One of the contributing factors to the day-after “bonk” from my mountain ride was I found that the weekend looseness was the precursor to full-on TongSuea, the Thai word for trots. Evidently it’s a very common malady affecting lots of people, and as is known, I try and eat everything. Here are a couple of stories to explain just how common it is:
After self-treating the problem with Charcoal tablets, (the oft and previously recommended “medication” easily obtained – only differing in dosage amounts depending on who you talk to) for a couple of days to no effect, I visited the pharmacy we’ve used probably once a year since coming to Trang, last time for ibuprofen for my recovering rotator cuff injury. I’d researched the correct pronunciation of my problem, even though the chief pharmacist and his wife both speak passable English.
I noted with relief when Stanna and I entered the store that no one else was needing service from any of the three clerks, nor the woman pharmacist. Just as I approached the counter with my Thai phrase, “I have Tongsuea” a little guy burst in with a box for delivery, and in true Thai fashion inserted himself between me and the counter asking to have help with his dilemma. All attention went to the local, as he’s easier to understand and far more interestingly in need, certainly. Once the initial tumult dissipated, it’s back to me to announce, “I have Tonsuea”, and of course now every one is listening to me and repeats, as if to correct me, and help with the pronunciation in unison, “TONGSUEA”. Even the little delivery guy chimed in “tongsuea”, so I raised my right arm, half in an effort to hide my reddening face, “Yes I”m the man with Tongsuea”, (in Thai BTW) and everyone had a good laugh.
With that, the man pharmacist came out to join in, asked how long it had been going on, and asked if I were taking Charcoal and if I want an “antibacterial”. He gave me more charcoal tablets, 10x the dosage that had been recommended by my friends but only twice a day. Within 12 hours I’m sold and now will use the mega-dosage routine if the need arises again.
For the second story, we then went to visit our favorite lunch spot to have BaMeNam (yellow noodle and pork ball soup) at Mr. Wat’s and his wife Mrs. Jellie. I passed on the ritual soup and went for the white diet of rice and plain boiled chicken, KowManGai. Wat, who is a large boisterous and hyper cycling friend, wondered why I was not eating soup and only half my meal. I should interject here that neither Mr. Wat, his wife nor any of the folks in the quasi-open-air food court speaks English (yes, there is a new girl that can understand and say a few words but never a conversation).
I twisted my fist over my stomach and whisper,ed “Tongsuea”, and Wat clearily understanding shouts, “Tongsuea” laughing either at my pronunciation, predicament or both, knowing him. Now the entire food court, all the vendors & customers, know I’m plagued, and you can see laughing and them wrenching their brows in concern trying to figure how to help. Thai people are wonderful about helping.
In a effort to forestall all the outpouring of suggestions I ask Stanna to produce the medications we’d just procured. Mrs. Jellie, Wat’s wife (who’s come over from her stall) tries to decipher the prescription and instructions, reading them in Thai, of course, for everyone. Nods all around that I’m in good hands, but then there’s the worry I don’t understand, “Nueng tablet, song khrang wan, lang an hahn”. Which I was told in the pharmacy, and actually is basic enough Thai that even I know when spoken in Thai.
But Wat who knows I don’t yet speak much Thai (he has no English except Happy Birthday), takes on the responsibility of insuring me, and the entire food court, that I know when to take the tablet. He sits down next to me, slides my half eaten KowManGai over in front of him, takes the tablet packet and gestures with one finger, “nueng tablet”, turns completely around with his back to the table and slaps his back shouting “lang”, and then round again to the plate of food, motioning an eating gesture, “ah Hahn”. And for clarification he does the pantomime once more.
You can imagine the interest and pleasure everyone felt watching Wat communicate absolutely perfectly that I should take only one tablet after eating twice a day. I’m loving Thailand and get tears of laughter on a regular basis. Lest anyone’s concerned, we are well taken care of here in Trang.