Today Hollie had Delhi belly and was incapacitated, whilst I broke a hammock, got caught in a rain storm and found out what “Hell’s Itch” is.
We were looking forward to a nice day on the beach, drinking Chang and reading. When the urge took us we’d have a paddle in the sea – maybe go kayaking, or rent a scooter and go for a ride. Shortly after breakfast however, Hollie became unwell and spent most of the rest of the day in the room. To cheer her up, I coaxed a kitten that was hanging around outside the bungalow in for Hollie to pet. This was a success, and she was able to briefly forget about her desperate plight by playing with it on the porch.
For the next part of the story to work properly, I am going to refer back to the events of the previous evening, when Hollie had enjoyed some time rocking gently back and forth in the hammock which was slung from the roof beams of our bungalow. As she fell to sleep in it, snoring delicately, it put me in mind of one of her favourite Disney characters…
Later after she’d woken from her slumber, we facetimed Hollie’s family. We mentioned the hammock and I stated that I feared that it wouldn’t withstand the weight of my ample frame. Hollie’s Mum disagreed. “You’re always putting yourself down Tom!” she said.
Returning to the present, the hammock was unoccupied as Hollie was sat in the doorway, dangling the lace of one of my shoes in the cat’s mouth. With Hollie’s Mum’s words of consolation ringing in my ears, I thought to myself “You are always putting yourself down Tommy. If you want to lie in the hammock, you lie in the hammock.” I clambered in, and for ten minutes it was bliss. Hollie continued to play with the cat as I closed my eyes and swayed in the gentle breeze. I was roused from my snooze by a loud creaking. I sat up and looked at Hollie, who’s face was etched in terror – the cat had curled up and fallen asleep directly below the hammock. As I attempted to clamber out like a portly passenger tossing himself overboard from the Titanic, the rope snapped, the cat shat itself and ran into the bushes, and I landed on my arse.
Arse intact but pride in tatters, I decided to go for a walk to locate Koh Jum diving centre. I’ve been planning to do some scuba diving whilst we’re on this trip, and I thought that Koh Jum would be a nice place to do it, far from the crowds of Phi Phi and Phuket. I set out along the road in blazing heat, stopping regularly in the shadey spots to take on water. At one point on the journey two Thai blokes who were pissed out of their faces at two in the afternoon beckoned over to me to join them on their porch. I sat down with them for a minute whilst they chuckled to themselves and nodded at me. The conversation wasn’t stimulating – in fact, they didn’t say anything, so after thirty seconds of awkward smilling and nodding, I stood up and said “Water?” and they pointed me to a shop across the road. Following my google maps, I arrived at the place where it claimed that the dive shop was, to find an empty garage. Unperturbed, I walked round that area for half an hour looking for the dive shop with no success. I was walking through a complex of swanky holiday homes when I spotted a big monitor lizard and stopped to film it.
As I took a picture I noticed a spot of rain fall on the screen. “Best get back before I get wet” I thought. Fifteen seconds later, I looked like I’d been thrown in the sea. There was no point in running as I was already sodden, so I abandoned my quest for the diving centre and squelched back up the road to the bungalow, holding my phone under my shirt to prevent it from getting soaked.
Upon my return to the bungalow, I took advantage of a gap in Hollie’s use of the bathroom to have a shower. After completing my ablutions, I got out and dried my back with a towel. It was then that the burning, itching sensation started on my back. You’ll think I’m moaning (and I am), but I’ve never known anything like it. It wasn’t especially painful, but the itches were that bad that I couldn’t sit still – I had to run round the room, slapping my back with my hands and scraping myself against the wall like a bear. Hollie – herself an invalid for the day, applied aloe vera and aftersun, which worked for about thirty seconds before making it worse. I googled my symptoms to ensure that this wasn’t the first stage of some kind of apocalyptic plague virus, and confirmed that it was an irritation caused by the sunburn that I’d sustained the day before last. It was described on the internet as “Hell’s Itch”, which I think is a fairly accurate description – it felt like the Devil was tickling me with a yardbrush smeared with chilli peppers.
It’s safe to say that today won’t go down as one of the better days. I share my misfortunes with you so you can have a good chuckle at my expense, but my plight was nothing to that of Hollie’s – it’s torture being in one of the most beautiful places that you’ve ever been and being too ill to leave the hotel room.