Last week we had the annual water festival here in Phuket called “Songkran”. It is actually the Thai new year and probably the countries biggest holiday. It is a lot of fun with everyone out on the streets throwing water at each other and thousands of pickup trucks full of people of all ages driving around throwing water back.
Well, the next day, i had a blocked ear from all the water. ( I assume that’s caused it?)
Now, I play in a band and we had practice and i found out it was very tough playing with a blocked ear. If you ever hold your ear shut and sing, you’ll find that you can hear yourself fine, but not anyone else. Since we were working on harmonies, I was no help at practice. We had some gigs lined up so I knew i had to get this ear problem sorted out. Rob, our guitar player told me that he heard some beauty shops in Thailand know a technique where they pour hot oil in your ear and it loosens the wax and it just pours out. He did say that you need a good beauty shop and possibly one with men working there.
So, I drove around asking at beauty shops and they said, no I had to see a doctor or a male barber. I went to 3 doctor’s clinics and 2 barber shops and they were all closed as many people take off the whole week for Songkran Festival.
Finally I found a barber shop open. I went in and there were 2 barbers there (both men) and of course they spoke no English. My Thai is limited but i conveyed to them my problem and they seemed to be aware of it and one of them led me to the chair and proceeded to open a long skinny case he had. After putting a towel on my chest (I was now in a lay down position on the barber chair) he laid out about 4 or 5 different tools. They were all long and skinny and i couldn’t see them too good but a lot like dentist tools only longer. He grabbed the longest one and proceeded to start poking it in my bad ear.
Almost immediately I felt pain deep inside my ear, about where i expect that my eardrum is. He kept poking and once in a while he would grunt or say something that i took to mean that things were going well. But in my mind they weren’t! Looking around and trying to get my mind off the pain, I started thinking about how dirty the place looked. Not the neatest barber shop I’ve been in that’s for sure.
There was hair all over the floor, along with the dirt and things piled up on his little counter there. Things like empty cups from drinks, with cigerette butts in them, etc. As a matter of fact, his partner was smoking one as i was thinking about the dirt.
So, he kept poking and showing me little tiny dots of wax he was getting out but each time it hurt more and i kept thinking about all the times i read that you shouldn’t put anything in your ear except your elbow. Finially, i couldn’t take it any longer and held up my hands and stopped him. I don’t speak Thai very well but knew the word “yoot” meaning “Stop”. I said, “hurt too much” how much i owe you? stop now. He said i owed him the equivelant of 50 cents (US) I gladly gave him a dollar to get out of there. I then noticed that he simply put the sticks back in their holder without even wiping them off or anything.
So, i still had the problem. What to do? So, i asked around again and now my friends looked at me in horror after hearing the story and said they’d go nowhere except the hospital. And not the common hospital that Thai’s go to but the fancy modern one.
Ok, I got on my motorcycle and headed over there. Checked in and they then told me that the “ear, nose and throat specialist” comes around every Friday for an hour and i’d have to make an appointment. Which i did.
Friday came and i went and waited in line for about an hour until the Thai specialist shows up. Finally it gets to be my turn and he hears my story and looks in my ear. He then proceeds to bring out a case and opens it up and pulls out about 4 or 5 long skinny tools very similar to the ones from the barber shop except this time they appeared to be clean and shiny.
So, he starts poking in my ear and all the pain came back. He would stop every 15 seconds or so and show me a little piece of wax that he got out. I didn’t know if i should stop him as the pain was pretty bad, or just let him do his thing. Finally he was finished and gave me some drops. I went to check out and got a bill for aprox $50.00 US. Lesson learned? Next time i will take some alcohol to clean the barber’s tools and try to learn the word for “gentle”.