I normally don’t post this type of content on my blog, but my friends urged me to start sharing some of my adventures. I shared this a few weeks with them, and decided to share here.
To give a little context so the references make sense, I was living in Bali and had already had a run in with a bat a couple times. I had an open roof bathroom(my bathroom) and to keep the story short, there was someone flying around the bathroom a couple times when I tried to take a shower, and it wasn’t me. I posted about the encounters with the video of the roof opening to see if anyone had ideas how to avoid future run ins.
A week later, this happens:
I had just finished up my dinner at a local cafe(in Bali at the time), and was riding back to my villa on my bike. Something flew by and brushed my arm as I was riding. Figured maybe it was a bird or something. I get back to my spot and decide to wash my arm off. I go into the bathroom, throw some soap and water on my arm and it stings. wtf? Why does my arm sting? I look close and there were red marks. I squeezed and a little blood came out. Oh boy.
So… I start googling “bat bites”. If you didn’t catch my last Bali post, I had a few encounters with bats already, so it was something to be worried about. Turns out, bat bites are often really hard to feel, and many people never even know they were bit. I looked at the images and hmm… google bat bite arms look a lot like my arms. I couldn’t be sure but I decide I better get it checked out.
I ask the owner’s son for a ride into town and he suggests I should just throw some cream on it instead of going to the doctor. “You just rub it in!”, he says excitedly, clearly happy about providing me that advice. I thank him for a solid, and obviously well thought out idea, but I decide to make sure I don’t get rabies instead.
He drops me off in town at the doctor’s and I tell him what happened. He explains that it’s often pretty hard to tell with bat bites, so it possibly could have been a bird’s claw or something, but due to the fact that there were bats in the area, there was a definite risk.
Our conversation felt like some comedic sketch. There was times when I thought I was being punk’d.
Just to give you a sense of the scene, any info we’re exchanging is done so with the biggest grin ever on his face. No matter what kind of news balinese give you, they do so like it is the happiest/best news they could tell you. They always have a smile. If I was foaming at the mouth he’d smile and excitedly tell me that I didn’t look so good.
“Only about 6% of bats have rabies… It used to be 6.5%. Now only 6%”, as if the reduction was somehow relevant to my decision.
“Umm, but if it did and I don’t get the shots, I die right?”
“Yes, 100% fatal.
…but very low chance, so up to you.”
6/100 times I die if it was a bat and he’s talking about it like we’re deciding whether I should order a sandwich or not.
Umm, ya doc I think I’ll choose not dying.
“You are unlucky”, he says with a big smile on his face.
He tells me how rare it is for bat bites in Bali.
“I’ve only seen 4-5 cases with bats here”.
I’m like, “this year?”, because rabies scares are common in Bali.
“No, in my life…Haha!”
They laugh/giggle at everything too.
He looks at his computer screen and has a kind of puzzled look on his face.
“Seems you were also in here just a few weeks ago because of a cat!?”
I explain that I’d been bitten/scratched by a cat after accidently stepping on one at the gym. Silly me not looking out for cats in there.
“Haha, you are very unlucky”, his grin getting even bigger.
I had him repeat it so I could record it, but it was 10x better in real time.
I tell him to bring on the shots. I’d heard they’re pretty painful, so I ask if they’ll hurt much. “Maybe some”, he says while still grinning as if he’s going to enjoy stabbing me.
“I had to get them once.”
“Yes, my cousin bite me.”
“Wait, your cousin bit you so you got rabies shots??”
“Yes, human mouths very dirty!”
“What, I don’t understand… were you worried your cousin might have rabies?”
“You can never be too sure!”
I can’t make this stuff up.
At least I’ll get to meet a pretty nurse out of this or something.
Instead, in through the door walks an enormously large man with a bunch of needles in his hand. Solid. He stabs me in each arm and throws a tetanus shot in my ass for giggles.
I head back to bat villa to live another day.
