The Thailand Diaries: Mr. Parasite and the case of the missing toilet

After three years living in Thailand I decided it was time I wrote my memoirs… this one may be a little too much information for some but if you can’t tell your diary, who can you tell?


My tummy had been doing somersaults since I had woken up but I had put it down to whatever undoubtedly spicy-fried-stuff-with-rice that I had eaten for dinner the night before.  It’s not unusual to feel every single digestive movement within you when you are embracing the local food in Thailand.

Little did I know that there was a particularly pesky parasite harbouring within my body waiting to burst forth – quite literally – and make an appearance.  Only time would reveal this, and my what timing Mr. Parasite had.  I would soon find myself wishing I had listened to my gut’s grumbles with more attention but we all know that hindsight, and a rather memorable toilet (or lack thereof) experience, is a gift we cannot savour until it is already too late.

Perhaps someone reading this will learn something, and my experience will enable another to avoid what was unavoidably my fate.  Read on and take note, dear reader.

As I have already said, I was embracing the local cuisine of Thailand’s deep south, and so I found myself heading over to a little khao geang (literally rice curry) place at breakfast time.  It was owned by a lovely couple who would rise early to prepare an array of dishes to be laid out buffet-style for the customers to peruse and take their pick of.  As is usual in these set ups, the shop was in the front of their house, backing on to the living room which they shared with the patrons.  Unusual by Western standards but very much the norm here in Thailand.  Another rather un-Western thing – customer toilets are few and far between in these types of establishments; this fact would become all too apparent all too quickly.

Grumble.  Groan.  Squelch.  I looked at my breakfast of spicy-fried-stuff-with-rice and was unable to conjure up the slightest inkling of an appetite.  Strangely enough, being able to feel your internal organs in action tends to be quite the appetite killer.

Grumble.  Groan.  GRUMBLE.  GROAN.  Suddenly the urgency with which my insides operated reached a peak with only one message.  TOILET.  NOW.

Mee hongnam mai ka?  Possibly the single most important phrase to learn upon travelling to any foreign land – do you have a toilet?

The husband-wife curry shop duo looked at one another and then at me, in my white school shirt and pencil skirt.  They started to explain that it’s their toilet, it’s no good for customers, especially not farang customers in tight skirts… but I was already up and heading to the back of the house where their gazes lead me.  Tee nee ka?  Here?

I was  in there before they had time to answer but sure enough I found myself in what must be the family bathroom.  A damp concrete square of a room with a concrete floor and only sky where a ceiling would normally take residence.  Good for ventilation I suppose.

GRUMBLE.  GROAN.

I desperately cast my eyes around, looking for the bog, the loo, the porcelain throne… nothing.  There was a small container of water, adorned with wrung out flannels, an old bar of soap and a couple of toothbrushes.  Next to that, a larger bin also full of water with a Winnie the Pooh children’s cereal bowl floating in it.  A quick peek beyond and I found a hole in the ground.  A hole, albeit encircled with a porcelain frame, as if to confirm that yes, this is in fact the toilet.

Full disclosure: I should probably apologise for the misleading title of this post – there was a toilet, just not the type that I am used to.

My pencil skirt was too tight to be hoicked up and so I whipped it off and flung it over my shoulder.  I’ll save you the details of what happened next but let me tell you that Mr. Parasite put me through my paces.  Epic toilet times – a rite of passage when adjusting to a life abroad but something best enjoyed (wrong word) in the privacy of one’s own home.

Something you learn quickly when you are traveling through or living in an Asian country is that there is a distinct lack of toilet tissue, especially in those countires that favour a bidet hose, or bum gun as I like to call it.  In fact, you quickly learn that we have developed a whole load of unnecessary Westernised expectations when it comes to the toilet.  We don’t need toilet seats, automatic flushes or jet powered hand dryers, but at some point we decided that we do.   Had I had the time to think things through before my rush to the toilet I would have grabbed some paper towels from the table.  Again, hindsight.

