I'm on the bus to Bangkok quietly scanning the passengers around me, when the lady across the isle reaches into her pocket and removes a small object. I predict with unmistakable clarity what is going to happen  next. She raises the object to her face, and...bingo! the moment I have been waiting for.

I have been conducing a curious experiment during the past week regarding this particular action and the Thai's  obsession with this small object. I find it humorous that this object we as Westerners rarely use and is only available at drug stores has become an addiction in Thailand, fanagling its way into every checkout stand, convenience store and street vendor shelf in the country. I silently chuckle to myself and recall that I've seen this particular action accomplished by different people at least three times in the past hour. The seemingly Vicks VapoRub obsession is in full swing, and I am convinced that good ol Vick can thank Thailand for singlehandedly attributing to a large portion of his profit margin. 

That's right...cold ridden or not, I guarantee there is a Vicks sniff stick present in every wallet, purse or pocket of each pedestrian I pass. They're sold for $.50 a pop and stocked at convenience stores if they were Wrigley's chewing gum and going out of season.

I'm inspired. I pull out my Vick's stick-which I was obliged to buy for research purposes-and shyly take a sniff. Arctic chill rushes through my lungs and I am jolted awake. Im not going to lie, it feels good, and I can see how the Thais have become so easily addicted. The lady sitting next to me is obviously also inspired, and she removes her stick of VapoRub and follows suit. A Vicks scented cloud drifts my way, the urge returns, but I resist. I have limited myself to one sniff a day. Surely sniffing Vicks can't be healthy and I don't need to become addicted. 

This decongestant turned amusement is like a fifth appendage here; always perched between two fingers and ready to entertain when bored. Everywhere I go I see people sniffing the stuff and I've lost track of my running mental count. I've even seen a mom smearing her infant's face with pure Vicks before bed. It looks like the addiction starts young. 

The land of Smiles surely must have a secret to its abundant happiness. I'm convinced it falls somewhere between the massive amounts of heavenly Thai food and Vicks Sticks...I'll let you decide where. 
 



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