Northern Thailand

!Unless You Puke, Faint or Die, Keep Going

Jillian Michaels (an American personal trainer)

…So we kept going

We sat down at our regular table, at Fact Cafe. I knew exactly what I was going to order for myself. Their breakfast is especially pampering. My mouth is watering, even as I remember the banana smoothie, the sweet fruit salad, the omelet and the fresh bread. That day my gaze wandered over the beautiful artefacts that adorn the place, the paintings were spectacular. My eyes could not get enough of looking at them. Kfir found us the cafe on the second day of our arrival in the city. He pinned his face to the huge shop window and said with a laugh, "Mom look, she's taking pictures of us".

 "Who is?" I asked.

"The Mona Lisa, with a cell phone." he said.

What at first glance looked like an art gallery turned out to be a particularly high-quality cafe.

The staff already knew us and smiled at us warmly as we entered. However, they were not in a hurry to approach us. 'They must do something with the service in this wonderful place.' The thought passed through my mind as I recalled that every day this week, we had to wait such a long time for the server to come and take our order. Suddenly three tourists entered the place, went to the counter, ordered a meal, paid and sat down. I looked at the tourists, then looked at the smiling staff, who have worked hard to prepare the freshly ordered breakfast. My gaze met the young woman's eyes and she signaled me with her head to approach. Next to the counter, I noticed for the first time a sign in English, my eyes fluttering over the text. I felt paralyzed by the embarrassment. I sat for a moment in the soft armchair with a frozen smile, trying to gain enough courage to approach her. 

"Well, I finally understand that, in fact, all these days I was supposed to approach you, place an order, pay and only then settle down." I said in an apologetic tone. Her warm smile became a cheerful laugh. Soon her two friends over the counter and I joined in the laughter.

I had always thought it was so odd that the place was beautiful and cozy, yet had such so slow service. But, it would not break us! Each day they finally approached us and took our order with such a pleasant attitude, which stood in stark contrast to the fact that it had taken them so long to serve us. We had also found it a bit strange that before serving the food we were shown the bill to pay, but we just thought "when in Rome (or in this case, Thailand)." Now, it turned out that in fact we were the slow ones and they were just going with the flow.

We said fair well warmly to the Fact Cafe staff.

"Come visit us again" the young woman said.

The trip to Pai took a long time. The winding road in the mountains took a heavy toll on us. Kfir vomited immediately upon stopping for a break and I could barely deal with the nausea. Shahaf, who is usually the toughest in the group, still reported a headache and nausea, and only Itzik, could bravely stand up to the task.

Around five in the afternoon, we arrived at a small and bustling village. We soon settled in at the Rim Pai Cottage. We put on our swimsuits and pampered ourselves at the hotel pool, located on the river bank. There, in front of the magical landscape, I perform a relaxing Watsu treatment for Itzik.

By the pool at Rim Pai Cottage

Later, we go on a tour of the village. In the evening, the street food stalls open, and artefacts are spread out on the sidewalks. Shahaf and Kfir roamed the stalls and bought themselves a selection of delicacies.

When we return to the hotel, Shahaf and I pampered ourselves on a bench in the hotel garden. I sipped the banana smoothie, looking at the manicured garden. "Ummm mom," Shahaf said, "a dog took your flip-flop." An oversized, neglected-looking dog was holding my flip-flop in her mouth and ran playfully toward the street. I began limping after her with one bare foot and Shahaf, rolling with laughter, ran after us. Finally, the dog stopped, placed my flip-flop on the floor, licked it affectionately, and wiggled her tail happily. Every time I reached out to take the flip flop, she would fiercely protect it. Finally, a brave tourist came to my aid. While she was distracting the animal, I managed to take the flip flop back. Shahaf giggled all the way back.

The day after we, decided on a hike in the area. We walked one by one in a row on the side of the road, Itzik in the lead, Shahaf behind him, Kfir behind her, and I was shuffling along slowly in the back listening to Kfir's tireless chatter about this and that and blah, blah, blah… Suddenly, without any warning, Itzik stopped short. Shahaf, who was day-dreaming, immediately ran into him, and Kfir not having enough time to stop also ended up in the crash. For a brief moment they stood in their place confused. Kfir giggled "Dad, you caused a chain accident"

The White Buddha is a beautiful vantage point over the entire area, located above the Wat Phra That Mae Yen Temple. 

