The Journey Om

Protection

Getting braver and braver with each passing day, we were now Thai veterans at the art of eating food from the street carts, and saying ‘Khap Khun Ka/Khap’ in thanks for everything.  Upon hearing of an organic Thai/Indian restaurant, we were left with only one choice:  try the food!

The Good Earth Restaurant was just half a block past the night Bazaar, and both came highly recommended.  Upon setting foot in the restaurant ground, we felt as though we had been swept away to another time and place.  The trees provided a sound barrier to the busy street, and the meandering pathway around the small ponds hosted schools of Koi.  Walking up to the Lanna style teak building with shuttered windows, there were signs asking us to remove our shoes and enter barefoot, a common custom in homes in Thailand.

A hushed atmosphere, with us being the only customers, and the all wood décor left us feeling like royalty, and the food prices reflected that, at least compared to what we were used to paying for Thai food.  It’s kind of hard to beat a dollar a dish, so when a meal costs four or five dollars a plate, it seems ultra-expensive.

After ordering our food, we noticed a couple of mosquitoes buzzing around our table, and I started to have a healthy concern for our safety. I had read that Malaria was still a problem in Thailand, and despite having heard the contrary from the locals, decided that quick action was necessary.  I dashed back a couple of blocks to the health food store we had browsed earlier and grabbed a bottle of natural mosquito repellant.

Racing back to save my family from impending Malarial fever, I dodged a couple of Tuk Tuks, scooters, and other madcap drivers, and sprinted back up the steps to the dining room. Any action movie fan would have been impressed. Our food hadn’t arrived yet, and I took the opportunity to apply the mosquito repellant.  Still buzzing from my frenetic dash, I pulled out the bottle and started to spray my legs.

“Don’t you think you should do that outside?”  My lovely wife inquired.

“Ah, no, it’ll be fine, I’ll spray close.  We need the protection!” I replied as I kept spraying my legs, and started on the kids.

“The smell is kind of strong…” she said with an anxious tone to her voice.

“It’ll go away”, I confidently replied.

By this time, our waiter had come into the room.  He stopped dead in his tracks, as the overpowering aroma of citronella hit him like a ton of bricks.  He casually glanced over at us, and Theresa uttered an embarrassed “Sorry” to him.  I mouthed the same, as I watched him proceed to open all of the windows in the place.  If there hadn’t been a malarial mosquito problem in the restaurant before, there was going to be one now.

Except that the mosquitoes in Chiang Mai don’t carry Malaria. The owner of the restaurant spoke to us about the precautions taken against mosquitoes.  They spray the entire city with portable ‘fogging’ machines which interrupt the mosquito growth cycle, thus stopping the malarial cycle.  The restaurant owner was kind enough to forgive my innocent but seemingly well founded paranoia.  You can only guess how foolish I felt by this point.

Fortunately, the food was excellent, and the smell did go away quickly, although not my shame.  I feared it would be a long time before the incident would be forgotten…

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