Sawatdee Kaa (the Kaa is because I’m female)
My first couple of weeks in Thailand haven’t been the most exciting ones of this journey. Per my earlier post, I arrived here sick. And I spent the first 11 days here mostly apartment bound. I guess every country has its own brand of food bacteria, and my stomach has been rebelling against the Thai brand. (I think it just misses Italy.) So, I haven’t had much to write about. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and watching the same episodes of American TV shows, over and over and over again. Very boring. But I do have CNN, and I’m very happy about that!
I did manage to meet up with two women I met on an expat website I joined. I really clicked with one of them, and she and I will be taking a side trip together to Angkor Wat, Cambodia at the end of the month. I’m looking forward to having a travelling companion for a short time. When you travel alone, you have to be very proactive about meeting people. Fortunately, I’m extroverted enough to feel comfortable being the initiator.
My stomach has finally adjusted, and I’ve been feeling okay for a couple of days. I had made medical appointments for the last two days, so I spent most of these days at the Bangkok Hospital. You’d be very impressed with the health care system here. The hospital was beautiful, and all the employees were dressed in spotlessly clean and professional looking suits or uniforms. The cost of health care here is much less than what it is in the U.S. For example, I pay $145 for a deep cleaning at my dentist back home. Here, it was done by the dentist, not a technician, and the cost was $81. I had to see a doctor to get orders for some blood work I have done regularly (had orders from my doctor, but had to have a Thai doctor write them again), and 15 minutes with this doctor cost all of $21! Then I saw a specialist for $37.
The Thai people are very friendly, tranquil and polite. People in service positions are always bowing to me. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t bow back, but I feel like I should at least demonstrate mutual respect, so I nod. I already mentioned how cheap the food is here. Transportation is also very reasonable. For example, I took at taxi to the hospital, and it took about 35 minutes to get there through the absolutely horrendous traffic here. It cost 100 bahts—about $3, and that’s with a 20% tip. Imagine what a 35 minute taxi ride would cost in Detroit, or even worse, in New York City or Chicago. The above ground “sky train” and underground subways are also very cheap.
I wouldn’t want to drive here. I thought there were a lot of people riding Vespas in Italy—but you should see the number of people on small motorcycles here. It’s amazing. And they’re everywhere. They drive in and between lanes of traffic and even on the sidewalks to get around cars. At red lights, you’ll always see 20 or 30 cycles who have worked their way to the front of the waiting line of traffic. I don’t know how the taxi drivers here keep track of them. On one taxi ride, my driver almost had a head-on crash with one of them. This guy was really upset and followed us to yell his anger at my driver. At one point he passed us and waited so he could bang on the hood of the taxi. I was a little scared. He is the only angry Thai I’ve seen since I’ve been here.
Just wanted to check in here, so you won’t think I’ve dropped off the face of the earth. I’ll be back to sightseeing now, so I’ll have some beautiful pictures to share again soon.