Koyasan Okunoin

Koyasan is a small town just outside of Osaka. It doesn’t look far on the map, but it ended up taking me about 3 hours of train, tram up the mountain, and a bus ride to get to my accommodation. It’s a town founded by Kobo Daishi, he’s considered to be the founder of Japanese Buddhism. So the town is a weird mix of monks, local and international tourists visiting.edit.IMG_5143

edit.IMG_5146Okunoin is the famous cemetery in Koyasan. Anyone can be buried there, as long as they follow Kobo Daishi’s teaching. A lot of big Japanese companies have created a huge mural to remember the earthquake victims there too.

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one of many temples visitors stay at

 

Tombstones differ in shapes and sizes. Some look like a house made out of stone, some as small as the size of my hand. But it’s the mix of rich and poor, big and small under Kobo Daishi that’s beautiful.

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these Jizo statues were everywhere. they help children in their past life.

edit,IMG_5187.JPGTwice every day, they bring food for Kobo Daishi who’s meant to be in a state of eternal meditation, followed by a prayer in the morning. I got up at 5.30 to go watch the 6 am prayer. Walk there was eery but beautiful. The path to the main temple is lit by hundreds of stone lamps, which was kindly donated by the founder of Panasonic – he’s also buried there too.

 

I like going to cemeteries. But this one, I kept going back again and again before I left Koyasan. Early in the morning or around 5 pm onwards is the best time to stroll around, during the day is full of people on day trips.

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the entrance of Okunoin
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hundreds of stone lanterns along the pathway 

 

The sound of the cemetery is so serene. Birds chirping, chanting in distance, bells ringing from the nearby temples, water flowing down the stream which seems to run throughout the town.edit.IMG_5156.JPGedit.IMG_5160.JPGedit.IMG_5165.JPG

Gastro and Dengue fever

I’ve been staying in my Phuket Workaway place for a few days. On day 3, I started feeling headachy, and feverish. So went for a quick nap, for 18 hours.

All hell broke loose when I woke up. I was covered in sweat, couldn’t even open my eye – it was so sore, like pulsing pain from the back of my eyes. Dizzy, and intense back and stomach pain, like I’m having the worst flu and period at the same time. Though I wasn’t throwing up just yet.

Initially, I thought it was the dodgy old banana I bought from the discount section of a street seller. It was 50 cent for a two dozen tiny bananas. Maybe old fly landed and laid eggs in the banana, which I then unknowingly ate maybe?

That night I couldn’t really sleep. I was taking cold showers every 2 hours to keep the temperature down (later I found out this is a big no-no for fever). Had two fans going full power, which didn’t really help. Accompanied by intense stomach cramp and back pain. I really missed home then 😦

Early in the morning, I decided to drive myself to a nearby hospital. In hindsight, probably should’ve asked someone to drive me there. Riding a scooter with a glorified bicycle helmet in Phuket traffic with a high fever is pretty silly. I made it to the hospital in one piece.

The doctor said it’s acute gastroenteritis, I had lost about 4 kilos from it. He prescribed me with some meds, and slowly drove myself back to my Workaway place. That night was even worse. I was throwing up the little I did eat, constant high fever and body aches. The next morning, I drove myself back there. This ride was actually quite dangerous. I got startled by cars and other scooters I didn’t see a few times.

The doctor said in his broken English, “your temperature bad”. I nodded and nearly cried, finally someone understands my pain! I blame it on the fever.

I was 40 degrees when I was admitted. Looked like a refugee, brown peeling skin, skinny with sunken eyes.

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skinny brown me right after I was admitted

I ended up being hospitalised for 6 days in total. Had no idea I was going to stay there for that long.

On day 4, they noticed my gastro symptoms had gone, but I kept having spikes of high fever – my temperature was between 37.1 and 39.8. They finally did a blood test and found dengue virus in my blood. I met a few people that had dengue fever in the few months I’ve been travelling, didn’t think I was going to get it too.

Apparently, Thailand is having dengue fever epidemic this year, reporting a more than a 50% increase in infections compared to 2012.

There isn’t much they can do to cure it. It’s like a really bad flu, but unlike the common flu, it lasts a bit longer and it completely knocks you out during and few weeks following. All they can do is to give you panadol to manage the fever and keep you hydrated with the IV fluid.

 

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it took them a while to find my vein for IV. I was so dehydrated!

On day 6, I was discharged. Walking out of the hospital was like waking up from a really long, bad dream. All in all, the hospital was good, and I had travel insurance that paid for my private room. All up, it came around NZD$1,700 for my 6 days at the hospital. That’s about 2 months of travelling around SE Asia for me. So glad I had insurance!

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so stoked to be out!

I came back to my Workaway place and decided to get out of Thailand. Booked a flight to Korea straight away, packed my bag, and headed straight to the airport.

Being back at my parents’ place was the best thing I’ve done. I was thinking about checking into a luxury villa in Thailand, but it would’ve cost about the same as coming to Korea. Parents’ fed me well, and I was back to my normal weight in just over a month.

For about 3 weeks after I recovered, my body was covered in dengue fever rash. It looks a bit like heat rash, but all over the body. It wasn’t itchy, but very sensitive. Even touching it was sore, and I didn’t really have any strength in my body to do anything. Being out in public was disorientating.

It’s been about a month and a half since I had dengue fever. I think I’m back to normal and resuming my trip around SE Asia next week. This time around, I’ll be more rigorous with my DEET spraying. I think it will be awhile before I go back to Thailand. The trauma of getting caught with Dengue in the first couple of weeks of being in Thailand will linger.

 

Getting lost in Koh Lanta

I managed to dodge the high season of Koh Lanta by 5 days. Hostels were cheaper, beach was relatively empty, very chilled out vibes in the off season.

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sunset on long beach

I rented a scooter for the day, and drove around the whole day. it’s only meant to take couple of hours by scooter, but took me the whole day to get around – getting lost, swimming in deserted beach, and waiting around for the sunset.

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nameless wee islands

Some people didn’t like how empty it was, but I loved being able to get around on my scooter without having to worry about some maniac taxi driver trying to overtake me.

 

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cute kid playing with fire stick

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Sadly seeing washed up rubbish is a common sight in most of the beaches I went to so far. Some worse than others..

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