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I was stuck in Beijing, China for 24 hours! Tips on how you can prevent this traveling mistake!

Stranded in Beijing, China

Out of all my travel horror stories, this has to be in my top 2 and it ain’t number 2! My friends and I were traveling to Thailand. Thailand was a dream vacation of mine. I’ve been wanting to visit Thailand for the past 4 years and finally got the opportunity to go! The trip was booked through the Groupon app. This was one of the few trips that I did not book and organize independently. It is also part of the reason I prefer to do all the booking on my own. We had our flights booked on airChina. This included a 13 hour flight to Beijing with a 3 hour layover, then 5 hours to Bangkok, Thailand. My friends and I made it to JFK very excited for our trip. After we got through T.S.A, we were ready for this adventure to begin. We were supposed to only have 1 hour of waiting at the terminal before boarding. 1 hour turned into 3 hours. Our flight was delayed without any explanation. There were no announcements or information about what was going on or when we should expect to board. Once finally on the plane, the disappointment continued. The food was terrible and there were no vegetarian options. They told us that if we want vegetarian, we would have had to ordered in advance. For those of you who don’t know, I am pescatarian. I don’t eat red meat at all. When I travel, I prefer to stick to eating vegetarian food depending on where I am. I don’t have a strict diet and I am adventurous so I do at least try different things. I basically just lived off of bread and fruit during this long flight. We had finally made it to Beijing and were notified that our connecting flight to Bangkok was gone and we’ll have to wait until the next day for the next flight at 7pm. That was exactly 24hrs from when we got there. Although disappointed, I was excited thinking that we’d at least get to explore Beijing and go see the Great Wall of China! I thought wrong.

Photo of the food I had for breakfast at the hotel
The dining area

The hotel in the middle of no where in China

AirChina put everyone into a hotel for the meantime while we wait. We ended up on a bus that drove us almost an hour away from the airport. They initially told us that only 2 people can go to a room and that 1 of us would have to go in a room with someone else (there were 3 of us together). None of us was willing to do that so we convinced them to let us stay in the same room. The room was so dirty! The sheets had some mysterious stains on them and there was mold all in the bathroom. It was disgusting! I used the plane blanket that I kept and laid on top of it instead of the sheets. Once we got settled in, it was time to go find food for dinner. Everything in the hotel was closed! We did find a little market in there, but it was cash only. I decided to just exchange a little bit of cash so I can buy some noodles. The next day was worse when it comes to food. We were served free breakfast, which was nice. The options were different, but I was willing to give it a try. I didn’t like any of the buns and other random food they had, so I ended up just eating bread and boiled eggs. While we were leaving the breakfast area, people were pointing at us and taking pictures of us. Some people even stopped us to take pictures with them. People in China apparently aren’t used to seeing Black people around. Although I wasn’t offended and we were mostly complimented, it still felt weird like we were circus animals. We tried finding Uber rides and finding places to eat or something to do. We were really in the middle of nowhere and I couldn’t even get service! There was a sign in the lobby that said, “Foreigners cannot leave hotel”. Things were just getting really creepy. To pass the time we played Uno in the lobby lounge area. One of the hotel workers came over to us and said that card playing was not allowed. So there went our entertainment for the wait. We decided to go find some lunch in the meantime. We found a restaurant in the hotel that seemed interesting. AirChina also gave us a discount with them so we decided to check out the menu. The selections on the menu didn’t even look edible. This was our final straw we had to get the heck out of there! We went to the front desk to ask when the next shuttle to the airport was leaving. No one knew english very well and neither of us can speak mandarin. We used our google translate app to communicate. They told us the next shuttle leaves at 12p.m. It was about 11:50. We ran so fast to our rooms to pack up our stuff and get out of there. My friend Marvline ran track in high school and college so she was way ahead not playing any games. We all made it in time! We made it to the airport and had about 5-6 hours to hang out there. We found some food that was good enough to fill our bellies. We were just so happy to not be at that hotel anymore. People were also staring and pointing at us in the airport, but it didn’t even bother us! Once we finally boarded that plane to Thailand, we were ecstatic! Unfortunately, we missed an entire day of our itinerary. We were able to make the most of it though. I do want to go back so that I can experience more of Bangkok.

The outside of the hotel
The noodles I ate for dinner

Ways this could have been avoided

  1. Book airline ticket separately! When booking trips with agencies and looking for the cheapest options, they will give you the cheapest flight they can find. The cheapest flights tend to have layovers that are too long or are with airlines that offer poor service.
  2. When looking for a flight don’t automatically choose the cheapest flight. You should pay attention to the layover in the details. Sometimes you can end up having 2 layovers in a flight. While flying to places that are far away it is best to book a flight that is straight through to guarantee that you will reach your destination on time.
  3. This is probably the most important thing that I can tell you in this subject. ALWAYS READ AIRLINE REVIEWS. Why is this so important? Previous customers experiences can give you an idea of what to expect when you fly with a certain company. Just because someone leaves a bad review doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t book that airline. This just gives you a basis for how business is done with them, things you should expect, and help you decide if they are ideal for what you are looking for.

