Friday, November 24, 2006

Flying back to the states

Troy's work computer is having issues. First he can't connect to his jobs internet program so his email is shot. The secondly he can only get his computer to turn on 1/10 times. And when it does turn on he get the "blue screen of death" as we nicknamed it. Well due to this stupid computer we have to come home and leave our beautiful weather. We will be flying out today and most likely be in Chicago on Saturday late night.

Things to do when I get home. First and for most I need to get my hair highlighted. It's been awhile and I don't trust Thailand hairdressers to do that since they don't ever work with blonde hair-it would probably look green or orange when they were done. How ever I have learned something about myself. I still am a natural blonde! It's a little darker than what I have now but still blonde so that's good. Plus many other things,,, eating Mexican food is high on my list. And stocking up on crystal light individual packets, single ranch packets, jar of peanut butter, and as many Cheetos as I can get into our luggage!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Montezuma's Revenge

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American Readers. I haven't written in awhile because I was ill. We are not really sure why I got sick and my husband did not. Anyway this blog will focus more on the local health care than of any fun travel trips.
So on Saturday I came down with a good case of Montezuma's Revenge. Being the nurse that I am, and how we make bad patients I decided I could just fix it or wait it out. Well I learned my lesson and learned it hard. I thought i was doing everything right, drinking Gatorade and Electrolyte packets so not to get to dehydrated. Taking Tylenol for my fever (which I knew I had but no thermometer). So after knowing my hotel bathroom intimately for about four days i decided it was time to go to the hospital. First let me say I have found one thing that is not good about living in hotels all the time. My husband and I have to share one bathroom, which under normal circumstances would be this time was one of the not so glorious times of being a newlywed :) But in sickness and in health---i just was testing that!

Troy drove me to Bangkok Pattaya Hospital (its in Pattaya not Bangkok). We got to the ER and within 5 min was being seen by an actual doctor who spoke English. I had lost about 20lbs in four days, had a 103 degree temp and was so dehydrated that i couldn't stand on my own. And then with in 30 min after arriving i was in my own, private, room. Now i love my hospital that i worked at back home in Colorado, but man we don't even touch on the efficiency these people do. Turns out I had a bacterial infection. And I had it bad. It took 6 Liters of IV fluids before I had to go #1. Yep thats dehydrated.
The room was amazing. It had a kitchen, couch, dinner table, flat screen TV and what a view of my balcony! I know what your thinking...i got some suit. Nope! This was just a normal room. Apparently when in the hospital Thai people's families stay with them and help take care of them. They even do the cooking. That would be nice in the states-more help from families. Since my husband can't cook they had a local hotel bring in food for me! Once i was eating again i realized it was really good food to. The nurses there were always on top of what ever i needed. However those poor women are still wearing the all white nurse dresses with the hat and all. Most of them wore white heeled shoes also...i really felt bad for them. I did realize how great it is to know who everyone one was though. In the states everyone (nurses, aides, dietary, housekeeping) all wear scrubs. You usually can't tell who is who. Not here though. Everyone had a uniform, and I hate to say it, but i preferred that. Especially if you don't know the language you at least know who you are dealing with. Which is good since I dealt with so many people. I had a person come in from the hotel to find out what i wanted to eat, I had someone from billing come in and get all the information for my insurance company so that HE could call them and get everything arranged for me-wow was that great. I had turn down service and everything there. It rivaled my hotel The equipment and technology was the same as if i was in the States also. I felt i got better care than i would have back home.
I was able to leave the hospital the next day (they let me out early since i was a nurse and could do the follow up on my own!). That was nice since it is thanksgiving. They had a couple other little things i liked that i think we should maybe adapt in the States. When I was getting checked out I had to go to the billing department. I had to pay my bill or have a letter from my insurance company saying they would pay. Since the billing department already called and took care of it all i was done. But we have all been or known someone who has had their hospital bill messed up so i asked what happens if the bill has errors on it or there is a problem with it, how can i get that fixed. Well the billing person i was talking with said that if she made a mistake in processing my bill then it come out of her paycheck-WOW! This did slow down my leaving by about 10 min, but totally worth it to me. Overall I was very impressed with this hospital.
So what did we do for Thanksgiving...well we found a local pub that had a buffet of turkey and normal Thanksgiving food. We ate and went back to the hotel.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Loy Krathong (festival of floating bowls)

