Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Some Like It Hoth

My stomach disapproved of my weekend. It started on Friday. Lunch had been preferably decent all week (the school had been ordering in from restaurants in town). However, on Friday I was given the choice between pig stomach soup and spicy beef. I was told that the pig stomach soup was a little spicy but the spicy beef was stupidly spicy. I opted for the spicy beef because let’s face it; pig stomach soup sounds horrendous. The very idea of it reminded me of the tripe soup I mistakenly ate in Romania. I’ll never forgive a certain Scottish friend of mine for sitting and watching me devour it without informing me about what it was that I was actually eating. Yes, Alex, I am talking about you!

Lunch rolled around and I was the only one in the whole school who had opted for the spicy beef. Everybody was staring at me as I took my first sips. Ji-Sung one of my favourite 4th Grade kids turned to me, waving his hand in front of his mouth he asked, “teacher teacher mouth fire?” I couldn't make myself look like I couldn't handle it. “No!” I replied. “Very tasty.” It was one of the hottest things I have ever tasted and I made myself eat the whole thing. My students and co-workers knew it as well. My face was probably red and I could feel my eyes watering and my nose running. Indeed, it was tasty, but boy oh boy were my bowels in for a treat.

Dinner time rolled around and its Friday night so naturally we go out to eat. It was Nathanael, Russell and I who decided it would be a fantastic idea to go to the Chinese restaurant. They have amazing mandu, great noodles and amazing spicy chicken. The chicken is tolerable on a spice scale and amazing on a taste scale and Nathanael and I shared a plate. I also ordered myself a nice seafood soup. You call that seafood soup? It was even spicier than the spicy beef I had eaten at lunch time and once more I felt obligated to eat what I had ordered. Goodness me. We spent the night having drinks with Ben as it was his Birthday the previous day and departed to bed reasonably early.

Morning broke. Literally. I went to the bathroom three times within the space of half an hour. It was my own fault, I suppose. Surly I will learn my lesson. For lunch I had my weekly chicken burger from the Mom's Touch chicken sandwich take away in town, with a side order of the best fries you've ever tasted. Surly this will help. Some solid food with no spice. Brilliant. Wait, it’s not exactly the healthiest... oh god... oh no...

So guys, we're all feeling good right? It’s New Years Eve, we've had some drinks, where shall we go for dinner? Dak Galbi gets suggested by someone who hadn't had the bowel movements I had been having all weekend and off we trotted. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dak Galbi and the new restaurant in town is brilliant, but more spicy food? When will it end? Half way through the proceedings I skip merrily to the bathroom to find a squat toilet (one of the first I had encountered in town). I dart home to try and make it to the bathroom before I implode. Shoes on, out of the restaurant, slide over the ice, round the corner, past the Hopkido gym, turn right at GS25, past the chicken take away restaurant that I’ve never been to, onto the hill, up the hill, over more ice, past the church, round the corner, up the drive, through the gate, over the snow, through the front door, up the stairs, along the corridors, type in the code, through the door, onto the toilet, relax. That's the last spicy meal I eat in a week!

Nathanael went to the Buddhist temple to literally ring in the new year, but that sounded a little authoritarian to me and I much preferred the dingy Bukowskiesque bar than the camaraderie of a meaningful celebration of something that is utterly meaningless. To the bar we went, that is, Russell, Ben and I, and I was content to not drink stupendous amounts of beer or soju. We exchanged pleasantries and talked about our respective years and toasted the clock as is expected. Then the Koreans came. Soju. Beer. Soju. More soju. Flavoured soju. Beer. Clink. Clank. Before you know it Koreans have managed to get you drunk yet again but that's ok. I had nothing to do the next day and I didn't end up getting home until about 5am. Sunday was full of further toilet based issues but come Monday morning I was feeling fantastic. That's a weekend my bowels will never forget.


  1. your description of running home to the toilet had me LOL... you are a good writer Sean..

    going through some issues here in Luang Prabang with my tummy also..staying in bed all day to get over it..

    cheers mate..

  2. Thanks Bob. Good luck with that stomach. Time is the greatest healer, haha! Enjoy Laos, you'll be able to give me lots of travel tips in May.

  3. This reminds me of that Chinese dinner we had with Caleb in Bridgewater. Man, that was spicy!!
    I cried more than a teenage girl watching Titanic!