From Thighland to Thailand

February 25, 2010

Thailand 3.5

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 4:15 pm

Thailand 3.5

February 23, 2010-Tuesday-5th day

We met for breakfast and discussed the day’s itinerary subject to change.  Today will be a travel day so we had to pack our things up again but we will be back.  We are going into Myanmar and hopefully coming out too.  We sang “Happy Birthday” to Cindy.  She wouldn’t let us spank her.  Neither would Bob.  Dr. Tajiri handed out neatly wrapped bags of special candy for all of us to suck on.  The dentists inquired, “Sugarless?”

The plan is to drive across the border hopefully getting everything and everyone across.  We have a truck and three matching Toyota vans to disguise us as a tour group.  My van looked like the partridge family bus with all these flower decorations on the side. As we gather our things, Bill gives Gail some of his bags that, Gail hands it off to Jack who casually tosses in the back of the van.  Later, Bill is frantically looking around for his bags and asks Gail what she did she you do with his bags and she said, “I think it’s in the back of the van.  So he runs to the van and tosses out all this luggage out until he finds this crumple baggage sitting on the bottom of the pile and, somewhat relieved but still shaking, says “You weren’t suppose to take your eyes off of it! This wasn’t suppose to leave your side!”  Bill gets excited some times.  It was his moneybag that he got from the bank yesterday to cover us for the next five days, essentially our lifeline, and has all of our plane tickets back to the US.  The money may help us get out of Myanmar too.  I’m still counting on the Viagra.

It’s odd that as we fill up the vans they don’t want too many into any one van.  They don’t want to overload the vans and these aren’t mini-vans either.  They’re used to small Thai people who are used to fitting three adults on a scooter, not us plus-sized Americans.  They are embarrassing us.  They try to fit only six but then fit hesitantly seat seven or eight passengers even though it can seat10 plus a driver.  The driver looks at the tires to see if they’re flat. Don’t worry we’re not that fat. We only take up one seat on the airline anyway.  Sheeesh!

Now this is hilarious.  We start to drive and this is a deluxe van that is decked out with a customized on-board entertainment system including this 17 inch drop-down screen for viewing movies, etc. and a flip-up DVD screen on the dash.  A karaoke video starts playing so that we can learn to sing the Mambo Rock.  The only problem is that no one is looking at the words because these scantily closed women in these thong bikinis are dancing and moving and getting into positions that I did know that were anatomically possible.  The moves could have been to “Shake Your Bootie.”  The driver is proud of his collection and wanted to give us some American entertainment that he surely knew we would enjoy.  We are laughing from embarrassment.  I’m worried about Dr. Chinn and Dr. Tajiri and reach for the AED just in case of cardiac arrest.  Personally, I wanted to critique those bodies but was unimpressed because, at the risk of sounding arrogant, I’ve made better.  We ask for a different video and he has about a dozen discs all with the same dancing and singing videos.  I’m worried about the driver keeping his eyes on the road and watching those curves on not on those curves on those bodies.  To keep us from sinful lustful thoughts the driver changes the disc to a CD where there is a blank screen to allow the steamed-up windows to clear from the couple making out in the back.  God tests us in strange and unusual ways.

I am still wondering if it is safe to go into Myanmar.  Are the powers to be telling us everything?  Then why was it Luka’s suggestion to look like tourists and don’t wear our scrubs when we go to Myanmar?  I don’t get it.  I will give you other details if and when after we get out of Myanmar, if you get my drift, but if you see photos of us looking like tourist is that if anyone is wondering and monitoring this journal or it gets intercepted is that’s because that is our sole purpose is to go to Myanmar as tourists and have fun and spend lots of money in Myanmar to support there country because that is what we like to do and that’s because that’s the kind of people that we are is to travel 36 hours one day and loose sleep and unpack and repack everything in the middle of the night and then travel again 7 hours with 5 inspection points.  We might have to carry some things we brought to Thailand that we don’t want left in Thailand so we don’t loose them but we are just carrying them with us and not going to use anything because we are just going to Myanmar just to have fun and spend money to feed the economy.  We are not going to liberate anyone or bring orphans back or anything like that.  But of course being a medical dental team we might coincidentally want to visit some clinics to learn new methods so that we can add to our experience and future reference.  If they ask us to demonstrate some American technology or techniques and other things like showing optometry inventions of course we will be accommodating since they asked and we want to be like friendly Americans and maintain cordial international relationships.  Also we are grateful for Bob Wu who is a Burmese native for allowing us to accompany him while he looks up family members but we might get detoured along the way and do some sightseeing.

