(Dispatch from Mo)
Arriving in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (Attempt 1)
Somewhere in my day, a fruit smoothie had done me wrong. I was enjoying many a travelers’ food-borne health dilemma. Now as Namfon’s assistant See Prai drove us up to the bungalow in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, I was paying the price of toughing it out.
I won’t go into detail. Nobody needs that. I will say that after I used the rather rustic facilities, it did not lift my spirits when I turned to see a scorpion climbing its way out of the toilet. Its shiny black carapice and long pinching claws reaching for the sky. Was this a sign of bad luck, or should I just be grateful that I wasn’t bitten in the ass?
I napped/passed out much of the afternoon, leaving Joanna on her own to explore and get settled. When I returned to the bungalow, I found Christmas lights shining, familiar music playing and fans blowing. Things were looking up. Well, at least on the outside. I was still feeling down, and quickly made my bed.
I awoke in the middle of the night, sweat dripping from every inch, the fans stopped and feeling the full force of the smoothie gone bad. Stumbling through the darkness, I grabbed the headlamp and fumbled with the “on” switch. Why do they make those things so damned hard to find?
The visit to the facilities takes all my energy, and I almost faint when walking back into the bungalow. I reach for a Gatorade and collapse into a chair. I feel like such a weakling, unable to lift the bottle. It’s time to go to the hospital. I know how quickly dehydration can go bad.
But we have no car, no internet, and our local sim card is out of minutes. Jo puts in her U.S. sim card and makes the call to See Prai. We wake her, and her grogginness combined with our limited grasp of each others’ languages bogs down the call. She eventually senses the urgency, and comes to get us.
The drive to the hospital takes 40 minutes, and we are greeted by a spattering of nurses in white uniforms who are playing with large white balloons in the parking lot. They all look so happy. It is the Day of Rebirth in Thailand, the holiday, when all the water in your body, which holds all your wrongdoings is washed away to begin afresh. How fitting.
Thailand health care puts the U.S. to shame. Immediately, staff whisked me to a room, and I had no less than seven people helping me.
Going was slow. Each person spoke a little bit of English that the other did not. We all passing around our “Say it Right in Thai” book. I tell you, it’s every girls’ dream to communicate bowel movements in a language she doesn’t speak.
“Diarrhea how many time? Since when?” One nurse asks, but when I reply, there is a look of confusion. I try again, but it just begins to feel like some twisted version of “Who’s on First.” “Diarrhea four times since 8 a.m.? No, eight times since 4 a.m.?”
My hand gestures are just swirling the words around in the air.
I have a fever, and ashen skin. The doctor, who is wearing shorts and a t- shirt, (He has clearly gotten out of bed to come help me.), tells me it was a mistake to take the antibiotics the travel clinic had prescribed me. It just kills all the bacteria, he says. “Make much worse.”
They give us the option of staying the night. Jo and I nod, “yes,” all around. Hooked to an I.V., and pumped with drugs to stop the cramping and fever, I am wheeled to a private room. Geckos scurry across the walls, but there is a bed, a couch, and a Sony flat screen tv still partially wrapped in plastic.
A nurse with a rhinestone headband comes to check on me, and conversation turns to a fit of giggles, as we try to figure out what the other is saying. I narrowly avoid taking a double dose of medicine.
Everyone and everything is doing its job, and I am aleady feeling better. I feel like I am in caring hands between Jo’s level head, and the Thai people. In the morning, color has returned to my skin. See Prai has come to get us, and she sits with us while we wait. We pass the time learning how to say different animal names in Thai. The fishing cat is “sir a baw,” or at least that’s how it sounds to our ears.
Another nurse with black and white hearts painted on her toes comes in to remove the I.V. When I compliment her nail job, she gets very happy and sits down to tell me about her trip to America and Universal Studios. Out comes her iphone, and we are looking at photos of her family celebrating the Day of Rebirth. She tells us where we can go in Kui Buri to see wild elephants.
This is the friendliest hospital ever. When we leave the hospital, I am well on the mend. The cost for this adventure, care, hospital room and meds comes to 1,300 Baht, about U.S.$40.
Joanna and I decide to return to nearby Hua Hin to recover, and wait for Namfon, who is still 6 days from arriving. Our Chomsin Hotel manager welcomes us back with a hardy hello. Our room awaits. We sleep for 20 hours.