Thursday, January 18, 2007

A little wallowing

This post has been a while brewing and will be an unapologetically self indulgent one. I would normally try and stay clear of this but events this week have, at times, been so farcical that I need to get it out.

Almost two weeks into Korea (just three days left) and I've spent most of my time here tucked up in 'bed' feeling sorry for myself. After seeing the doc on Saturday in Seoul who prescribed me a huge list of medicines to obliterate this bug we headed off, on Sunday, to the ski resort at Phoenix Park. By this time I could barely talk and for the last four days have barely said a word - conversations have involved me with a pencil and paper. I've been impressed at people's patience and lack of funny looks.

I reasoned that going to one of Korea's biggest winter tourist attractions I would surely be able to get out some money when I arrived so I turned up with almost no Won. Unfortunately though the docs have given me a good range of pills and capsules I have to take them after meals and just three times a day. This includes the pain killers. By the time we got to Pheonix Park the germs writhing around in my head had made it firmly to my ears and they felt like someone was pouring molten lead in there. I was pretty desperate and despite the fact that I was informed that though there were no doctors in the resort (unless I had a broken leg) there was a pharmacy. I wondered weakly, meekly to the pharmacy where I managed to scrawl that I could do with some pain killers. These were produced but all my cards were turned down, cash only. The cash machine next door rejected my card as did those by the main reception. As I pleaded with the receptionists they said that there was nothing they could do and I was simply trapped here with no money. This major tourist resort accepts neither visa nor mastercard.

It seemed I was stuck and until I'd eaten I wasn't allowed to take any of the prescribed medicines. Exhausted and in quite considerable pain I wondered round feeling helpless until I found a restaurant which did offer to take my credit card. The only thing on the menu which wasn't spicy was a stew of old beef and some rice of which I forced down a decent portion. My taste buds have been doing strange things in the last couple of weeks and almost no food, especially bland food which is all I can manage currently, appeals to me.

The accommodation in the resort is, in theory, fine. I'm in a flat with two Japanese students and a Korean. A fine cultural mix where, if I could talk it would be a great opportunity to chat and get to know them. However, instead I've spent the last four days, ghost-like moving silently about the rooms. We each have a futon which in theory looks to be a nice little bed setup that can be neatly folded away. I presume I'm just not used to it but the fact that I'm not made solely of fat and muscle seems to cutout a reasonable night's sleep - hips, elbows, shoulders and knees push themselves painfully into the floor. The other factor that adds to the discomfort is that the rooms are heated from the floor, so we're on a 1cm (not an exaggeration) piece of material above a searingly hot floor (seemingly unaltered by playing with the thermostat). On top of a throat swollen and made of sandpaper and ears that want to jump off my head I haven't had more than ten minutes sleep at a time since I got here. Because I can't sleep at night I'm a zombie in the day and have made it to just two lectures this week, both of which I slept through. One of the main reasons I came here was to see Ken Intriligator talking about dynamical SUSY breaking which has been a fascinating advance in the last year. In fact there are lots of great lecturers here but I just can't make it through a lecture at the moment, the doc has also told me to have complete bed-rest.

So, in my hour of need, I very sheepishly accepted an offer of 20 dollars worth of Won from one of my new room mates which has been seeing me through on pot noodles for the last four days. Lunches which are provided by the organisers are Korean and again spicy so lunches have consisted solely of a plate of plain rice.

Running out of the first lot of antibiotics two days ago with no effect I went back to see a local doctor, having been driven there very kindly by one of the organising staff. Docs here seem to like taking photos of your insides and showing you them and it was quite a shock to see the state of my throat and ears, I shan't go into details. Having been given another three days worth of meds and an injection which seemed to do nothing more than give me a numb bottom I headed back to the resort to watch people frolic and play in the snow and whiz down the mountain as I had imagined myself doing just a few weeks ago.

Anyway, this is all feeling a bit unnecessary but it is part of my travel adventures and it has been a truly unpleasant, completely useless and very expensive way to spend two weeks in bed. In theory I fly to Japan on Sunday though if my ears still feel like this I will have to make sure it's not a bad idea. In a minor complication British nationals are only allowed two weeks in Korea without a visa and that time will run out on Sunday so I'm not sure what happens if I'm not better by then.

Huge frustrations and unless the fever has gone down by tomorrow I'll be back to the docs to see if three weeks with no respite for a bug like this is to be expected.

As I mentioned before, I do have good news to share but will wait until I'm in the right mood to write about it.


Anonymous said...

Jon, you really are the unluckiest bloke I know. Sorry to hear you're taking ages to recover and are having such a mare with your cash. I take it you didn't get any skiing in then?
Hope you get better soon and cheer up to the point you're so excited your eyebrow vibrates - just think of Spain and frequent weekend Cherry/Inman visits.

Anonymous said...

Christ Cherry, you really know how to kick a man when he's down. The thought of frequent visits from us is enough to bring warriors to their knees, let along a limping Biscuit. But I echo your other sentiment. Get well soon Jon! The very fact that you took a handout from someone illustrates just how ill you are. Look on the bright side - you'll appreciate feeling normal again so much more...

Benjamin said...

Hi Jon. I hope you're doing everything you can to look after yourself. Work clealy needs to stop until you recover and if you can get people around you to help cook and provide you with fluids etc you really should. You're not one to complain, mate, so it can't be good. Here's to the invading bug/virus getting out of your body very soon x

Anonymous said...

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If you want to do this just go to my blog and in one of the comments just write your blog name and the URL and I will add it to my site.


Unknown said...


Nope, no skiing this time but at least it was in a scenic spot. I could have been lying feverish in some industrial dead-end but thankfully I had something nice to look at out the window.

As you well know my eyebrows haven't vibrated since '98.


Warriors yes, but luckily in reading this I was already horizontal so no adverse effects.

I am indeed appreciating normality all the more now.

Hi Ben,

I'm well on the mend now and thank you for the sentiments. I'm sure that the fact that my throat was so enflamed, meaning I couldn't hydrate myself extended the discomfort. Still, all good now.

Chat soon,


Hi David,

I'm very pleased you enjoy reading this blog. Lovely to have people come by and see what's going on the other side of the world.

I have to admit that American Football has never been my thing. I'll keep the comment here and if in the future I get into the sport then I'll be sure to link to your site.

All the best,