Unfortunately for me it was a double whammy.  Not only was there no toilet but no bum gun either.

Panic started to set in.  Do I shout for someone to bring me some tissue?  There isn’t even a bin.  Not an option.  There I was, squatting askew a hole in the ground, half dressed with my skirt slung over my shoulder desperately looking for a post-toilet clean up solution.

There’s only so long one can stay in such a position without taking action.  I was time to go truly native, armed with gallons of water, a Winnie the Pooh children’s cereal bowl and…

… my hand.  Oh yes, native indeed.

Thank goodness there was an old bar of soap.

At the time I have to say that wasn’t one of my most pleasant mornings, but at least now I can look back and laugh, and I can face any toilet situation safe in the knowledge that it will never be that traumatic ever again.


I may look back and find this funny, but many people don’t even have a hole in the ground let alone clean water to wash with or even drink.  Check out the gifts you can buy over at Water Aid  to enable people to have access to clean water and village water systems. 

This isn’t a sponsored post, I just want to make up for laughing at what is a daily occurrence for so many people around the globe.

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Phuket Sketchwalk 2015

One of the positive sides of moving to a more ‘foreigner friendly’ place such as Phuket is that there is much better communication between local people and non-Thais.  I guess it is ultimately down to the fact that the local people here are better able to speak and write English alongside the basic fact that there is just more going on around here than there was in Hat Yai… it is a tourist destination after all.

So when I saw an advert for this event taking place in Phuket, I was eager to get involved, especially as one of my new year’s resolutions (I do hate them but they are necessary to get me going each year) is to do more arty stuff.

Myself and a couple of other teachers who are artistically inclined decided to go along to the free workshops on the Saturday because a) everybody loves a freebie and b) the other events started at 8.30am each day which is basically not happening on a non-school day!

The event brought together Phuket Sketchers and Bangkok Sketchers, both of which are groups on facebook where people can share their art and organise meet ups.  It was really nice to see how many people locally are interested in art and hopefully this might be the kick up the bum I needed to get back into art in general.  During our mini workshop I ended up painting a picture of my coffee which isn’t something I would usually do but it was nice to simply set aside some time to doing something I enjoy with other people. The event was really well organised and the people running it were so helpful, providing us with English translations when needed and generally being really welcoming to the few foreigners that turned up.

Here are some pictures from the event.  I borrowed a couple from the Phuket Sketchers facebook page which you can find here if you live locally and want to find out more.  Hopefully there will be more events like this in the future as I now wish that I had been less lazy and had joined in the early morning sketchwalk activities too… always a next time (I hope).  Yay to me for getting off my bum and doing something other than going to the beach on my days off; it’s a hard life, I know!

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Update: I am alive, pANUS and cat punches

Once again the pull of real, actual life distracted me from blogging about said real, actual life.

I’ve been a busy bee what can I say?

Busy doing what?  I hear you ask, clearly in desperation of knowing just what a relative stranger has been up to…

I’m afraid you will just have to wait and see. 

What I can tell you is that the business… (wait, busyness… busy-ness?) has been work/career based and has involved the purchase of not one but two, yes two, cat themed notebooks, a lever arch file and three highlighters.  You are on the edge of your seat, I can tell.

But seriously, new things are on the horizon, ideas have been set in motion, there’s plenty in the pipeline (I suck at idioms and sayings so I’m sure those aren’t quite right) but until things are official I shall remaim shtum.

For now, let me share something that has surely made all motorists on Thai roads snigger at some point or other;

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A friend of mine said that it was a portmanteau of penis and anus which I thought was quite profound (once I had looked up portmanteau in the dictionary).

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Also, here’s a nice shiner that Brian the cat who adopted us gave me.  I woke up the next morning with an actual black eye – my first, and I was quite proud of it.

I think his punishment was fitting…

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Cat wasn’t too happy about her wardrobe being raided though.

Enough mindless rambling for now.  I’m sure when certain things get confirmed I will have a whole lot of things to be writing about!

