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On the way back to Ranong from Ko Phayam (a small island near Ko Chang), I sat at the head of a longtail, surrounded by eight Buddhist monks in orange robes and sandals, heads shaved. They'd been on the island blessing bungalows (including our own) and bars, bringing good fortune tot he people from the Buddha.

One of the monks saw me rubbing my knee in pain (the result of a teenage injury), and applied a tincture to it, one made at the monastary. He then gave me the bottle, his last. The monk went on to explain (by way of a bungalow owner) how I should cure it. It was a rather drastic method.

You get a kilo of ginger and pulverize it. Apply it to the injured area, an inch thick. Then you take one of those firestarting tablets (potassium, I think) and break it into five pieces. You put these pieces on top of the ginger, and light them on fire.

By way of both his facial expressions and my interpreter, I came to understand that this will burn like hell. You then wrap the ginger and leave the poultice on overnight.

4-7 treatments, he says, are enough for a permanent fix. This was the mothod he said he used to cure the pain in this arm from an improperly set bone. I'm not so sure about it. But I do know that my only Western option is surgery. I think I'll try the monk's method first.

coming soon: The elephant and the cobra, adventure in Khao Sok National Park

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