Tonight people all over Thailand headed to the rivers, canals, ponds, and even swimming pools to celebrate Loy Krathong. People brought ornate handmade "Krathong" along and send them adrift. A Krathong is a bowl made of banana leaves (which contain flowers) candles and 3 inch incense sticks, and a small coin and float them in the water. This visually spectacular event marks the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the main rice harvest and happens every year on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month. The tide in the rivers is highest and the moon is at its brightest. People light the candles and incense, make a wish, and send their Krathong gently out into the water. As they launch their krathong, individuals take a moment to say a prayer and make a wish. Everyone hopes that their candles keep burning into the night, symbolizing longevity and that their wishes will come true. Lovers hope that their krathongs float together. And ours did!!!
A commonly held belief is that as these vessels float away they take the owner's misfortunes and sins from the last year along with it making Thais feel free from worry and ready to start afresh. People sit and enjoy the spectacular sight of hundreds of Krathong on the water.
Firecrackers and balloon-like lanterns released into the sky add to the spectacle. The launching of Lanna-style hot air balloons also is considered by locals to rid them of their trouble. If all of the above wasn't enough. They throw parties for people to get together and do this all eveining with tons of food and dancing.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Chaing Rai

A day trip to Chiang Rai.
A chance to visit the famous Golden Triangle where the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos meet! An early morning drive through beautiful scenery, with a stop at the Hot Springs at Maekajan, culminates in the chance to explore this world -famous spot, notorious for its opium trade!

From a viewpoint set high on the hillside, there are magnificent views over the Mae Khong River to the physical triangle made by Burma, Laos and Thailand at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong River. For a small fee, you can also enjoy the boat ride to view the splendor of mighty Mae Khong River.

Continue on to Mae Sai, the farther-most northern trading border between Thailand and Burma, where local lunch is provided. On the return journey stops are made at Akha and Yao hilltribe villages.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek festival, Doi Suthep

Today while we were in Chiang Mai we saw their most famous site. The Wat Prathat Doi Suthep. Every Temple with a name starting with Wat Prathat contains Buddha relics and therefore is Holy to Buddhists. Its just a little out of town but definitely worth the trip. So we hired a personal driver for the day. It costs about $25/day and he took us everywhere we wanted to go. It's cheaper then renting a car. Our driver brought us up to the temple which was half way up a mountain. How was the spot for this Temple chosen? When the Temple was being planned, about 600 years ago, the Buddha relics were put on the back of an elephant. At the spot where this elephant would stop, the Temple was going to be built. The elephant stopped at the spot where the Temple has been built, which is not the top of the mountain, but roughly just halfway the mountain. When you get there, there were tons of little vendors all around will to sell you lots of stuff (as always). Once you get to the Temple you have to walk up about 300+steps to get to it. The staircase has two huge Nagas, one going up each side. These are closer to cobras than dragons per legend (but they look more like dragons to me). The temple itself is walled in. Once you walk through the walls you will see a few outside buildings. One of the things you will notice, still in the outside area, are the many Temple bells (rakhang in Thai). Ring them if you like, they symbolises a call of the faithful. When entering the holy area you will need to fist take off your shoes. There will be a huge pile indicating when/where you should do this. Once your in the holy area the main thing you will notice is the huge Chedi covered in gold, this contains the Buddhist relics. This generally bell-shaped tower (Chedi) will usually contain a relic of the Buddha, but may also be built to contain the ashes of a king or important monk The Chedi is surrounded by four golden umbrella looking things. They seem to have a function, similar to the "corner stones" that you find around ever Buddhist Temple (Wat) in Thailand. The Wiharn of Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep can be seen in my pictures. Every temple must have a Wiharn. They are a room in which to pray. You see the Buddha Images in there. The large one at the back is especially impressive.
Before you leave the Temple, and before you go back down the stairs make sure to look at the city of Chiang Mai first. There is a wonderful scenic view from up there.

Here is some Temple Etiquette-dress appropriately (no bare shoulders, shorts and skirts should cover your knees), no pointing (especially with your feet-the head is sacred because it is closest to heaven, so likewise the feet are therefore the most unclean. When siting or kneeling in a temple building, make sure the soles of your fee are not facing the alter), stay off the Buddhas, no shoes, no tempting monks (women can not ever hand anything to a monk, if you need to give a monk something place it on the table so they can pick it up).

