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'Don't end up sick overseas like we did': Singaporean waited 1.5 hours to get to Seoul hospital

Getting sick in a foreign country is many travellers' worst nightmare.

For Singaporean TikToker Xueyay, her stressful travel experience began when she and her companion got food poisoning in Hongdae, Seoul, South Korea.

In her video posted on Monday (May 15), she wrote: "Manifesting those seeing this to not end up sick overseas like we did."

The pair first encountered problems while getting a taxi to go to a hospital in the middle of the night.

It didn't help that they did not have a local phone number, so Xueyay was only able to make general requests for a cab via KaKao T ride-hailing app.

For the next one-and-a-half hours, they tried to book a taxi on KaKao T in vain.

She resorted to "running around the streets" to flag down a cab, but none stopped for her, Xueyay said.

They only managed to get a taxi via Kakao T at 7am.

While some would call for an ambulance, Xueyay didn't as they "were advised by our hotel against calling for an ambulance due to the surcharge that we might incur."

They chose to visit the emergency department at Yongin Severance Hospital because most English-speaking clinics were closed on Sunday. 

"To visit the ER as a foreigner in South Korea, you need to bring along your passport. Mask is mandatory. You'll be required to pay an upfront fee, which will be used to offset your total bill," she wrote.

They paid 500,000 won (S$500) upfront.


Next, they saw doctors and nurses who spoke minimal English.

But Xueyay managed to communicate with the healthcare staff through Naver Papago app which translated English to Korean. 

After undergoing blood tests, urine test and X-ray scans, they were diagnosed with severe food poisoning. Both were put on intravenous drips and received antibiotic shots. 

When netizens asked what could've caused the illness, Xueyay replied: "We suspect it's the water they usually provide in restaurants because we are super careful with what we consume."

And for those who are considering saving some money by skipping travel insurance, Xueyay said her experience is "your sign to make sure you get travel insurance."

AsiaOne has reached out to Xueyay for more information. 

Tips on preventing food poisoning while overseas

During your travels, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water after each toilet visit and before every meal.

If you don't have access to clean water and soap, a hand sanitiser with at least 60 per cent of alcohol content will also do the trick, a gastroenterologist advised.

Other tips include choosing thoroughly cooked food, sticking to boiled water or bottled drinks, as well as avoiding unpasteurised dairy products such as milk and cheese. 

While most food poisoning symptoms can be managed with anti-diarrhoea, anti-sickness medication and adequate hydration, you should see a doctor if you experience:

  • Symptoms that persist for 24 to 36 hours despite self-treatment
  • Blood or pus in the stool or vomit, coupled with persistent fever above 38 degrees Celsius and severe abdominal pain
  • Signs of dehydration

ALSO READ: How to prevent food poisoning when travelling

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