Our Son’s Injury In A Foreign Country

Filed Under: Travel

Last week Ben described his visit to a German emergency room to get checked out for abdominal pains. The good news is that he’s “home” now, or at least as home as much as he ever is. And it seems as though he’s feeling better.

The bad news is that it sounds like it was a very frustrating experience.

Apparently he was stuck in a room for over six hours, left unattended for long periods, and then treated rudely when he asked what the plan was for getting him home. Since when did United start running hospitals?

Well, I have recent first-hand experience with the anxiety that comes along with visiting a hospital in a foreign land. My three-year-old son ended up needing to visit the emergency room on the island of Jeju during our recent trip to South Korea.

Jeju volcano

The Backstory

We had flown down to Jeju from Seoul on Air Busan that morning with our friends Boston Ben and his family who were on the trip with us. It was a short flight and our kids had done pretty well.


We then piled our crew onto the Sixt shuttle bus and headed over to pick up the rental van at their off-airport facility. As the designated driver, I went inside to fill out the paperwork while the rest stayed outside under the pavilion, along with our small mountain of gear. Having been cooped-up in the plane and then the bus for a few hours, the kids — did I mention this trip had 4 under the age of 7 on it? — started running around like they do.

Sixt seemed to be a little understaffed at the time, so I had to wait maybe 10-15 minutes before somebody started helping me.

Sixt rental counter jeju
Sixt car rental counter, Jeju, Korea

Well, about halfway through the process, I heard Boston Ben come in and ask for some paper towels and band-aids. I didn’t think too much of it since our kids are prone to scratching knees, bonking heads, and just about everything else imaginable.

Except it turned out to be a bigger deal than I thought.

When I got outside, I found my wife sitting on the ground holding my screaming son and dabbing at his forehead with the paper towels. Those that had seen it first hand said he was running while looking back over his shoulder — maybe he’ll be a wide receiver someday! — when he ran into a pole going full speed. He sort of bounced backwards, just like the cartoon characters do right before the halo of stars appears.

It wasn’t bleeding profusely, but it didn’t look great either.

I pulled out the medical kit we carry and gave it to my wife to start bandaging. She applied a wound closure.

Emergency Medical Kit
In our family, this is a required piece of travel gear for our carry-on.

We then had to decide if a trip to the hospital was necessary. After a bit of debate, we decided that the the wound was on his forehead, so any scar would be prominent. Plus, it’s just better to be safe.

The Sixt staff were certainly concerned and tried to be helpful. They programmed the van’s Korean GPS with the location of Cheju Halla General Hospital, and off we went. My wife held my son, and he clutched his stuffed animal Tigey, the entire way, which fortunately was only maybe 15-20 minutes.

Since my wife took our son into the hospital, I’ll hand over the keyboard to let her tell the story from here.

Cheju Halla General Hospital

There was an ambulance parked outside the emergency room entrance with some people hovering around it. It wasn’t clear if we should still go in that way, so we went into the main hospital entrance. Boston Ben accompanied my son and me inside while Travis stayed in the van with Boston Ben’s wife and the rest of the kids; since I was pretty emotional (but holding it together), I figured I could use the logical-thinking backup.

Once inside, there were a few warm, friendly looking ladies sitting at an information desk to the right of the entrance. I asked, “Emergency?” They looked confused. I pointed to the wound on my son’s forehead, and they nodded in understanding, saying “Ah!  Laceration!” in thick Korean-English accents. They gestured that we should go ahead and walk back through the internal entrance to the emergency department.

Cheju Hala General Hospital
Cheju Hala General Hospital

Continued in Our Son’s Visit to A Korean Emergency Room.