Thank you for reading about my tips to avoid being stranded in an unwanted situation like I did. I hope you found this helpful and enjoyed my story. Please feel free to contact me either by email at contact@ventureswithvee.com or on social media. Leave comments below with any thoughts and questions you may have!

44 Words/Phrases you should know in French for traveling!

EnglishFrench
1. Hello/ What’s upBonjour (Bon-joor)/ça va (Sah-vah)
2. Thank you/Thank you very muchMerci/ Merci beaucoup (Mercy Boo-coo)
3. Good eveningBonsoir (Bon-swah)
4. Good morningBonjour
5. PleaseS’il vous plaît (see-voo-play)
6. See you laterAu revoir/ À bientôt (oh vwah)
7. See you tomorrowAu demain (oh-day-mon)
8. Good nightBonne nuit (bon-new-ee)
9. Where is the bathroom?Où sont les toilettes? (Ooh son lay twah-let)
10. May I have a glass of water?/ I would like a bottle of waterPuis-je avoir un verre d’eau/ Je voulais un bouteille d’eau (Poo-jay ahv-war ahn vah doh/ jay voo-lay ahn boo-tail doh)
11. May I have a glass of wine?/ I would like a glass of wine.Puis-je avoir un verre de vin?/ Je voulais un verre de vin. (poo-ee-jay ahv-war ahn vah de von/ jay voo-lays ahn vah de von)
12. May I have a English menu?/Do you have a English menú?Puis-je avoir un menu en anglais?/ Avez vous le menu en anglais? (poo-ee-jay ahv-war ahn meh-new ahn ahng-lay/ Avay-voo le meh-new ahng-lay)
13. TaxiTaxi
14. TrainLe Metro
15. BicycleVélo (vello)
16. CarLa Voiture (La Vwah-tour)
17. MotorcycleLa Moto (La mo-toe)
18. How much does this cost?/What’s the price?Combien est-ce que ça coûte?/Quel est le prix? (com-bee-ahn es-say kay sah coot/ kell eh le pree)
19. What time is it?Quelle heure est-il? (kell-air-et-ill)
20. My name isJe m’appelle/mon nom est (jay Mah-pell/ mon nahm eh)
21. This food is goodLa nourriture est délicieuse/ ce repas est délicieux (très bon) (La-noo-ri-tour eh deh-lee-see-us/ say-hey-pa eh deh-lee-see-us) (tray-bon)
22. Have a nice dayPassez une bonne journée. (Passays-ahn-bon-jour-nay)
23. You’re welcomeDe rien (De-ree-on)
24. MoneyL’argent (Lar-jont)
25. Where’s the bank?Où est la banque? (Ooh-ay-la-bank)
26. ChickenVolaille (Vo-lay-el)
27. CheeseFromage (Fro-Mosh)
28. FishPoisson (Pwah-zone)
29. BeerBière (bee-hair)
30. IceGlace (Glass)
31. MeatViande (vee-ahnd)
32. ForkFourchette (Fork-ette)
33. SpoonCuillère (Cool-leah)
34. KnifeCouteau (Coo-tah)
35. BreadPain (Pahn)
36. BakeryBoulangerie (Boo-lahn-jerry)
37. Identification (I.D.)L’identification/ L’identité (Lee-den-tee-fee-cay-siohn)/(Lee-denti-tay)
38. Dress codeVêtement (vet-mahn)
39. It is done (over)/We finishedC’est fini/ on a fini. (say fin-ee/on ah fin-ee)
40. RestRepos/Pause (Ray-pas)
41. BreakfastPetit déjeuner (Peh-tee Day-jah-nay)
42. LunchDéjeuner (Day-jah-nay)
43. DinnerDîner/Repas (Di-nay/Ray-pah)
44. OtherAutre (ahh-tray)

Pros and Cons Being a Travel Nurse During the COVID-19 Pandemic in NYC

Was the money worth being a travel nurse in New York during the pandemic?

A lot of travel nurses fled to NYC after the outbreak became impossible to contain. I’ve been at the same hospital as a travel nurse for 5 months now. The situation has gone from manageable to crisis overload right before my eyes. Things began to change at work early in March. It has now been 2 months and our staffing has improved tremendously. We have travel nurses here from all over the country. It is hard to physically see if there has been any improvement in the amount of COVID cases. Most of our units are still filled with positive patients. I have grown tired of talking about COVID, but the point of this post is to talk about mind and other travel nurses experiences. I will also break down the pros and cons to being a travel nurse in the middle of this crisis.

