Emergency Room Lunch Break
A follow up on the lamp post situation: I got many mosquito bites. I know that mosquito bites don’t seem like a dangerous thing, and certainly not something worth a trip to the emergency room. However, I managed to get enough of them (from the mutant mosquitos of Thailand) to suffer an allergic reaction. I will spare you the details of my swollen feet and toes, and I will definitely spare you from a picture. Luckily, at this point we were still living on campus and could walk to the campus hospital. Also, I was lucky enough to have a nice friend go with me. After making the trek to the slightly familiar hospital, I was told to go to the emergency room because the other doctors were not there that day. We headed to the emergency room and were told that the doctors were on a lunch break… I have made a few trips to the ER in my day, and I have never been turned away because of a lunch break. Needless to say, I am glad it wasn’t something more serious. Eventually, I got to see someone and received an injection of who knows what, and immediately felt better. Moral of the story: do not go to the ER during lunch time in Thailand. Try to plan your accidents accordingly.
We have now reached our 2 weeks and 3 days mark. I was recently told by new friends that when you move abroad you go through the “U” stages. You start on a high and then slowly descend to your lowest and then around maybe the halfway point of your stay, you start climbing again. Obviously, everyone is different. I think that my plummet has been rather dramatic because I have been unable to keep any food in my body ( you can guess where it is going). Hangry (hungry and angry) is a real thing. It is difficult staying hydrated when you’re sick and when it is boiling temperatures all day everyday. Also, the used to be easy things have become extremely difficult. Ordering food is hard when you don’t speak the language, and I am never sure what I am going to get. The other day I was eating something similar to vegetable soup and I ate what I thought was a green bean, but was actually a green chili. I spent 30 minutes puking and unintentionally crying in the bathroom. But very nice Thai teachers brought me water and candy, and my friend brought me milk. Everyone is always being so helpful, which helps tremendously with the transition. I always feel so terrible that I cannot speak the language. Yes, it is frustrating for me, but imagine how the people I am talking at in English feel. I have come to their country and I expect them to understand me. It’s a crazy expectation to have. Going to the store is difficult, and finding my way anywhere is hard. I have a terrible sense of direction, and signs in Thai do not make it any better. I also recently had a scary incident. While riding my motorbike late at night, a man started following me and trying to get me to pull over, when I wouldn’t, he attempted to run me off of the road until I pulled into a gas station with a large group of people. It was never on my radar to expect something like that. My main concern was paying attention to my speed, the weather, and uneven payment. Not drunk men on motorbikes. The good news is I am totally fine, and I will be way more cautious in the future. However, all of these things have made the past week very difficult, and a year here seems unimaginable. Not because I don’t like Thailand, but because it is so different from what I am used to. Recently, I have been thinking about what people say about America. I have talked to friends from home and they say “I’m sure you miss the United States” or “There is no place like the U.S.” Yea, I do miss America. But not because America is inherently better than any other place in the world, but simply, because my home is there. Travelling is so important, though. It is fine to have national pride, but it is necessary to consider how other people live in different parts of the world. All of the things I am experiencing here may seem backwards or bizzare to me at times, but that is only because they are unfamiliar. In a few months, the way things are at home may feel similarly backwards and bizzare. Adaptation is key.
On to the positive aspects of my 2 weeks here. Buddhist lent was on August 18th, and we had the opportunity to go to a temple with fellow teachers and participate in a ceremony. Although I did not understand any of it, sitting on the floor in a gold temple with colorful paintings on the walls, monks leading chants, and misty mountains in the distance was surreal. After visiting the temple, we travelled to Mae Sai for a a retreat/orientation for the English department. Mae Sai is located on the border of Myanmar.
The bus driver navigated dirt and curvy roads that seemed unfit even for walking. The Poonya Mantra resort was quaint and it had hot water and toilet paper. These things have become a luxury. We met a lot of teachers that we will be working with this year, and learned more about the subjects we will be teaching. One evening we ate a traditional dinner at the border called ma-la, a chinese meal. It is unique to Mae Sai because there is a large Chinese population there. Ma-la means grilled, and it was essentially just grilled meats and vegetables, but crazy delicious. We ate on the street at chairs and tables more fitting for my little nephew. I couldn’t miss out on the experience, so I ate some questionable things, pig intestines and chicken butt. Actually, pretty tasty. The next day we visited Doi Tung Villa, where the late princess mother lived in her old age. Her villa is located high in the mountains and is made out of wood. It was a strange combination of modesty and luxury. I’ve been told many stories about the Princess Mother. She was supposedly a very philanthropic woman, and she was intensely involved in public health endeavors. For example, she believed that dentistry was essential for good health and she orchestrated dental outreach for the hilltribes. She even had here own dentist room in her villa.
After returning from the retreat, I thought it would be a good idea to get that two-hour Thai massage that I couldn’t stop thinking about since I found out it was only ~$7 USD. I went back to the same place that Nicki and I had gone the week before. It is just a small and airy room on the side of the road with two nice Thai women who speak essentially no English. They remembered me and knew immediately what I wanted. After the massage started, the Thai troubles began (what I have named my ongoing stomach problems). It was extremely difficult to explain to my lovely Thai masseuse why I kept running to the houng-num every few minutes during my TWO-hour massage. I was very relieved when it was over and I could go home. I don’t know if I will invest myself in an extra long massage again anytime soon. We start teaching tomorrow. I have my first class at 8am. Wish me luck.
“I saw sickness bloom in fruit trees
I saw blood and a bit of it was mine
I saw children in a river
But their lips were still dry, lips were still dry
I was walking far from home
Where the names were not burned along the wall
Saw a wet road form a circle
And it came like a call, came like a call from the Lord”
-Iron and Wine