  1. It amazes me how many people don’t fly with a small first aid kit. Never know when you might need it!

  2. It is never pleasant to fall sick in a foreign land. I hope your son is fine now.

    My husband got kidney stones twice – yes TWICE – while traveling abroad. The first at 16,000 feet in the mountains of Peru… and the second in Bali. In both locations, we had adventures we’ll remember our whole lives. We’ve continued visiting third world countries since 😉

  3. i am sorry to hear about your son’s injury.
    as a parent, i know that most horrible feeling when your child is in pain.
    i hope and pray your boy is well.

  4. Travis, pls hv a good reason for splitting into 2 parts as at the moment i can see it is for extra clicks only.

    If not, this will be last article i will ever read fr Travis.

    A lot of recent posts by Travis appears to be lacking in content. The more i read, the more it feels like for clicks only. This post should be a complete one before it should be posted.

    While we support OMAAT generally, over posting 1/2 contents should not be the case. I do not see Tiffany doing this. Nor Nick.

    I hope this is constructive feedback as I am close to giving up on Travis’s articles. It bemuses me on this post as it is clearly incomplete, and while blog owners can indeed do whatever they want (n lose readers as well), i am surprised guest writer’s tries this on regular basis to gain clicks.

    I wish ur kid speedy full recovery, but I will give up reading ur posts if this continues. It is really trying too hard to stretch the clicks.

  5. flyingfish
    why do you assume travis did this for the clicks?
    may be he did not have enough time to finish the whole post. travis probably went through hell dealing with his son’s injury. so give it a rest.

  6. I agree 100% with flyingfish. I appreciate the new voices on the blog, but breaking this into two is really annoying. This isn’t Serial.

    To stevenk’s point: If the post isn’t done, don’t put it up. Also, his wife is finishing the post, not Travis.

  7. @flyingfish +1

    Hoping your kid is OK, but go ahead and post or don’t post, this just isn’t sufficient to split. I’m done with your “contributions”.

  8. This is a travel blog not an injury blog. However you could always set up a blog one injury at a time

  9. Also +1ing @flyingfish’s comments. Lucky doesn’t split posts like this 99% of the time. I’m so sorry to hear about a kid getting injured in a foreign country, but Travis’s post are kind of like those ‘which of these don’t belong’ games. It’s not the right fit for OMAAT. He should start his own blog as there are people who are interested and there might be a better overlap.

  10. I am 100% with @flyingfish on this one… Travis, I hope your kid is ok but please stop doing two posts when you can finish it in one… Especially I don’t even see how this should/could be written in two posts to begin with…

    @steven k, if Travis is indeed “went through hell dealing with his son’s injury” as we speak, I think he/ his wife should be taking care of their kid right now, instead of writing this blog post 😉 If this post is about some breaking news/mistake fares, I can understand why you would possibly want to split it in two posts/ do a update later. Those kind of information requires timeliness and you do have to jump on it as soon as you catch it. However, I honestly don’t see the point of recording this incident in two separate posts besides getting more clicks. Somehow, Travis just can’t finish and publish those two posts altogether 24 hours later and achieve the same result? I mean if Ben weren’t sick, I bet Travis would never even write this post to began with…

    @Lucky, as a long time reader, I learned a lot from you and appreciate your effort to bring new voices to this blog. Tiffany, Nick are both bringing some really useful information to the table. This is nothing personal against Travis, but you really do need to consider about the quality control of this blog now.

  11. I’ve flown nearly a million miles in the past 10 years. I’m also the father of 3 kids under the age of 6. I certainly understand both international travel and young children.

    Let’s be incredibly clear here: taking young children on long international flights to remote foreign locations for ‘pleasure’, is an incredibly selfish thing for a parent to do. You are inherently putting your desires to travel ahead of the needs of your children. Your children will not remember these trips, they derive no value from them, yet it puts them at non-zero risk. See: both this story and the hotel babysitter debacle. I understand if you need to visit a grandparent in their home country because they can’t travel, but to travel like this for ‘fun’ with small children is an immensely selfish act.