Cons

The most obvious con of this experience was witnessing so many deaths at a rapid rate. I don’t believe that this is specific to being a travel nurse. This goes for the experiences of all nurses, healthcare workers, and first responders all over the country. For travel nurses, we have to leave and be ready to work very quickly during crisis situations. I happened to already be here, so this wasn’t an issue for me. A lot of the travel nurses that I worked with and trained didn’t even get an orientation on the unit. The first night, they were given a full patient assignment, sometimes even taking 3-4 ICU patients. In the little time they were given to prepare, they had trouble getting access to the pyxis and the EMR (electronic medical record) system used here called prism. Pyxis is a machine that we use to hold and dispense medications for patients. Since they didn’t have access, I would look up their patients meds and pull them for them to be able to give them. This crisis took a very different team effort than what we are used to. Every day going into work was a new rule and no organization at all. For me having been there for longer than the other travelers, I had to work as charge nurse for new units that were opened up for the overflow of ICU patients positive for COVID. I had no charge nurse experience prior to this and quickly figured it out. My biggest issue with this situation was the lack of organization and support from management. The supervisors here are also bullies who will try to pressure you into accepting a situation that is unsafe for the staff and the patient. There were some travel nurses who made it all the way here and paid for their housing just to end up canceled before they can even start. Things become very hectic in crisis situations. Hospitals were overbooking nurses and once they realized that they had too many, they were canceling their contracts. Travel nurse agencies were also unable to guarantee that we will have adequate PPE. We had to save and reuse our masks for protection. This was concerning because after use, masks lose their strength.

Cons Summary

1. Patient deaths at an overwhelmingly rapid rate.

2. leaving home quickly

3. Lack of on unit orientation

4. Unsafe nurse to patient ratios

5. Lack of guidance and leadership from management and supervisors will try to bully you into accepting an unsafe circumstance. If you’re uncomfortable always speak up!

6. Contract cancellations due to over hiring of travel nurses.

7. Uncertainty about having proper protection for ourselves.

Pros

Although these were stressful times, I met a lot of great people. It’s not very often that so many travel nurses can come together in one place. I’ve been able to network and make lasting connections during this experience. We had some fun times. As a travel nurse, our pay significantly increased. Unfortunately, at most hospitals, they were not giving hazard pay to their regular staff. My pay increased by an extra $2000/week for my regular hours. For overtime, I was paid at a rate of $120/hr. This kind of pay is only seen during crisis situations. We received so many donations from generous people. They sent us food from different places. We also got some skin care stuff, orchids, and a boxy charm cosmetic box! To everyone who donated to hospital staff, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Those gestures truly helped to lift our spirits and help energize us to get through our shifts! Also, as a member of the American Association of critical care nursing (AACN) we had free hotel stays donated to us. I utilized this when I worked multiple nights in a row or overtime so that I don’t have to drive too far away. Starbucks offered free small coffees to healthcare workers. There were so many deals going around for all essential workers. I was able to buy 2 pairs of sneakers from nike for the price of 1. There were free car rentals, free parking garages, free bus rides, and free hotel rooms through other services. People were celebrating us outside of the hospital. They made signs, clapped for us, and honked their horns to thank us as we went in for our shifts. It was nice to see people care about and appreciate us! The best part of it all was making a difference and being there to save lives!

Pros summary

  • 1. Making great new connections
  • 2. Significant pay increase that I wouldn’t have received if I stayed a staff nurse.
  • 3. Free food
  • 4. Free Starbucks coffee
  • 5. Receiving donations from kind people.
  • 6. Free hotel stays close to work
  • 7. Discounted items specially for essential workers
  • 8. Being appreciated by the public.
  • 9. Saving lives!

As a travel nurse, working through this pandemic had more pros than cons. If you felt like you weren’t treated right in your staff position and you’re not afraid of taking risks of change, you should consider becoming a travel nurse!

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My 26th Birthday in Paris

My 26th Birthday in Paris

It has always been my dream to see Paris. I never imagined that I’d be able to spend one of my birthdays in Paris! Most people believe that Paris is too expensive to visit. I was one of those people who believed this too. I received a group text message from a group of girls that I met on my trip to Iceland. They wanted to plan a random trip to Paris. We were all celebrating different occasions. One friend had recently gotten divorced, and 2 of us were celebrating birthdays. I didn’t originally plan to go anywhere for my birthday that year, so this unexpected and last minute trip was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had for a birthday. I had one month to get ready. Everything we booked was surprisingly cheap even excluding the fact that we split costs for the Airbnb. Our Airbnb was big enough for 8 people, but there were 6 of us. We had our own beds and space. I watched the pricing for the airline ticket on an app called hopper. It let me know what date will have the cheapest available ticket. I booked a roundtrip flight to Paris-Charles De Gaulle airport from Boston for around $350. At the time, I lived in Bloomfield, CT and was about 1.5hr drive away from Boston. I stayed with a friend in Boston and left my car with them to go to the airport. In total for my flight and my part of the airbnb, I spent approximately $600. Of course once in Paris, everything was extremely expensive. We found really good food that was reasonably priced, but the portions are very small in comparison to American food.

My First time seeing the Eiffel Tower

The first time I saw the Eiffel tower was at night. It was our first night in Paris on this trip. We had lunch at Ladurée, went to our place to change clothes, then headed straight to the Eiffel tower. Outside the Eiffel Tower were venders trying to sell us roses. One of them kept following me then gave me a rose for free. He kept speaking in French and I really didn’t understand him. The only word I understood was bisou (kiss), and I told him I don’t kiss strangers. The tower was lit up so beautifully. I didn’t expect to be as astonished as I was. At that moment, it was the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen. Every hour, there is a light show on the Eiffel tower that sparkles for 5 minutes. I felt like I was in a trance. It was so calm and peaceful. We decided to go all the way to the top and buy some champagne to sip while we look over the city. The journey to the top wasn’t as terrible as it had been described to me by someone else. We were able to take the elevator, but there was also some stair climbing and crowds. My friends and I took on this journey in 5″ heels. I would suggest for anyone who wants to try this experience in Paris to wear comfortable shoes! The more you read about my adventures, you will see that I put myself in this situation all the time because I’m trying to be cute. The fact that I wore high Michael Kors heels is what made the journey agonizing! During this tour of the Eiffel tower, we met a very nice gentleman that worked there. He warned us about the protests that were happening and strongly suggested that we stay away from this area on Saturday. He told us that it was going to be peaceful. With what we imagined as a peaceful protest, we really didn’t think to much of it or feel that we were in danger.

