Two words: travel insurance

Everybody has experienced that feeling of excitement before a holiday or an event to the extent they count down the months and days. This is definitely how I felt about leaving for Asia and when it was around 4 months until we left I started making lists (love a good list) of things I needed to sort out/pack for my journey.

On my list albeit not at the top (which I majorly regret now) was travel insurance. To me travel insurance was that thing you know you need to get but don’t really understand it so you put it off and then google it and just go with the flow. Me and my boyfriend (mainly him not me I admit) did lots of research into which was the best travel insurance on a budget. But we just didn’t understand what we were looking at and what to look for.

We ended up going for insurance from Boots. They were rated in the top three best travel insurance plans (this is in the UK) had loads of positive reviews and are a well established company. From what we could understand they covered what needed to be covered and it was a good price.

WORST DECISION EVER. And I mean the worst. If anyone reading this needs travel insurance never buy travel insurance from Boots. We found out the hard way unfortunately.

When we were in Koh Tao we decided to rent a scooter so we could get around cheaper and easier. It was 400 baht a day (I think) so £6. Which is ridiculously cheap for the amount of miles you can do. There are hundreds of travellers riding scooters on the island because of these reasons. We had a great couple of days exploring the island and beach hopping in the beautiful weather. We understood that the roads were dangerous on the island mainly because of other drivers but it was a risk we were willing to take at the time and I personally had that ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude even thought I was a nervous passenger.

Well it did happen- to my boyfriend. To cut a long story short, he popped out on a 2 minute ride to get some drinking water for us and had an accident. Not his fault as somebody else was pretty much driving on the wrong side of the road and he had to swerve out of their way. He hurt his ankle/leg really bad. There was basically a hole at the top of his ankle where the scooter had ripped a chunk of flesh out. It was gross.

We went straight to the nearest hospital which was luckily only 2 minutes away, ironically he drove us their on the damn scooter. There was an English consultant there who asked pretty much as soon as we got there if he had insurance and I explained he had. Anyway to cut another long story short:

  • We stayed in hospital for 3 days and he had surgery to close the wound.
  • During that time the hospital was in constant contact with Boots regarding our claim and they were unsure we were going to get it for several reasons.
  • We couldn’t leave until the hospital bill was paid either by Boots or us (the hospital didn’t care who paid).
  • They took my boyfriends passport to make sure we didn’t leave without paying.
  • Boots finally agreed to pay our claim- happy days.
  • We left hospital and had to return every day for a wound clean and bandage change.
  • They found an infection in his wound because the doctors didn’t remove the dead flesh properly (brilliant). We were readmitted to hospital for another 10 days.
  • It was bad.
  • Boots would not pay for his second visit because they are greedy mother truckers. And so was the hospital but I’m not going to get into that.
  • So the co-owner of the hospital told us we had to pay. Our bill was £20,000+ but he ‘kindly’ wanted whatever we could pay him.
  • In a nutshell, it was all very dodgy and we needed to leave!

gross

Boots use another company to actually deal with people’s claims called Infinity. They RARELY pay out and will find any legal loop hole not to. It’s disgusting. We shouldn’t have had to go through the stress and worry that we did especially my boyfriend who was in so much pain.

We learnt our lesson the hard way, big time. If you’re clueless when it comes to travel insurance ASK somebody who understands or has experience with it. This accident cut our travels short by only a couple of weeks luckily. However, my boyfriend had to have further surgery and spend a minimum of a month recovering when we arrived in Australia due to the horrendous healthcare he received in Thailand.

My tips: have good travel insurance and if you really want to risk riding a scooter, BE EXTRA CAREFUL.

Rant over.

Also sorry about the gross picture haha.

Vietnamese paradise

One of my favourite places in Vietnam was Hoi An. We happened to visit just before their New Year so lots of preparation was being made for their celebrations. I must say, they put England to shame! The magnitude of colours and materials that covered Hoi An was amazing. Their high level of attention to detail and traditional style oozed elegance and charm that only the locals could achieve. However, from what I’ve heard it’s not just this time of year the place looks this wonderful and that is part of its magic.

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Hoi An, Old Town

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Old Town

We found it relaxing and easy to spend time just sitting by the river in The Old Town and soaking up the atmosphere. I loved walking alongside the river and watching the locals at work on their boats. At one point the port was one of the biggest in that area so it has a center spot in their history. There are loads of boat trips you can take which we didn’t do unfortunately. But the tickets are so cheap and from my experience in other Asian towns you learn lots and it’s a great way to see the place. Whilst in the Old Town it’s worth visiting any temples that you come across, albeit they are mostly small but still beautiful. There are also lots of cafes and restaurants that sell traditional Vietnamese food and food specifically from Hoi An.

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Bicycles

We stayed at a hostel called Nature Homestay. I would highly recommend this hostel! The room was massive, clean, was in a great location, fair price and had free bicycle hire. We ended up using the bikes so much more than we thought. At first I was apprehensive as the roads are choca from vehicles (mainly scooters) and I’m not a confident rider but I’m so glad I tried it! We managed to get to so many places we wouldn’t have seen and for free. It definitely made such a difference to our experience of Hoi An and I recommend it to everyone (who can ride a bike).

bike
Cycling around the paddy fields

Shopping and markets

There are sooo many shops and markets in Hoi An. I thought the markets were very similar to the night markets in Thailand which literally sell everything and are never ending. You can spend hours looking even if you don’t intend to buy anything. And then when you do, you’ve got to haggle which I couldn’t get used to. Vietnam is famous for their tailors which are crazy cheap. I didn’t buy any tailored clothing or shoes but their shops always looked full of people choosing materials and the materials are beautiful. I think it’s something I would have been more interested in if I were on a holiday and not backpacking.

Beaches

While we were in Vietnam we got unlucky with the weather which meant we didn’t have a full on ‘beach day’. I’m a massive beach fan! Growing up near beaches has meant I have to get a beach fix every now and again so I was excited to find out we were just a short bike ride away from one where we were staying. We didn’t have time to check out any others but if I ever go back I would love to visit more and hopefully it would be sunny.

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I really loved this place not only for its beauty and the amount of things to do but because of its relaxed, traditional charm. During the evening myself and my boyfriend really enjoyed getting dinner and drinks and just watching the world go by. In the Old Town lots of the restaurants have balconies that look out onto the river and this was really romantic and just reiterated why I wanted to visit Vietnam.