Sunday, March 20, 2005

Hello from Sangkhla!

Am now in Sangkhlaburi and have had a very difficult few days. They have basically consisted of - lazing round in deck chairs by the fan, under the fairy lights, as french reggae plays in the background
- a barbeque
- drinking beer
- getting invited to dinner by one of the local Mon staff, being fed lots of amzaing food and watching surreal japanese kid's ninja shows dubbed into Thai
- going swimming in the lake.
I can probably handle this lifestyle quite well!

Of course, this will not be usual. It was good timing for me to arrive on Friday night from Bangkok, so to have two days to relax and get to know the other expats here (Christian - field co-ordinator, Violande - doctor (yes, not just me!) & Jean-Baptiste or JB, lab technician). We will be doing a nutritional survey & immunisation campaign next week and I have heard a bit about the dramatic medical problems of some of the people here. Have been studying up on how to define acute vs chronic malnutrition and what to do about it!

Have found out a bit more about the area of Kanchanaburi: the river Kwae (Kwai) with its famous bridge is in Kanchanaburi itself, and we drove past Hellfire pass on the way here. Will try to visit these places properly one weekend.

One thing I have found unusual is the burning off - to promote new grass growth before the rainy season. As we drive around at night, whole hills are alight just next to the town, and echoes of bushfires spring up in my head. My french colleagues do not understand my reaction to this!

So, must go and do some more very little.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Lovely pics

Here's some gorgeous pictures from Sangklaburi. Thanks Dad for the link!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Starting out...

Change of plan - again.
Now not going to Paris but direct to Bangkok. Found this out on Friday morning. 15 minutes later my washing machine broke (halfway through a cycle). Thankfully my housemate was on hand to deal with me!

Moved this weekend so now have boxes distributed across Melbourne. I still know where everything is - should write that down, perhaps. Thanks indeed to Jen, Cathy, Barb, Trish, Roland, Dad, Mark and ESPECIALLY Derek for doing much beyond the call of duty and keeping me (mostly) sane.

So - am now in Sydney. Have 2 days to settle before truly heading away...

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Here 'tis. Posted by Hello

Change of plan...

Nothing like doing things last-minute!

Got a call this morning that I'll be going elsewhere in Thailand - still along the border, but further north, a place call Sangklaburi. It'll also be for 6 months rather than four. Don't know a great deal more at this stage - watch this space!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Can't spell "eye-tin-er-ry"

I leave Melbourne to go to Sydney on 14 March (Monday). Will meet up with my mother (Hi, Mum!) there.
Go to MSF office 11am Tuesday. Presumably don't do much more than pick up visa there as fly out of Sydney at 5pm.
Go via Singapore.
Get into Paris at 6:15am Wednesday. Day off to recover, freeze and see close mate living in London (thankfully she's coming to Paris).
2 days of briefing.
Fly out sometime that weekend (they organise this from there so have no idea yet) in order to be back in Bangkok by 20th (Sunday).

Whilst I love the concept of going to Paris first, not sure how my body will handle the jetlag and temperature zaps (March in Paris to March in Bangkok!). Tips for plane sleeping, anyone?

Cultural confusion

Had a great talk last night with a friend who has good reason to know what it's like to live in another vastly different culture. I realised that, although I've travelled before, it's always been in a situation where English/Aussies are the dominant cultures - if not in that country, then at least within the travel group. I've never been immersed in another culture without another Aussie around (well, perhaps for 3 days in Manila, and being by myself in London certainly doesn't count!).

I'll be in Thailand.
My patients will be Karen.
My colleagues will speak French (primarily).

I can't begin to comprehend the cultural issues. I'll have no-one to share vegemite with!