Traveling among the Microbes

Trip Start Dec 04, 2007
Trip End Feb 26, 2008

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Where I stayed
Mandala House

Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, February 5, 2008

After a long day riding in the back of a mini bus, Barb and I arrived in Chiang Mai from the town of Pai. Our favorite cheap ($12) hotel was fully booked, so we had to spring for a more expensive model, named the Mandala ($18) nearby. It was super, three stars with AC and cable TV. I wanted to go shopping at the night market, Barb choose to lay in at the hotel and watch TV as she was "shopped out". I walked into the market (1/2 mile) and got two Tee shirts, and decided to eat at the food court. It is well lit, clean, and reminds me a bit of the Seattle Center food circus. I choose a clean looking shop and selected a yellow egg noodle soup with "crispy pork". (I think I should have had the BBQ pork tenderloin. ) What the hell, I thought," When in Rome..."

Anyway, I finished my fabulous meal, and walked home past the massage parlors, many bars filled with farangs and many very friendly women in very short skirts. I got home and went to bed as we had an early train the next morning - Chiang Mai to Pitsanoolok (near the ruins of Sukhothai). It was about about midnight,  when I became aware that I had some microbes on board. I was hit with Traveler's Diarrhea (TD) . This was my second  encounter this trip, so I took it in stride. I drank lots of water, and made sure I had enough Toilet paper (TP).  I was up off and on all night, and when we moved to the train station, I bought more supplies of TP, and settled in for the 6 hour train ride south, thankful I was not on the bus. 

We traveled first class/ ac which made the train ride more comfortable than if we were in second or third class, where folks sit on the floor when they over pack the car. ( I thought about my brother Don's story of El Mixto, a half freight/half passenger train he took in Guatemala. When they overpacked the cars, the toilet system overflowed into the coach., but that is another story.) Back to my train; as the train jostled about, I took a few photos, and made a few short video clips of the train I hope to share here. In short order, I felt the need to use the "facilities" The facilities consisted of a Squat Toilet (known over here as an "Eastern Toilet" in a cubicle at the back end of the coach. There was very little room, no handles or railings, and a gaping hole in the bowl going directly to the tracks below. The whole bowl is about 2 inches high and a foot wide, and a few inches deep, there is no water in the bowl. There is a faucet and bowl for water to be used in cleaning up the area following use.  Pretty straightforward, right? Well, consider trying to use this set up while hurdling, jerking and jostling down the uneven tracks at 85 Km per hour with full blown (pardon the pun) TD! 

Over the next 6 hours, I resolved to learn how to handle this situation. I can say now, days later, that I did not do well. I have resolved to stay in a hotel instead, next time.

Once we arrived in Pitsanoolok, we took a cab for a one hour drive to our hotel (Jand J Guesthouse- $30 US) and I took the bed closest to the bathroom and went to bed. That night about midnight, things changed. I awoke for my routine visit to our bathroom, and found my mouth and eyes dry, eyes sunken, even though I had been pounding the water. I had a slight temp of 99.9 and was sweating. My stomach was more bloated than normal. I felt I was getting worse. That was when it happened. My body flew into a complete rebellion against that wonderful soup I had consumed over 30 hours earlier and the projectile vomiting began. It was over as soon as it began. Maybe 2 minutes, tops. I had a case of what India traveler's call "Delhi Belly" . Following the projectile vomiting episode, my fever broke, I felt better, and decided to break out the first aide kit. I took 2 ciproflaxicin (SP?) a day, ( I will "run" these for a week) , and Azithromyicin (one a day for three days). With my water I began breaking out the Rehydration packages we had brought along. They supplied glucose, potassium, and sodium that I was quickly loosing. I had three of these over the next day. Things improved from this point on. I layed in, while Barb took a tour of another nearby 13th century ruin on Super Tuesday. We had cable and I enjoyed the BBC reporting full time on our election processfor 10 hours straight. It was great coverage, much better than I would have gotten on CNN at home as there was 1/10 the advertising we get at home, and all of it was real news, not infotainment.  

Barb had done a grea job of keeping me supplied in quart bottles of water and paper. So when it was over, (God, I hope it is over}, my Super Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were not so Super after all. In all, I consumed over 22 quarts of water. In four days I ate one breakfast and had two rolls.

I managed to visit Sokhothai with Barb on our last day there. She rode a bicycle around the beautiful parklike setting, while I opted for a motorbike. It was in the mid nineties, w no wind. My cycle allowed us to ride together periodically to the sites which are further removed from the main site. I was also cooler on the motorcycle, which helped me somewhat. 

I am now five days out from the onset and I am still somewaht dehydrated, and a bit woosey. I am still pounding the liguids. My next post will be mostly shots of the Sukhothai, the 13th century capital of Siam.
Slideshow Report as Spam


kaitlan on

Traveling with microbes et al
Some of your best work yet. Let's see: traveling
all day in the back of a van - $3.00, hotel $12.00,
TP $.03 per. Traveling with Tom Gillam - PRICELESS.
Thoroughly Enjoyed. R and K

donmckee on

tuks and runs
Oh for some roast beef and mashed spuds, American style! I like those tuks. We used to see lots of similar three wheelers in Europe...less more recently though. Great post, Tom. Stay healthy, both of you.

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