I was well into day 2 of a terrific 5 days motorcycle loop in the Thai mountains, called the Mae Hong Son loop, when it happened.
Because of the hot temperatures – around 35 degrees with no clouds – most helmets here don’t have visors. The main reason – apart from just being cheap-ass-bastards – is you at least get some fresh (warm) air inside your helmet to cool while you ride. Yeey 🙂
Then it happened
Some sort of buzzing sound is coming from my left side, inside the helmet. So I slow down, decide to stop and let the miserable insect out.
However the moment I’m taking off my helmet, I see and hear a dozen of brown bees around me. So I decide to get off the bike to get away from them. I then feel the first bee sting in my neck.
I use my hand to get the bees off my neck. But I already feel bees entering my motorcycle jacket from my neck downwards. I react instinctively. To avoid more bee stings, I quickly get my jacket off and throw it on my motorcycle.
In the meantime I feel more bee stings in my neck and on my arms and shoulders as well. I look around to discover at least 40 bees are aggressively crawling all over my t-shirt and arms already. I start to really stress out and walk even further away from the motorcycle.
The next few seconds those 40-something bees turn into at least a 100 bees crawling all over my body. I feel them on my head, my neck, inside my t-shirt, over my arms … buzzing like crazy.
All of a sudden the buzzing gets really loud on my right side and I feel a hairy bee crawling into my ear. I’m petrified to get stung and damage my eardrum, so I stand still to let it back out, but nothing happens … I tilt my head to the right and try to shake my head to make it fall out, but nothing happens … I still feel it moving inside my ear. It seems to be stuck !! WTF … what now?
At this moment in time I don’t even feel the bee stings anymore. There are just too many stinging me at the same time, all over my body, in order to still be able to react to them. My auto-pilot keeps slapping them off my t-shirt and smashing them on my arms.
In a serious panic I start to run down the road, while still trying to get them off me. That’s when a pick-up drives towards me. Yes! People! They will help me! I shout and wave at them. They slow down only to see the hundreds of bees and drive off in a hurry. So much for help. I run further down the mountain road like a maniac. By coincidence 5 minutes later, a woman drives towards me on her scooter. Yes! Help! Finally!
She sees the bees swarming me, covers up her little girl sitting in front of her and drives off as quickly as the scooter allows her. FUCK …
I continuously slap the brown hairy bees off me and those I hit, seem to be dead and fall to the ground. But by the hundreds of bees still crawling all over me and stinging me in all possible places, smashing them wasn’t going to save me. My heart beats like crazy, a second panic attack takes over and my instincts tell me I need to get away from here, FAST. This is getting too dangerous!
So I run back to my motorcycle, all whilst still getting stung all over by those trigger-happy bees. I grab my helmet and jacket, put them in between my legs and just drive off as fast as the motorcycle allows me to push it. I lose one glove, but I don’t care, I continue anyway. I look at my body and try to slap the remaining bees off of me. After like 2 kilometers only a handful of bees remain and that’s when I spot 3 little houses by the side of the road.
I pull over and shout for help. 3 people run outside, spray me with a hose to get the last bees off. Apparently the bees don’t like water very much. And I can finally catch my breath again. I now recognize the lady from the scooter before, with a sad guilty look on her face. But she’s helping me now, so I’m grateful anyway.
A bit dizzy and delirious I start to inspect my body. I take off my t-shirt and discover hundreds of red spots, all still with the stings attached inside. The locals start plucking my body like it’s harvest season. The lady calls someone. I look at her and stumble: “Hospital? Doctor?”. She has no clue what I’m saying and nods. They use some freshly cut lemons on the wounds and I’m to high on bee-venom to even react.
I feel something moving inside my right ear. Crap, I almost forgot about this one. I point towards my ear, as the bee was obviously still inside. The lady looks and says it’s OK. She doesn’t understand. There is a bee INSIDE, I keep explaining her. Eventually she runs inside to get a pincer and is able to remove the bee from my ear. Damn, what a relief!
