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Old 03-26-2007, 06:42 AM   #1
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Default Safety in Asia?

I am going to spend a couple months traveling through China, Laos, and Thailand. I was wondering if anyone has any information as far as safety is concerned in these places. I know malaria and dengue fever are prevelent in mosquitos, and to avoid the little bastards at all cost, but as far as what to watch out for with food and exposure to contaminated water (both drinking and washing). Has anyone had any bad experiences/good experiences any imput is welcome.
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Old 03-26-2007, 06:58 AM   #2
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Hey! Many questions you ask but questions of great importance!!

1. Malaria/Dengue Fever/Illness etc - well, justy take antisihtamines - my course runs all year as i take them for other reasons but usually you should start your course a month before you travel and carry on thru travel and finish your course a month afterwards. use sprays - i find thatr australian sprays are the best, try and im not sure where you are from but ask in your pharmacy and your doctors and they will advise you. also ask if you need any jabs. Keep away form animals (rabies) - if your worried about animal bites (such as dogs, monkeys etc) then enquire about rabies shots - quite costly but worth the assurance.

2. Water - not sure about china but DO NOT DRINK TAP WATER IN THAILAND/LAOS!! when you run it from a tap you see why. bottled water is cheap enough. when your showering, keep your mouth shut - im not especially stringent when im bathing in asia but as a general dont swallow the water. i use tap water to brush me teeth but dont swallow it! im not too sure about food, im a vegetarian and its a lot harder for us to get ill from uncooked veg, erm with meat, or any food, a general rule is to just sit and observe the area in which they are serving/dining - is it clean? cockroaches? etc. theres no speacial rules in asia - the same rules apply worldwide - if the place looks dodgy, dont eat there!

3. just a tip - keep some rehydration salt sachets on you always - and diahreahha (cant spellit) tablets with you - these will come in handy many people suffer from it when they travel in asia, its not due to the water but just a change of environment so different form their own. youll be fine after a while. if you feel dehydrated at any time, sit somewhere cool and drink some fresh bottled water.

and dont forget that the sun is still harming your skin through the clouds!!

pretty standard stuff really. hope you have a wicked time - its a beautiful part of the world and youll love it

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Old 03-26-2007, 08:30 AM   #3
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^^^ 100% relevant advice to which I'd add to not accept fresh fruit or vegetables outside tourists restaurants, because they might have been washed with unboiled water. Of course, if it's a pealed fruit that wasn't washed, then go ahead and eat it. The street snack made of mango or pineapple slices and spices are de-li-cious !

And I am sure we can't drink water in China too. Of course, this has few to do with sanity conditions, it's simply that our stomach's enzymes aren't prepared for abroad water in general, whatever the country.

Brush your teeth with bottle water.

In Laos, I brougth my moskito nest for nothing, they had it already in hotels, and bamboo houses. But maybe I was lucky.

Also, some malaria pills give bad diarrhea. Ask your doctor about it, and do bring enough medication !

Some areas of northern Laos should be avoided, because of mines or street bandits. Read this : Travel Report. And these infos about avian influenza, present in China and Thailand. DO NOT FREAK OUT ! They always make it seem worse than it is. But to know where landmines are or to avoid eating chicken, etc. is important.
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:11 AM   #4
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I didn't have any bad experiences with dengue/malaria-carrying mozzies in China, except from the annoyance of getting bitten (there were tons in Nanjing!).

Bottled water is readily available in China, which is what I drank - I did brush my teeth with whatever tap water was available (even on trains and stuff), but other people opted for bottled.

I kind of expected that I'd get the runs, and that it was inevitable and part of the travel experience, but I didn't get hit too bad at all - especially since I ate pretty much everything, street food and all.

One thing that might be good to carry is a little bottle of hand sanitizer, which you will appreciate after using some of the toilets around!
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:19 AM   #5
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freespiritz, do you think that because you are Malaysian the water isn't troubling your system like it could do to us?
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atchoum View Post
freespiritz, do you think that because you are Malaysian the water isn't troubling your system like it could do to us?
haha truesay!

im not as bad as i used to be - i think your body does build up a resistance. Ive been to malaysia 6 times now and the first few times i got the runs and couldnt handle the water but the last 4 years ive had no problems. i have problems now when i come back to the UK and have to eat processed garbage. my mum has to wean me off curry each year!!

forgot about the hawkers food thing with the veg - personally ive not come across any raw veg in malaysia that you eat on the street, but do eat lots of the fruit in bags from the hawkers - georgous!! and cheap as fuck too.
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:32 AM   #7
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Oh, I think I probably do have a stronger stomach, but I fell victim to China in the end and had the most horrible runs + altitude sickness in a Tibetan monastery at 4300m up that had no friggin bathrooms whatsoever. But that was the trip on which EVERYONE puked/got sick, and in general over the 3 months in China I did a lot better than most of the group I was with.