I wake up the next morning and decide I should probably get some more medical opinions. See, the doctor had told me that I didn’t need immunoglobulin because of the location of the bite. Seeing as though ‘death’ is the side effect if he’s wrong, I decide it might be worth an extra call or two.
To make a long story short, that ‘call or two’ turned into me gifting piles of money to Verizon, and learning more about rabies vaccines than just about any non rabies doctor on the planet. Based on the information I now had, it was decided I should get the immunoglobulin.
And, the thing with immunoglobulin is, if you need it, you need to get it within 7 days. The good news was, I felt confident it was the right move to get it. The bad news was, they didn’t have it in the city I was in. That was part of the reason I spent so long on the phones, not only determining that I needed it, but the type of the vaccine to get, as well as the best place to go for it.
The language barrier made the conversations much longer than normal, and much more entertaining.
…after an already in depth conversation explaining that something flew by and brushed my arm, but I didn’t know for sure it was bat…
“So it flew by you?”
“But it might not have been a bat?”
“Correct. Could have been a bird, could have been a bat. Not sure, I barely saw it as it flew by”
“Was it a monkey?”
Most of these calls were done in broken english, which worried me that I’d show up in another country for a shot, and they’d have no idea what I was talking about.
I double checked that the place that seemed best would have doctors that could speak english.
“The doctors speak english right?”
“Almost??? What does that mean?”
“Doctor almost speak english”
“Oh, that explains it. I’ll see you soon!”
After many exhilarating conversations with people from Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand, I booked a flight to Bangkok, where not only were shots $1k instead of $4k+ in Indonesia, but they were leaders in rabies.
“Leaders in rabies, or leaders in preventing rabies?”, I wondered aloud.
Shit, who’s got time for details, I had a flight to catch!
Either way I’m freerolling with $3k, feeling like a rabid winner.
Well, I thought I had a flight to catch. Every time I tried to book the flight, it was declining. I tried another card, same thing. Occasionally when outside the country your card will get locked to prevent fraud charges. I called my parents to see if I could try theirs. Same thing, declined. Oh, boy. I have to catch a flight for an anti-death shot and they won’t let me book!
I didn’t have time to sit there and try and call the credit card company or airlines to see what was up. I was barely going to make it as is. I decided to just head for the airport and hope for the best. I figured I’d call the credit card company and airline on the way.
A month in Bali was packed into my suitcase in about 15 minutes, and after navigating on the back of a motorbike with luggage out of the ricefields, I met the uber driver in semi civilization and headed to the airport. I told him I had to make it there quickly, and he took his task very seriously as we swerved in and out of traffic at insane speeds for the next hour. I would have peed my pants but I hadn’t ate or drank all day… I was starving, dehydrated, and headed to the airport without a flight.
I got a hold of my credit card company and they said there was no issue with my card, it must have been with the airline. I called the airline, and they said the flight was full. I asked them if there was any way to get on. They said they may offer a voucher if someone wants to take a different flight, but no guarantees. After getting familiar with the american embassies the last few days, I decided to give them a shout. I mean, hey, if anyone could get someone on a booked flight I figured it might be them. No answer. Called more embassies. No answer. Cool, I’ll handle it myself. I barely had any cash left on me because in Bali almost no one takes a credit card. Like, seriously almost no one. Meals? Cash. Gym membership? Only cash. Rent?… ya just cash.
I only had 2 $100 bills that the exchanges wouldn’t cash because they had writing on them, and a very tiny amount of rupiah(indonesian currency). $200 is a lot there, so I knew my plan. If no one took the voucher I would stand in the middle of the gate, and make an announcement that I was putting an extra $200 on top of the voucher for someone’s ticket. I hoped to be mauled in excitement. It’d be a more exciting way to go out than rabies. With my luck the person to take me up on it would be a professional balinese money exchanger and tell me he can’t take it because it has a marker spot on it.
