Katie Steinharter Thailand best friends trip

[Conversation] Things I never told my mom

As I sit in my parents’ house in Connecticut, watching the new year roll in around the corner, I can’t help but laugh at all the adventures I had in the last few months. And while my mother starts asking all the inevitable “26th Birthday” questions (all of which have to do with me purchasing my own health insurance now…), I realized she didn’t actually know about the time I had to replace all my medicine through overnight shipping from Colorado to Cambodia. Below, I recount that and 15 other things that I never told my mother so that she could sleep a little easier during my travels this year:

  1. Flight was delayed leaving Denver on Day 1, which led me to miss my connection from Tokyo to Singapore. Arriving in Tokyo, I realize I had forgotten the portable USB charging devices that my mother bought for me (“Make sure you always have a charged cell phone, Katherine!”) and right as my phone died I realized I had nowhere to stay. Luckily I remembered the name of one decent area from my dad’s travels, took the bus there, picked a nice hotel right by the bus station with availability, and spent the night.
  2. When I arrived to Phnom Penh, I brought with me a big pack of sample fabric for the ethical fashion company where I was consulting. On the first day, they took the package and then took me shopping for fabric samples around the city. In this first twenty four hours, I lost my passport. We spent a full day debating whether to go visit the embassy or try to deal with corrupt local police officers. Luckily, we found it about a day and a half later stuck amongst all the fabric!
  3. I’m a Type 1 Diabetic. But I don’t let it stop me from doing anything… running a half marathon in Portugal, surfing in Costa Rica, or eating unknown food in Cambodia; however, none of this is possible unless I travel even more carefully than my peers. While in Cambodia, the dense humidity caused my testing machine to stop working, bad luck stopped my lancing device from working, and Cambodia’s lack of  access to modern medicine led to the inability to replace these objects… So I sent the information to my father over spotty internet, he hacked into my email to contact my doctor, and new ones were expedited to me through DHL to the local post office.
  4. A Danish girl wanted to see my iPhone, but she dropped and cracked it…. After that I remembered to put on that life proof case that you bought me, Mom.
  5. I only had eight hours in Cambodia’s capital and I managed to lose my wallet. I then spent two hours looking for it with a fifteen year old boy. More about that here.
  6. Shortly after I lost my wallet, I must have been so confused and flustered that I forgot I was a diabetic again… and nearly left on the only bus out of town without my insulin. Luckily, money and bargaining go a long way in Southeast Asia so a tuk tuk driver sped back across town and helped me break into my friend’s house by waking up the night guard, grabbed the insulin, and sped back to the bus station just before it left town.
  7. Onto Thailand… where we visited a hot spring, ended up staying past sunset, and then literally got scared of our own shadows at a hot spring after dark, flung our flashlight into the river in an effort to get away, and then thought we were getting attacked by someone (my own flashlight…) as they floated in the water beneath us.
  8. In a hurry to get up the hill to see a giant Buddha on the edge of Pai at sunrise, I squeezed the gas a bit too hard and crashed a scooter into a small bush on the side of the road.
  9. We forgot to check the boat schedule out of Tonsai Bay, assuming there would be more than one boat a day, and ended up getting stuck for an extra day because we were too busy jumping off cliffs and missed the boat. Which brings us to #10…
  10. After missing our boat, but getting bored of the Bay (which is now littered with trash due to a recent storm and ongoing construction), we chose to hike through the jungle at sunset with a 12kilo bag on my back. We nearly got eaten alive by mosquitoes and were dripping in sweat by rushing to get out of the jungle before total darkness, but finally made it to the other side where we treated ourselves to a top-notch resort for a change (yet still just USD$50!).
  11. Our first night in Bangkok, the largest city I had visited yet, was also the first night I got food poisoning in Asia. I ended up spending the next day puking in the pristine-clean bathroom of a fancy Thai hospital. Why was I in a hospital? Because my friend had also chipped her tooth a couple days prior and dental service is apparently more affordable in Thailand than the United States.
  12. That being said… we also decided to get our teeth cleaned at that Thai hospital and take advantage of such affordable dental services in a beautiful and immaculately clean hospital.
  13. Moving onto Vanuatu, the most beautiful and safe place yet… I was the unfortunate target for a drunk man in the middle of the day on a family beach. What did I do to keep him away? Socked him in the face. Sorry, drunk Vanuatu man but I’ll make sure you don’t touch me.
  14. In Sydney, Australia we met a street artist advertising cheap art classes. Instead of turn the other way, curiosity got the best of me and I showed up in Newtown a few days later to attend the drawing class. Unfortunately, “old boy’s school turned art studio” is not the easiest directions to follow in a hipster borough filled with refurbished old buildings. The ‘artist’ decided to just pick me up and bring me to his class, where I paid $20 to spend two hours being yelled at because my sketch did not look “exactly like Rembrandt! Copy the master!”
  15. Cairns, Australia is known for the hundreds of fruit bats hanging from trees downtown. While watching them all wake up one night, something sticky fell onto my leg. Blood? Saliva? Urine? Did I just get rabies!? About an hour’s worth of research later, I find out that bats do not salivate while eating during flight, so unfortunately I probably got peed on by a bat… but fortunately this is not a plausible way to get rabies.
  16. Leaving Sydney to venture back to the United States, I realized I had just the perfect amount of insulin. This was both good news and bad news. Bad news: I’d promised my mother I’d bring extra insulin so I’d either counted wrong or used more than intended. Good news: I had the perfect amount to get me through the end of my trip. More bad news: My 26th birthday was around the corner and I had no insulin to spare for the next few months. Bring on the hour-long insurance phone calls and mother-daughter health care conversations to get as much free medicine as possible before the year was over…


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