Sharks, filter feeding, dogs, hospitals and motor scooters

Sharks hate suntanning lotion and Kev told us there are no sharks off these shores. I take great comfort in this and he has rarely been wrong so far, except for when he ordered the seafood curry by mistake and told us it would be delicious. Or, thinking about it, on the first day deciding it would be instructive to take us to see The Impossible, about the 2004 tsunami. He said there would be lots of footage of beautiful Thai scenery, when I’m fact it was a  tragic story of a man’s attempt to find his family after the water separated them and his wife’s leg became gangrenous. We left the cinema in tears.
Sharks, anyway. The best way, therefore, to deter a shark from eating your leg is to cover yourself with lashings of factor 50 and stay out of the ocean. In 2011 there were 75 recorded shark attacks worldwide and not one of these happened on the beach. This is a useful fact to keep in mind when planning your next holiday.

During the last week I have filtered a large proportion of the Gulf of Thailand in through my nose, and out through my tear ducts. As a result, I have taken a lot of krill and rarely need to eat these days.
When we arrived I had few clothes with me and bought trousers and shorts here, the jeans I had bought with me being completely inappropriate given the temperature and also they’d begun to get tight.
So, conceding the fact that I’m now a middle aged man with the spread, I bought size 34 waist and then lost 2 inches in 2 days and I’m now having to wear a belt pulled so tight that I look like the end bit of a Christmas cracker. I don’t know whether it’s the diet or the heat or the effect of the mosquitoes draining a pint of blood a night but we’ve both lost weight and Nel’s hair has been bleached so blond in the sun that she looks like a tiny Scandinavian.
The Scandinavians, on the whole look huge and they look like the result of an explosion in a French bakery where a thousand croissants have come to rest atop two baguettes, and not at all like the Nordic goddesses of common misconception.
That’s unfair cos mostly they’re retired people here. It’s easy to spot the Scandinavians because they rarely smile, and they look especially glum when I smile at them. Many of the men look like brown deflated beach balls and many of them look like professor Farnsworth, but mostly they look like they have swallowed a turtle whole, huge stomachs!

There are thousands of dogs in Cha-Am, some of them are pets but mostly they are strays. They generally look like dingo’s and are quite skanky. On any day there are hundreds sleeping on the footpaths and the roads and the beach and any piece of land where they can scrape a hollow and lie down for a bit. Generally they just get out of your way when you walk towards them and if they’re sleeping, I’ll cough, or stamp or something so as not to surprise them.
There have been campaigns in recent years to get the dogs vaccinated against rabies, apparently with some success in bringing down the numbers of cases of rabies in people.
Well, we were ambling down the road yesterday evening, avoiding motorbikes and cars on the way to dinner, when a mangy dog sloped up behind us and nipped Nel on the ankle. We’ve had rabies vaccinations but that doesn’t stop you getting rabies. Oh no, it just gives you an extra 24 hours to get to hospital. To put this into perspective, there have been 3 known survivors of rabies and they all got it from bats, which leads experts to speculate whether the bat born rabies is perhaps less dangerous than rabies transmitted by cats, or, for example, dogs. Even then the victims were in intensive care for a month, so you really don’t take the risk lightly.
Nel yelped, and several motorcyclists stopped and told us to go to hospital because the dog might be ill. Ill do you say? DO YOU MEAN IT MIGHT HAVE RABIES! Well yes, that was the gist of it, and, having done some research online in the hours since, we have found that 54 percent of the dogs in Thailand have tested positive for some antibody or something. We headed back to the hotel when we saw that she was bleeding, thinking we’d get a taxi to the hospital, wherever it is, but a girl who had pulled up on her little scooter told us again that we needed to get to the hospital, and then her friend pulled up by beside her. We said wed get a taxi or something, but they said they’d take us. So I got on the back of one of them and Nel got on the back of the other. Now, neither of these girls weighed more than 6 stones, and I’m two feet taller, my feet trailing on the tarmac, I couldn’t put them on the footrests cos when I tried, my knees were either side of her head, and I really, really didn’t want to restrict her vision. Have I mentioned how the moto’s drive here? There was no massive urgency, because so long as you get treatment within 24 hours you’re ok. The tiny girl driving my bike knew what she was doing and we had to put our faith in them. The thing was though, I couldn’t pull my knees in as much as I’d have liked to when there was an oncoming car with a closing speed of 80 miles per hour, and then we overtook a man on another scooter with a baby in his arms with about two inches to spare. Crossroads make no sense at all. There is no priority, no lights, no signs, no helmets, just a t-shirt between me and the road and I was wondering if it would be best to just step off at 40 or close my eyes. We came to a junction where it seemed the oncoming lorry with it’s indicator going should have priority. Apparently not, she didn’t even slow down.
We were out of the hospital in fifteen minutes, Nel had one injection, there’s another tomorrow, then a week later, two weeks later and a final one four weeks after the first.
The girls stayed with us even though I tried to tell them we would get a taxi back, but they wouldn’t have any of it, they had little English between them but showed us what card to fill out for reception then told us where to go and then drove us back to the hotel. I tried to give them money for a Molotov of petrol at least but they enthusiastically refused and buzzed away.
Lovely lovely people, so kind and pleased just to help.
On the way back we saw the bloody dog, she was all teats, obviously had a litter nearby and the nip on Nel’s ankle was to encourage us to move by quickly I think, she didn’t growl or menace us, just quietly came up behind us.
It is legal to kill the dog that bit you and take it’s head for postmortem to determine whether it has the virus or not. That’s if you want to really have the authentic Thai holiday. That weren’t mentioned in the brochure.


One thought on “Sharks, filter feeding, dogs, hospitals and motor scooters

  1. Didnt realise you were on an extreme sports holiday! hope Nel is ok, scary stuff and not funny at all. Brilliant that those girls helped you out. loving your blogs, you’re turning into a travel writer! Im on holiday now until new year. Only thing I have to fend off are the enthusiastic mogs at dinner time, otherwise, still rehearsing for Blithe Spirit for the rest of this week, have to dye my hair brown to be a plain and wan Mrs Bradman. Rocky gets to be glamorous and waft about in a silk frock (although she will be painted grey/green – small consolation!). If you care, the weather in Blighty right now is 7 degrees and vaguely sunny. Mince pie season is upon us. I challenge you to find and wear a santa hat on Christmas Day. You’ll look like the Abba Christmas special – might make the scandanavians smile at you more 🙂

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