Birthday buddies

I went away to Khao Yai this weekend to celebrate the 60th birthday of a friend that teaches here.  It is so lovely to have friends of all ages coming together.  We enjoyed a wine run together on Saturday morning (mine was wine walk which I think has a much better ring to it) and then other activities throughout the weekend.  We walked some of the vineyards, biked some of the vineyards, lounged by the pool, enjoyed some cool weather and did some wine tasting.  All in all, it was  a great weekend to get away and relax.

 

Unexpected Travel

Hi! Some of you may have heard that Bangkok air pollution was out of control last week. Not hard to imagine in a city that is growing so quickly, has added so many vehicles on the road and has so much construction going on.  To add to that apparently this time of year there is a weather inversion and not enough wind to carry the  pollution away.  I do notice that some people, the motorcycle taxis especially, wear fabric face masks in the downtown area and I definitely notice the difference in air quality up here in the suburb of Nichada Thani.

But last week the haze collected even in our green suburbia and the Ministry of Education called for a school closure for students on Thursday and Friday.  Apparently this has never happened at ISB before and teachers were given the option of coming into school or not.  My friend Kelly and I decided that it was a good idea to book a next day ticket to somewhere we had never been.  Since the air was the cleanest in Phuket we took a flight there (Thurs) and then a car north about an hour to a beach called Khao Lak.  There we did lots and lots of nothing (I spent time beaching, hiking, reading and watching the clouds).  Kelly is a runner so she put out more energy than I did but still had a good amount of relaxing.

We flew home yesterday (Saturday) in time to get into our regular life uniforms for the week.  Here are some photo highlights of our time in Khao Lak, at the Ton Chongfa Waterfall and the Khao Lak Lamru National Park.

 

The air quality is back to normal and I’m back to a normal schedule this week.  Thankful for time off, good friends and gorgeous Thai places to explore.

 

 

 

Health and Stuff

Ok, I had a friend from Denver call me this weekend to see if I was alive so I guess I better add another post!

Yes, I am alive.  I have fought a sinus infection for 3 weeks-got no help from the Aetna clinic here (lots of meds that didn’t work). Finally on Tuesday this week I went down to Bangkok to my naturopath.  She did acupuncture on my sinus points and prescribed a homeopathic remedy and I felt better on the taxi ride home!  I don’t pretend to understand how it works, just really thankful it does!  I am still coughing like crazy every night, but hoping that is the end of it.

It does make me realize why so many people are “thankful for their health”.  I’m trying to be sure not to take that forgranted!

Life at school moves steadily along.  I have gotten to know the kids and system well enough to start advocating for some changes and I have had a great week of getting some of those changes approved.  So I’m encouraged that even if my time here is short I will be able to touch lives (and possibly change programming).  I really need to have that feeling of success every once in a while to keep going and thinking outside the box.  I’m ever grateful for passionate teachers and open-minded administrators.

Maybe next week I’ll have a post that is a bit more fun and include some pics.  For now I’m still resting up and catching up.

Love and good health to all!

Girl Just Wants to be Well!

Dang, it was that kind of week.  I started strong on Monday and it was fun to welcome all the teachers and kids back to school and I didn’t even have that many emails to fight my way through.  And then about quitting time I felt something creeping into my body and soul.  Sure enough, that night I had a fever and started getting really stuffy.  My head felt like a throbbing balloon so I stayed home sick Tuesday and just rested and drank water every hour.  I’m usually pretty holistic about these things, figuring a cold lasts a week no matter what you do or take.  Wednesday-ditto but I’m still coping well and able to sleep sporadically (thanks to NyQuil).

I did start to wonder on Wednesday if I should go to the doctor (how to get there, will they speak English etc. unmotivated me).  We have a local Aetna clinic that is good for immunizations but that’s about it.  Not much discussion of diagnosis or cause but lots of medications-not my style.  Any other doctor would be an hour taxi ride each way and I got no positive recommendations from friends. So I hung in there another night.  Then had a chat with Ness and she said there were lots of flu A cases at school, “what was my temperature”?  Well, lots of people had been asking that, so I determined I should get a thermometer-haven’t had one since the kids were little.  Again I wasn’t in any shape to walk to the store so I borrowed a thermometer and validated that my head hurt for a reason.

