Well, if you are looking for originality in a book, here it is. Broken Guts (Tong Sia) is a ‘rough’ medical guide for foreign travelers in Thailand and S.E Asia, written by Anthony Aikman a bush doctor currently living with some Lahu hill-tribe in the north of Thailand. Anthony has certainly been around a bit in the wildest of places, so you can’t beat the guy when it comes to the ins and outs of getting sick.
The first thing that strikes you when you pick up the book is that it is completely handwritten with jolly humorous cartoons illustrating each page. Anthony’s handwriting and even spelling are not the greatest by a long means, but you’ll get what he’s on about, even if you’ll need to squint yer eyes and puzzle a bit.
Anthony gives us a run-down on the best self-prescription if the nearest doctor is 20 kilometers away. If it’s a bad cut you get or something like that, Anthony tells you, more that once, to ‘Just pish on it’. In fact, urine can be used for more than just cuts and grazes and the reader is reminded what Ghandi deliciously did with his. If urine isn’t yer cup of tea nevermind, the next time you are sailing out in the middle of the Andaman Ocean with no land in sight it’s all right to drink the sea water!
Besides just giving you the best home-made immediate remedies for basic illnesses such as bad guts, constipation, skin problems, leeches, heartburn and sprains, Anthony even teaches the reader how to survive the worse scenarios imaginary. If you ever wondered what to do when you are facing a huge snake, literally drowning, caught in a forest fire or half-choking to death, then the answers are here. So is a quick DIY guide to making your own splint, crutch, stitches (with super-glue even?!) and anti-biotic cream. By the way…forget about having a massage on the beach, those masseurs can be more dangerous than the scorpions!
As for more everyday problems while traveling in the middle of nowhere, Anthony writes up the wisest list of pharmaceutical drugs to take along and a thorough lowdown on self-administration. Even if you thought you had heard it all before, there is definitely a lot to be learnt by everyone from this book. Now, if you constantly suffer a lot mosquito bites, did you know that perhaps the friggin things are attracted to your smelly feet? Well I didn’t, so I’ll make sure I’ll give me feet a decent scrubbing the next time after I do a long day’s trek! And how about the best and quickest way to get that drug working on your system, just by popping it down yer throat? No, yer wrong there, Anthony teaches you about a far better place to stick that pill if you want it working on yer system quick! Bend over……..
I don’t know how many times I have heard Thai friends of mine go “Urghhh” every time they’ve seen me suck me own mozzie bites, as if I was being pretty disgusting. But shiver-me-timbers, my mum was right all along, ones own saliva is one of the best remedies for those darned itchy mozzie bites. So, the next time my wifey complains at me licking away, I’ll be sticking a copy of this book in her face. Anthony also gives you a great guide to the best natural medicines out there to either be bought in the local market or to be found in the woods, such as honey, garlic, papaya and mushrooms.
This book isn’t exactly the finest laid out publication you are gonna find on the bookshelf, they are quite a few printing errors like. But still, at around 250baht a copy, you are looking a bit of a bargain. All in all, I enjoyed it.
And don’t forget, before I finish this review – if you are ever being stalked by some head-hunting bandits, run into the middle of the forest. They won’t follow and kill you – they are afraid of ghosts!
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