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28 Days to Better Health: Week Three in Chiang Mai, Thailand

I don’t claim to know what I’m doing as I stumble through this healing journey.  I’ve been conflicted about blogging about this chapter because it feels particularly narcissistic and I fear I’m boring you to death.  That’s not my goal.  I know a lot of people struggling with health issues and many more who just feel subpar.  My aim in sharing this experience is to inform those who might want or need to do something similar.  In the end, I’ll be sure to let you know what worked and what didn’t.  If this isn’t your cup of tea, please stay tuned for posts from my next destination, Croatia.  That said…


Day 15

9 AM: I’ve returned to RAM hospital for an eye exam because my vision has been increasingly blurry, especially at night.  The wait is long and while seated in the waiting area a staff member comes around offering free juice.  The exam reveals that I don’t have glaucoma or cataracts and I’m told I need glasses but an actual vision exam is a separate service, done by an optometrist.  It’s good to know I don’t have eye disease but not a lot was accomplished here and the cost was high.  I’m done with RAM hospital.  Cost: $26.34 US.


Chiang Mai Flower Festival

Chiang Mai Flower Festival


Noon: I’m back at Orn’s getting another massage with hot compresses made of lemongrass, mint, and tamarind leaves. During the massage, I tell Orn that I’m worried Trump will start a war.  She responds “No point to worry.  Don’t worry about yesterday.  Don’t worry about tomorrow.  Right now, you are in Chiang Mai having a massage.”  Right.  Be in the present.


Day 16

I start early today to walk my way to the Annual Chiang Mai Flower Festival Parade.  Here I see floats decorated with flowers much like the Pasadena Rose Parade and marching bands and the usual pageantry associated with such celebrations.  Following the parade route, I end up at a Suan Buak Haad City Park where there are amazing flower displays and plantings.  Just like at a county fair in the United States, plants of all kinds are displayed and judged and the winners are given a ribbon.  I’ve never seen so many orchids!


Chiang Mai Flower Festival

Chiang Mai Flower Festival


I walk and walk for hours but eventually feel defeated by the heat and tuck into a coffee shop for my first iced coffee since I’ve been here (which has required exceptional willpower since I love them but they are fattening).


I saw my first possibly homeless person today.


I’m craving bread like nobody’s business. For three days now, I’ve also been in a funk.  Hardcore detoxers would likely attribute this to detoxing, but I’m not sure.  American politics has me on edge and depressed about the state of mind of half my country.  I miss my boyfriend terribly.  Solo travel is sometimes lonely.  Then again, any kind of life is sometimes lonely.


Walking beside parade route.

Walking beside parade route.


Back at the hotel, I decide to cool off in the shower. As I finish soaping up, the electricity and water shut off, leaving me in a suspended state of soapiness, where I remain for the next two hours.  Finally, the water returns and as I am showering, I see a man in my room, which takes a moment to process.  Next, I’m screaming bloody murder and running to my door where he has already exited.  I scream into the hallway.  Naked.  He’s long gone.  After drying off I go to the front desk to find out that the plumber was checking the water in each room.  I give the staff an earful and threaten to leave.  However, most decent places are booked up now so it’s an empty threat.


I should have started meditating today but didn’t.  But I spent ten minutes thinking about how I should be meditating and that counts for something right?  No?  Why do I resist that which I know is good for me?


Chiang Mai Flower Festival

Chiang Mai Flower Festival


Despite really trying, I can not seem to outwit my own brain and reduce my cigarettes to less than ten a day.  I’m so frustrated and fed up with my inability to succeed at this one thing.  Never have I felt so schizophrenic.  I decide I’m going to throw out the baby with the bathwater unless I change strategy.  I slap on a nicotine patch from a previous failed quit and throw out the cigarettes.


I barely sleep due to bizarre dreams and sweats. I feel like I am battling demons all night.


Day 17

This is a dark day.  I don’t want to participate in the world without smoking.  I don’t know how.  I stay in bed.  I pout.  Knowing I could depressively spiral downward, I force myself out to the Sunday Market and enjoy the walk until it’s overwhelmingly crowded.  Realizing I haven’t eaten, I get “a treat” of mango and sticky rice from a street vendor.


Offerings to spirits.

Offerings to spirits.