So the next day I got up (morning is always the least painful) and shuffled off to the Aetna office to get a flu test.  By this time I had had a migraine level headache for 4 days and when they took my blood pressure it was 145! I suppose that fact and my insistence on a flu test kept him from searching for other indicators. Anyway the flu test was negative, my fever was low and I left with 5 medications.  Went to work Friday and got through the day but it wasn’t a stand out.  The highlight was finding out that my blood pressure was down to 124 (many theories on the abnormally high one but probably caused by pain).  I’m sure I lost a few brain cells there, sigh.

By Saturday I figured that the head, face and neck pain were either strep throat or a sinus infection.  Fortunately here we can go to the pharmacy and get basic medications from the pharmacist (who does a lot better diagnosis than the doctors, in my opinion).  She agreed is was………antibiotic time and in my weakened state I agreed.  Then I got as many groceries as I thought I could carry on my back and went to the restroom, only to notice that I had a huge pink presence in my eye.  Back to the pharmacy (same complex thankfully) to ask her what she thought-yep–antibiotic drops for pink eye.  And later last night the other eye joined in the fun.

So this morning I pried my eyes open and thanked God that I could move my head without pain (or as much pain anyway).  I am taking the stomach coating medicine before eating and then the pain killer, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic after eating and then I have to remember to drop my eyes every few hours.  The rest of the stuff I’m not so sure about-I’ll figure that out another day.  I regained enough power to take down the Christmas stuff and make a pile in the hallway-good enough for today.

I am resting up for what I hope with be the most fabulous Monday ever-which means I will not spend all day in my house alone ambling aimlessly from room to room and medication to medication. I guess I’ll never know for sure what I had but I sure hope I scared it away.

Positive outcomes:  You know I always like to think I get smarter and more patient every time I am challenged (pretty sure that isn’t true but I’m trying).  This time I am grateful for:

  • caring and concerned friends
  • enough sick days so I didn’t need to stress about being home-30 per year (make note of that U.S. schools)
  • the autobiography of Nelson Mandela.  Such a powerful legacy and reading about his time in captivity (when the pain wasn’t blinding) made me realize how small my problems really are.
  • a good acidophilus product (from the pharmacist) to rebuild my gut next week
  • texts and talks at random times from my loving family (since I was up anyway)!

Also watched (or listened) to some videos from Fresh Life church-love their cause and message and have watched enough NCIS that I could close my eyes through most of those episodes and still know who was talking-plus I didn’t have to see the autopsies (they always manage to flash those scenes when I’m eating)!

I’ve never been so glad to see a Monday coming up!

And trust me here–I’m doing you a big favor by NOT including any photos this time!  ha

Happy 2019

Somehow the end of my last post isn’t showing and I already loaded the pictures 3 times so I’ll just make New Year 2019 a separate post.  The other travelers had all left and Mark and I had just enough time to ring in 2019 before he flew.  So we had dinner on the rooftop of a hotel “with a view of the airport”, had time for a toast and a couple of fireworks and then Mark caught the 12:30 shuttle for his 3:00 flight.  I think he probably slept through the next New Year on the plane.  Too bad he didn’t think to have something dressy ready for our dinner!

I flew to Phuket the next day, as the week ahead looked pretty empty.  I had some beach time and enjoyed some sunsets but I missed my family just as much there.

Everywhere you go-there you are….hmmmm.

So I’m home-church, cooking, and taking down the Christmas decorations.  It is a quiet day and I’m thinking that I understand now when people say they don’t need “things”.  We didn’t have a big gift Christmas but we had bonding times and made memories that are better than anything in a box.

I hope it is a year of good health, adventure, and making memories with those you love.

Farewell 2018.

Christmas in Thailand 2018

It was a busy traveling Christmas and I will try to give the highlights, the lowlights and the afterthoughts here.

Mark arrived on Dec. 15th, just a day after I got out of school.  We enjoyed being lazy and catching up the first weekend and on Monday night (Thailand time) he had to start working to keep his day job (US time).  He really struggles with this but has learned to have frequent eat and drink breaks and take a lunch break at midnight to get through.  We got to meet up with some of the friends he had met before they left for holiday break and went to church on Sunday and enjoyed the Christmas music and service.