I get to the airport and it’s a very short line. Sweet, plenty of time to negotiate my way onto the plane. I check my watch, about 4.5 days until death… 6% of the time. I mean, you don’t die right away, that’s just when it’s too late to catch it. Shit, maybe it was higher. Who knows, I got that number from a guy who was vaccinating himself from human bites.
So, this tiny line was taking forever. I didn’t understand. There were maybe a dozen people in front of me, and 2-3 attendants helping them. An hour later, I’m literally in the same line. I finally make my way up to the counter and get ready to unload my sales pitch to get on this fully booked plane with no ticket.
“Okay, so, I don’t actually have a ticket I tried to…”
“Yes but I’m not in the system my purchase didn’t go…”
Long pause while she searched for my nonexistant trip, as I replayed my pitch in my head.
“Okay, Mr. Murphy, you’re in 47c on the first leg to Singapore and….”
“Wait I have a ticket?”
“Yes, you just need to pay for it it’s unpaid.”
She slid me a piece of paper that was literally an IOU.
I shit you not the airline had booked my ticket, and written a note to themselves that I still owed them money for it. Welcome to Indonesia.
As I waited for my boarding passes, I now realized why it had taken so long to get through that tiny line. She was handwriting me a receipt for everything. The time, the flights, what I paid… everything. lol
“Am I going to make the flight?”
I had gotten to the airport with plenty of time, but now I had burned close to 1.5 hours getting through a 12 person line, and still had to get through security.
A man who worked for the airline took a look at the security line, and gave me a nod.
“You should be fine.”
“You may have to book another ticket to get into Thailand though.”
“Another ticket? What do you mean?”
“You got a 1 way ticket, so they’ll want to know when you’re leaving. Sometimes they won’t let you in without an outgoing ticket.”
I didn’t have time to think about that now, I barely had time to get to the gate. I’d worry about that hurdle if it came up.
Finally I received some very nicely hand written receipts and off I went.
Made it through security in a breeze, and not long after slid into my seat, ready to get this show on the road.
I was so happy to be on the plane I didn’t care how bad the person next to me smelled. He was coming from an extended time in Bali and while I didn’t confirm it, I’m not entirely sure his place had a shower.
I started wondering what % of the time a bat would have to join me in the shower before I stopped showering(see previous post), before drifting off to sleep.
I arrived in Singapore and headed to the board to see when my flight was taking off. Hmm, not up there, maybe I’ve got some time for a meal. Uhhh, yep. After checking my ticket I realize I’ve got like 9 hours. lol. In my rush and excitement just to get to Bangkok combined with my lack of geography skills, I didn’t realize the majority of my 14 hour trek was a layover. Luckily Singapore airport is the shit. I would seriously consider living in it for a month. They’ve got everything. A gym, massage rooms, arcade, business center, movie theater, tons of restaurants and bars. They even had a sort of hotel there that you rent in 6 hour blocks. If I didn’t need to go to Thailand I would have worked out a long term deal on the spot. I grabbed a meal and went back and got a room. “We just have one room left, so price is …” and he named some price much higher than what was listed. “Cool, I’ll take it.”
“Your check out time is 5:30am, what time would you like a wake up call?”
“No, no, no, no. I’ll put you down for 5:15.”
Well, alrighty then!
As I was finishing checking in and about to head to my room, a guy came in and asked a lady at the desk if they had any rooms. “Yes we do!”
lol. I headed off to my room to grab some sleep.
I wake up, semi refreshed, and head off for a quick pre-flight meal.
Off to Thailand we go.
I make it to Thailand with no issues, grabbed all my bags and headed straight to the hospital for the shots. It’d been such a whirlwind, I hadn’t even booked a hotel yet. As I waited for the doctor, I figured a better use of my time would be swiping through Tinder. Solid decision making continued.
“Oh look, I’ve got a mutual friend with this girl”…
“Vince! Ohh, ya I think he lives out here sometimes, maybe he’s in town.”
I message him on whatsapp to see if he’s around.
“Yo, I’m in Bangkok for like 24 hours, you in town?”
