Cuts and bites and scrapes, oh my!
Another thing to bear in mind before you head over to Koh Ta Kiev is the absence of real health care options on the island. So if you go, imagine that you’re going off into the wild west and that your medical care will be limited to what you take with you. Although some staff at some of the accommodations on the island may have basic first aid training, it’s wise to come prepared and minimize risk wherever you can.
Minor Wound Care
Whenever you head off to a tropical island, your first aid kit should be number one on your list of important things to bring! With so many rocks around and plenty of roots to trip over, you might end up with some cuts and scrapes. So bring alcohol wipes, iodine or other antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, and stick-on bandages, just in case of emergency.
Forget everything your mom told you about a dip in saltwater being good treatment for a cut. In Cambodia water temperature and conditions create a perfect medium in which bacteria thrive, and swimming with cuts and scrapes increases the likelihood of infection. If you do get a cut wet, make sure to clean it thoroughly with clean water or alcohol; then apply iodine or other antiseptic and keep the cut covered as best you can. Antibiotic ointment is the right treatment for any small infection, but many locals apply amoxicillin powder straight onto the wound to create a solid infection-fighting seal.
The jungle is rich in creepy-crawlies, so the smart move is to cover up in long sleeves or liberally apply insect repellent to keep mosquitoes and other critters at bay. Sand flies can be especially irritating, but coconut oil works like a charm to repel them. If you do get bitten, try not to scratch the inevitable bites, which will likely lead to infection. Your personal medical kit should include some antihistamines to help reduce swelling and keep any itchiness at bay.
Koh Ta Kiev is known for its incredible flora and fauna, but some of it can be a bit on the dangerous side. When you’re hiking through the jungle, wear shoes and keep an eye on the undergrowth as you pass through. Most snakes will slither away from you if they can, but if you do get bitten you should get to a hospital as soon as possible.
In a serious medical emergency, you’ll need to get to the mainland as soon as possible. The longtail boats stay on the island overnight, so they can ferry you back to the mainland if necessary, but the crossing from Koh Ta Kiev to Otres takes about an hour, so it’s definitely not the quickest option. You can arrange transport with one of the speedboats that operate on the island day and night—your guesthouse can help you organize this—but the service will set you back at least $100. The number for the speedboat is: +855 (0)972 539 082.
Once you get to the mainland, you’ll discover that though emergency medical treatment is more available there than on Koh Ta Kiev, facilities are notoriously limited and quite expensive. (For more details, check out our guide to medical treatment in Sihanoukville.) Therefore you may have to travel onward to Phnom Penh or even Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City to get the care you need. The cost of long-distance medical transport, overland or by air, can be upwards of $20,000. This is why we strongly advise travelers to get good-quality medical insurance coverage for any stay in Cambodia. Read more about why it’s important to have travel insurance in Cambodia here.
Written by Cassie Wilkins
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