Day 9: We had a very restless night – Lil’s insect bites continued to get worse, and by this morning two huge, hot and very inflamed welts had spread up and down her right arm.
We debated going to the local pharmacy for anti-histamines, but having read an article about a guy who was also chomped by insects, was given female thrush medication by the pharmacy and eventually ended up having to visit the local hospital, we decided to shortcut the treatment options and head straight to a medical clinic.
Lil’s usual useful combination of slight paranoia that something could happen, and always needing to be prepared in case something does happen, meant she’d already identified the only international standard medical clinic in Luang Prabang – about 4km out of town, close to the provincial hospital.
We flagged down a tuk tuk, asked the driver to take us to the hospital (easier than explaining about the clinic close to the hospital). He nodded “yes, yes”, said 40 Kip and off we went. Along the road it became clear he had no idea where we had asked him to take us – but no doubt fearful of losing the ride he decided to kidnap us and find someone who could understand us along the way. Further down the street, he called to another tuk tuk driver who spoke a bit of English and asked us to repeat our destination – and off we went again.
We arrived at the clinic, and registered at the front desk where they got Lil to stand on a weighing scales with a huge Mickey Mouse face, then asked her to stand against a cartoon height chart on the way. It was amusing to watch the tiny nurse jumping up and down, trying to see the height measurement above Lil’s head.
After a 15 minute wait (pretty good for a Saturday morning, with a busy waiting room), the doctor called us in, took at a look at the bites, asked some questions and sent us to the ‘laboratory’ on-site to get Lil a blood test. The results were ready in 10 mins and thankfully there was no sign of any major infection kicking in. He prescribed anti-histamines, and a course of antibiotics which may or may not be necessary – however given the next place we are travelling to has little in the way of medical facilities, and won’t have any English speaking staff, it’s better to take them and be on the safe side. All in all it was an excellent experience – friendly staff, a very clean clinic and the total bill for consultation, blood test, antibiotics and anti-histamines came to only 35 USD.
Then back to the guesthouse where Lil rested for the afternoon to give her body a chance to start healing and the meds to kick in.
Late afternoon we heard some drumming coming from somewhere outside and went downstairs to ask what it was. The guy at the front desk pointed to the temple down the street. We wandered down to find five monks beating drums and striking gongs, creating a wonderful rhythmic sound. The same thing was happening at a number of different temples up and down the street, which collectively delivered the most glorious waves of sound right across the neighbourhood.
Afterwards we went for a walk out the other side of town to check out another local market. On the way back we heard some ridiculously loud music and bellowing karaoke voices. When we got closer to the noise, we put our heads around a garden fence to see what was happening. A party of young guys and girls were doing some crazy dancing and singing along to music, with an insanely big speaker stack that would guarantee ear damage. When they saw us, they beckoned for us to go in and join their partying.We were tempted but declined – while it might have been interesting, we suspected the language barrier might have made things a little awkward (and at what point is it polite to leave again?).
Then we walked back into town, where we bought cold drinks and sat people watching for a while, then headed for our last dinner by the river. Chicken curry soup with lime leaves and potatoes, and fried basil chicken with sticky rice – both fabulous.
And so to bed, and here’s hoping Lil’s arm is showing some noticeable improvement tomorrow morning. A tuk tuk is collecting us at 10am to take us to the bus station, to catch a minibus to Nong Khiaw, a small town about 4 hours drive from Luang Prabang.