HOW WE VISITED A MALAYAN DOCTOR
HOW WE WERE SWEET TO EACH OTHER
After Surat Thani it was time for another night train taking us south for 12 hours to Butterworth in Malaysia and yet another taxi taking us the final hour to the world heritage town of Georgetown. We were hoping to leave illness behind us at Erik’s first on the ground border passing that required us to show our passports. Sadly, this was not the case.
We arrived at our hotel and attempt a stroll around the neighbourhood. From what we can see, Georgetown appears a eclectic – or schizophrenic, whichever you prefer – town. We can see old English style houses painted in bright colours, covered walkways, some gravity and plenty of hipster art all pushed between older, more decrepit buildings with red plastic stair and Chinese looking stores. We love it!
But before too long the heat – and our bowls are getting to us. We decide to take off the afternoon and just to relax at the hotelroom – no sightseeing like we’d hoped.
Then, after a few hours, while neither of us is very hungry, we venture out again to find some food. We figure we need the energy even if our systems are not taking a lot in. We end in a French style bistro where New York by Frank Sinatra is playing. It feels surreal to be sitting here, like this in Malaysia. Normally we would be looking for local style foods and be taking in all the strange and beautiful sights of this awesome town, but in our current state, this feels kind of nice.
The next morning we try to go on one of our walks from our beloved Lonely Planet. However, it very soon becomes apparent that this is not going to work. As soon as Erik says he thinks he may want to go see a doctor, I switch to miss controle freak mode. I try to find him some ORS (oral rehydration solution that I normally pack and don’t use so now have stupidly not taken with me), but fail, so we just go to the health clinic our concierge gets us a taxi to.
Erik is examined and sent home with a bunch of ORS, charcoal, antibiotics and some stuff to help with the cramps. Again, we spend the afternoon and evening in our hotel room, looking at B-movies, hoping to feel better. I even go so far as to take some of his ORS because I realise I am getting dehydrated, but my stomach won’t allow it and I throw it right back up.
The next morning we are scheduled to leave for the beautiful – and cooler! – Cameron Highlands, but Erik insists I go see a doctor first as I am still not doing any better. After an hour and a half wait the doctor listens to our story, concludes we have some type of intestinal bacteria, declares both of us still dehydrated and since I couldn’t keep the ORS down – and because apparently it’s a quicker fix – recommends intravenous salt solution and antibiotics. So and IV-drip. Just the thing you want to hear in a foreign country from a foreign doctor after getting a foreign bug.
We decide to take the doctors advice – what else did we come for? – and after checking that all the needles came from sterilised packings we were hooked up. Erik – sweetheart that he is – had more difficulty seeing me get stuck than himself, but we managed fine. After about 1L of rehydration fluids each and some 100 ml of antibiotics for me (as Erik was already taking the tablets), and about 4 hours later, we were feeling somewhat better.
When we heard we needed the IV we’d arranged an extra night at the hotel, so afterwards we got ourselves back there. Stacked with all kinds of pills to get us in working order and with plenty of isotonic drinks – apparently the Aquarius commercials are not just commercials but have a medical grain of truth in them – we spent another night watching bad television. We also heed the advice of Erik’s mum: “be sweet to eachother” and romantically hold hands as we lay recovering in our bed.
Next stop: Cameron Highlands. Sadly, just for one night, but happily we are going to a cooler area – it’s only 26°C. Sort of like an alpine retreat to get us happy and healthy again!