We passed green fields of rice. Colorful butterflies fluttered lightly around us. Despite the hot weather, it was such a pleasant day to walk. We started climbing up the path to the look out at the foot of the White Buddha. The sky was clear, the view in front of our eyes was spectacular. As we descended back, my eyes caught sight of a beautiful caterpillar on the ground. I aimed the camera and kneeled on the ground in an attempt to take a special picture. Through the camera viewer the caterpillar's image was blurry, and a funny thought passed through my mind 'Oh, he hates to be photographed, just like me!'

While I smiled to myself, I suddenly felt a repulsive taste in my mouth. Something hot licked my mouth and penetrated stubbornly, met my tongue. When I looked up a big, shaggy, black dog was on top of me. A foul odor rose in my nose. I struggled to get up. For a moment, I was swinging on my feet trying to regaining my balance. Itzik chased the dog away and I started spitting in disgust. "We did not manage to tell you," they tweeted one after the other.

 "Did I just 'French' kissed with a stray dog!?"

If it was not a rabies-stricken area, I guess I would have laughed to tears, but I was scared.


I looked at the children, "how lucky that it was me and not them."

We made our way back to Pai in silence. Kfir hugged me a lot, "I do not want you to die," he says suddenly.

"I have no such plans," I answered and wrapped my arms around him, "I still plan to travel with my grandchildren." I winked at him with a smile. But in my heart, I was frightened. When I lived in the Golan Heights, in Israel, I was bitten by a stray dog, following that bite I received a series of shots against rabies, it was a very unpleasant experience.

We arrived at the hotel. The receptionist recommended going to the hospital as soon as possible to consult with a doctor. The children waited for us in the hotel room, while I took my immunization record with me. Then Izik and I made our way to the hospital, which was a short walk away.

The hospital in Pai was small. I was greeted by a nurse, who scanned me with his eyes and asked where the injury was. I explained to him the reason for my arrival and his look became serious, "I thought you fell off a motorbike, most tourists come because of car accidents."

The nurse performed a series of routine tests and referred me to a doctor. It was quite embarrassing to describe to the doctor how I had got to the point where a stray dog ​​shoved its tongue into my mouth and licked me. The doctor interrogated me about any open wounds or possible cuts in my mouth. I stared at him not understanding the question.

"Saliva contact of a rabies carrier in an open wound can be very dangerous," he explained patiently. 

I was silent, and just shrugged my shoulders. He proceeded to shine a flashlight into my mouth to examine it more thoroughly. He was checking for an open wound hidden from view. He then perused my vaccine booklet and noticed I had already received my Anti-tetanus vaccine so I wouldn't need another dose. He also saw the two doses of rabies vaccine I had received before leaving the country at the Travelers Clinic and decided to give me another dose of rabies vaccine to be sure.

We returned to the room. The children ran to us, hugging me for several minutes. "I will survive," I laughed at Kfir and started barking merrily, breaking the tension that had accumulated. We then headed out to the food stalls together, taking solace in the delicious delicacies. We soon found a new adventure for our journey.

At one of the many travel agencies spread out on Main Street we met Che, a member of the Karen tribe. He takes groups out for three-day treks between the tribal villages. On the first night, the groups stay at his mother's house and on the second night they stay in a shelter in the middle of the farmers' fields surrounded by jungle.

The children seemed really interested, so we decide to go on our first trek.

The next morning, Che picked us up and we loaded the gear in the Toyota trunk and set off. A short drive led us to a view point in the area, the place had a "Ferris wheel" with swings. The wheel was a rather scary contraption, squeaky and jerky, it did not seem very safe. But the kids got so excited to try it, and it was hard to pull them away.

The Ferris wheel

After about two hours of driving on a wonderfully bumpy mountain road, we arrived at the first village. Then we embarked on a tough and muddy hiking trail. We passed many rice fields, corn fields, and peanut fields. After the bend of the river, Che turned onto a path through a tangle of trees and led us into the depths of a forest of bamboo trees. We were impressed by the height of the trees. It was so hot and humid I wished for rain that would cool the air a bit.

Che stopped abruptly. "Tea break," he announced. With great skill, he cut some bamboo trunks with a machete and lighted a fire. Within moments, he produced drinking cups from another bamboo stem, and with yet another stem created a kind of "kettle" for boiling water for tea. As we sipped our tea, small raindrops began to fall.