The Yellow Vest Movement

For those who are not familiar with the yellow vest movement, this was a demonstration organized by french citizens wearing yellow vests. They were outraged by the increase of cost of living, increase of fuel prices, and the tax demands that were placed on primarily middle/working class citizens. This movement began in October 2018. On November 29, 2018 (the day before my birthday), 42 demands were made public and went viral on social media related to democracy, and overall justice. Meanwhile me and my girls were having a good time site seeing, exploring the night life, and enjoying so much of what Paris has to offer. Skip forward to the day of the protest, Saturday, December 1, 2018. I remember this day like it were yesterday. We were out celebrating all of the previous night for my birthday and we woke up extra early and hungover to go to Disneyland. Choosing to spend that day in Disneyland may have been our saving grace. We spent the day taking photos, watching a Christmas parade, and eating. We even had a sketchy moment where some guy was trying to get us to meet him and his friend at his van to get tickets to get into Disneyland. I’m glad I had some smart friends and none of us fell for that. All I could think of was the movie “Taken”. We received texts from our friends who decided not to go with us because a lot of stuff was closed down because of the protests. We were still imagining a peaceful protest in our minds at this point. When we were in our Uber on the way back to the Airbnb, the city of Paris was in complete turmoil. I have never seen a peaceful protest like this before (Insert sarcasm). Police cars were flipped over, buildings were on fire, broken glass scattered everywhere. Honestly seeing the fear in our Uber driver’s face is what made me feel a little worried. We were planning to visit the louvre that evening, but there were closed due to threats from the protesters. They did not come to play with this protesting business! We were lucky because by the time we made it back, the protests were over and we were only witnessing the aftermath. Things were safe for the most part after that. We went to Tuileries Garden, where they had fair set up. There was delicious street food, fun rides, games, and shopping. I felt like a kid and had so much fun especially in the bubbles that we get to run inside of while its spinning in the water. My footage from that was lost, but the experience is still engraved in my brain.

Missing my Flight Home

The worst part of my Paris trip was missing my flight back home. The problem was that is wasn’t even my fault. I made it to the airport 2 hours early like I’m supposed to. I went up to the kiosk to check in on the monitor. There was some error. I tried to get help. My first struggle was finding someone who speaks english. On top of that, during my time in Paris, I could tell that some of the French aren’t particularly fans of Americans. I also happen to be Black, so I’m sure that didn’t help my situation. I was turned away, and greeted with so much attitude at this airport. Finally, the only person I found who was willing to help me was a black man. He brought me to the terminal that my flight was boarding. It was a ghost town over there. To this day, I’m still not sure what happened to this day. I heard some rumors about there being a protest and that a lot of airport workers weren’t showing up to work. Nonetheless, I missed my flight and Norwegian airlines refused to give me a refund. I went through everyone that I possibly could. This situation left me alone and frustrated in the airport. I went into a corner and started crying like a little baby. I had to find my way back home! Most of the flights that were coming up were over $1000. I looked into flights that were leaving the next day and found one with Iceland air for $500. The problem was that I didn’t have enough money in my checking account to cover the whole ticket at that time. I try to avoid over use of credit cards and avoid pulling from savings unless it was an emergency. I was lucky enough to be able to call my dad and get a loan from him for half of the amount until I got paid again later that week. I was also lucky that the airbnb was booked for one more night and I had 3 friends who were still left behind. I went back to the airbnb and decided to wipe my tears seize the rest of the night. That night we went to crazy horse cabaret and afterwards went to a bar named “Dirty Dick”.

Risqué Cabaret’s and Nightlife

There were 2 different cabaret’s that we went to during this trip. We also went to a night club that had a cabaret feel to it. They were all completely different experiences from each other. The first one was the Moulin Rouge. This visit was especially exciting for me because the Moulin Rouge was one of my favorite movies growing up. Granted, I didn’t fully know what it was about as a kid, but I still enjoy the movie to this day. We had a private table that came with 2 bottles of champagne. Our seating was kind of in the middle, but we had a great view. The show was very entertaining. Although the dancers do dance topless, it wasn’t an overly sexualized show the way the movie would lead people to believe. It reminded me of a circus show and was very over the top. The second place was a night club called VIP room. We went here on the night of my birthday. The theme of the night was cabaret. There were dancers on stage, on the bar, and basically on top of everything dressed in over the top costumes. They passed around sparklers to everyone and let us light them up. There was confetti, and a lot of American music. I had the time of my life! The final cabaret was the crazy horse. It was the last night in Paris. This show was very sexualized. There were some parts of the show where the dancers took everything off. It was also very entertaining, but it wasn’t a circus act. It was more like an extremely high class strip club. Also, out of all the shows we’ve seen, this was the only one to feature women of color! After the show, we stopped at dirty dick. Here we had a scorpion bowl lit on fire and they had an abundant drink selection with interestingly named cocktails. Once you can see past the name of the establishment, it is definitely a bar I’d recommend for everyone who finds their way to Paris.