The next weekend the company started to roll in-Doreen and Bob’s Dallas to Hong Kong flight (on American Airlines-argh) turned into a long wait at the DFW airport followed by a flight to Doha on Quatar airways and then on to Bangkok the next morning.  They had a day of “rest” before we caught our flight to Chiang Mai.  Krista also arrived that weekend with her new boyfriend, Jared.  We already knew they wouldn’t make their Bangkok connection so we bought them new tickets and all 6 of us managed to arrive in Chiang Mai on Sunday–too bad Bob and Doreen’s luggage didn’t!

Chiang Mai is a beautiful old city in the north of Thailand and we chose it for its beauty, cool weather and proximity to the elephant rescue farm.  Christmas eve saw us in a van bound for the elephant farm and even though it took most of our day, no one was sorry to have the experience.  The family who rescues the elephants gave us lots of info about these enormous animals-no tear ducts (therefore the “crying” eyes we see in photos), vegetarians that poop every hour, they sweat only through their toenails and they need to walk uphill and in the water to keep the toenails short and healthy, daily scrubbing helps their health too.  The elephants and trainers were so friendly and gentle and we really enjoyed seeing both the babies and the giants.

IMG_4819-1

Doreen, Mark, Deanna and Jared ended up taking a short ride on the adults while Krista and Bob hung out with the babies (Krista had fallen in love with the babies on our last trip there) and, as my son says “Mom, you love speed”!  We all met up at the river where we “got” to get in the dirty water and scrub them.  We had a hot, wet, exhausting, dirty day and loved every minute of it.   Some of the other highlights in Chiang Mai were the great thai massages we got (twice!), the many modes of transportation we managed to cram into–taxi, scooter, song taew (red open-backed pickups) with 2 bench seats, and the local specialty khao soi (basically a chicken soup with yellow curry).  We found each place we tried it had a different twist but we loved them all.  Oh and I can’t forget my favorite, mango and sticky rice (typically a dessert) but served at our hotel for breakfast.  Who doesn’t want to start the day with mango, rice and sweet coconut cream–yummmm!

IMG_4529

After another night in Chiang Mai (Bob did get a suitcase but Doreen didn’t) we got in another van and headed for Pai.  This is the small city close to Myanmar (Burma) where Bob’s boys had had some of their best times in Thailand.  They are famous for the 762 turns it takes to get there, good coffee, rice paddies, markets and buddhas.  There was also a waterfall but we didn’t manage to get up to it.  Sometimes a girl just has to rest!  It was really cool (60s) in Pai morning and evening so we really wasted our money on the place with the pool-but I did manage to take a few cool photos of it.

 

Back in Bangkok we took time to read the Christmas story, sing some songs and go around the Christmas tree.  This was a Danish tradition that my mother loved and would ask us to do with her every year (with mixed success) and it was my teary tribute to her.  I think we all struggle to put our blessings and challenges in perspective and this year was no different.  We had health concerns, job anxiety, relationship stress and yet we all agreed that we felt blessed to be together and share these wonderful experiences.

Our last day was spent touring Bangkok from a riverboat and having an early New Year’s dinner.

Pre Holiday Thoughts and Actions

Before I get into the pictures and details of our family holidays I wanted to tell you about something that was important to me this Christmas.  Usually at home we pack items for children at a local school and sometimes we do an angel tree gift or help out someone we know.  This year it felt difficult to figure out how to make a difference here in Thailand so I reached out to a Pakistani lady I had connected with at church.  I will be careful to leave out names and pictures, as I want to be sure not to make their lives more uncomfortable in any way.

This family is just one example of true refugees-here to escape persecution for being Christian and unwilling to deny their faith.  They are allowed to live here with their two children but only 1 of them has been able to find work and they must constantly be on the alert for people looking to report and exploit them.  They have legal papers to live here but not to work here, as those never got finalized.  They had hoped to immigrate to the US but with those borders closed the only true hope they have is someone in Canada sponsoring them.  It would cost $28,000 to relocate to Canada and with low pay and constantly rotating jobs that is becoming a distant dream, as they have been waiting for 6 years. They live in an efficiency apartment with donated furniture and are so thankful for people’s kindness and generosity.

Mark and I were blessed to be invited to dinner with them and hear their story, meet their children and share in some singing of Christmas carols.  They gave thanks for all their blessings as only true survivors could.  To us their “blessings” looked like more challenges! They were so pleased to have us, made a lovely meal and gave US gifts!  It was truly a heartwarming and heartbreaking experience.  I will definitely keep in touch with them in hopes of sharing their burden.  It made me more convinced than ever that our gifts to each other should be time and actions, not things.