Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mon 6th Feb, Doi Angkhan

I do choose good places to be ill! In the summer I got sick in teh beautiful and relaxing villa in Italy. And in Thailand I don't think I culd have ended up at a better place. It's so beautiful here in the mountains. And it is relatively cool as it is so high and there are even some clouds. I think I am adjusting to Thai temperatures though. Yesterday evening I came out in the dark in trousers, 2 t-shirts, a long sleeved cycling top and a micro-fleece and saw on teh thermoometer that it was still 20 degrees C! And it is so quiet. It doesn't seem to be on the farang tourist train, and Thai tourists only really come at weekends. Now that I've been here a couple of days a few people recognise me and say hi as I pass.

This morning though really justified my decision to come here. After waking at 7ish feeling a little better, I descended back into bed watching a dull football match with a bag of crisps (needing to replace lost salts - at least that's how I justified it to myself), i finally dragged myself out and set off to explore teh Angkhan Royal Agricultural Research Centre next to the village. It is stunning. The first area I went to was an enclosed space nestled against the beautiful limestone cliff, filled with beautiful ferns and orchids; the visula beauty backed by the soothing sounds of teh water.

The next section was the bonsai trees. Very pretty, but my interest was more in watching the guys cleaning teh big glass dome. Then a group of Thai tourists arrived and suddenly I was surrrounded by pretty girls and a ladyboy getting their photo taken with me, to the sound of "neung, sawng, saam" (1 2 3). Amusing.

Thai tourists are shameless photographers. Where I'll be tying myself in knots about the ethics of photographing a villager in their beautiful outfit, they'll be happily snapping away. Damn geography degree. As I was cycling up the hills 2 days ago quite a few folk were hanging out of their windows taking photos of the crazy farang.

After visiting the beautiful colours of the vegetable arden and teh pretty rose arden I came to teh sensory garden. It was spectacular - the colours, the textures, and teh smells! The smells. I have discovered my favourite smell - osmanthus.

Feeling exhausted and tired by the short 1km walk I stopped for a delicious coffee and cake, and as I idly flicked through the menu my appetite came roaring back - all the delicious dishes prepared with their own fresh vegetables. In the end I opted for some simple but delicious spring rolls. While I was eating there were a few drops of rain - I thought that was very strange - the first I'd felt in Thailand.

I went back to sleep in my room for the afternoon, waking to watch yesterday's rugby game between Scotland and France. And amazingly Scotland played well and won! That cheered me up. While that was on an enormous rainstorm hit, with thunder and lightning echoing around teh mountains. After it stopped I went for another walk amid the amazing smells and beautiful crisp clear evening light. Had a delicious punnet of strawberries, then went for another crappy overpriced pizza, and while there a powercut hit. I was quite glad - it killed the dreadful country music they were playing as punishment for me being so pathetic as to eat Western food.

The evening amid the powercut was quite pleasant - I sat around a brazier outside my hotel with an old Thai guy, and chatted to another guy who was holidaying en-route to display some night vision stuff at the Chiang Mai motorshow.

This evening I finally figured out that my illness is due to the side effects of the malaria tablets I've been taking (Malarone). My symptoms match those on GSK's leaflet, and I've been ill for too long for it just to be some dodgy food. Malarone's a relatively safe malaria pill, but I guess by exerting myself so much with the cycling I've brought out the side effects. I've decided to stop taking them, as it's been over a week since I was anywhere that might potentially have been malarial, and I'm not going to be anywhere else that is.

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