More tragedy struck today on Phi Phi, Thailand. For those who aren’t familiar with travelling through the South East Asian country, Phi Phi in particular has achieved almost urban legend status for the mysterious deaths in young people. Two Canadian sisters, aged 20 and 26, are the latest to go to bed and never wake up. This has happened dozens of times in recent years, and when I backpacked through there for the second time last year I discovered the threat in a bad way.
Three days before Christmas eve, I woke up in the worst pain imaginable- I’ve never been, and could never imagine being this sick again. Barely able to move an inch, I had trouble breathing and concentrating, couldn’t eat or drink and was having hot and cold sweats. At some point I fell asleep on the shower floor, tap running cold for hours, violently ill. Three more days of this passed by and it was only getting worse- at one point I tried leaving the room but couldn’t walk for the life of me, not even down the stairs. I decided it was probably time for the hospital as imaginably, I was freaking out at this point. It’s difficult to explain the illness in Phi Phi, it’s between utter confusion, passing in and out of consciousness, severe abdominal and heart pain, being sick every hour and overheating. Then the chills come.
Putting my trust in Google, I tried to see if there was a reason for this happening- the search results were showing dozens of cases of young people staying exactly where I was, and in the surrounding hotels mysteriously dying, with coronary inquests bringing up mixed results. Some said it was the result of a deadly gas leak, known to occur behind the hotel and hostel areas, some cited poisoned drinks, others couldn’t find a cause. What was surprising is just how common it was, and normal it is to conclude that it can’t be explained. In total, I was violently ill for 5 days and contemplated hospital constantly, but was trying to convince myself that it was just food poisoning (clearly it wasn’t). Seeing the news of the Canadian sisters being the latest victims is sad, and I can’t help but wonder if I was close to being one of them. It was the only time I sincerely felt I was going to die.
I don’t know what’s going on in Phi Phi, or why nobody can find a definitive answer. This doesn’t happen on other islands. I was there to spend Christmas and New Years Eve in Thailand, on a tropical backpackers beach with local markets, sapphire-blue waters and mountainous wonders- what I received instead was a harsh warning on the dangers of Phi Phi.
The island is amazing and I’m usually resilient to bad experiences being a once off, but I don’t think anybody should chance it for now, as the unfortunate and unexplained deaths on the island continue to pile up.