    I get why Ben has Travis on the blog — essentially its an effort to show that the ‘dream can continue’ even after one settles down. I honestly feel sorry for Travis’ children, and hope someone in their life will take them to play a pee-wee soccer game instead of sticking them on a flight to Shanghai.

    P.S: I will vomit if someone replies to this to try to explain that their 2 year old is an incredibly cultured and seasoned world traveler, and will clearly be a diplomat when they grow up. The 2 year olds I know are much more interested in screaming “poo-poo” and running in circles chasing their siblings.

  12. Very unwise to split this into two parts. Travis, frankly you should know better. Even more so given the flak you have been taking for your posts in the past. Just can’t help but wonder why you would do this? Are you trying to fill some pre-agreed upon posted articles and decide to split one article into two? Not good Travis, whatever the reason.

  13. “Stayed tuned for the rest of the story in Part 2 tomorrow.”

    What is the point in splitting this story? It just further annoys your readers. I wish all of these guest posts could be filtered or removed from the main page.

    Also, it should be ‘Stay tuned’…

  14. It’s been a little while I don’t read Travis’ posts any more, but today I finally clicked. Why? He’s saying his son got injured in my dear home country ! So I got interested and at the same time a bit concerned (e.g. language barrier in that foreign island etc.). ……. And then …… What’s this? Stay tuned ? Sorry, I am done with your posts.

  15. To be fair, there is a genuine argument to post split travel stories if, for example, it’s time sensitive or it’d otherwise would lead to a many pages long post. However, as neither apply here (the length is quite short, and amounts to not much more than a teaser), I have to agree that I’m perplexed like most here why this wasn’t just posted as one article (after all, this is not a current happening, but a recount of event from the past). Leave the cliffhanger tease for daytime soapies.

  16. Wow, Dan, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us all. You’re clearly correct in what you say. A bit proud about your knowledge, but honestly if I knew everything I’d likely lack humility as well! One question: is it possible for you to post more regularly? That way, once you’ve shown us what is true and correct on a variety of issues, we can all stop having our own opinion (which is most likely wrong, after all). It’s also quite a nice touch to end the post as you have–first share your opinion (which is true and right) and then preempt anyone from sharing an opinion that might be at odds with yours, since again it would be wrong. Hopefully people will listen to your advice–it will save us from reading a bunch of wrong ideas!

  17. I agree. This should have been one post and it’s annoying. As aside, we went to Jeju Island 2 years ago and loved it.

  18. I feel a little bad for Travis since the readership here doesn’t set him up to be the most popular contributor, but I agree that the post split was very poor form 🙁

  19. Hope your son is OK, Travis… this must have been very stressful. I’m impressed that your wife performed a wound closure. Is she a doctor, or just a very good parent?

    To all those commenting about the split post, I agree that it would be nicer to be able to read one longer post, but it’s not that big of a deal to check back later for more information!

  20. Also, forgot to mention in the previous comment: when I saw the title, I was expecting/hoping this to be a post from Ben’s parents about his ER visit from their perspective!

  21. Travis (and Lucky, Tiffany and Nick),
    Please keep writing articles as you see fit. The people complaining above are not paying for the content of your blog and they shouldn’t dictate how you want to write things.

  22. Stay tuned? Really? It wasn’t that good of a story in the first place. This will be the last ‘Travis’ post I read.

  23. @Dan – man, I feel ‘ya! We had three close together and we basically went on travel lock-down until the youngest was five. Now they’re 9 (twins) and 11 and we do a big international trip at least once a year and they (and we!) love it. They’re old enough to handle their own carry-on, entertain (and feed) themselves, put themselves to sleep, don’t have ear/pressure issues, don’t bother other passengers, etc., etc. So, hang in there – it does get better!

    I really don’t know how Travis and his wife do it. The very few times we traveled when they were really little were just an exercise in slow-motion disaster. I still have nightmares about lugging two full size car seats, strollers, and diaper bags through the airport. And that’s not to mention the kids, the other carry-ons, etc. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

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