Paranoid Travels

Recently I received an email from a friend sharing a new Facebook page called, Protected Travels. The About section states: “Protected Travels is a community for sharing travel tips, stories, and supporting the safety of all travelers on a global adventure.” I thought, hells yeah! Very timely. Don’t travelers need a portal like this? Especially women. Who – if you believe everything you read – is the group likely to be more nervous about safety issues. Sometimes inspiration stems from tragedy, which is sad, yet necessary. With Protected Travels, the impetus to create the page came from the recent and unexplained deaths of travelers in Southeast Asia. The latest in these mysterious deaths are Kari Bowerman and Cathy Huynh. Both English language teachers working in South Korea, they decided to embark on a backpacking trip last July and visit Vietnam (incidentally, one of my favorite countries). It seemed like a standard travel adventure until they were admitted to hospital, suffering from dehydration, vomiting and labored breathing. Bowerman died that day; Huynh only clung on for two more days before meeting the same fate as her friend. In fact, it was a group of Bowerman’s friends who created Protected Travels. Last June, Canadian sisters Noemi and Audrey Belanger visited Phi Phi in Thailand and died under unknown circumstances, found by the hotel maid. There was no evidence of assault, but one could conclude that both sisters either ingested or were exposed to something that caused a violent reaction in their bodies. Another prominent case is Sarah Carter, a young woman from New Zealand who was staying at a hotel called the Downtown Inn in Chiang Mai when she and  six other tourists mysteriously died, three in the same hotel. Again, her symptoms were similar to the case in Vietnam. Her parents have been tireless to find answers from the Thai authorities and one ballsy New Zealand reporter pinched samples from the room she stayed in and had them analyzed. […]