Kfir making a chair from bamboo

Kfir looked at the bamboo trunks scattered around him and decided to make himself a chair. He planned, trimmed trunks to the appropriate size, connected the trunks with a technique that Che demonstrated for him and within a few minutes, he sat down on his own handmade chair.  He devoured the light lunch as he sat back in the chair. Just before he finished eating, a piece fell off and Kfir landed on the ground to the sound of our laughter. He looked at me, his eyes shining with joy.

We packed our things and continued walking towards the village, where we would be spending the first night. We walked a long way side by side. Kfir chattered non-stop. Suddenly, he halted and looked at me. "Mom, I think I should spend more time in the mountains, in nature, I really enjoy it!" I smiled at him happily. "Mom," he added, "I'm starting to imagine myself hiking like this for a year," his wet, warm palm was holding my hand. He looked at me, with a soft and loving gaze. The next moment, he was already bouncing through the trees and disappearing from my sight.

I started to feel a dull ache in my back. The weight of the backpack began to take its toll. As Che pointed towards a group of houses down the road, I breathed a sigh of relief. Soon, we reached the village. Che led us between several wooden houses on stilts until we reached his mother and sister's house.

Cha prepares dinner in the kitchen of his mother's house

After a cold-water shower, we ate a delicious dinner. We took balloons that we had brought with us and went out onto the dirt path. Mothers sat on low wooden floors, talking to their children quietly. Shahaf and Kfir showed the balloons to the mothers, who smiled and nod their heads to give permission. Shahaf and Kfir handed out the balloons to the older children and the younger ones helped to inflate, tie, and serve. Within minutes, the yard turned into a happy balloon party. They all played together until it got dark. The mothers invited me to sit with them, offering me some sweet treats. One of the young women told me that she was a teacher who had come from Myanmar to teach the school children in the village. 

"I teach language lessons."

"Language?" I asked.

 "Karen language," she answered. I wanted to ask her lots of other questions but the language barrier made it difficult. We sat in the increasing darkness, giggling while trying to understand each other. When fatigue overwhelmed me, I said goodbye to her and found my way back. 

Our room was already prepared for sleep. Thick woolen blankets were placed on the wooden floor. And a huge mosquito net was carefully fastened over the mattresses.

We curled up together, chatting cheerfully about the events of the past day. We talked about the sweet kids we had played with and slowly began to succumb to a peaceful sleep.

A night at Che's mother's house

I was awoken by a sharp pain piercing my back. I squirmed in my place trying to improve my posture. I opened my eyes trying to see through the darkness without success. After a while, I fell asleep again, but I slept terribly after that. 

Suddenly, a rooster crowed loudly and I leapt up in panic. For a moment I was sure he was in our room. At the far end of the village another rooster answered him. Our rooster would not give up and continued to caw angrily. More chickens began to call from all sides.

The song, "I Killed the Rooster…" echoes in my mind. Kfir would sing this song from a Minecraft parody. I hated when he sings this song, the lyrics shocked me every time again.

The rooster continued to shout in a sullen voice, reaching unbearable decibels. I sat down in my seat and burst into the lyrics of the song "I killed the rooster…" Shahaf sat down next to me and we both passionately sang the lyrics, while Itzik laughed to tears, and only Kfir was able to continue sleeping as if nothing was happening.

The rooster and his friends finally finished, so we curled up together again, keeping close in the dark. The cold penetrated our bones and the loud sounds of the night made it difficult to relax. Finally, we were able to fall asleep again only to be woken up to the sound of… can you guess? 

The calling Roosters!

We started the second day with a visit to a cave full of stalactites and stalagmites. We stocked up on headlights ahead of time and left the luggage outside the cave. The climb inside the cave was quite challenging, leading us between stalactites and stalagmites that create interesting shapes. We came out of the cave and took our luggage back.

We had come a long way. The heat was unbearable and the sky was darkening with heavy clouds. Shahaf and Kfir lightly skip over the trails. Itzik slowed down and extended his hand to me. We walked for a while like this, hand in hand. My palm was sweating, but I did not want to loosen my grip. A battered Toyota was sputtering not far from us. Che asked if we would like to hitch a ride to get to shelter before the heavy rain. "Sure" I answered happily, full of hope. 

