Friday, July 29, 2005

Speaking of coming home...

I've officially applied to extend my placement here. And not hearing any horrified screams from Bangkok, that means that I'll plan to stay until early-mid December, do the debriefing in Paris, drop into London (that is, if my mates there aren't all sashaying on dancefloors in central America at the time) and hopefully be home for Christmas. Leaving enough time to find a house, visit the interstate rellies and reacclimatise before starting work again.

I really do miss you all. Lots. But I orginally left a year free, so I might as well use it. To be here for only six months would be a missed opportunity, especially when it's only the last month or so that I've felt like I might be getting the hang of things. And there's so much to do! I know that once I leave, there will be someone else to do it instead, but I'd like to follow through as much as possible.

So, thanks for your ongoing messages and support, and all going well I'll see you in 5 months!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Rainy days

The rainy season has been with us for a couple of months now. We do get some sunshine, but every day there's a steady rain and occasional ridiculous downpours.

This is fine, I like the rain. The lake has just started to fill, giving the false impression of floods as the banks, covered with grass and small shrubs in the last few months, slowly submerge.

I'm used to the bugs that get into everything (and will now cheerfully drink a cup of tea with several dead ants floating in it), but I can't quite get used to the mould. The house smells of it. My clothes have shadows of it. I went away for 3 days and came back to find my sandals covered in a velvety layer of green. Even my diary went mouldy!

If, when I return, I'm a bit whiffy and green around the edges, please be sensitive and forgive me!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Recommended reading part 2

I don't believe that I've ever read The Economist before. Its title is enough to put me off completely! However, I couldn't ignore the "How to Save Myanmar" splashed across the cover of the July 23 edition, and I was having a reading material frenzy anyway.

Of course, the article didn't quite offer the solution it proclaimed. But it did have a good overview of the current situation in Burma - one which I'm starting to get the hang of, if that is at all possible. To quote, "It cheerfully exports drugs, refugees and disease to its neighbours and beyond." Since this edition, the situation has been complicated further by the sentencing of the deposed head-of-intelligence-forces Khin Nyunt to 44 years in house arrest for "corruption".

Prior to coming here, I knew of Aung San Suu Kyi (but not how to pronounce her name - go on, give it a go!) and had heard of SLORC, the military junta - now jauntily renamed the State Peace and Development Council. There's so many convolutions it makes South American politics look simple. So for anyone who might be trying to keep up (and I know that's perhaps two people reading this, but still), grab a copy of the magazine!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Pig-headedness (with no relation to previous pig)

It may have been my frustration with taxi drivers.

It may have been my independent streak.

It may have been wanting to move after 3 hours in the bus.

But really, it wasn't. Some of you may know my pig-headed side. Stubbornness, along with clumsiness, runs in the family. And while being clumsy gives you great reflexes, I'm yet to see the benefit of stubbornness.

So when I got to Kanchanaburi and was faced with "Hello, Miss!", "Taxi, Miss?", "Where you go?"... I cracked. I had been told it was a ten-minute walk. So instead of paying one australian dollar for a tuk-tuk, I shouldered my 17ish kilo backpack, chockablock with peanut butter, tonic water and tinned apricots, hoisted my 4 shopping bags and wooden elephant puppet, and, ignoring the 35 degree heat and blisters on my feet, started to walk.

The ridiculousness of this became apparent after about 7 metres.

However, I had started to walk, and so walk I bloody well did.

At least it wasn't raining.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

One thing I didn't expect

Today, I saw a man who had been attacked by a jungle pig.

Admittedly, he had shot it first.

Moral of the story is: shoot straight. Or leave it be. And make sure you've had your tetanus shots!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hmong refugees

In response to a comment (note: not a post) on MaccaMusings, I'd like to offer this article as illustration of what happens when a country treats people as "illegal" before treating them as people. 6000 people are living on the side of the road, without sanitation, in rainy season. Some of my friends are now providing some assistance.


Derek hopped on the bus, and within 24 hours is half a world away again.

Despite a lovely 2 weeks, it's rather crap being the person left behind. Which I know is usually not me. But I'm moping a little.

Back from travels

Yes, I spent three days in Laos and loved it. To have a capital on the banks of the Mekong, where there is more bicycles than cars, lots of temples, bread and fresh beer, where the airport has two gates that are set at a height twice that of the planes that arrive and it set only 10 minutes by tuk-tuk from the city centre, where your gold-covered national religous icon and major tourist attraction only has 3 people looking at it, seems a lovely way to live.

And then we flew back to Bangkok.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Geography quiz

So, since I didn't get that visa before, am now in another country for a couple of days.

A crusty baguette to whoever can tell me the capital and currency of Laos without cheating.

Not you, Kel, sorry. But love this city!

D is for Dengue

Hello, all. Please forgive my absence.

The plan was to spend last week lazing on the beach with Derek, perhaps do some snorkeling, and eat a lot of seafood.

The day he arrived in Bangkok, I was in hospital in Maesot. I had spent a rather unpleasant 24 hours vomiting, and the fever had me worried. They did some tests, told me it was a virus, gave me antibiotics anyway and sent me home.

I basically slept for the next five days - some of it in a lovely bungalow at the beach. Then I stopped sleeping as my hands and feet developed the most intense, unresolvable itch. When I woke up with petechiae (tiny red dots indicating bleeding into the skin) all over my feet, I figured it was time to go back to the doctor.

The test for dengue involves inflating a blood pressure cuff on your arm and then leaving it for 5 minutes. This HURTS. And, just as expected, my arm was a glorious purple afterwards.

I went and slept some more. The next day I got some slightly scary blood results and they did the same test to the other arm. I slept.

So, the holiday didn't quite go according to plan. But two of my colleagues ended up in hospital in Bangkok for several days - something I managed to avoid through the cunning plan of going to the beach anyway. And I'm fine now - just waiting for the tourniquet marks to fade. Wouldn't recommend Dengue to anyone, though - another reason to pack the repellant if you're planning on coming to Thailand.