Vancouver traveler fell ill after drinking alcohol in Bali

A Vancouver couple had a nightmarish experience in Bali after drinking alcohol laced with methanol.

Krauzby Rea, 25, and his fiancée, Amanda Mawdsley, 24, traveled to the Indonesian province for a vacation in September. The couple had a drink at a resort with 4.5 star reviews and tried to be careful what they consumed.

Rea describes himself as an experienced traveler; he says he always tries to gather safety tips for the places he goes. But he had never heard of anyone being poisoned by methanol – especially at a beautiful resort.

On their second night in Bali on September 28, the couple each ordered a gin-based cocktail. They finished the drinks quickly as they wanted to see a show outside of the resort food area.

“The show lasted about 15 minutes and immediately after it ended I was in the bathroom vomiting violently,” Rea says. Vancouver is awesome.

When he was feeling bad, Rea brushed him off first; he thought he might have a bad case of what some travelers call “Bali belly”: a stomach ache that travelers often get, which is caused by eating foods, spices and other things that are not part of their regular diet.

After continuing to feel unwell, Rea began to investigate her condition online. He found a Facebook group called “Just Don’t Drink Spirits In Bali” which described his symptoms and why he could be experiencing them: methanol poisoning.

Horrified, the Canadian traveler contacted the group’s administrator, Simon, for more information on how he could prevent his symptoms from worsening. Although there are a multitude of negative reactions to methanol consumption, the most serious are blindness and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Simon’s advice may seem shocking, but Rea says it probably saved his life and his sight: drink more alcohol.

Bali vacation turns into nightmare for Vancouver couple

The following day, the couple each drank several beers in an attempt to halt or delay the progression of methanol poisoning. Mawdsley also showed negative symptoms after consuming the drink, but they were significantly milder. Still, she says she drank the alcohol out of caution, as they weren’t sure what had made her sick.

While most people would suggest visiting a hospital before hitting the bottle, the couple didn’t get much help from local medical facilities.

“I ended up going to the hospital because I was in a very difficult state,” he explains. “The first hospital did not treat me because they were unable to test or treat methanol poisoning.”

Another hospital about an hour away also denied treating Rea for methanol poisoning, he said.

As the second hospital provided her with intravenous fluids, vitamins and anti-nausea medication, Rea was very worried about her vision. He initially felt “completely drunk” halfway through consuming the poisonous drink. He felt drunk for about 15 hours after ingesting it, but gradually began to feel sober except for his eyesight.

Rea describes her sore eyes and headaches, saying the pain “gradually got worse”.

The Vancouver couple flew to Seattle on Sunday evening and returned home, cutting their vacation short by about 10 days. An ophthalmologist told Rea that her eyes looked fine but they would do follow-up tests.

Although they are both grateful for figuring out what was wrong via the Facebook group, Rea says the experience was terrifying.

“When I went from the first hospital to the second, I thought that was ‘it’. Like I hadn’t survived. I felt hopeless. I passed out in the vehicle, I often passed out,” a- he describes.

“And it got to the point where I wrote a goodbye letter on my phone to send people off…it was a close call, that’s for sure.”

Although Rea’s experience was deeply traumatic, he is far from alone. In fact, cases like his are not uncommon, with many people sharing their experiences of methanol poisoning online.

Tragically, many people have died after ingesting contaminated alcohol.

Incidents of methanol poisoning around the world

In a recent story, a 31-year-old Australian traveler was photographed in a hospital bed with a bottle of Bacardi, attempting to reverse the effects of methanol poisoning.

Between February 23 and May 2, 2020, there were 5,876 hospitalizations and at least 800 deaths from contaminated alcohol supplies, according to National geographic.

Several cases have also been reported in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and even the United States.

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