The vehicle passed us. After a few exchanges with Che, the vehicle continued on its way. He smiled at the sight of my disappointed look. "They're going in a different direction." He explained. So, we continued walking. The pain in my back was even worse than before. A few drops began to fall. Suddenly Cha roared loudly, rushed forward, and disappeared. We stood still for a moment wondering. ‘What happened?’ I tried to understand. 

Then Che returned, running, with a satisfied expression on his face. "Come on," he said. "My cousin will take us, part of the way." We carefully crossed a section of road, flooded with water, and ascended to the main path. Another old truck came towards us. Che's cousin slowed down, as he passed, and stopped next to us. We quickly climbed into the bed of the truck, greeting a man who was already standing there. Shahaf stood next to him, holding tightly, Kfir was to her left and Che was standing on his other side. Itzik and I sat down on the floor, trying to find a comfortable position between our backpacks and all the large bags that were loaded in the back of the truck. 

Shahaf smiled happily. However, a few seconds later, her smile was replaced by horror. She would spend the rest of the trip in desperate attempts to escape the expectorate of the guy on the right, who was taking every opportunity to spit off the side of the truck. When the vehicle finally stopped, she ran for her “life.” 

The last kilometer before we reached the shelter, we finished by walking through a corn field. Lightning began to illuminate the sky. Thunderstorms rolled overhead, powerfully. We just managed to reach the shelter before heavy rains began to fall.

The shelter

In the shelter, located in the heart of farmers' fields bordering the edges of a large forest, Che's brother was waiting for us. When we entered the bamboo hut, he was already working on preparing our dinner. The sky became dark, for a moment lightning illuminated the forest in front of us and the deafening thunder frightened us. The rain was falling in heavy barrages. ‘How lucky we were to shorten the route with the ride, I would not want to walk in the rain now.’ I thought and breathed a sigh of relief.

Dinner in the shelter
The rice was cooked in a bamboo branch on a fire lit inside the shelter

After dinner, Kfir wore his bathing suit and went out to take a "shower" in the pouring rain. He returned full of energy, settling into a bamboo wood carving workshop, led by Che. He soon made himself a small sword. Che surprised him with a handmade bamboo machete. Kfir was excited and asked Che to engrave his name in Thai on the machete blade. Che engraved for him his name in Thai script: สิงโต. He then taught Kfir to pronounce the name correctly: " S̄ingto ".

Kfir with the sword and machete

Night fell again as we curled up next to each other to overcome the cold. The thin bamboo floor, sagging under our weight as we tossed and turned. Every now and then the lightning illuminated the darkness of the shelter and the sounds of the crashing thunder sent chills down my spine. I hoped the house would last during the storm raging outside. Soon enough, fatigue took over my thoughts and I fell asleep. After a while, I woke up. The rain had stopped and loud noises could be heard from the nearby jungle. ‘At least there's no rooster here,’ I smiled to myself in the dark room.

We woke up to a morning overcast with heavy clouds. As we got ready to leave, a light drizzle started descending. We were trekking through deep mud while crossing the corn and peanut fields. Kfir was happy with the sword he made and the machete he received, fighting imaginary enemies. Itzik and Che walked ahead of the group, Kfir and Shahaf ran along the paths behind them, and I took my time at the back allowing my eyes to appreciate the impressive views.

A warm hand slid into my palm. I held my breath, for a moment, at the soft and pleasant touch. "I thought it embarrassed you," I did not hold back. 

"Shut up and enjoy it," she laughs. "It will not happen again," she continued, teasing me. We walked a long way, side by side, until the village from which we set out came into view before our eyes. We climbed into a different Toyota, the sky beginning to clear. On our way back, we stopped at Mor Paeng Waterfall . The locals could be seen gliding on the natural rock slides. We contented ourselves with dipping our feet in the cold water.

We were warmly welcomed back by the staff at Rim Pai Cottage , and it was amazing how we immediately felt like we had returned home. For the next three days we indulged in the hotel pool and went for walks around the area.

The next day, we rented a car to visit the nearby Chinese village. The place was beautiful and well-kept, used only as a tourist site. From there we continued to Sai Ngam Hot Spring, a beautiful nature reserve with warm water springs. The water temperature is usually about 34 degrees and in the morning the place is quite empty. We spent most of the day there.

The entrance cost to the nature reserve is 200 THB for an adult, 100 THB for a child. We were asked to add 30 THB for parking. As for the springs themselves, the entrance cost is 20 THB for an adult but children enter for free. 