We stop at the Thailand-Myanmar border and have to get out of the cars and walk over the bridge.  We are escorted into this dark room and get our picture taken and have to give up our passports at the border and get them when we come back.  It disturbs me to see a row of passport on the wall under “Unclaimed.”  It took about an hour to get processed and we are let through but without a passport.  Someone is holding onto our permits so if we are stopped we have no papers and could be in trouble.  Richard says he doesn’t need any papers to get out.  I wonder what his connection is.  I carry around my Viagra in case I need to get out of situations or make friends.  Bill yells at me to put it away.  Can’t they take a joke?  There is a small baby being pushed across the border and someone is so excited and says how cute she is.  Don’t get any ideas on bringing them back, okay?

We thought we’re going on a leisurely sightseeing ride to Kengtong on one of Myanmar’s premier highways as depicted on our map.   Have you been on the big dipper at Santa Cruz beach boardwalk?  Mix that with Malibu Grand Prix racing for six hours on the road and you’ll my drift as in Tokyo Drift.   The road conditions were hazardous being one and a half wide roads for both directions with potholes and mudslides adding to the bumpy ride so much that we would hit our heads on the roof.  Pastor had no complaints since it straightened his back out!  There were swerves within swerves going fifty MPH dodging obstacles.  And this is their good road!  Our only relief was the periodic inspections where paying money gets you through.  At one we lost traction and swerved and the driver skillfully kept us from going off the cliff.  He slowed down and peaked out the window to look at the rear tire and then pulled over.  He shrugged his shoulders and then continued more cautiously which would eventually proved to be prudent.  We stopped at a food stop and closer inspection revealed a completely flat rear tire.  The drivers looked at the situation and, loosely translated, said, “Oink! Oink!  Those Americans blew out the tire!”   I wont say who was in the van that was overloaded with the wide load attached to the back or who was directly sitting over that tire but I will say that I was in there but I did my part by dropping weight before I came on this trip. Obviously others didn’t.  See, fat can be hazardous to our health; it almost cost us our lives.  Fat sucks so you guys better see me when we get back so I can suck fat.   At this pit stop I wanted Bob to help me order a Coke.  I asked specifically for Coke Zero and he was quite irritated.  “Mark, they don’t need to be on a diet!  They need all the calories that they can get. Look at that guy over there.  You think he needs diet Coke?”  Thank you for your opinion Bob.  Okay, there aren’t too many size 2 adult males in the US but maybe we could have avoided a flat tire if we were.  Someone, who I won’t identify asked, “Hey driver, do you think you can turn on the video while you fix the flat?  Take your time.”

We crossed the road, as a jungle fire was 10 feet from the edge of the road.  It supposed to be a controlled burn, so-called “slash and burn” so that the tribes can plant in a new field.  I didn’t see any fire trucks around so what keeps it from spreading?  Lack of Santa Ana winds, I guess.  It’s a good thing we’re going away from it.  We got to stop for lunch and a few riders look green. Good thing Jack brings motion sickness medication (he charges an arm and leg for it) but they threaten to barf on him so he gives them out for free.  Gail and Irma play a game in the john to see who’s a better aim when squatting and must be having a grand ole time since they can be heard laughing down the hallway.  Irma cries, “Don’t leave me!”  I guess she was pissed.  The newbie’s carefully examined the juicy delicacies trying to decide if the dishes are edible. “Brown tofu?” someone asks.  No it’s boiled blood soup.  Coagulated blood is cut into cubes and added to soup.  I don’t think that the dish is Burmese; I believe it originated in Transylvania.

When we get there at the hotel in Kengtong we are relieved to see a large modern hotel. Finally luxury; we deserve to be pampered and we are hoping for all of the amenities.  This is what I’m talking about!  It was a really grueling road trip that we all looked forward to end.  We looked exhausted but all we did was sit and try to sleep and not to vomit on our neighbor.  We were cramped and tight and were ready to stretch out and use the restrooms.  Truly we were beat. Even Richard was tired from hanging on the back of the van the whole time.  The hotel looks nice but after careful examination the truth comes out.  God gave me an attitude adjustment.

