#26 The Great White Telephone

Sent: Monday, March 18, 2002 1:13 AM

Two years ago today Sausage, knees wobbling, walked into the Registry Office at Westminster Town Hall and just about managed to say 'Yes' in between some of the strangest stress and excitement induced facial expressions I have ever seen in my life. Two fantastic years later we are sat on Phillips Island just South of Melbourne looking forward to a day of koalas and boogie boarding.

Meanwhile, in a strangely similar dimension a tall skinny bloke and a humanoid Sausage are in Thailand......... Now read on.

>>So it's 2.10am on New Years Day. The hot and clammy air in our room at Hat Sai Khao on Ko Chang sits heavily immobile despite the open windows and Sausage is complaining of feeling a little nauseous which seems unfair, all she's drunk to mark New Year is two vodka and oranges all night.

At 2.15am the show really starts as Sausage runs into the bathroom and empties her stomach forthrightly into the toilet. Sausage had been telling Jodie and Stuart how her body used to react to alcohol and it seems like it is keen to demonstrate. 5 minutes later the whole process is repeated, and five minutes after that, and in five minutes again and again and again. I lie on the bed listening. The vomiting is projectile and even from where I am I can hear the force with which it is hitting the pan. Just to add insult to injury the toilet has no flush so after every visit Sausage must flush it manually using as mall bucket, an average of 4 buckets full seems to be required before the big white telephone is ready for reuse. This goes on for two hours.

Then the diarrorea starts. Now Sausage is blasting the toilet from both ends and has to try and coordinate her visits so that poo follows spew because the stench of the poo makes leaning over the toilet a near impossibility. As the situation worsens so the effort of retching leaves diahorrea running down Sausasge's legs. I flutter around the edges, mopping brows, reading the First Aid sections in the guidebooks, mixing Diaralyte and cringing as more bile or brown water hits the porcelain.

Sausage gets weaker and paler with each passing half hour. She diligently keeps drinking as much water as she can and equally diligently goes and spews it back up every time.

At first what little progress she makes is lost amongst the stench and thet ears. After 4 hours the gaps between trips are at 20 minutes, after 8hours,45 minutes. But as the gaps lengthen so the pathetic rhythm is more noticeable, drink, spew, crap, start again. After 10 hours of being sick, and 26 hours without sleep Sausage at last breaks the hour barrier between spews, and the last retch arrives after 12 hours.

The entirety of New Years Day passes sleeplessly as her temperature goes through the roof and I go off in search of drugs and tidbits as required. With a paracetemol to regulate her temperature the patient then sleeps for ten hours and wakes the next morning a quivering shadow of her former self. The diahorrea persists for a further 24 hours and we have to stuff a pharmaceutical cork up Madam's bottom before we can risk the journey to Bangkok.

And the cause? We don't know, Sausage and I had eaten the same food with the exception of some fruit on the snorkelling trip. Jodie had also drunk the cheap vodka without serious ill effects, but Sausage suspects a Kit-Kat I produced following a trip to the shop just before midnight. As bouts of food poisoning go it was bad but relatively short lived, though in the midst of it it seemed never ending. Fingers crossed we can steer clear of any repeat, having watched it I'm dreading having to go through it.

As we set off for Bangkok the only question in our minds is whether the Immodium will keep Sausage's bottom shut (it does!) but it turns out that amore relevant question would have been ' What's that leaking out under the van?' We stealthily nick the best seats in the minbus (second row back since you ask, more legroom, least bumps and no wheel arches) and find ourselves trapped between a highly strung Israeli woman with a plane to catch and her large, laconic, longsuffering English boyfriend.

The minibus engine overheats 5 times, the Israeli woman keeps pace, the boyfriend sighs a lot and an English woman in front of us pours oil on troubled waters by telling us all how she always allows lots of travel time to make sure she gets her flights without getting stressed. Much Israeli huffing and puffing ensues.

After the fourth breakdown the driver fills the radiator and throws away the five bottles he has been using to fill it, confident of reaching his destination, which looks a little short-sighted an hour later as we stand on the hard shoulder of an aerial expressway in central Bangkok with the Isreali woman persuading a traffic cop to get her a taxi (he does!) and the rest of us smiling gamely as the superstructure wobbles with each passing lorry.

The best news of the day comes in the evening when, the van having finally limped to our final drop-off point, we go to the train station and find berths available on the lunchtime sleeper train going South the next day, avoiding a very long coach journey.

(SAUSAGE: I have to tell you that Jon insisted on carrying both rucksacks for 2days after we left Ko Chang while I was still as weak as a kitten.)>It is only when we get on the train that we realise how close we came to having to take the bus, we are in the last half of the last carriage on the train.

We are on our way to Ko Lipe, a tiny island in Ko Tarutao National Marine Park, a cluster of islands tucked away in the deep South of Thai waters in the Andaman Sea. We are promised peace and quiet and we are going to learn to dive.

17 hours on the train passes uneventfully and we step down onto the platform in Hat Yai knowing that we have only an hour to find someone to convey us to Laem Ngop from where the boat to Ko Lipe departs. A ragged procession around town follows as the two of us and two Germans on the same mission follow a succession of pointing fingers interspersed with some baffled faces as we suffer from successive people determined to point us in the direction of somewhere, anywhere rather than say they don't know where we can catch a minibus to Laem Ngop. Inevitably when we finally track down the correct minibus stand it is on a side road within 20 metres of where we started.

The 'ferry' looks a little like something Ken Masters might once have coveted, about 35 years ago, but now it shuffles between the mainland and the islands of Tarutao Marine Park rolling in the slight swell and periodically sending all of us skittering across deck as our plastic patio-furniture chairs slide up or down the sloping decks.

We have been talking to a Dive School on Ko Lipe by email, at least we thought we had, but it turns out that we had been talking to their representative on the main land who hadn't made plain that enquiries only became bookings when cash changed hands. So at the end of a long day of trains, buses and boats we discover that the Dive School aren't expecting us and neither is the accommodation we understood they had booked for us, which is full to the brim. But everyone is keen to help and we spend the night in a Thai Fisheries Ministry room on the thinnest mattresses you have ever seen in your life.

The next day dawns sunny and warm and having agreed that the dive course will start in two days time we set off to explore the island and find some alternative accommodation..

Ko Lipe is a small, low slung island of which only the Eastern end is inhabited. The Dive School and Porn Resort are on Sunset Beach, beautiful white sand sloping down into shallow coral filled waters while just around the headland is the windswept Andaman Beach whose flotsam encrusted tide line backs onto the island's village complete with school and a couple of shops. A10minute walk across the island from Sunset Beach through shady jungle takes us to Phattaya Beach where most of the islands half dozen bungalow operations can be found. Phattaya Song has huts fixed onto the rocky outcrop which rises at the Eastern end of the beach and 400 baht a night (6.40 pounds) secures us a large bamboo hut with a mattress on the floor, a shower/toilet and beautiful views back up the beach and across the bay where long tails sit bobbing in the gentle swell.

Learning to dive has been something that we have both been looking forward to greatly. it is something I have wanted to do for a long time, and something that has only seemed feasible to Sausage as she has gained confidence in the water over the last 9 months.

Sausage nearly drowned when she was 17 and ever since going underwater has meant two things to her, quiet and death. But on the back of the greatly increased confidence she gained during 5 1:1 lessons in the pool at the gym before we left, and based on her enjoyment of her first attempts at snorkeling we are both eagerly anticipating the course.

Lots of Love
The Travelling Sausages