Overall Impression

Overall, I can say that I had the time of my life in Paris. I made amazing memories. I don’t regret a single thing! There were a lot of people who were rude and obviously didn’t like Americans, but for each person who was rude we met someone who was extremely friendly. They were very open with us and talked about the movement that was happening. A lot of them very welcoming and gave us great pointers on places to eat. I will most definately be finding my way back to Paris in the near future as soon as all the travel bans are lifted! Below I inserted a youtube video that I put together. It is a compilation of clips from my trip to Paris. I didn’t create a serious vlog for this once, but I thought it would be cool to give my readers some visuals from this experience. Feel free to contact me and ask questions! Either leave a comment below or find me on Instagram @vee_diane! Thanks for reading!

Nightmare on 1st Avenue (COVID-19 takeover)

Like most of you, I didn’t see a global pandemic coming and changing around my plans. My goals for 2020 are now at a halt. I started this travel blog and decided to take more trips this year and seeing where this takes me. COVID-19 said “world stop” and we’re still waiting for the part of the song that says “carry on”. Although I can’t carry on with my travel plans right now, I can report to you all my experiences working in New Wuhan (AKA NYC) as a travel nurse. Not only is life as we know it completely different now, but going to work has become down right scary. The rest of what I am going to tell you all is not for the faint of heart. This is all from my personal experiences and what I have seen so far during this crisis. If you want more information about COVID-19, please visit WHO.int or www.cdc.gov.

Regular rooms turned into negative pressure rooms. Everyone who has entered a room is required to sign their name on the paper outside the door.

“When I went back into work, the entire ICU was occupied by patients who tested positive for COVID-19.”

Watching this virus spread so rapidly was shocking to me. I’ve only been a nurse for 4 years, and a PCA 4 years before passing my NCLEX. Thats a total of 8 years working in the medical field. I have been exposed to patients with different strains of flu, MRSA, VRE, C-DIFF, and countless other infectious diseases. One day, I came into work and we had only 1 patient who was positive for COVID-19. I just thought, ” what’s the big deal? How is this any different from the flu?”. I had 2 days off of work and carried on as if everything was normal, but still kept to social distancing guidelines. I continued with planning for my vacation. When I went back into work, the entire ICU was occupied by patients who tested positive for COVID-19. Working in ICU has only exposed me to the worse possible cases of the virus. It seems like once they require a ventilator, there is no chance that they will come off of it. I’ve watched doctors trial the medication used for treatment and prevention of malaria called hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. They have also tried keeping patients in the prone position (laying on their stomach) to try to prevent them from needing a ventilator or prevent escalation of respiratory failure and hypoxia. Still with a lot of effort, a lot of these patients don’t make it out of the ICU. I have seen patients pass from complications of the flu within months. Complications from COVID-19 has given these people weeks or even only days to live. For the past month, I have watched this virus grow rapidly and kill rapidly. People with weak immune systems or pre-existing illness have little chance against this virus. This doesn’t mean that the young and healthy are completely invincible against this though! I’ve seen as young as 30 years old in the ICU from this. Everyone is at risk of catching it and many will survive it. But for the sake of those with little chance at fighting against it, we all need to be careful! The amount of dead bodies has been so overwhelming that they are bringing in refrigerated trucks and building refrigerated tents outside of the hospitals as make shift morgues.

I fear that there could possibly be long-term consequences from this practice.”

Due to shortage of n95 masks, face shields, and other PPE (personal protective equipment), we have been advised to keep the same mask and shield for the entire shift and wash it in between. For the entire 12-14hr shift, I am inhaling cleaning products. After a stretch of working only 2 nights in a row I’ve had my nose and throat burning from irritation from the chemicals. The container states that there are no harsh chemicals in the solution, but my body’s response makes me believe otherwise. I fear that there could possibly be long-term consequences from this practice. Usual CDC and JCAHO guidelines require us to dispose of all PPE before exiting an isolation room. Discarding used PPE helps prevent further spread of the infectious organism to other patients or to the healthcare provider. They have become lenient with these guidelines due to desperation. The justification has been that since all the patients are positive, there is no risk of spreading the virus to other patients. That leaves us, the healthcare workers vulnerable. We are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 because we are not properly disposing PPE. If we don’t have severe symptoms, they are refusing to test us for COVID-19. This means that some of us are potential carriers without even being aware of it. This has heightened fear amongst nurses and doctors. Especially those who are battling illness themselves or have loved ones at home they need to protect. We have become severely short staffed due to nurses getting sick or just straight up refusing to come back to work while this is going on. Last week, I almost became one of those nurses that quit!

Skin damage and dryness from wearing masks for 12+ hours and cleaning products.