The manager came out and welcomed us and started to hand out room keys.  Now the rooms varied from “inside cabin” rooms on a ship where space is a premium and are like a closet to cabins with a dual king sized beds.  I guess they were ready for us plus-sized Americans this time.  We hope we don’t break the bed frames.  She says, “Enjoy your stay! Oh, by the way, the electricity is only on from 5:30-7:00 am and from 6:30-10:30 pm.”   Huh? Talk about power shortage!  Richard did they forget to tell you about our rolling power outages?  This is true throughout the city especially where we have to go so Richard, our planner and organizer, is freaking out.  I’m selfishly thinking, “You can’t have my batteries.” We need power to work.  It’s nice to have someone thinking about these minor details. Generators have to be rented and taken to our area or it will be a short day. There is also no heater or air-conditioning either.  When we have black out we get these little LED lights (wow, high tech!)  that are equivalent to a night light that we can turn on to guide our way to the toilet at night.  I guess we are camping.  It brings back memories and now I remember why I don’t like to go camping.  Satellite TV is provided during those electricity times but we don’t speak Burmese except for Bob.  Oh, some of us have a dual showerhead “His and Hers” set up (Arlean and Pastor) while some have just a toilet and the sink and a spray hose and a large garbage bin sized bucket.  Leroy suggested that we stand in the bucket to collect the run-off of the water.  I think I’d trip and get a concussion.  The sink is nice but it drains onto the floor toward the corner of the room.  So we are supposed to take a shower when the electricity is available if you want a hot shower and let it spray all over the floor so it drains to the corner too.  We get a flushable toilet! “Yippee!”  But the pressing question was if there was toilet paper in the rooms.

I’m going to go into power withdrawal.  Omagosh! There isn’t cell service either and the closest internet is a 30 minutes walk. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO!?!?!? I calculate that Bill can run there in 10 minutes so we will elect him to go.  If you don’t get any internet contact or blogs from Jen or me it’s because Bill wouldn’t go.  Blame Bill; email him how disappointed you are in him.  Also, we have no pool, no spa, no concierge, no room service, no fun.  Fun is relative.  Great if we were camping.

The powers-to-be decided going to Mong La at the China border would be too hazardous to our health.  China is trying to control Burmese Mong La and they don’t like it.  It’s like Clovis trying to control Fresno.  Hah!  We’d say, “Get out of my face!” too. Splitting the group was briefly considered since Mong La was really counting on us and we did not want to disappoint.  But we’re a team!  We gotta stick together.  Besides Bill has all the money.  Any way the ride would be 3 hours long and the road conditions are even worse.  At some particular point we would have needed to get out and push the van.  (They probably didn’t want these Americans-of-size to collapse the bridge.) Then our return drive to Thailand would have taken over 9 hours on those roads.  Talk about Chinese torture!  There still is tension between the junta and the Chinese and we might get caught in the middle so we will stay visiting.  God, thank you for granting wisdom to the team leaders.

The team went into town to a Chinese restaurant and had a good meal. We do get fed well on these trips. The power suddenly shut off and we thought the electric curfew went into affect.  We got punked. “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Dear Cindy, Happy Birthday to you.”  A single candle lit the room and we celebrated her birthday.  Barely palatable Fig Newton type of cake was served and she was touched by the thought.  No spanking opportunity once again.  We are carefully watching our water consumption.  Luka is drinking the soda with ice cubes in it.  I ask him if it’s safe to drink with the ice.  He says, ”Sure, it’s safe.”  He drinks a little more.  “I’ll tell you tomorrow if it’s safe. HA! AH! HA!”  Yeah, we know what that laugh means.  I’m overly concerned since that last ice cubes took three days for my body to defecate, I mean evacuate.  You’ve hear of ring around the collar.   I had ring around the buttocks.

It’s been a long day.  We get up at least by 0600 every day.  Some of our biologic clocks are out of sync and are up at 3-4 am…so we blog.  Tomorrow itinerary is to visit locally and visit the Agape Baptist Church and hang out with them.  Remember, we are looking forward to that great tour tomorrow and opportunity for cultural exchange, aren’t we gang?

It’s lights out early tonight at 10:00 pm even before the electric curfew when the streets are completely black.  It gives quiet time a new meaning.

Nigh nigh…zzzzzzzzzz.

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