An unsympathetic pharmacist, being called ‘Papa,’ and being unsettled by smiling monks.

Nel’s tiny ears can be troublesome, and she has to take special care not to get water in them. When she showers, she uses children’s sized earplugs because if water does get in it stays there and this can often lead to trouble.
Swimming in the ocean, and not Thailand in particular, can be more troublesome because of bacteria in the water, and last week she did indeed get an infection in both ears, which was very painful.
I don’t know what qualifications you need to become a pharmacist in Thailand, but it seems sympathy isn’t one of them.
We’d looked online and found that the symptoms she was suffering from were probably caused by a condition commonly know as Swimmers Ear, caused by bacteria in the water, so I bookmarked the page on my smartarse phone so that the pharmacist could see the common name of the condition, and the clinical name, and suggest the right treatment.
We correctly left our flip flops outside the door, entered the shop and said hello in Thai. The very glamorous and immaculately dressed pharmacist said hello, and we started to explain, as best we could, what the trouble was. She spoke some English, but not enough that we could make her understand properly, so I took out my phone and found the entry to show her.
Looking at the picture, which was a far worse case than what Nel was suffering, and showed quite a nasty picture of an inflamed and frankly quite scabby ear, she made not the slightest effort to disguise her disgust and distaste. She didn’t actually chase us out of the shop with a stick and tell us never to come back, filthy white devils with your inflamed ears, but I could see she was thinking about it.
I could have understood this reaction if we’d have walked into a restaurant, say, or a fruit shop, or the butcher’s, and showed the proprietor a photograph of a manky, pus leaking  ear, but I would think that a pharmacist should be prepared for the fact that some customers might be expected to be suffering from some kind of affliction when they come to her shop, and perhaps you could expect some little understanding, I’d have thought.
I have to say though, we went back today, the infection has gone because we bought an antibiotic ear drop bottle thing, but Nel’s ear is still stuffed up and she’s a bit deaf still so we went back, and we would have gone to a different pharmacy if there was one.
The glamorous pharmacist was in a much friendlier, much less disgusted frame of mind, and gave us drops to clear her ear without staring at us like we’d bought disgrace on her family and all her ancestors.
And she had the cutest baby, who she was trying to teach to say hello to us in English. Maybe she’d just been having a bad day.


Sometimes you just need a Big Sheet.

The place where we go most days for omelettes and coffee, the Cafe Club above the Irish bar, has a young shy bloke working there who’s a little bit camp.
A little bit. Not the full Julian Clarey camp, no, more ‘the children’s tv presenter’. The kind of bloke who’d spend money on a hairstyle.
He often stands behind the counter with a little mirror and a set of zircon encrusted tweezers, plucking the whiskers out of his face. Why would you do that? I don’t enjoy shaving at all but would plucking your whiskers out work? Would that not be very painful and would they not grow back?
Also, should you be doing that behind the counter where you make the coffee?
He doesn’t speak much English, but over the past few weeks he’s got to know us and his shyness has receded to the point where he’ll smile at us at least.
He politely address Nel as madame but I don’t think he knew the right word for addressing me and so he usually just nods and smiles. Until yesterday, when we found him to be in a much more effusive mood than usual. And he called me papa. Papa! What!?
I don’t know whether he just mistranslated perhaps and thinks papa is the masculine equivalent of madame. I bloody well hope so, though Nel reckons that it’s the way Thai people address someone who’s old enough to be their papa, and it shows respect.
I prefer the first theory myself. I know, I know, I’m old enough to be his father no doubt, but I’d rather not be reminded of the fact every time I order a coffee.


From the cafe, you can watch improbable feats of stacking.

On the end of the pier again yesterday, bored with watching little schools of little fish while Nel read her book, I looked up and saw a group of monks approaching us from the beach. Monks! Help!
What’s the etiquette for such an encounter? We had no idea.
They stopped about thirty feet from us and stood smiling and laughing amongst themselves.
Nel Wei’d and I just looked at them, grinning like and idiot and wondering why they were nudging each other and smiling and laughing in our direction.
We’re my flies  undone? I wouldn’t expect a venerated one to indulge such base humour. That’s not enlightenment, that’s Benny Hill!


The pier. Nowhere to hide!

More rain yesterday.
This isn’t what we’d been expecting on a desert island.
The main street flooded again as men pumped water from the pond in front of the temple into the road, again.


Only the very tops of the tallest skyscrapers on Koh Samet remain above sea level.


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