On a Friday night, I found myself in the most uncomfortable position I had ever been in as a nurse. Things at the hospital are changing rapidly, but they have been failing to communicate with staff. I was floated to a unit that is typically for patients in step-down level of care. They closed this unit down and turned all the rooms into negative pressure rooms and reopened it as an ICU overflow floor. The nurses who are working on this unit don’t have the training to take care of this patient population. When I was floated there, I worked with another nurse who was floated from a medical unit. He was also uncomfortable, because he doesn’t have experience working with these patients. I was put in charge without having any previous charge nurse training. I had picked up on issues that were overlooked by the day shift staff due to their unfamiliarity of insulin drips and high-flow oxygen devices. Luckily no harm came from it, but the potential for harm was there. The way they’re moving nurses around without proper guidance or information raised concern for me. I thought of the worse case scenario if something happened on my watch because I was placed to look after untrained nurses and a floor full of high-acuity patients. I became fearful for the patients safety, my safety, and the security of my hard-earned nursing license. If my patient on the insulin had died due to being neglected all day after I came on to shift, the hospital would have placed all blame on me and I would’ve been dragged with a lawsuit. Those worse case scenarios kept running through my mind and increasing my fear. The supervisor for that night had tried to put words in my mouth and guilt trip me. He tried to send a patient to us that was in the process of dying with a code status DNR/DNI (do not resuscitate/do not intubate) and I refused. We had already reached our max capacity with patients. He accused me of wanting the patient to suffer and being selfish. I explained to him that this patient was not going to be anymore comfortable here getting ICU level care and we are also no escalating to life-saving measures so it would be inappropriate. He just felt that I was being selfish and didn’t care about the patient, when in fact the patients best interest was at heart. Moving a patient who is on comfort care from a medical unit to an ICU unit will only add to the patients discomfort. I brought this issue to the attending physician and he agreed with everything I told the supervisor. The patient can’t be moved without the attending’s approval, so that patient stayed on their current unit while being made comfortable.

“We are watching our coworkers fall like dominoes.”

The emotional toll this has taken on many of us is unexplainable. We are aware of the fact that not everyone is going to live and we cannot save everyone. We are also trained to do everything that we can to save lives. Not being able to do anything to save most of these people has been very hard. It feels like we are just watching people suffer and die at an alarming rate. This is not our usual everyday experience coming into work. I have had so many nights that I was so convinced that we could save some of these people, only for them to end up not making it through the night. These people are all alone and afraid. I’ve spent a lot of time in the room holding hands and trying to comfort them the best that I can. I wish they could at least have their loved ones by their side, but this is too contagious to even risk it. We are watching our coworkers fall like dominoes. It’s almost like looking in the mirror when I see another healthcare worker on a ventilator from this virus. The thought comes to mind that “that could be me if I’m not careful.” I get chills every time I hear of someone being out sick with COVID-19, or worse. Just the other night, one of my favorite nurses to work with had passed out and been rushed to the emergency room. I fear for my loved ones, especially my parents and oldest sister. My father and sister are both cancer survivors and this is the last thing they need attacking them.

I started to keep myself covered from head to toe at work.

I am now anxious every time I have to go into work. I go because I know that I am able bodied and that the job needs to be done. They constantly need more and more nurses. We have a load of travel nurses coming to help out. I have been helping with training them and giving them insight on how I managed to learn their very different system at this hospital as a traveler. The high pay is attracting a lot of people to NYC. But I want everyone to be aware that the pay is increased for a reason. Crisis rates are there because they are desperate for more hands as we continue to lose nurses and gain an overwhelming amount of patients. Just be mentally prepared to have to jump in on your first day and take a patient assignment without any training. ICU ratios have been as bad as 5:1. New units are opening up specifically for COVID-19 patients and to keep healthy patients away from those who are infected. They have been desperately opening up new nursing units without the staff to run them. I haven’t worked on the unit I was hired to in over a month because they need at lease 1 ICU nurse to be in charge of these units. It has been a lot of pressure , but I am someone who works well under pressure. I want other nurses to know about these experiences and to also know that is is okay to put yourself and your health first. I have seen a lot of controversy behind nurses leaving their jobs to protect themselves. People are saying, ” this is what you signed up for”. No one predicted us having a pandemic and mass casualties! We are nurses, we signed up to heal. We are not soldiers. If we are not well ourselves, how can we care for and help heal others? In emergency rooms, they are running out of space for new patients and have had to resort to rolling dead bodies on the floor. This amount of death isn’t healthy for anyone psychologically no matter what they signed up for. To all the other nurses who are out there fighting this; take care of yourself, stay strong, and don’t make the money your only motivation to do this!

How I fell in love with Bali!

“Even I can’t believe I enjoyed a coffee made from rodent feces!”

Bali has been one of the most popular places to travel within the past couple of years. It took my boyfriend (Antonio) and I exactly 24 hours or more to get there. But, was it worth the journey? Hell yeah!

We started off the journey by boarding a flight from JFK to Taipei, Taiwan on a 13 hour flight. Our layover was only about 3-4 hours. While we waited, I had to take an exam to complete my TNCC certification (nurse problems). I also got through a phone interview for one of the hospitals I submitted to for a travel nurse contract! After a productive layover, we boarded our 6 hour flight to Denpasar, Bali airport!