We took quit a few pictures of this place so make sure you check out the snapfish site to see them all (

Then we went to the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek 2549 festival. A one-of-a-kind event, a total of 2,500,000 plants, including over 2,200 species of tropical plants and flowers were on display. Why 2549- it is the year here. Its been hard to adjust to. They wright their dates as 4/11/49 (day/month/Buddhist year). Any way this festival is HUGE. We got there late (2pm) and only got to walk through have of it before it ended at 8pm. It's a festival to honor the king (the name is a famous king). This year is was even bigger than normal because it was the current king's 80th birthday. The first section is corporate sponsors who host a there own section to show the people how they are helping the environment. PTT Chemical is the company troy is here working with, and they had a section. The next big part was landscaping demonstrations from around the world. America didn't have one. But there was at least 14 countries there. My favorite section was the Orchid Pavilion. It was the size of a school gym (each section was about a basketball court size). It had every type of orchid I have ever seen and many more. The purple orchid is the Thailand flower. We also went to Bug World so while you are looking at pictures you will notice a few bugs. Most of them were huge. I had to have troy put his hand in one of the pictures, because otherwise you may think I was just zoomed in. But we had butterflies as large as our heads. Other icky bugs also. It finished with a water laser show.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Chaing Mai

Troy got a three-day weekend off and we decided we should probably see more of Thailand. So we hopped on a plane and flew to Chiang Mai. We picked that area because it's suppose to be more of authentic Thailand unlike the more tourist area are we are in now. We got there in the afternoon. And after a long flight...ok not long-1 hr, we decided we needed a massage. I love that about Thailand there is a massage parlor about every 3 blocks. So we started our trip of with an $8 Thai massage. If you have never had a Thai massage before I would highly recommend it. They sound scary when you read about them but it very relaxing. The do more of a pressure point massage with intense stretching with it. My legs have never felt to great in my life. It's also like a chiropractor the stretch you so well that many times you can hear my back crack-but in a nice way.

After we got our massage we found a street vendor for dinner. Here in Thailand there are carts that have grills on them and you pick what you would like to eat and they cook it up fresh for you. Its very trusting that the meat you are eating is actually what they say it is. So far it all tasted right. They also have carts with fresh fruits and my favorite cart is yellow corn on the cob! It tastes like mid-west corn and they cook it just like at the state fair! You can be stuffed for the price of $1. (30-40 Baht). We have never gotten sick from eating like this and that's how everyone eats here.

After supper was over we went to the famous Night Bazaar. This is about a mile by a mile of little stores/street carts/shop to shop in. Bargaining is key here. You can walk away feeling guilty for the little amount of money you just paid for something. Several times I knew I could pay less but I felt bad. I would give examples but we bought a lot of gifts so I don't want to ruin any surprise. The foot massages are even cheaper here. It normal costs $6/hr for a massage (foot/Thai/oil). But at the Bazaar you could find them for about $2,,,$2 for an hour massage!!!!!!!!! Again you almost feel guilty. Well not me I have nice soft feet. Troy with his icky boy feet I felt more bad for the girl who massaged his!

After an long evening of shopping and bargaining (and weirdly enough it was tiring) we headed back to the hotel. Since we left our car in Pattaya we had to go with the public transportation. So we got introduced to tuk-tuks. This thing is like a golf cart with three wheels. Its about $1-2 for a ride. But we still also had our Baht bus (Baht is the Thailand curancy 36 Baht=$1) Not a lot of pictures on this day just a lot of shopping.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Interview to drive the Baht bus

Thailand Baht Bus license interview.

This is how I envision it, anyway. Translated to English:

Interviewer: Have you ever driven a taxi/bus before?

Potential Driver: No, will that be a problem?

I: Oh not at all. You'd be over-qualified if you had. Ok, let's see, have you ever ridden a bike?

PD: Twice. But my cousin owns one, and I ride on the back of it with him all the time.

I: Ok we're really looking for some raw talent here to develop. You may have too much experience. But I've got a few more questions here. You ever drive in video games?

PD: I played Mario Kart a few times. I like it when I spin all over the place. Oh, and some other more realistic racing games, but I usually destroy my car before the first checkpoint. Is that a problem? I probably should have thought about my answer before blurting it out like that...

I: No no, that's just fine. I'm liking what I hear. Let's see...the taxis/busses are manual transmission. Do you know about how to shift gears?

PD: Well, I've heard it's good to be in 3rd or 4th by the time I'm through an intersection, even though I'm only going 30 mph at the time. And I'll coast in neutral down all hills, and any distances after a hill until I have to turn again.

I: Ooh...excellent. Now would you turn into oncoming traffic and hope everyone in the lane your turning into move to accommodate your vehicle?

PD: Why would I do...

I: [Interrupting, muttering while writing with a frown] ...hmm, not good, not good...

PD: I mean of course I would!

I: Oh! Good, good. All right. Are you comfortable with horns?

PD: Like to make noise with?

I: Yes, exactly. Would you use one if we let you?

PD: Wait - you mean to tell me I can use a horn?

I: We'd prefer it. If anyone is within a block radius of you, you should blast it at least 3 times. You know, just to make sure they're aware of your presence. Even if they're behind you, walking or driving in the opposite direction. And keep in mind, 3 is a minimum.

PD: I'm going to enjoy this job.

I: Great! I've heard all I need to hear, when can you start?