The one with all the bedbug bites

The one with all the bedbug bites

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have recently been inundated with complaints about my bedbug-infested life. I apologize. I am an only child, and thus need someone to validate my discomfort. Don’t worry, I waited until 6:01 a.m. California time before calling my mom in tears.

If you weren’t subject to my endless whining, let’s take a look at this whole bedbug saga. I offer absolutely no help on getting rid of bedbugs, as you shall see by the end of this.

I was distracted by the mosquito net canopy bed at Nyoman Murjana Homestay.

Sunday, 3:02 a.m.: The first night in my homestay in Ubud after a week in place on Gili Trawangan with dusty shelves that I am now judging, I woke up with bug bites all over my right arm. I was scratching like crazy, so I crawled out of bed, popped two ibprofen and smeared on some hydrocortisone cream and then snuggled back into sleep. Had been sleeping with a full mosquito net around my bed–it was the tropical canopy bed of my childhood dreams!–so a bit confused as to how this happened. Blamed myself for not covering myself in mosquito repellent before bed, as per usual. I was distracted by the canopy.

Sunday, 11 a.m.: Skype with my parentals. I’m irritable because of the 23 “mosquito bites” on my right arm, and I’m homesick. Sulk on the walk home, pop more ibprofen, smear more hydrocortisone.

Sunday, 9 p.m.: Remember the bedbug epidemic that broke out in NYC last summer. Frantically Google search images of bedbug bites and a slew of bedbug-related search terms. Proceed to freak out.

Bedbug bites

Monday, 8 a.m.: Show my arm to my extremely kind homestay hosts. They ask if I ate Balinese food, if it’s a reaction to the heat, if I spent a lot of time outside. No, friends, I get both prickly heat and allergic reactions. Thanks for the extremely sensitive skin, Mom. This is neither. I try to explain what bedbugs are. Apparently, they don’t bother Balinese people in their contented sleep. Either way, I convince them to change my sheets and I take everything I own to the laundry (convenient, as I just did 3/4 of my laundry the week before and thought I was sorted for a bit). Wash out my pack and packing cubes with very hot water. Spend the day watching cheap DVDs in my newly-sheeted bed and trying not to itch. I’m actually quite proud of myself at the itching I manage to avoid! This deserves dinner out!

Monday, 6:30 p.m.: Go out to dinner. Waitress stares unkindly at my blotchy arms. I’m sure she thinks I’m a leper.

Tuesday, 7 a.m.: No new bites! Winner!

Wednesday, 8 a.m.: 13 new bites on one arm. Right. Time to move. Try to explain to my adorable homestay hosts that while this is surely not their fault, I cannot sleep in that bed one more night without freaking out and taking obscene amount of pain-relieving sleep aids. Move to a new homestay.

What bedbug bites look like

Wednesday, 10 p.m.: Call my parents in tears because I am covered in approximately 76 extremely itchy bug bites all over my arms, hands, legs, back AND THE BOTTOM OF MY FEET. What I hear from my dad: “Find something with pyrethroid.” Right. (To his credit, he sends me a very informative and helpful email later in the day.) What I hear from my mom: “How much hydrocortisone cream are you using? Don’t you remember that girl on your soccer team who used too much Neosporin and got a reaction to it? Bedbugs are an EPIDEMIC. What if you bring them home in April? You are not infecting your grandma’s house. Leave behind your pack and everything you own, and start anew. And go to a doctor, for goodness’ sake.” Start bawling because despite not having many of them, I really LIKE all my clothes and they all fit so nicely in my pretty practically-new pack. Does that mean I have to get rid of my lovely Kindle case? And my Cath Kitson laptop case? Where does the madness end? And I don’t like going to the doctor’s (side effect of not having health insurance in America and always being irrationally worried about how much it will cost). And I look like a leper, and how am I supposed to party in Thailand when I am covered in hideous red marks? I am now still bawling by myself in my room, and I look like a strangled raccoon. I go to wash my face and calm myself down. There are no towels in this room. THERE IS NO TOILET PAPER IN THIS ROOM. Do the bedbug gods have NO mercy? Stop crying, pop more ibprofen pm, and go to sleep content in my new bed.

Thursday, 8 a.m.: Read a very helpful email from my dad that references the bedbugger blog. Talk to my mom, and she says she talked to my travel-savvy aunt and they might be scabies. Right. Something new to Google. Laugh on the way out the door, because, seriously, this is getting so bad it’s almost funny. Shouldn’t I be lying on the beach right now?

Thursday, 9 a.m.: Ditch yoga and go to the Ubud Medical Clinic. Nice lady doctor looks at my arms, gives a sympathetic tut, and promptly puts an injection in my bum. My first-ever shot in the bum! Lovely memories, Indonesia. Prescribes an antihistamine to take once every 24 hours, anti-inflammatories to take twice two times a day and a topical cream. All for the bargain price of $65. You can bet travel insurance will be getting THOSE receipts. (Did I mention I also called my travel insurance last night? And cried to the too-sympathetic lady on the phone? She said I could fly home fo’ free! Let’s be serious, it’s not that drastic. I’ve got two months of buckets and beaches coming up.) Anyway, home free! I’m cured!