It was hard to leave however we decided to visit the lovely Lod Cave. 

It’s necessary to take a bamboo raft down the river in order to visit the cave. The cruise only takes about ten minutes to arrive at the cave (the entrance fee includes a cruise and instruction).

We could have stayed in Pai forever. The temptation to do so was great but the road called to us, so we returned to our journey. We returned to Chiang Mai to spend another night at The Corner Inn 2, the owner of the place was happy to see us again and led us to our previous room. We went out to spend the evening in the ancient city of Chiang Mai. 

Once again, the MAPS.ME app got stuck and left us in a rather abandoned and dark alley. A huge cockroach came out towards us from one of the sidewalk stones. First he turned in the direction of a Shahaf, who screamed and ran away, then immediately he turned on Kfir who leapt aside in terror. "John the bully" screamed Kfir. The ugly cockroach then approached me, and I jumped to escape him. The cockroach finally turned in its place and started moving towards Itzik. We all spread out in disgust.

"Who is the mighty enemy of the cockroach?" Kfir shouts and immediately answered himself, "The flip-flop!" We stopped in our place. John the Bully seemed to understand that the game was up for him, and he hurried to disappear into the sidewalk from which he appeared. We walked out of the dark alley, giggling at how one huge, ugly, and terrifying cockroach managed to cause such a commotion! We finally found our way without the help of the rebellious app.

The next morning, we headed to the urban town of Mae Sot, aiming to cross the border into Myanmar from there.

The ride to Mae Sot seemed never-ending and Kfir felt worse and worse as it went on. During the trip, the attendant on the bus approached us. She did not speak English, but she noticed the pallor of Kfir's face and handed him a stick dipped in some unknown substance so that he could smell it and reduce his nausea. In addition, she equipped him with a plastic bag, just in case. From time to time she came back to check on him.

We finally reached our destination and Kfir got off the bus first, vomiting profusely. He was so pale. We waited a moment by his side, letting him recover. I looked around; the place looked deserted. The last passengers dispersed into songthaews (a tuk tuk made from a Hyundai truck with a cage over the bed), on their way to the border. 

A woman approached me, and in fluent English, she instructed me to get in the car. "50 THB per person, you four?" She asked and without waiting for an answer, continued, "it will cost you 200 THB , the vehicle is leaving now." She added "hurry up." I looked at the vehicle she is pointing to, a number of backpackers were waiting for the shuttle to leave. Another look at Kfir and it was clear to me that we would need to stay in town and wait for him to recover. The lady did not give up. I thanked her, pointed to Kfir, and explained to her that we did not intend to cross the border today. Meanwhile, Itzik accompanied Kfir to the men's restroom, to freshen up a bit.

"How much will a taxi to the nearest city cost me?", I turned to her. 

"200 THB, " she replied. "You'd be better off going to the border now and stay there at the hotel. In the morning, you can walk to the crossing. If you go to the city, it will cost 200 THB, and it is very far." She emphasized "and if you stay in Mae Sot, tomorrow you will pay another 200 THB to get to the border. It will cost you more! 400 THB to the city and back to the border. You shouldn’t do that!" She pulled out her cell phone and showed me a picture of a hotel on the border. "Hurry up, the car wants to go!" She kept pressing.

 "You better get going, it's going to take us a while to freshen up and decide what we're going to do," I replied.

While waiting for boys, I did a search for the hotel that the usher recommended to us. Looking at the picture of the room, it looked musty. Itzik and Kfir returned. After speaking with Itzik we decided to take a taxi to the city. I was able to find a family room at the T-House Mae Sot Hotel through the Booking website. The room looked comfortable. If Kfir developed anything, it would be better to have comfortable conditions and proximity to the clinic.

At this point, the station was abandoned except for a few people sitting in remote chairs, waiting for an overnight bus to Bangkok. I looked for that stewardess and approached her. "We’ve decided to go to town." 

"It will cost you 300 THB." 

I smiled at her stiffly, "a few minutes ago you told me a taxi to the city would cost us 200 THB."

"Right," she says, "now it will cost you 300 THB!" Her gaze was cold. She looked at Kfir, sitting in his chair resting on Itzik's shoulder. 

"Thank you," I said, still smiling, and returned to sit with Itzik and Kfir. 

