Monday, January 17, 2011


My friends, winter has come. It is not the crisp, clean winter of the Arctic or the snowy paradise depicted in too many Christmas movies. It is ten above, and it is hell. I bet you’re all wishing it was ten above outside right now. Let me tell you (I’ll tell you anyway. I don’t care if you let me or not) – ten above in Vietnam is a lot different from ten above in Canada. In Canada, one can appreciate the chill the air provides to one’s face as he/she passes from one centrally-heated building to another. In Vietnam, ten above outside is ten above EVERYWHERE. In my tile bathroom, in my bedroom with wood flooring, in my office (which has no heating system, but which has a machine that dispenses boiling-hot water on command). I have to wear my outside jacket and my hat to the dinner table. When I get home, I go to my room, reluctantly take off my jacket, and climb into bed under my three (yes, three) blankets just to be acceptably warm. This is a big time-waster, because I always end up falling asleep (I don’t want to get up) for no less than an hour before my host brother wakes me up for dinner. I want to have hobbies, but I just find that there’s no time, on account of my sleeping. It’s also hard for me to concentrate on anything when I’m freezing at my desk. I could be studying the Nôm script (the Chinese-derived script that Vietnamese used to be written in), or writing my next Top 40 hit, or reading about world domination (not a joke – I have been inching through an abridged version of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire). Instead, I am stuck in my bed, left with only the ephemeral pleasures of dreamland.

[This section has been removed from public view. Although it truly belongs to this composition, it isn't something that everyone with an Internet connection should know. Please contact me if you want to read the part I have removed. The post continues below, as it would have in its entirety.]

All through my illness, my host mom has taken really good care of me. She has me tell her immediate of any changes in health status, she has prepared special foods for me and she has given me medication, both herbal and non-herbal. Apparently berberine, an herbal ingredient used a lot in Chinese medicine, is great for stopping diarrhea. It was no match for my case, though, even though I took twenty pills of it. My friend Min tells me that, when taking herbal medicine, one has to take what seems like a lot because the ingredients are not as powerful as less-natural ones. The first time I took berberine, I took ten pills. Why I thought it was a good idea to put them all in my mouth at the same time, I have no idea. It’s not like anyone swallows two Tylenols at the same time. So I had ten of these pills in my mouth and I was trying to wash them down with water but they weren’t going down because they were so bitter. The longer they stayed on my tongue, the more bitter they tasted. It took me a good two minutes to get all ten pills down, and about two hours to get rid of the awful bitterness on my tongue. The next time, I took three pills at a time, and that worked out beautifully.

I am happy to report that, as of right now, it looks like the final score is Josh – 1, piece-of-shit pathogenic bacteria – 0. The next time I get diarrhea, I hope I get the obtuse kind.


  1. Josh! Dude I laughed sooo much reading your blog! Hahaha excelent writing man!

  2. You managed to go this long without using a squat toilet?! Lucky, man. Congrats on surviving an IDS rite of passage. Cipro is the best!

  3. Yeah, I've been lucky to be in the big city, where even the toilets are big. Squat toilets are pretty easy, I think. I heard some horror stories about squat toilets so I always dreaded them when I saw them, but nature overcomes all dread.

  4. Hey Josh I want to read the removed section.