Pouring rain. Hammering rain. The it stops & the sun comes out. When I go out it will rain again. Itâ€™s about 80Âº. In any case, Iâ€™ve been cooped up for two days–feels like a week–with a stomach bug–bá»¥ng á»‘m in Vietnamese: almost an onomatopoeia! I knew I was recovering when I began to imagine eating some fruit. Vietnam is so full of fruit that after a while it becomes invisible. But when you notice it, the variety and abundance are astonishing. (Here is an overview of whatâ€™s available, though it only scratches the surface. And here is 40 seconds of video that catches the feel of the streets.)1
So I knew I was getting better when I began thinking about fruit. But you donâ€™t want to stuff just any fruit into yourÂ bá»¥ng á»‘m–some will actually make you worse. Begin with bananas, which are full of minerals & fiber. Bananas, bottled water, and Vinamilk yogurt will get one through most food-borne intestinal disturbances. With one exception years ago, the combination has always worked for me. That time, I needed to take a course of Cipro & then probiotics & an electrolyte solution that is somehow both sweet & salty at the same time. Actually, yesterday, after I was mostly recovered, I went to the pharmacy to lay in a supply of loperamide in case of emergency (best to avoid until your system has cleaned itself out), along with the standard probiotic & the nasty electrolyte powder (donâ€™t be fooled by the orange on the packet). I was surprised when the pharmacist asked if I wanted a packet of Cipro. â€œKhÃ´ng cÃ³Â toa thuá»‘c bÃ¡c sÄ©?â€ I asked. (Without a doctorâ€™s prescription?) She laughed and said something that may have meant, â€œOh, yes, a doctor!â€ then she laid the blister-pack on the counter, so I got some Cipro, too. Iâ€™m not going to take any of this stuff now except the probiotic, but if I need it later, Iâ€™ll have it. Somehow, though, I usually only getÂ bá»¥ng á»‘m once each time I come.
Finally, a word about yogurt. The largest industrial company in Vietnam (barring foreign & multinationals) is Vinamilk. It is a kind of miracle food. The stuff is highly sweetened & highly processed–Westerners might be tempted to turn up their noses–but it can be transported throughout a tropical country with inadequate transport & refrigeration. It is also full of probiotics.
Sá»¯aÂ chuaÂ is Vietnamese for yogurt & to a non-Vietnamese the word looks a lot likeÂ sá»a chá»¯a, which is actually a different word, in this case meaning â€œfixâ€ or â€œrepair.â€ But if you haveÂ bá»¥ng á»‘m, sá»¯a chuaÂ will helpÂ sá»a chá»¯a your problem. Plenty of water, bananas & Vinamilk yogurt make an excellent first line of defense against travelersâ€™ stomach problems; if that doesnâ€™t work, there does not seem to be much the pharmacist wonâ€™t provide.