Even in Malaysia I don't drink tap water straight...we filter it (twice!) and boil it before drinking at home, but I'm sure eating out has given me some immunity. Unfortunately I'm probably losing it from living in the US for too long!
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzingtalk View Post
haha truesay!
forgot about the hawkers food thing with the veg - personally ive not come across any raw veg in malaysia that you eat on the street, but do eat lots of the fruit in bags from the hawkers - georgous!! and cheap as fuck too.
I think stuff like rojak has raw stuff in it, but SOOOO goood!! And I'd eat those fruit bags any day...whatever they've been washed in. :D

The street food in Thailand (Bangkok at least) was more than fine, I had no issues whatsoever.
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:40 AM   #9
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Good for you buzzingtalk, less worries when in Malaysia !

Freespiritz, you're getting an american stomach ! That is a successful culture assimilation !


To my knowledge, it isn't about having "a stronger stomach" but one that has the right enzymes for the local bacterias. The organism adapts slowly to the environment, and probably yes, that after a several months we can try tap water.
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:43 AM   #10
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I think stuff like rojak has raw stuff in it, but SOOOO goood!! And I'd eat those fruit bags any day...whatever they've been washed in. :D

The street food in Thailand (Bangkok at least) was more than fine, I had no issues whatsoever.
TBH i think a lot of it is highly overrated - i was expecting hardcore illness when i first went to asia (when im in the uk im always ill due to a very shambolic immune system) but i feel my best when im out there. maybe the food and temperature suits my health better (less changes in temp and cheap fresh food!!) and i drink a lot more water due to it beign hotter which is wicked for my kidney.
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:53 AM   #11
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I have not had any issues brushing my teeth with tap water in Thailand, or anywhere else for that matter. In all my trips to Asia (probably 15-20), I have only really gotten sick twice. Once from bad food in China, it just lasted a night, wasn't that severe and then it was gone, and then from bad water in Thailand and I needed some antibiotics from a local hospital and then I was good as new. The water I drank was not bottled and so it was completely my fault that I got sick (it was in a tin cup from a street vendor late at night...yes I was stupid). I have eaten loads of street food, fruit, vegetables and the occassional fried insect and no worries. I actually find that much of the Asian food agrees with me much better than a lot of the crap back here in the U.S. Maybe I have been lucky but I really haven't found food to be an issue at all. I also used to be paranoid about ice in my drinks, but for the last couple of years I haven't even worried about that anymore and have had no ill effects. To each their own. Good luck!
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Old 03-26-2007, 11:27 AM   #12
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I've never heard that antihisthamines are effective at anything regarding malaria or dengue, except maybe to keep the itching down from the mosquito bite itself... Anti-malarials are a different type of medication. The cheapest and most common drug to take for malaria prevention is Doxycycline, which is an antibiotic. There are other anti-malarials available as well, the most common other one is Malarone, which has the benefit of fewer side effects, but unfortunately it's also waaaay more expensive. There is currently no cure for malaria, which is why prevention is so important.

Also, there is no prevention or cure for Dengue Fever, other than preventing mosquito bites to begin with. Dengue outbreaks are most common for about two months immediately following a monsoon (as is malaria) because that's when the mosquito population is at its heaviest.

Use DEET. Anything with approximately 30% DEET will be fine. While DEET is effective at warding off the little bastards, it's also a neurotoxin in large doses which is why you probably don't want to go over the 30% content mark. Also, if possible, treat your clothes with permethrin before going. It's very effective and lasts through several washings.

I hope this helps!
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Old 03-27-2007, 06:52 AM   #13
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BTW - my doctor always tells me that you really only need to worry about Malaria out in the boonies. China, Thailand, etc have mosquitos in the cities but you are much less at risk. If you are going trekking out in the woods, then malaria meds may be a good idea, but if you are sticking to well populated areas, the risk is greatly reduced.

I will tell you that the evil mosquitos in southern China when they bite me give me a huge swollen bite the size of half-dollar coin. Nasty - but I have never gotten sick from them, and southern China is a malarial zone. Good luck!
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Old 03-27-2007, 07:37 AM   #14
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they are more useful for stopping you have really bad reactions to the bites, but i think its very important to take them just in case. for the price of the antihistamines its just not worth the risk TBH. you can save on cash and buy sprays and creams out in asia - much cheaper.
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