated for rabies. It consisted of 4 hospital visits and 7 shots total. The local doctors told me there was no known outbreak in the area and the vaccine was not necessary but my American doctor was much more cautious, reminding me these were wild animals and the local doctors couldn't know for certain these monkeys were clean. Getting bitten without provocation was an especially bad sign. I also got tested for hepititis C, as some websites stated these monkeys are carriers for that disease. I've since spent almost $2,000 USD on treatments.

Don't be fooled by their cutesy faces. One of these assholes decided it would be fun to munch on my arm for dinner.

Lastly, and most recently, I picked up bedbugs at my hostel in Phuket, Thailand. These bedbugs are pitch black and almost look like flat beetles. Because I'm used to seeing the more common red, translucent version, I didn't immediately realize I was in danger here and my luggage sat in the hostel room for several hours. I changed rooms as soon as I realized what they were but now I'm carrying the critters in my luggage and am infecting every new hotel room I stay in.

If I can only give one piece of advice to future travellers, it would be this. Do everything in your power to prevent getting bedbugs in your luggage before you start travelling. Bedbugs are the armageddon of household pests. There are bedbug sprays on the market now which you can use to line your luggage. Some solutions contain the neuro-toxin called DEET, which I personally don't want to use. I'm using one natural alternative called tiger balm as bedbugs apparently don't like the smell of camphor. 

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