Yes travel gives us ups and downs, and you’ve got to laugh at things in retrospect. A great travel buddy of mine, and fellow Northern Irishman Chaz teamed up with me last year to give Laos a good go. This was before all the “tubing bars” were shut down (allegedly). Things didn’t run too smoothly for me in Laos though. I managed to get ripped off on arrival, lose my camera, wallet, ID card, sit beside someone who was sick on a bus and they even charged me $2 US to leave the country. So as you can tell I’m not a big fan of Laos. But I didn’t have anything against the capital city of Vientiane. In fact I enjoyed the quiet charm of it all.
So I lost all my stuff tubing, all floating away forever in the Nam Song river. I didn’t even see my mate Chaz once the sun had gone down over the Nam Song river in Vang Vieng. I hitch hiked a ride back to the hostel on a scooter, blagged a free beer and went to bed. I had no money. Next morning I bumped into Chaz walking down the street. He was limping badly. “Let’s get the hell out of Vang Vieng” he said and he was right – we needed to get out so we booked a bus back to Vientiane to chill out for a few days and see if his foot could recover while I could make my travel plans.
Chaz rarely turns down a beer, but this was one day in his life when he knew his health came first so instead of heading to the pub, it was “doctor time”. He had an infection in his foot. As cheapskate backpackers and with a couple of months of his trip left, we both decided that I should try to poke out the infection out with a cotton bud. He was lying on the bed in agony in the hostel as I tried a few tactics to relieve the pain.
Chaz went to buy socks to cover the infection and keep it tight to the skin. First and last time I ever go “sock shopping” with a travel mate I have to say but he got the socks! In the meantime I had booked myself on a bus to Pakse and down south to the 4,000 Islands. But back to Chaz’s foot.
First I showered it down and scrubbed it with a brush. Then I got him to dip it in water. All the time the pain was oozing out and this was serious – especially in a foreign country – you don’t know what can get in there. Then came the poking out of the actual infection. It has gone gangreen – it had got discoloured and Chaz was in pain. At one point I wanted to get a razor and just scrape the thing off. But with each poke, you could hear even a boy from the streets of Belfast (George Best territory) let out a manly scream. Yep – it was painful.
A good half hour of the cotton bud poking Chaz’s foot and that was it. I’d done my day’s “doctor shift” and I said “fuck this I’ve a bus to Pakse and it’s the last few hours I’ll see you – let’s go down the pub”, so we headed first to the chemist and then to the pub.
I have no idea what the doctor gave Chaz or if it worked. I had to run to the cashpoint in Vientiane to get money out for him too as he couldn’t walk for. We found a bar on the corner enjoyed a few beers and played some pool. That was the only time I beat Chaz at pool – and he had the excuse of an infected foot. As I headed off into the sunset, Chaz rested in Vientiane for another day or two before heading back north and into Thailand later on.
If you’re reading mate – I’m sure your foot is better now – I tried my best, right? Cheers and bring on the next beer. Hopefully soon…
The Day I…Tried to Poke an Infection out of my Mate’s Foot in Vientiane is part of my series of crazy stories on here…tons moe to come…
3 thoughts on “The Day I…Tried To Poke An Infection Out Of My Mate’s Foot With A Cotton Bud in Vientiane, Laos”
When I was in Australia, 3 of my friends came via Asia and all received badly infected cuts due to tropical infections sustained in Vang Vien in Laos… I have never been there but that river must be pretty dirty!!
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Despite the dangers, Its worth doing for the experience Adam – I’ve heard a lot of the bars have shut down recently though. If you go there to do the tubing and want some good advice – start tubing early in the morning and actually get some decent tubing done (floating down the river, amazing views, relaxing etc.), then start the drinking in the afternoon – you’ll be given free shots in some bars and it’s just carnage. Be safe and dont take ANY valuables with you. I trusted myself more than my hostel and that was my big mistake – shouldve left my wallet and camera in the hostel…