5 minutes before the plane began its descent to Changi Airport, the stomach cramps started. Rather painful cramps. About 15 minutes apart. But not so bad that I couldn't haul my check-in luggage, call rojak and ask which duty-free liquer she wanted me to buy, and then push the laden trolley out to meet husband on the other side of the gate.
My timing was perfect. The minute I sat in the car, the cramps worsened in intensity and frequency; the next 24 hours saw me quite prostrate with weakness and pain, and many trips to the loo due to profuse and watery diarrhoea. This blog does not spare any graphic details.
There was a wine dinner to attend so I went to the hairdresser but the new hairdo still did not make me any better though my greenish complexion did alarm the receptionist. I suggested that husband attend the dinner with my friend S, the guys probably enjoyed the Gaja wines more than I ever would anyway. Which was how I ended up spending Saturday night sipping chicken noodle soup in front of the telly.
Like any Bacillus cereus infection worth its salt (not likely to be salmonella, hepatitis or e.Coli since we seemed to eat mostly vegetables and rice and I had a suspect in mind, more on this later), the symptoms abated fully within a day and come Sunday morning I felt quite revived. Plus,the waistline was visibly slimmer, woohoo. Definitely well enough to spend the late afternoon at Botanical Gardens enjoying the mild weather and lying down in the grass with the dogs while waiting for the concert to start. There was a couple who asked if the dogs' hair were dyed, WTF, is it the norm for dogs to have pink hair instead of my Mimi and Rufus' black/grey/silver?
I checked with my colleague to see if she had any problems. She was fine. That made it easy to narrow down the list of suspects. In the last 24 hours before the symptoms started we ate the same things. There was dinner at a rustic restaurant at Insa-Dong with plum tea (v. yum), roasted squid, grilled mushrooms and spicy tofu stew. In the morning we had pastries that we tar-powed from the nearby Crown bakery (baker very tall, dark and hansem) for breakfast. Mine was a puff pastry with chestnuts, hers was a green tea something. Lunch was some not very tasty hot food we grabbed at the airport. Dinner was airplane rations.
The only food she did not eat but which I did, was a couple of deep fried mochi balls that look very much like donuts but is slightly more chewy, which I bought from a middle-aged lady in a stall in Nandaemun Market. They deflated to a very unappetising blob when cool, which was why I ate only two pieces and left the rest in the hotel room. Hope the cleaner did not eat any, because these donuts were my chief suspect for my gastroenteritis.
Other than the food poisoning, and an episode where we walked up and down the hills of Gangnam-Gu for a good hour in the sub-zero freezing cold weather carrying our laptops and documents, in heels, because we thought our hotel was 'in the next block', it was a pretty good trip. The work went as planned, we discovered more Korean delectables, and the shopping was stupendous. We both spent nearly every won we brought, and had to resort to using US dollars and buying extra luggage. Five minutes before boarding, I was still trying to buy some plum tea. Seoul is insane, I tell you.