Thurs, 28 Sep
Freezing. Venture out to buy a bottle of MucoHack for my wheezing mother.
“Does she have a dry cough or a chest cough?” asks the young Indian woman in the pharmacy. When I was a kid, there was just one variant of this foul-tasting syrupy medication. Today, it comes in any number of flavours, for several specific bronchial conditions and in ‘non-drowsy’ as well as normal, alcohol-laden form. The harder I try to resist attempts to sell me the ‘non-drowsy’ version, the more I sense a certain mistrust on the part of the pert shop assistant. She scuttles off to the small dispensary and confers with an older colleague. “Mrs Hemlock’s son,” I hear her whisper. “Trying to put her to sleep.”
I lean over the counter. “Not permanently!” I protest. But the ageing, sour-faced manageress emerges in her white tunic and will have none of it. The traditional concoction is now considered dangerous, she tells me, especially if the user is operating machinery. And yes, that includes a Kenwood Chef. My polite request for a small quantity of laudanum meets with an ungracious rebuff. I depart comforting myself with the knowledge that in Hong Kong, where pharmacists have the good manners to provide customers with absolutely anything they want without question, the old sow would have retired to a life of luxury decades ago.
“in Hong Kong, where pharmacists have the good manners to provide customers with absolutely anything they want without question”
…unless you have the bad manners to walk into a pharmacy in Hong Kong and ask for something dangerous like vitamin D in dosages considered normal in North America…
Or Panadaol for a feverish child…
Or Aspirin, Disprin etc
Are you guys sure? 711, ParknSlop et al all have them. In fact almost anything you need can be aquired over the counter without a prescription, for a modest fee, in HK’s pharmacies.
Yeah, dunno where you guys are going. My local pharmacy would not even have an issue with me asking for the pill form of a bag of charcoal and some duct tape.
In North American pharmacies, it is common to see vitamin D at 2,000 IUs per pill. Hong Kong seems to have some kind of limit that makes the maximum around 100 IUs. When I asked for the high-dosage stuff, they directed me to the counter where the pharmacist removed a bottle that he kept under lock and key, with something like 250 IUs, and started spouting some nonsense about liver damage.
I was refused Panadol as I didnt know the exact temperature of said fevered child. Putting your hand on their forhead wasnt considered scientific enough. Mind you this was an ABC pharmacist, who probably fears a lawsuit. I went next door to Dr Wong and bought it there, along with some Viagra, absinthe and horse tranquilisers..
Pei Pa Koa (www.geocities.jp/ninjiom_hong_kong/index_e.htm ) is one of the few Chinese natural cough remedies that have been scientifically studied. it’s something like herb plus honey, and it’s sweet, thick and black in color. If you have a cough, look for it! It used to be one of my favourite natural cough remedies.
if your cough persists, seek professional help such as traditional Chinese medicine physicians – I have had very good experiences with them.