Malaria and Dengue fever are similar. Both are a symptom of early tropical rain and the bothersome mosquitoes biting by the dozens, whenever you step from under protection without protection. I sleep under the mosquito net in my dandy chamber and preferably with my window open, but these days I hide in the air-conditioned safety of locked shades, bothered by the fact I live at the beachfront and cannot dream freely under the midnight skies.

Turns out that my prediction about the illness experienced by some of my staff was head on, when I treated the pastry chef with Malarone on his first day of symptomatic Dengue fever. Although HR finally dragged him to the nearby hospital (where they had no equipment to take a blood sample), I had had requested a transport to the better Phuket hospital. Tomsai beach hospital is still under construction after the Tsunami destroyed the entire village… I had send two of my staff back to the Island with Aspirin and codein but unclear about a professional diagnosis. To circumvented HR’s  uncompassionate care for my staff, I arranged for “little Steward” to go home to the Phuket where the local hospital confirmed he had Malaria. The doctor prescribed him the same medicine I had given the pastry chef in the week before.

It’s noot a big mystery to a trained TCM druid; besides it is well illustrated in every Thai travel journal and yet, awkwardly,  I’m wondering why we don’t have this prescription drug in our nursing department…Every hotel should be better prepared!

Malaria is basically dangerous, if caught multiple times and left untreated, you will experience terrible muscle pain, headaches and high fever, diarrhea, loss of appetite. Here in Thailand they call it “bone shattering sickness”(lic). I have to remind myslelf in there is no need to suffer through this for three days before HR finally sends their staff to an (inactive) hospital, where they received something equivalent to Tylenol (a prescription drug anywhere but in the USA).

The last days were busy, especially around lunch time. I designed an easy to prepare menu for a Spanish travel group visiting Thailand for a magazine sponsored promo tour, including exquisite Thai-fused Gazpacho Andalusia and we prepared Paella with sea food fresh off the fishing boats out front.  (recipes included under THAI ISLAND MENUS) After they enjoyed their “home-cuisine” I invited the ladies to visit our modern kitchen. They all walked barefoot from the beach into my squeaky clean workplace (which is quite normal here…) and one of the Spanish tour Agent, while flicking her cigarette ashes on the floor explained: ”Very clean kitchen! I can tell you are Swiss”… I’m American.

Another travel group of eleven arrived two hours after they announced their arrival for lunch and within the first fifteen minutes complained that the food took way too long to arrive on the table. That after-noon, after starting at 4:00AM by around 3:30PM I shlepped myself to bed – under the mosquito net) and took a nap… one of those naps you wake up one hour later; feeling even worse.

The days started early, like today: We had an underwater dive team, filming equipment for the big boss and requesting staff presents, food and boat ready-to-go by 6:30AM. We are still five people short. Somehow we manage, but everyone is showing signs of tiredness.

Dinner preparations are faster now, and the consistency, quality and plating has improved; it is of great advantage for the cook helpers that I am working next to them and physically show techniques and encourage positivity. Although, sign-language is dangerous when talking with knife and fry pan in hand… We laugh a lot!

The skies regularly close at sunset and it rains shortly most evenings: That chases the early dinner guests inside. Room service orders drizzle in – I’m proud of the menu concept we created…  In general we have a fun time, even though we stay busy for the entirety of days. To keep staff happy and alert, I make sure they eat healthy and we spike our drinks with ginger and chaga root powder.

The other evening I requested the Pastry chef to write down the names of my cold kitchen lady; Yok (sweet lady-boy) and the GM secretary’s name for her birthday cake. It’s impossible for me to learn Thai… I’m clearly not a linguist! I finally translated the hotel name “ZEAVOLA” and discovered that its an old TCM remedy! Our Italian restaurant “TACCADA” is the latin name thereof. This plant grows alongside the entire wall and around most of the hillside cabins… I wrote about its medicinal benefits twenty years ago for a school project!

There is a “hole in the wall” – bar on the very end of this beach. A slightly scary walk (for a foreigner) through living quarters of fisher villagers and back: it is a karaoke dungeon. I have no better words for that dark smelly room I visited during daytime: yesterday – it is scary even when the sun shines – I went there with that birthday cake in hand… One can imagine what awful quality brew we drank; a one distilled ethanol. It includes a busy snooker table (how did they get it on this island) and an open kitchen right next to the “pee-hole” where anyone does simply “release” into a smelly corner. Seriously!

Maybe tomorrow I can blame my hangover or any other illness on the Dengue fever… and if I’m okay, maybe that “drink” was my best medicine!

TCMchef Raphael

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