All the essentials, since everyone is asking:
…is big. We have a verandah with fairy lights and sound system, a lounge with satellite TV (so I can watch the Pope being carried into the basilica), kitchen with the basics and washing machine, western toilets. I have a room with double bed, mosquito net (I am yet to lay eyes on a mosquito, but the number of people with malaria mean that they must be around!), two cane shelves, fan, clothes rail. We have a maid so I don’t have to wash any clothes or dishes. In short, we are quite spoilt.
… is hot. At least mid 30s during the day and not much cooler at night. In the village, cool enough overnight to occasionally put a long-sleeved top on. It’s rained a few times, but is apparently only getting started.
… is also hot. We get fed everywhere we go – rice and at least 3 or 4 other dishes, eg tiny fish and mango curry, vegetables such as okra, beans, gourd and ferns, eggs, spinach, “bush pork”. Generally great food and lots of it. In Sangkhla, the food is so cheap and close by that we basically don’t cook, but go out to a guesthouse. I brought my Vegemite, establishing me as a true Australian in the eyes of my colleagues, and we can generally get bread for breakfast.
…is remote. We take over the raised bamboo house of the laboratory techs when we stay. Pluses: lovely people, interesting medicine, beautiful area, medics wanting to learn and me actually knowing enough to teach! Minuses: long 4WD trip (including at least 50 river crossings: there’s talk of hiring elephants for the rainy season!), lots of people with no access to necessary treatment, not so good when you’re sick and just want a soft mattress and TV!