10 minutes later her husband arrives with his pick-up and seems to offer to take me to the hospital. At least that’s what I’m hoping for, because he doesn’t speak a single word of English either. So I grab my backpack and we take off.
The next 30 minutes in the car I try to drink a bit of water and despite the curvy mountain road – that’s why I was driving my motorcycle there in the first place – try to stay focused on the road. We arrive in a local field hospital, where the male nurse looks into my throat and asks me if I’m allergic to bees. What do I know? I’ve never been stung by a bee before actually. So I say: “I think not”.
The field hospital has no doctors and no medicine, so I get into another car with the nurse and they take me to the local hospital of Khun Yuam. The next 30 minutes I only see flashes as they drive me further down the same road.
We get to the E.R. of the hospital. They ask me what the problem is. I take off my t-shirt and I point at the hundreds of red spots: “Bee stings. A lot of them.” Their eyes grow big and they immediately get me on a table with a catheter in my arm. 2 minutes later, some steroids are already flowing in my veins to counter the swelling and itching from the venom.
I start to feel better!
After about 2 hours in the hospital I’m feeling a lot better again, they give me some anti-itching pills and send me back home. The friendly nurse had stayed with me the whole time and their car takes me back ‘home’, where my motorcycle was left behind. Only a couple of houses further there is a homestay. I decide to stay there and take it easy the rest of the day. Tomorrow I can continue through the mountains towards Mae Hong Son as planned.
This did not go as planned of course. Before dinner I start to get really warm and dizzy. Sweat is literally dripping from my forehead now and I throw up my improvised late lunch, consisting of some tasty biscuits from the 7-11 supermarket next to the hospital. FUCK …
A couple of hours later, I start developing a serious diarrhea, eventually lasting all night long. Every 30 minutes I get up, to get out the water I drank right before. There is really only water coming out at this point. It’s like I’m peeing from behind. Horrible.
So the next morning I decide to skip breakfast – no appetite, weird right? – and drive straight back to the local hospital. They run some tests on my faeces, as it’s called officially. I Google a bit on bee stings while I wait and apparently in Europe if you get more than 20 stings, you need to stay in the hospital for observation. 20? I had about 100 !! … You can get a serious toxic reaction that can lead to malfunctioning of your organs and eventually death. OK, we’re probably a bit too cautious in Europe, no? I also learn that vomiting and diarrhea are common side effects from the toxins.
Faeces result: no infections and no parasites. That’s a good start I guess 🙂 However they don’t have any anti-diarrhea medicine. “We are local hospital”. So I try my luck on some steamed rice and start heading to Mae Hong Son, a 1,5 hour drive from Khun Yuam. It’s almost midday, so 35 degrees again with full sun on my sorry ass. But I get there in one piece and check myself in into the E.R. of the big hospital in Mae Hong Son to score some anti-diarrhea medicine and then enjoy the last hours of sun in the city.
A very friendly nurses asks me to wait for the doctor … for about 3 hours, because this is an emergency room and I’m not dying. Then a really cute, but tiny female Thai doctor examines me and checks my blood, to eventually tell me I’ll be fine in a few days.
“So what about the anti-diarrhea medicine?”, I still ask her. “No medicine, your body can kill the virus itself. Just take some electrolytes to avoid dehydration. 2 days.” And she was off. Sooooo after drinking the really really salty liquid with electrolytes, I was finally off again.
Off to the next and final 2 days of my motorcycle loop adventures! 🙂
Read all about the beautiful Mae Hong Son motorcycle loop here btw.
Back in Chiang Mai
We’re now 5 days later, back at the start of the loop, in Chiang Mai and my stings are getting really red and itchy. My back looks like a bombed battlefield with red craters and white shells. Some more Googling told me you can also get a belated allergic reaction to the toxins if you got stung more than a few times. I guess 100 times should fall into that category … So I’m getting another check-up … BUT I’m still alive 🙂