He is! Sweet. I’m starving so we make food plans.
After a few minutes the doctor is ready to see me. He is awesome. Super glad I booked the trip. This guy knew his stuff.
I quizzed him on everything I’d learned in the last 48 hours like a newbie who’s just read Rich Dad Poor Dad for the first time and is pretty sure he’s just a few days away from having a real estate empire.
We decide it’s best if I get the shot, just to be on the safe side.
He tells me they’ll spread it out between both legs so it isn’t quite so painful. “Ahh, shit. These are the ones that hurt. I’d heard stories about how painful rabies shots were, and thought I’d lucked out with the ones I got in Bali. Na, it’s the immunoglobulin that’s the killer. I was getting 10 cc’s, so they were going to spread them out and do 5 in each leg.
I have no idea what a normal shot is, but all I can say is it’s significantly more. I got one giant needle in one leg for about 30 seconds worth of a shot, and after a quick break for her to get the other needle up to bat, another 30 seconds or so in the other leg. I didn’t time it, but it felt like a long time. The second hurt like hell coming out. Okay, these are definitely the rabies shots people don’t like. I get it now.
As the nurse and I were making small talk, she learned the bite was likely from a bat.
“Oh, how did it happen? Were you playing with it?”
I couldn’t tell if everyone was f*$king with me or these were genuine questions.
“Umm, no I wasn’t playing with it.”
I got out of there to meet with Vince. As I stood up, my legs were already starting to feel like I’d just finished a monster leg day in the gym. These were gonna be sore.
I checked out and got my bill. Only $848. Boom! Well worth the trip. I would have paid $4-$5k in Bali, and probably more in the states.
I hopped in an uber and headed off for Vince’s.
Had a good time hanging and catching up. We hadn’t seen each other since Tony Robbin’s event in Dallas last year. Always good to run into friends from all over the world, and hear about their latest adventures.
I had been debating where I would go, and had reached out to my network to build a short list based on my criteria. With the help of friends, and Tinder, I slowly eliminated some choices, and Cape Town rose to the top of the list. I booked a flight, so I was off to South Africa the next day.
The following day I realized I had a poor understanding of how crowded it’d be to get a car to the airport in Bangkok rush hour. I find myself scrambling to hop on a subway, having no idea where to get off in a country that only a small % speak english. Vince told me I’d be fine and gave me lots of confidence when he said, “you can still make it”. Shit! That doesn’t sound good. Plus the worried look on his assistant’s face made me think my chances weren’t great. Welp, if I miss my flight I guess I can just book a trip to Singapore and live in the airport for a while. Sounded like a legit backup plan, and I felt good about it.
As I squished into the crowded subway with all my bags, I second guessed my decision to pack a suitcase full of books.
Seemed like a clever idea at the time. Now having a portable library didn’t seem so brilliant. I’m wayyyy old school, and refuse to reform, but okay Kindle, I see your value.
As each stop passed, it got slightly less crowded. I asked a few people if they knew how long until the stop for the airport. They just looked at me like, “maybe next time you shouldn’t pack all those books.” No english.
Then a stop or two later, I see a light. I know that light, it’s coming from a super white person like me.
“Hey man!” I say with an enthused glimmer of hope that someone will understand my question. “Do you know which stop the airport is?”
He tells me it’s about 8 minutes away and says that’s where he’s going.
“Great, I’ll follow you!”
Boom. still #winning
In my determined focus to make sure I didn’t accidently get off at some random stop in Bangkok, my mind now shifted to the next task at hand. Actually making it on the plane.
As the subway pulled to a stop I see the bright light arise from his seat, and he shined the way as I followed behind.
Once inside the airport, I raced off… well, walked quickly I guess. When you carry libraries with you you’re not going to win any races. There were four floors to choose from because hey, one would have made things too easy. After being pointed in multiple directions, I finally found where I was going. I rushed up to an empty check in desk. Ahh, easy game. Well, no wonder it was empty everyone else had probably checked in an hour ago. As long as customs wasn’t backed up I might make it.