Following is a night that would be titled “Death by Mango” if it were a book chapter.  At 11 PM, I’m tossing and turning, restless and agitated.  My stomach twists.  Sweats.  At 2 AM, the projectile vomiting and it’s evil toilet twin commence.  Simultaneously.  This purge continues for hours until I have 100% confidence that the contents of my entire gastrointestinal system is empty.  These are the moments of traveling that aren’t so glamorous.  Food poisoning stinks.


Day 18

I’m burning up with fever and weak.  I can’t eat.  If I drink, I throw up.  It takes all of my strength to get on the phone and cancel my appointments for the day.  Hours pass and I am motionless.  After dark,  I slowly make my way to the restaurant downstairs to get water and two bananas.  I explain my predicament to the staff and they tell me I shouldn’t have eaten the food at the Sunday Market.  “Not clean.”  Good to know.  I then sleep and sweat for another 12 hours.


Day 19:

I force myself to go for breakfast despite no appetite. Eggs and toast are all I can manage before fever burns me up again and I’m back in bed for the day. Naturally, at bedtime I can’t sleep.  Somewhere I drift off and my dreams are horrid and hateful and angry.  It’s my third day without smoking and I feel like the subject of an exorcism.


Spirit Tree by the moat.

Spirit Tree by the moat.


Day 20:

The fever has subsided but I’m exhausted. Something is happening to me and I see it in my face.  There is a tension and a bitterness that has left.  I feel free of some emotional upsets that I’ve been carrying.


11:00 AM: Acupuncture again.  My doctor is like a surrogate mother.  It’s worth the needles just to get her warm hand on my arm consoling me and telling me she believes in me, can see my efforts are sincere and believes I will succeed in quitting smoking.  Cost: $14.26


I feel dizzy walking home and need to get out of the sun.  I grab my usual three bottles of fresh green juice and am relieved to hit the bed again.


No smoking today.


Chiang Mai Flower Festival

Chiang Mai Flower Festival


Day 21:

8 AM: I finally sleep well.  The fever is gone.


10:00 AM: I don’t normally like to pay to have my breasts crushed in a vise but I’m overdue for a mammogram and it’s time to do it.  I’m usually the harshest dictator of my own life but today I decide to be benevolent and allow myself to take my first tuk-tuk across town because I feel slightly weak.


I get the mammogram at MedCMU which is an extension of Sriphat Hospital and offers all kinds of yearly check-up packages running from about $80 US all the way up to premium packages that include chest x-rays, electrocardiograms, genetic cancer screening and more for less than $300 US.  I don’t feel that I need a bunch of unwarranted tests so just choose the mammogram à la carte.  Fortunately and thankfully, everything comes out normal.  No further tests necessary.  Glad to have that over with.  Cost for mammogram and ultrasound: $79.83 US.


Walking back to the hotel I notice a haze has settled in the sky and many people are now wearing face masks due to the pollution.  The sky is white without a speck of blue.  Sadly, the source of the haze is burning forests making way for clearcut agricultural land.  Those who have respiratory problems might want to avoid this area in February and March when the haze is at its worst due to the temperatures and lack of winds.


I’m craving bread badly.  I try to ignore the desire. I nap and dream of corn chips. Piles and piles of corn chips.


6PM: Back at the dermatologist for more microdermabrasion.  I guess I’m a sucker for punishment. Cost: $34.21


No smoking today.


Photos from Week Three in Chiang Mai:


  1. Hi Laura
    Glad you are doing better. Although awful the illness seems like it purged a lot out of you and in the long run of detoxing that is great! Congrats on no smoking for 4 days. One day at a time. Bread is the enemy for sure. Is there any other kind of pasta like things there? Made out of rice or bean flours? Still lots of carbs, which IS what the bread craving is, but far better choices. Hang in there, I’m pulling for you.
    And I”m totally serious about Greece!!! love ya!

    • Thanks Judy. Yes, there are lots of rice based dishes and non wheat pasta noodles but I stayed away from most all of that with the occasional exception. Greece is worth being serious about! You would love it I’m sure.

  2. Wow. Just wow. SO glad you survived the food poisoning. Hang in there and know we are out here reading every word you write and cheering you on!

    • I’m so glad I survived too! I’ve always claimed I have a steel stomach since I’ve never gotten sick in all my travels but now I know. Hopefully, it won’t happen again for a long time. Thanks for the loving message.

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