We left, feeling defeated, and walked the mile or two in 92 degree heat to one of the only hotels in town. The night took a turn for the better when we discovered a big festival by the river. We ate our brains out
! Fried chicken balls, pizza, meat sticks, frozen yogurt, and a chocolate mousse cup. After almost gagging on the mousse cup, we took it back to kindly explain that the milk had gone VERY bad, and that they maybe shouldn't sell any more. The woman smelled and tasted the cup, managing to keep a straight face and say "mmmm chocolate". We gave up and left, but as we left I looked back and saw her face wrinkle in disgust as she passed the rancid chocolate cup to her husband. After perusing the usual stalls full of clothes and trinkets, we stopped to watch some Chinese karaoke performers on stage. There were about two dozen white-tablecloth laden tables in the plaza, each on full packed with people. One of the groups invited us over. We joined them, and learned that it was a Chinese religious festival. The friendly faces at the table insisted on stuffing us with food and drink. The conversation was limited by language (we were the only non-Chinese-Thai people there), but a few translators came by to say hi. The highlight of the performances was a man dressed in all black (except for his colorful mask), dancing dramatically as a warrior. He would move throughout the crowd like a magician. With one touch to his face, his old mask would vanish and a new one would replace it. People were going nuts! One of the women dragged me over and tried to force a 100 Baht tip into my hand to make him do the trick in front of me, but there were no masks left by then. So we thanked our new friends for their hospitality, moved over to the Chinese opera stage, and eventually wandered home. In the middle of the night I decided to buy plane tickets to Bangkok, but Mark calmed me down and convinced me to wait until after the G6PD blood test on Monday.
Sunday was a waiting day. We went to our favorite cafe (mostly because they have wifi) and ordered ice cream sundaes. We have found that all food generally looks nothing like the picture, but Mark and I each received a perfect 3-scoop sunday, drenched in caramel and whipped cream. I am literally drooling now just thinking about it. Unfortunately the meal ended when a cockroach wandered over my bare foot. Not ideal.
Monday started with an early morning walk to the hospital. We waited in various areas for a couple hours and passed paperwork to numerous people before Mark was asked to take another pee and blood test. The hospital was composed of a few floors, all similar in style. Each contained a few areas of chairs, bathroom scales, and blood pressure machines. The main area downstairs was filled with people in chairs, wheelchairs, and rolly-beds. The room read "chaos" to us, but we were convinced that there had to be some order to the madness. Making good use of the 2-hour wait for results, we picked up some BBQ pork sticks, sticky rice, and Carnation coffee (sugar coffee) across the street. Finally the results came back: normal, no G6PD issue. After paying the $10 bill we rushed back to our hotel for checkout, then made our way back to the coffee shop to buy tickets for the next possible flight to Bangkok (and an international hospital) that afternoon. The airport featured two gates, two airlines, and three flights per day: all to Bangkok.
We arrived in Nakhom Phanom, Thailand on Saturday after a 2-hour trip over the "friendship bridge" and through immigration. Nervous, we immediately went to the government hospital. They had Mark pee in a cup and take an x-ray. The results came back with no infection, and no kidney stone. The doctor thought Mark should take a G6PD test, but the required lab techs wouldn't be in until Monday. If he tested positive it would mean that he had a recessive gene that causes a lack of protein in red blood cells. Drugs such as doxycycline (which we are taking for malaria) mixed with environmental factors (unknown street food) can cause the red blood cells to break.