We were finally on our way to begin our bali adventure! The first resort was a 2 hour drive away from the airport and we were tired AF! After the long trip, we spent this day eating and sleeping so we can wake up early for our first Bali excursion.

Having Luwak coffee

Our first activity was at the Bali zoo. We were picked up from our hotel and had reservations to eat breakfast up close and personal with some cute orangutans. This is when we met one of the nicest person I have ever came to contact with. His name is Gede, and he started off as our driver to the zoo. Who knew that we’d make a friend that day with someone who’s culture and language was so distant from ours. After our orangutan experience, Gede offered to show us around to kill time before our next excursion. This was such a fun and unexpected twist to our trip and we couldn’t refuse. He took us to a local coffee plantation nearby his home where we sampled 13 of their teas and coffees. This is where we were introduced to luwak coffee. This is a pricy type of coffee that is made from seeds that are defacated by a rodent after eating the berries from the coffee plant. I know it sounds gross! Even I can’t believe I enjoyed a coffee made from rodent feces! The coffee beans are cleansed thoroughly and ground up into the best coffee that I have ever tried thus far! There was also a huge swing here that Antonio tried out. Bali has giant swings all over the country! Gede took us to a local spa to get a Balinese massage and pedicure. We asked him how much money he wanted for driving us around so much. His response was, “since you’re my friends now you can give me whatever you want to, but it isn’t necessary.” We ended up giving him the Rupiah that we had left over and kept his WhatsApp information. We met up with Gadae another time during our stay. I still keep in contact with Gede to this day!

Making friends with an orangutan at the Bali zoo

Our final activity for this day was going to the giant famous rice field, tegallalang. This is where the famous Instagram swing pictures are taken. While at the rice fields, we missed our opportunity to take pictures on this swing. We saw an area that had so many different nests and artistic structures we could use for photo opportunities. We started walking around the rice fields, trying to make our way over there. We noticed we were actually ending up farther and farther away from where we actually wanted to be and away from the swing. We saw some stairs to go up and find our way back. I don’t know how we ended up here, but we walked in on a group of European people having a private dinner party. They stared at us awkwardly while we ran through the patio confused and embarrassed! We cracked up laughing at the situation we got ourselves into while we found our way back to the rice terrace and to our guide. We had no clue how we ended up so far away! By the time we got back it was time to catch our show at Ubud palace. After the rice field, our new tour guide took us to see a show with traditional Balinese dance at the Ubud palace then finished with a romantic dinner by the ocean. Luckily, this was the only time our sense of adventure backfired on us LOL.

Tegallalang rice field

Throughout the rest of our trip, we visited the most beautiful beaches on Nusa Penida, went on a waterfall tour, rode ATV’s, and discovered how magnificent Balinese culture is. We met so many friendly people! Often people warn you about foreigners and traveling to foreign places and paint a bad picture of them. In my experiences traveling, I have found gems of personalities and it reminds me of how beautiful the world and life itself truly is. Bali welcomed us with nothing but love and made us feel like we are royalty. From the delicious Balinese cuisine to relaxing Balinese massages, you really can’t go wrong with booking a trip to Bali! This is a place that I will return to one day and I hope all of you reading this have the opportunity to experience Bali as well!

Vee grounding the coffee beans

Ranking the 4 hotels I stayed at in Bali

When I booked my trip to Bali, we originally only booked 2 hotels. The original plan was to go to Bali for 5 days and India for 5 days. That plan did not workout and I will tell you why in a later blog post so stay tuned! We stayed in Bali for 10 days. We booked the Graha Sandat resort and Udaya resort at the last minute. I would recommend all of these places. This post is just a description of my experiences and what I liked the most. Continue reading to find out which were my favorites and what my experience was like at each location!

4. Graha Sandat

It was the epitome of private because we didn’t have to worry about neighbors peaking over the high walls built here.

Although this was a fairly decent hotel, it was my least favorite. The scenery on grounds was beautiful. We walked by mini ponds decorated with small statues and koi fish swimming around. The negatives about this hotel was that there weren’t any restaurants on grounds. This was a minor issue because we were able to find food elsewhere. We also had an issue with getting the air conditioning to work for a while. We were sweating like crazy and I was exhausted from the heat while waiting for someone to come fix it. The way the bathroom is constructed wasn’t my ideal. It was basically outside and had no air conditioning. So every time I had to use the bathroom it felt like I was walking into a sauna. I requested a flower bath for our bathroom. It was pretty, but getting in it was so itchy! The green plant they put in it stuck to my skin and itched like crazy. On a positive note, the luxury villa came with a private pool that was very fresh and relaxing. It was the epitome of private because we didn’t have to worry about neighbors peaking over the high walls built here. We were able to order a in room Balinese massage and facial here for a low price. Floating breakfast was also available here and I loved the heart shaped basket it came on. The breakfast was okay, not the best, but decent. The location of this villa was in Ubud within walking distance to restaurants and a short distance to main attractions in Ubud. This was the least expensive place we stayed at in Bali. My overall rating of this hotel is a 2.5/5.

