British traveller facing £53,000 medical bill after rare bird attack
We get a lot of emails here at World First. But occasionally we get one that really stands out. Like the email we received from a gap year traveller, who recently had their round-the-world trip cut short after just one week. The sender, who has asked to remain anonymous, has given us permission to publish the email below.
Never forget to take out travel insurance. And do NOT mess with wild animals.
Dear World First.
I have the most expensive beard in the world. It cost me one guitar, one broken nose, a round-the-world plane ticket and £53,750 in medical bills. You will probably agree (see attached photo) that I should be spending my time trying to secure a modelling contract. But my parents - who even by their standards have overreacted about bailing me out - have threatened to kick me out if I don’t send this email. (Why is remortgaging the house such a big deal? It’s not like they don’t have savings.)
My round-the-world trip was due to start in Melbourne. While there I planned to take a short flight to Tasmania. It’s home to the King Billy pine and I read on a website somewhere that its sap is used in premium beard oils to enhance beard growth and lustre. You can’t be an adventurer without a beard. Everyone knows that. My beard was already the best in the telemarketing office. But I wanted facial plumage that made Brian Blessed look like a six year old girl.
Before I left, my football coach Nigel ‘Nogs’ Nogglesworth warned me about travelling without insurance, but Nigel has inferior facial hair and a gammy leg so I don’t listen to him. The stuff that grows out of his face is less a beard, more an apology to masculinity. Anyway, even on the morning of my departure for Melbourne I got a lecture from my Dad about the need for good travel insurance and he quizzed me on my (non-existent) policy. Trouble is he was standing really close to me and must have recently eaten the half-tin of mackerel that had been in the fridge for a week, because he smelt like a sad fisherman’s unwashed overalls. In a bid to get him to stop talking at me, I lied and said I had a policy with World First. He always insures with World First so I knew it would bring an end to his fishy diatribe.
The flight to Melbourne was fine. The man in the seat next to me was an investor and I told him that I had an idea for an app that was going to be bigger than Facebook. He asked me what it was but I said it was a secret because he looked like a dodgy builder I had seen on Rogue Traders. He didn’t talk much after that but I know it was just jealousy. When I am rich I will track him down and invite him to a pool party at my mansion to show there are no hard feelings.
Things even started well when I arrived in Tasmania. On the first morning I took my acoustic guitar down to the beach and had a little strum. I’m an excellent guitarist. I once played my aunty a cover of California Gurls by Katy Perry and she said it was almost as good as the original. That’s how I knew the girl at the beachside bar who had been watching me play would be impressed. So I got up to go and talk to her.
I can’t remember her name but it was probably something nice like Cassandra because she had kind eyes and a necklace made of flowers. Cassandra didn’t say much and kept looking at her watch. She was obviously a very punctual type of person and good at hiding her true feelings. When she said “is that your guitar over there?” I was certain the magic was starting to happen. But she gestured at me to turn around and I watched as a man picked up my guitar and ran off. From that point on, Tasmania became a living hell.
After saying goodbye to Cassandra and shaking off the theft of my guitar, I decided it was time to find what I came here for: the sap of the King Billy pine. I searched in the rainforest for three hours straight. Then I found it. The King Billy pine. I picked up a stone and started battering the bark to get at the sap, which didn’t take long because I am the strongest person I know. Then I rubbed that sweet nectar all over my beard - and collected the extras in a jar for the rest of my journey. This beard was going places.
At that moment I heard a rustling behind the tree. It was a Lyrebird - which I had learnt all about during a biology project back in school. He was a friendly little chap and as bold as they come. So I knelt down to say hello. He ambled closer and I looked into his eyes, catching sight of my facial hair in the reflection of his little pupils. What a sight! Then, in what seemed like a millisecond, the bird pecked my nose with genuinely astonishing force. I’m not ashamed to say that I ran out the forest and back to the beach.
The next thing I remember is waking up in hospital. Cassandra had found me passed out on the sand and called for help. I remained unconscious and the local hospital had no idea why. So I was flown to the Tropical Disease Unit at a hospital in Sydney. It turns out that the sap of the King Billy pine is poisonous in high quantities. I was unconscious for three days and required two operations to repair my conk from the Lyrebird attack, which had shattered the bridge of my nose. The medical bills totalled £53,750. I also had to pay for flights back to the UK and lost the money I paid for my round-the-world ticket.
The lesson? Never visit Tasmania.
P.S If you don’t publish this let me know and I will sell it to Hello! Magazine.