They go to check me in, and tell me I need another ticket.
“Yes, the system won’t let us process it unless you have a ticket out of South Africa. You only have a one way.”
“Wait, so I can’t get on the plane even with a ticket there?”
“Not unless you have an outgoing ticket.”
I’m glad I had heard of this the day before about Thailand, or I wouldn’t have had any clue what she was talking about. I guess South Africa is even more strict about that.
“So, if I buy one right now I’m good?”
“Okay,”, I say as I log onto the internet. Fake ticket it is.
I attempt to buy a 24 hour refundable ticket so that when I land I can just cancel it. I mean, if I’m trapped in South Africa, at least I’ll be trapped inside, and not at an airport. Guess I’ll find out when I leave.
No internet signal.
They refer me to information where they can supposedly help get me online.
I run over to information while leaving my bags just laying on the floor. I mean, they were almost checked in, kind of like when the doctors would “almost” speak english, and that turned out okay, so I figured I was good. Plus, if anyone tried to steal them they’d probably go for the heavy bag thinking it was valuables and be really disappointed to get home and realize their jackpot was a bunch of books.
Information gives me some pamphlet about how to use the internet. After attempting many times to sign up for this internet, I realize I keep getting kicked off because of the signal still.
“Yes, the signal is very bad in the airport.”
“Umm, so how can I get internet?”
They suggested going to some coffee shop outside of the airport.
Am I being leveled? I’ve never seen the movie but it reminded me of that Jim Carrey movie where they put him in all these situations to see how he’ll react and he doesn’t realize that his whole life is a tv show.
In January my life had just been one big running Seinfeld episode. Cats, bats, headbutted by a monkey, comical motorbike accidents. You name it. What I’ve written is just my last 72 hours.
I don’t have time to find the cameras so I run back to the counter to tell them what’s up and ask if there’s anywhere else to get internet. One guy feels my pain and asks for my phone, and puts in his personal internet code. Boom, VIP, no need to see ID. Don’t know who this guy was but he’s the only guy in the building with internet access.
I quickly log in, buy some random flight while double checking that it’s within the 90 day visa window so that I don’t run into another problem, and bam, a hopefully refundable $1k later I’ve got a ticket out of South Africa.
At this point my bags are gone, so either some thief is about to become way smarter while enjoying an excellent green wardrobe, or they checked my bags. Boom, bags checked. Still #winning
I ask my VIP friend what it’d take to get a VIP pass through customs. This dude hooks me up again. My man!
Eight minutes until boarding, with customs still to go. I decide I should take a second to take a picture of the premium pass in my hand to remind myself to tell this story later. Another solid time investment, spewing dividends on the keyboard as we speak. I see the customs area and start going that direction. I notice a flight board listing the flights. I think about how much better this story will be if I can get a selfie with the flight time while it’s boarding. I laugh. This sounds like a great idea and would be funny, I tell myself. Maybe I’m slightly delirious from the lack of sleep and all the cc’s in my leg, which at this point feel like I squatted 500 pounds and I’m just kind of dragging my legs along. I decide maybe it’s better to get on the plane.
I drag my legs with me and confidently show the premium pass to the security lady. She points me to a line with almost no one there. Sweet. After a very small wait, I get up to the counter, and am told I didn’t fill out some form. I’m sent back to fill it out. At this point these things make smile. I know I’m on camera and want the audience to see how cool and calm I am. I fill out the form and go back to the line. She sends me through. I find the gate. I make the plane.
I settle into my seat amazed that I made the plane, and ecstatic that I won’t get rabies.
I decide it’d be funny to tell my seatmate the story about the bat, and then somehow make it look like I’m foaming at the mouth and want to bite him. Maybe I’m still delirious, and decide it’s probably a good time for a nap instead.
I realize that in 17 hours I’ll land in South Africa, with no idea where I’m staying.
Things have a way of working out. I dose off, and get ready for the next adventure.