"What's going on?" Itzik asked, and I told him what just happened. Kfir began to curl up in my arms. "I'm going out to look around, and see what I can find outside the station," Itzik responded. The woman defiantly stood in front of me, continuing to look at us with her cold gaze.

I stroked Kfir's hair. "How do you feel?" I checked.

"My throat hurts," he answered in a weak voice.

 Itzik came back and reported, "everything is abandoned!" 

 "Abandoned?" I was having a hard time believing it. 

"Yes, except for the office – Tourist information on the other side."

 "Great!", I leapt hopefully to my feet. 

"I’ll be back…" I approached the information stand and saw a friendly guy is sitting in the window. I checked with him what our options would be for getting to the city. 

"A private, air-conditioned taxi will cost you 150 THB." He lowered his voice pointing towards the usher, "do not go with her. You can go out towards the road. There are a lot of taxis there,” he pointed at the nearby road.

At that moment, a taxi stopped next to us. Local passengers got off." Wait a minute," he got up from his chair. He left his office and went to the taxi driver. He pointed at me and asked something. The driver nodded his head. The guy came back to me. "He is available if you want." I thanked him happily and directed the taxi driver towards Itzik and the children. We loaded our two large backpacks in the taxi trunk, while Shahaf had put all three handbags in and sat down next to Kfir.

Just before I got into the taxi, I turned and looked at the usher with a smile. She looked at me with a very annoyed expression. I sat down next to the driver's seat.

A scary-looking lady was already waiting for us at the hotel. She led us up winding stairs to the second floor. She showed us our room.  The room was quite large and had four comfortable, large beds. Although it was clean, it didn’t match the photos at the Booking website. On the walls were two old frames of pictures without the pictures in it. We were wondered whether it was a design choice because the room seemed far from being decorated. 

"Hot water in the shower, breakfast included," the receptionist announced as she turned on the air conditioner. Then she put the remote control on the dresser, "Enjoy!" she said and disappeared.

Kfir collapsed on the bed as his sore throat intensified. I suggested he take a hot shower to freshen up.

Itzik helped him get ready for the shower. He tried to direct the hot water without success. "There is no hot water," he reported. He went down to the reception and explained to the frightening-looking lady that we had no hot water in the shower. She placed her hands on her cheeks and with a worried look and sent the maid with him to check what the source of the problem was. The maid did not speak English. She bowed apologetically, took off her shoes, and followed Itzik into our room while she bowed to each of us individually. She entered the bathroom, turned on the electric water heater, turned on the tap, and waited a bit. Her gaze changed to a worried look. She turned off the tap and came out of the bathroom. Again, she repeated the bowing ritual, apologizing " sorry " (which she pronounced: Solly) until she reached the door.

We looked at each other. Optimistically, I say she must have gone to call someone to fix the problem.

We waited… A quarter of an hour passed… Our optimism was replaced by pessimism. No one was coming…

I went back down to the reception. The frightening lady was sitting at the reception desk. In the room behind her, the maid peeked at me with a startled look, while she was sitting and folding a pile of towels. "There is no hot water in the shower," the receptionist pretended not to understand and spoke to me in her own language. I pointed to the maid "there is no hot water in the shower", I repeated my words consistently, "she was in our room, ask her!" I looked at the maid, who seemed to be shrinking and folding into the huge pile of towels in front of her.

A long moment passed. It seemed to me that I would never get a response. Suddenly the frightening lady looked up, turning to someone standing in silence behind me. They began talking to each other. I tried to follow up to understand if the conversation concerned me or not. Suddenly, they both turned to me with a smile and a bow. The maid straightened up and peeked out of the room with a hopeful look now. The frightening-looking lady returned to speaking English, "he will come to the room to check," she pointed to the mane. I looked at him; he looked at me with a smile and turned towards the exit. 

"When?" I asked.

"Five minutes," the frightening lady replied.

I went up the winding stairs to the second floor. "What's going on?" Itzik greeted me.

"Five minutes," I answered with a sigh.

"Kfir vomited again," Shahaf reported.

Kfir was lying in pain on the bed.  "I feel like a big lump is blocking my throat." He said in a weak voice. I was starting to search the internet for information on a clinic in the area, when a knock on our door interrupted my search. The guy stood outside the open door of our room, took off his shoes, and placed them in the hallway next to the door. He was armed with a large screwdriver. I smiled at him happily, and he came in while bowing and saying "sorry" until he disappeared into the bathroom.

