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Quick relief for broken guts'

Just about everyone in Thailand at one time or another suffers the unpleasant experience of tong sia, when your stomach announces that you need to find a toilet very quickly. It's Sod's law that this doesn't occur when you're sitting at home or in a hotel, but instead happens at the most inconvenient times.

Don't worry, I'm not going into any unseemly yarns of Crutch being "caught short", although there are a few grim tales to tell. The reason for this topic is that I recently received through the post a book entitled Broken Guts (Tong Sia) by Anthony Aikman, a retired British doctor living in a Lahu village in northern Chiang Rai.

The book is described as a "rough medical guide for travelers in Thailand and Southeast Asia". it is in an unusual format in that it is handwritten, not typed, but is still easy to read although the author admits there are plenty of spelling mistakes - but that's why it's called a "rough" guide.

It is not just about stomach upsets but every type of medical problem you could face wandering around Thailand, from food poisoning to armpit boils, from jellyfish stings to snake bites. There's even a page on dodgy mushrooms.

It's all written with a sense of humor plus entertaining illustrations and can be found at Asia Books. It could come in very useful next time you have "broken guts" somewhere out in the boonies.