Floating breakfast at Graha Sandat

Luxury Villa $117.06/night http://www.grahasandatvillas.com

3. Udaya

They have one of the top rated spas in the world and I had to indulge here.

Udaya was the most unique and beautiful of the hotels on this list. Located in the center of Ubud, we were closest to the tourist attractions from here. They have one of the top rated spas in the world and I had to indulge here. I had the most beautiful flower bath that spelled out Happy Birthday along with a Balinese massage and facial. We booked a private pool villa for one night. Of course we got a floating breakfast here too! This was our favorite floating breakfast of them all. The breakfast food was A1 and served with fresh dragon fruit juice. We became addicted to pink dragon fruit while in Bali. What I didn’t like about Udaya was the lack of privacy between the private villas. You can see everything next door and your neighbors can view you as well. Also, the dinner selection in the restaurant didn’t have a whole lot of options for people like me who don’t eat red meat. I just remember the food being terrible that night. The last thing I didn’t like was how much walking up and down the stairs was required just for us to get around in this resort. The wildlife and chickens were especially loud around here for some reason. There was a cute cat that hung around and begged for food at the restaurant and I didn’t mind that at all. What I didn’t like was how mean the staff was to the poor cat! Overall, I did enjoy my stay there even though it was short lasting. 1 night here turned out to be just enough for me even though I did initially try to book for 3 nights, but they were fully booked. I would rate Udaya 4/5.

Flower bath prepared by the spa at Udaya

Approx. $250/night for private pool villa http://theudayaresort.com

2. Padma

This is the perfect resort to come and relax, eat good food, soak up unreal scenery, and stay away from the chaos of the city.

Padma was amazing! This is the first resort we stayed at in Bali. The premier room came with a balcony, beautiful waterfall shower, stylish bathtub, and plenty of space. At this time, we were busy doing so many excursions that we didn’t get to spend any time at the spa or exploring the premises. I would definitely come back to Padma. Their food was the best that we had on this entire trip! We reserved the private pool area to have our first floating breakfast on this trip. The setup was unbelievably breathtaking. We had a view over the resort, a mini waterfall, and a view of the jungle. The staff was so accommodating and friendly. They were far away from the center of Ubud, but offered shuttles at different time frames. We had to order their car service because the timing of our activities didn’t match with their shuttle schedule. Although it was an extra fee, it was very cheap. It was probably around $20-30 round trip to drive us an hour there and an hour back. The only negative I can say about Padma is how far away from everything it was. It all worked out though even with the distance. We had elevators and didn’t have to climb up so many stairs like we had to at the other resorts. This is the perfect resort to come and relax, eat good food, soak up unreal scenery, and stay away from the chaos of the city. The safety here was unmatched. The entire resort was gated and required 2 guards to check out your vehicle and allow you in. There had been terrorist attacks all over Bali in the past that targeted mainly Australian tourists. The terrorists were not Balinese, but from other countries. Bali is a very popular vacation spot for Australians since its only a 3-6 hour flight depending on what city they are flying from. Because of past attacks, the security has been tighter in popular tourist locations. I would rate Padma 4.5/5.

Floating Breakfast at Padma

Approx $187/night for a premier room. https://padmaresortubud.com

1. Munduk Moding Plantation

“I think I actually cried when it was time to leave here!”

My absolute favorite of all the resorts we stayed at was Munduk moding plantation. We booked one of the private pool villas for our last 3 nights in Bali. This place was absolutely perfect and the topping to my 27th birthday celebration! We were greeted with kindness and had lei’s draped around our necks. They picked us up from the parking lot and drove us to the lobby in a golf cart. While waiting for our room to be ready (we were 3 hours early for check in), they served us some of their home grown coffee that had a unique flavor. That coffee was so good I drank 2 more cups (I’m really greedy). When the room was finally ready, we were picked up and brought to our luxury villa. The name of the room we stayed in was fengipani. All the rooms we stayed in on this list were beautiful, but this one was astonishing! we had a nice jacuzzi with a clean swimming pool next to it. the room was so thoughtfully laid out, clean, and spacious. Before we made it to the hotel, we stopped at a market and bought some of our favorite fruits that we discovered here. The staff at this hotel arranged all of our fruit in a basket for us in the most beautiful way that I have ever seen. We were tucked away in the mountains away from all of the commotion, but still located to some amazing tourist spots. This location is close to the gates of heaven, a full waterfall tour can be taken from here, and the UNESCO floating temples. The only downside of being in the mountains was the rain and all the bugs. Munduk moding plantation also has a beautiful infinity pool that makes you feel like you’re in the sky. Our villa came with a personal butler and a personal phone to directly contact him, the spa, and front desk. Our floating breakfast was served on a heart shaped basket with a view of gorgeous mountains all around us. We ordered room service for dinner and the food made my taste buds sing whitney houston’s “I will always love you”. I think I actually cried when it was time to leave here! This was by far the best place I have ever stayed thus far. I would rate this hotel 5/5!

Infinity pool at Munduk Moding Plantation

Approx. $245/night for private pool villa https://mundukmodingplantation.com

Featured Image is from the floating breakfast we had at Udaya.

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