Zoe Eleftheriou had already endured a scary brush with danger while travelling.
The young teacher had been on the Indonesian island of Lombok in August 2018 when it was rocked by a powerful earthquake that killed more than 500 people, yet she survived unscathed.
But exactly 12 months later, in August this year, the 22-year-old traveller from the UK town of Kent was dealt an even worse blow.
Ms Eleftheriou and her American colleague Abbey Alexander, 18, were returning to the school where they worked in the Cambodian tourist hotspot of Siem Reap when they passed an illegal petrol station at the exact time it exploded.
Now recovering from her horrific injuries back home in the UK, Ms Eleftheriou has told the World Nomads Podcast about the terrifying moment she was caught in the massive fireball.
She told podcast host Kim Napier she and Ms Alexander, who were both teaching English at the school, were returning to the school from their lunch break on their motorbikes.
“(It was the) same route that I take every day,” Ms Eleftheriou said.
“As we drove around the corner, on my left I could see that this building was on fire and it’s a petrol station. I legit thought, “Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t, sh*t, sh*t.
“Unfortunately it’s on a major crossroad, so I couldn’t just drive out straight because if there was a car or another motorbike we’d crash. So I had to make sure it was clear.”
Ms Eleftheriou said when the crossing was clear, she rushed ahead to pass the burning structure — but it was at that precise moment it exploded.
“It just went boom,” she said. “The fire then went all the way in front of us and then it came back all the way behind us.
“Now I’m sitting on a motorbike and that has petrol inside it so I’m now thinking, ‘Is this thing going to explode on us?’”
Ms Eleftheriou said she got off her bike and looked at Ms Alexander, who was on fire.
“She’s rolling around on the floor, I’m running away, and then she’s screaming, ‘I’m on fire, I’m on fire’,” she said.
“So I had to turn around, run back to Abbey, pat her down then be like, ‘You’re not on fire anymore, it’s fine, we need to go’. Because I was thinking it’s going to explode again, or the motorbike is going to explode, and we’re right next to it.”
One person was killed and another 13 people, including Ms Eleftheriou and Ms Alexander, were injured in the blast.
Police have said the petrol station was an unlicensed operation and the blast was caused by a gas leak while a tanker truck was delivering fuel.
In the midst of the emergency, Ms Eleftheriou looked at her friend who has “skin hanging off her, dripping down her clothes”.
“I can see that she hasn’t got any eyebrows, she hasn’t got any facial features anymore,” Ms Eleftheriou said.
“Just her eyes and some lips but all her skin is peeling off. So I was presuming I looked exactly the same. Everything was just burning. It was just such intense pain. It was awful.”
She said the pair begged passers-by for help, to no avail.
“Unfortunately they’re just taking their phones out to take photos or to take videos,” she said.
The pair managed to make their way to the school, where colleagues helped them get to a nearby clinic, which quickly became overwhelmed with people injured in the blast.
Ms Eleftheriou was then transferred to an intensive care unit at a burns specialist hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. She needed to be treated for fourth and fifth degree burns to more than 30 per cent of her body, including face, neck, hands, legs and feet. She was put on a respirator to help her breathe.
Once she began to be treated for her pain, Ms Eleftheriou had another difficult task: calling home.
“I’m there like, ‘Hi mum. There’s been a minor accident, minor explosion, but I’m all good’,” Ms Eleftheriou said. “Really playing it down because I remember for the earthquake, when I called her, it was proper, ‘Oh my God, mum, I love you so much’.”
Ms Eleftheriou’s treatment cost $370,000, which was covered by an insurance policy that cost
Her friend Ms Alexander, who is also recovering from burns to more than 35 per cent of her body, was not insured and her family has had to rely on crowd-funding to cover medical costs of more than $362,000.
Now at home in Kent, Ms Eleftheriou is still getting treatment and plans to continue travelling, including to see her friends in Cambodia — eventually.
“They’re like, ‘Are you going to come back?’ And it breaks my heart that I’m there and I’m like, ‘It’s possible that I won’t be able to go to you guys for a long time’,” she said.
But after two major emergencies, it’s little surprise she’s taking a moment before rushing overseas again.
“After the earthquake, I was there like, ‘That’s it. The most traumatic thing in my life is done’. Right? And someone up there was there like, ‘Ha, we’re just kidding, you haven’t seen nothing yet.’