Things don’t always work out, but I remain optimistic

Bhutan - 1 (1)

The other passengers have just finished eating delicious food. I didn’t even start.

A brothel, a baboon and a bone-rattling drive have been some of the lowlights of travels you can read about in my previous posts.  In this one, you’ll discover how this scuba diver was led to water and left mostly high and dry.  After my trip to Bhutan, you’ll see how the drawbacks of climbing every mountain became clear to me and will be evident to you as well.

Last of 4 Parts

Travel insurance definitely would have eased the financial pain of one my most recent travel disasters, a scuba diving break.  Logistics forced me to take three airplanes each way from my home in Cambodia and spend two overnights at hotels in Indonesia both before and after.

Given that I parted with an unholy amount of cash for the five nights of diving from an exceptional liveaboard boat that cruised from the island of Flores, I conceivably should have considered that something could go wrong.

What went wrong, to put it mildly, was a stomach upset that was anything but mild during our whole five nights from port.

Living as I do in easy and exotic Phnom Penh, where I retired from considerably more expensive Manhattan, I am accustomed to occasional intestinal disturbances.  Indeed, I had endured one of them just before leaving home for Flores, a short flight from Bali, believing it was just another routine occurrence.  I thought I had recovered.

Wrong: I discovered too late that my gastroenteritis had been only resting until I got to Indonesia so it could enjoy surprising me.  The bacteria cleverly waited to attack with an enduring vengeance after the first, and thus the last, of my dives.

The other six enthusiasts managed a total of 15 or 16 dives, witnessing sharks, a veritable school of manta rays and extraordinarily beautiful coral reefs.  So they told me and showed me in their photos.  They also ate exceedingly well.  I didn’t.  I can’t be sure that they weren’t gloating about their success versus my distress.

I went scuba diving one morning in Vietnam some months after my disastrous voyage in Indonesia.  I saw barely a fish or coral worth remembering.  That was my last attempt.

I’ve decided that either you love diving or you don’t.  I don’t, not anymore: It’s too much trouble and too costly for my taste.

I’ll omit the details of other mishaps—the time our tour guide had to throw our shared tourist van into reverse to escape a charging elephant in East Africa; the onset of yet another gastric upset in New Zealand two days before having to board a ship that was understandably wary of taking on a passenger with a possible nano-virus; and my catching red-handed a camera thief as he slunk from our hotel room in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.

If perhaps you’ve enjoyed reading about my tribulations, I heartily recommend others’ true tales recounted in the Guardian last year.  You’ll laugh, I promise.  What I did in addition to laughing?  I commiserated.

Despite my history of unexpected setbacks while traveling, I cling to the pleasure that comes from anticipating each vacation and then welcoming new experiences.

An individual more rational than me might well have taken what I have endured as a sign that past might well be precedent, that the best-laid plans might well be disrupted.  Not me.

Bhutan - 1

The rice fields in incomparable Bhutan rival the more famous ones in Bali.

My last big vacation was to Bhutan, which I blogged about late last year.  One thing I suffered from during that trip was altitude sickness for nearly the first four days.  Yet I loved seeing the country and managed hiking up high mountains despite the fatigue and a head that felt like a hangover because of the unaccustomed altitude.

I hate to say it, but my other affliction there was predictable.  If you’ve read the whole series, you’ll have no doubt what hit me.

You would think I finally have figured out that buying expensive travel insurance makes sense for me.  Maybe it does, but I guess I am some combination of slow learner, cheapskate and cock-eyed optimist who continues to do without it.

Bring it on!

Email: malcolmncarter@gmail.com

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