^..^<

Coffee for one, please

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Sometimes a solo visit to Starbucks is the best way to sort your head on a Sunday morning.

A combination of writer’s block and not knowing what I will be doing six months from now has resulted in a head that needs clearing.  If it was sunny I’d be on the beach (come on rainy season, time to go home) but the clouds led me to the familiar comforts of of the green mermaid and her caffeine charged offerings. 

Sometimes all it takes is a few home comforts.

On another note, my sources (AKA my facebook news feed) inform me that THE COCA COLA ADVERT HAS BEEN PLAYED ON TV and therefore the official countdown to Christmas has begun.  Ordinarily this would start of my own bah humbug countdown to having to work straight through the festive season and not really having much of a Christmas here in Thailand BUT my friends, this year is different.  Now I’ve abandoned the dark side (… the Thai education system) and have embraced something all the more familiar (… the British international curriculum) – I GET ACTUAL CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS!! 

So I will be jet setting it back around the globe for an extra special Cornish Christmas that quite simply I cannot wait for and I think will do me the world of good, especialy with settling my mind on the whole where I should be living and working and what I want to actually do with my life debate that currently spins around and around and around my head.  Or maybe that debate is just part and parcel of being an actual grown up now.

And, just like that, as if she knew that I was hankering for a festive taste from home, the Starbucks barista has just handed me a free taster of their Christmas flavoured latte.

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By the way, this post was not sponsored by Starbucks in any way!

OK, the caffeine has been administered, the cinnamon swirl has been enugulfed and this post has just about come to a close.  More updates coming soon, once this head is cleared out (amd the unavoidable Starbucks heart palpatations die down).

Over and out.  >^..^< <

Where did all the free time go?!

The blog updates have unintentionally become weekly for the time being while I figure out a new routine.  I used to be able to write during my free time at work but alas, the free time is no more now that I have what I have quickly started referring to as a proper job.  Not that my time teaching English wasn’t a real job – it most definitely was hard work at times – but now I have actual responsibilities and tasks to complete beyond having a book thrust in my direction and being told to plan something from nothing and to get it done by yesterday.

Ouch, I’m still pretty bitter about my old job.

I used to work a 40 hour week but only 18 of those hours were in fact face to face teaching hours.  The rest of the time was for planning, marking work and grading – which at certain times of the year are pretty mammoth tasks – but other than that, those free hours were spent watching series on my laptop, browsing the internet for funny cat videos and writing the wonderful musings that make their way onto this blog.

Now I am still working a 40 hour week but almost all of those hours are spent in the classroom with the class that I work with.  Granted, I’m not the main class teacher so I’m not spending all of that time stood at the front of the class teaching, but I’ve got a fair amount of stuff to be getting on with as well as supporting the children in class, watching over more troublesome students and helping the teacher to get across whatever the point of any given lesson is, be it the cultural differences between an off the map village in Mexico and Phuket, finding the correct equation to identify the nth term or writing a play script – to name some of the things we looked at only last week.

Sometimes the class will go off for the odd hour to do PE or Chinese, but those odd hours are spent marking the children’s books – English, maths, homework, handwriting, spelling, tests… it all mounts up – and getting all the things done that I can’t do when I’m assisting a lesson – going to the library, photocopying, sorting… and, my favourite – going to the resource cupboard!  I can remember being sent to the resource cupboard when I was at primary school – it was a most coveted job given only to the most trusted of students.  I used to love digging around all the plastic counters and Crayola crayons and the resource cupboard at my new school smells exactly the same!

I’m still getting my head around the entirety of my daily tasks but I’m getting there.  By the third day myself and the class teacher (who is also brand new to the job) had carved out a bit of a routine and the days were going a lot smoother.  I had learnt all of the children’s names (something I have always been rubbish at) and they knew mine, although they are still calling me Mrs. not Miss – it still slightly freaks me out to be an actual Miss rather than Teachaaaa Kylie!

My second week at school ended with a school camp for 3 days, 2 nights – expect an update soon – it was certainly an experience and nothing like the government school camps I have been on before…