Ebb and Flow

Ebb and Flow

A sick day in Mandalay.  About malaria.  About the Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse and Mama.

First I thought it was the air-conditioning on the bus.  I was freezing and the cold air was blasting at full speed.  It did not get much better after closing all the vents in front of me and behind me — as you may recall, this bus was nearly empty.

I wrapped one of the questionable looking nylon blankets around me which sported the “Hello Kitty” slogan I saw everywhere in Japan, then two. It barely made a difference.  When we stopped for a break and stepped out into a brick wall of heat, the heat barely seemed to touch my skin.  I could not get warm.  It was then that I realized that all is not well.

Arrival in Mandalay mirrors arrivals anywhere — an onslaught of licensed and unlicensed vehicles are offered for transport at ridiculous prices; it is obvious that I am pretty clueless and new in this town.  I don’t even know where my hotel is as I went by a word of mouth recommendation rather than the LP list.

I refused a motorbike, picked a taxi and over-paid by nearly 100%.  That is about the extent of criminal activity that seems to be committed against foreigners around here — I can live with that.  My taxi bill still was only $6.  My luggage and I now have safely arrived at Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse, a small family operation run by “Mama” whom everyone seems to love.  She was not in, but it looks like I will meet her soon as I will be here for a while.

By the time I had chosen a small but bright room right off the main floor behind the common area — it will be lively out there, but I have ear plugs — I was shivering in what was still a whopping 35 C/95F degrees.   I definitely was sick.  I popped some ibuprofen and two hours later was at least in a condition of walking outside and getting something to drink.   At 7:30 PM it was bedtime.

Between sweating, freezing, and aching I passed the night.

Two more IBUs got me up for a lovely breakfast of pancakes, fried eggs, juice, fruit, tea and as much of any of it as I could eat.  Do you recall the Breeze Guesthouse with it’s stingy breakfast?  They could learn a thing or two from Mama.  I had not eaten since yesterday.  And there was definitely nothing wrong with my appetite.  Does that rule out malaria?

Originally, I was under the impression that when you take malaria pills you can’t get sick.  Wrong.  But when you get bitten by an infected mosquito you will in all likelihood contract only a mild and treatable form of the disease.  Do I need to worry?

Over breakfast I met Mama, a woman radiating positive energy and a genuine love for her guests and her business.  You could tell by the way 6 college guys traveling together took leave of her: hugs, photos, handshakes.  She greeted me warmly and with genuine concern about my condition. That is the kind of place I would stay any day.  Forget hotels!

The crowd in this guesthouse is definitely more of the backpacker and young type.  I was by far the oldest person around.  But I feel perfectly comfortable with these youngsters and had several good conversations over breakfast already.

There was Cody from the US who is hanging out waiting for his girlfriend who took off on a 10 day Vipassana Meditation, retreat for which Myanmar is famous.  This morning he could not find his pouch with passport and all.  I hope he will.

There was Fab from Italy who had left his home years ago traveling and working his way around the world.

There were two of the six guys who happily practiced some of their German skills with me.  After a year of studying together, abroad in Hongkong in an exchange program, they ganged up for a month of travel before going home to GB.

And finally, there were Jamie and Heather from GB as well.  They are going to one of the most famous sites in the area tonight via taxi and tentatively I committed to sharing a ride with them.  We shall see what another 8 hours in bed will do for me.

The IBUs were wearing off and I headed back to my room sweating, freezing and resting. The muffled sounds of motorbikes, kids playing, people talking made it through to my foggy brain.  Whenever I opened my eyes for a quick glance at the clock, invariably one hour seemed to have passed.  The good news is that I am not getting worse.  No further malaria symptoms are developing that I can tell, like diarrhea.

I will give it another day and see if I make progress.  It was good to hear that Mama’s son is a doctor.  Not a local one, but available for advice.

I even pulled myself together to write this blog.  🙂

But there are no photos today.  My camera is still packed and there will be plenty of opportunities later.

Back to bed!

P.S.  Do you wonder what Schüttelfrost is?   It is the quite descriptive German word for the chills.  Something like shaking in ice.  😉