 Itzik stood in the doorway of the shower watching his actions. His amused look was soon replaced by a look of shock. He left his position by the bathroom door, "Okay Shahaf, you will probably get a chance to practice resuscitation much sooner than you thought."

"What happened?" She asks worriedly. 

"The guy is messing with the electricity without disconnecting the main switch, while he is barefoot, and the water is flowing." After a while, the guy came out of the bathroom and shook his head. His face was apologetic. "Five minutes," he said and signaled with his hands not to worry. He left our room and disappeared.

"Well, at least you don't have to do CPR for now." Shahaf looked at me with a disappointed look.

The door to our room remained open, when suddenly a head peeked through it, "sorry." I smiled at him, nodding my head. A young man entered the room, barefoot, holding a small screwdriver. Behind him another young man, also barefoot with a screwdriver, followed by yet another barefoot man, with a long hose in his hand. They were followed by two more men, an adult with a large tool bag, and, finally, the original guy from earlier still holding his own screwdriver.  

The five of them entered our room one by one, bowing and saying "sorry." The younger ones giggled in embarrassment. The older one had a serious look on his face. The owner of the small screwdriver entered the bathroom while the remaining four were huddled near the bathroom door. Itzik couldn’t contain his curiosity either and approached the bathroom opening. A lively discussion developed between the five men, when suddenly loud shouts of joy were heard. The guy with the little screwdriver came out of the bathroom with a triumphant look. "There is hot water!" Itzik declared. When they had finished making sure of this, one by one they happily turned to me, said something in Thai, which I didn’t understand, bowed, and left the room.

"A tale of five engineers…" Itzik rolls with laughter, referencing a children’s story about five balloons. "You understand that the young man in the group pressed a button with his screwdriver inside the device and solved the matter in a second!"

Thankfully, after the shower, Kfir began showing signs of recovery.

Our hotel was located in a rather neglected alley. When we were heading towards the main street, I remembered that, during the ride, I saw a pharmacy nearby. I thought maybe I could consult with the pharmacist to find a clinic for children in the area. 

We left the guesthouse and arrived at the pharmacy. We stood in line and waited until the pharmacy employee turned to me and offered her help. I started with a question but she didn’t speak English and signaled me to wait in line for the pharmacist. We waited patiently, and when it was our turn, the pharmacist came out of her seat behind the counter and compassionately looked at Kfir. She asked Kfir how he felt, showing him a large picture in which the respiratory system is drawn: upper respiratory tract and lower respiratory tract, including a detailed explanation in English. She asked him to indicate the location of the sore throat. Kfir pointed to a spot in the figure's throat. She gently stroked his head and asked, "Does he suffer from allergies?" 

"Yes," I responded.

"Do you have an inhaler?" She asked Kfir. Kfir showed her the inhaler he always carried in his pocket. The pharmacist examined the label on the inhaler and nodded her head. "You should take a breath from the inhaler now." Then she looked at me, "from the way you describe it to me he is experiencing an allergic reaction." Kfir inhaled from the inhaler and told me, "I think she's right, I felt really bad when I sat on the upholstered chair on the bus, there was a lot of dust."

She went on to describe to me the difference in sore throat due to allergy versus sore throat, due to illness. "Are you planning to cross the border into Myanmar?" She inquired. 

"Only after Kfir feels better," I replied. 

"All right. The health care system here is much more advanced. If it turns out to be an infection and the fever rises, he should do comprehensive tests and be treated in Thailand." In addition, she explained to me about dengue fever, which is common in the area. She explained the ways to prevent mosquito bites and identified signs of the disease for us. It was important to her that we be aware and avoid getting sick. 

We thanked her warmly, and she stroked Kfir's head again, "Feel better, Handsome boy," she smiled warmly. " If you need me, I'll be here again tomorrow."

Next to the pharmacy, Shahaf finds us a luxurious Japanese restaurant, where we sit down to eat and then return to our room.

Happily, Kfir was able to sleep peacefully all night, and the next day he woke up happy and naughty as usual, without any trace of a sore throat.

"So, shall we cross the border?" I asked.

We quickly packed our belongings and embarked on the new day’s journey. The sky was clear and the air was pleasant.

But nothing could prepare us for the future…

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