Thursday, 11:55 p.m.: Can’t fall asleep without ibprofen pm, but am worried about getting addicted to pain-relieving sleep-aids. Finally do some yoga breathing after two hours of tossing around and cursing having Wifi where I stay and the madness that is an iPhone because I always end up thinking of things to Google. Then, I’m right on the brink of sleep. I feel something crawl on my arm. I reach for my iPhone and light up the FIRST BEDBUG I’VE EVER SEEN. Right. No sleep tonight. Stay up until my shuttle to the airport leaves at 7 a.m., writing and listening to music and eating a chocolate bar with a light on and ponder how this is my first non-partying-related all-nighter.

Friday, 5:31 a.m.: A GIANT COCKROACH JUST CRAWLED ACROSS MY BED. I am going to cry and then die of a bloody exhaustion-induced panic attack in this bug-infested room.

Friday, 11 a.m.: Fly to Thailand. Airplane pressurization will kill all bedbugs in my pack…right? right?

If not…guess who is buying ALL NEW CLOTHES IN THAILAND?

Note: I’m honestly not sure where I first got infected. For the sake of other travelers everywhere: I stayed at Pondok Lita in Gili Trawangan, and I’m seriously suspicious. 

Another note: I would like to thank my parents for being absolute STARS in dealing with their prone-to-tears daughter in Asia who called at all sorts of inopportune times this week and ignored their advice while simultaneously whining. Even with 23 years to get used to my hypochondriac-yet-anti-medicine ways, it’s still not easy. Merci beaucoup! 

  • This is HANDS DOWN one of my biggest fears about traveling. And living in NYC. But your post is hilarious. So that makes it all worth it, right???:)

  • camorose

    Haha now you sound like a professional blogger…as long as you can write about it, it’s all worth it 🙂

  • Aao90

    Feel sorry

  • Aoao90

    I m now in Bali and having a great war with bed bugs bites. Seems getting worse and rash came out after one night. I abandoned all clothing and bags. I suggest people: don’t choose homestay in Bali. Don’t be embarrassed to check rooms before checking in even though it’s five star hotel.

  • camorose

    Oh no! I think that’s what I realized most in Bali–it doesn’t matter if it’s a super nice place or a really cheap place, it can happen anywhere. Totally recommend the medical clinic in Ubud, the meds they gave me were really helpful with sorting out the pain and rash. Good luck!

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  • nyoman

    hi Christine..how are..????
    I am nyoman..
    from Ubud, I take the tour with you before….
    I want explain to you…when you check out from my house, I check all the room but nothing, also some guest stay after you..no bite like that..so I don’t know what happen…!!!
    But any way thanks for have been stay at my home…
    If you come again to Ubud, please visit me and family….
    have a nice day
    take care

  • camorose

    I had such a lovely time staying with you–no idea where the bed bugs came from, but so glad that they haven’t surfaced since. Next time I’m in Ubud, I’ll definitely stop by–take care 🙂

  • Nyoma

     Hi Christine..how are you..???
    I hope all is ok..
    I want ask you something..please can you delete this page about the bedbug, because some guest looking my places & they only find this page..so they don’t come here..but I try to explain but still don’t trust me…
    But if you don’t want to delete..it’s ok…..
    Anyway thank’s for help to recommend my places….
    Thank’s for your time..



  • Nyoman

    Hi Christine..how are you..???
    I hope all is ok..
    I want ask
    you something..please can you delete this page about the bedbug, because
    some guest looking my places & they only find this page..so they
    don’t come here..but I try to explain but still don’t trust me…
    But if you don’t want to delete..it’s ok…..
    Anyway thank’s for help to recommend my places….
    Thank’s for your time..



  • camorose

    I took the name of your homestay out of the post, so hopefully that helps! 🙂

  • man

     I Christine..thank’s for your help…if you can, please can you also delete foto of the room..????
    Thank’s for ALL your help…..

  • A.S.

    Yes bed bugs are everywhere,Australia,India,Nepal,Thailand,Indonesia,just all over the world.An Invasion, even in your precious USA.The best thing to say is if your American please dont travel,because you are the worst wingers and worst tourists in the whole world.Stay at home and give all the other travelers a BIG BONUS without having to listen to your big mouth.Thanks A.S.

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  • Megs

    You sound like you should have probably stayed at home girl 😉 or just simply got on with it & enjoyed yourself away. I sue its every parents dream to hear their child crying helplessly from acts the other side of the world…

  • camorose

    Wishing you the best of luck and all the calm confidence the next time you find yourself covered in an unknown rash. I hope you don’t call anyone you love and sweat it out alone!