How Coconuts Saved My Life, Twice.

A story of how coconuts saved my life, literally.

Despite going to Bali few times in a year, Ubud is a strange land for us three – my sister, my friend and I – proven by our poor choice of accommodation that turned out to be worse than expected (the electricity went out at midnight and no one was around.). However, we tried to make friends with this cultural mecca and found a fun workshop for the afternoon : making natural skincare and remedies, which is so my kind of thing ( and yes, I will write about it!)

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The ingredients were already laid out on the table by the time we came and we sat on the bench getting our course brief, until 5 minutes later when my friend, Jessica, turned paler than she already is. She went inside the store to lie down and we carried on. 10 minutes later, I started to feel crazy dizzy. We had the same menu for lunch so we concluded that we had been poisoned! Poisoned! I have never had food poisoning in 21 years of life, so thanks for the welcome, Ubud.

My head was spinning and our workshop instructor, Mbak Yani, kindly advised me to lay on the bench while she got me some coconut – “The yellow one, it’s less sweet but better for detox.”. I had a nap on top of a package of powdered boreh while my inside felt being thrown inside out and shoved back in again.

I tried to down the coconut water, all while my sister did the workshop solo. After a while, I sat up and insisted that I could help grind the herbs into fresh boreh scrubs. I gave up and took a nap after the third try. But the yellow coconut seemed to have worked its magic and confirmed Mbak Yani’s role as a holistic skincare instructor, I felt so much better and joined my sister for the rest of the workshop.

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Photo by Thomas Lefebvre on Unsplash

Fast forward 2 days later, against the troubling weather forecast that there would be downpour, we made our way to Nusa Penida. Although the sun shone a bit in the morning, it was raining by the time we made it to the island. We heard the island is beautiful, I mean look at all the pictures from the ‘gram! The rain though, made it very hard and slippery to explore and we were unimpressed. That didn’t keep few people from taking photos in the rain for 15 straight minutes, maybe when you went through 15 hours of flight to get to Bali, you couldn’t go home with nothing.

We finally had a lunch break at a café that popped out of nowhere and we all had fish with sambel matah, nyum – until we continued our way to the next and final destination, Crystal Bay, where we initially planned to swim. I gradually noticed a temperature rise in my body, but my friend shrugged it off (typical of her, she wouldn’t notice if there was a giant in front of her.) while my sister put a hand on my forehead and put a verdict that I was just imagining it.

Not long after I stepped out of the car, my whole body turned red! For the second time in three days, I got another food poisoning. What are the chances?! This time, I got an extra : allergy reaction I never had in 21 years of existence. I had trouble breathing, there was no pharmacy and the port is 20 minutes away. Luckily for me, a coconut vendor, albeit not the yellow ones, came to the rescue.

I drank as much coconut water as humanely possible but I couldn’t keep it down – I retched and retched until there was nothing left. It cut our visit short but with the gloomy weather, we had no desire to stay anyway. We caught earlier ferry back to Sanur and the tour operator asked whether I was okay – I was and he hoped I would come to Nusa Penida another time.

I thanked him and caught the rocky ride back.

I wish to return to Nusa Penida, too – under a clearer sky, a better road, and no food poisoning.

Until next time,

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