From Thighland to Thailand

March 2, 2010

Thailand 3.12

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 4:47 pm

Thailand 3.12

March 2, 2010-Tuesday-12th day

See Jennifer’s blog  at now with video! and

Our condolences to the Quong  and Kam Don family for his recent passing this past weekend.  God called him at 94 years-old.  He was a gentleman who reminded me of my father-in-law.  We will miss him dearly and we pray for Kam’s health and her sadness as she mourns Mr. Don’s passing.

Bill is trying to boost the morale of the team so we were treated to an upgrade in hotel accommodations.  We stayed at the Nan Khong Riverside Hotel ( on the Chiang Khong strip.  The city is a hot tourist attraction since it has access to destination spots in Thailand and access to Laos just across the river.  We had a nice dinner overlooking the Mekong River with Laos in the background and watched the moon rise over the hills reflecting on the river.  Although we have been used to Southeast Asian music the local band’s renditions of 1970’s American music was both nostalgic and heartwarming.

Several members awaken early to walk along the river.  A breakfast buffet was an opportunity to bond with members of the team.  It is one of the benefits of having team members already familiar with other whether they are friends already or relatives.  Relationships seem to get stronger.  If tensions form, we just get to change roommates.  So far no requests yet.  When I talk to Lena, my most faithful reader, she is excited to hear how we are doing.  She always asks, “How are you and Jen doing?”  She’s worried that we might, say, disagree on different perspectives.  Well, Jen and I have known each other for over 24 years.  I am going over the Ten Commandments with her emphasizing, “Honor thy father and your mother.”  I had been looking forward to spending some time with her alone for father-daughter bonding.

Many of Lena and my friends have similar aged children and as they grow up they move out and go their ways.  We only hope that we have given them a perpeptual home base so that they may have a home that they feel secure in.  We welcome and cherish the times when the children actually want to come home and spend time with their families.  Some children never return.  We continue to leave our children’s bedrooms alone (short of being a shrine) so that when they do come home, albeit briefly, it brings back fond memories of their childhood.  It gives that sense of family.  Even when Steven comes home it’s literally music to our ears when he plays the piano.  What a treat.  Lena loves it when they come home and even tolerates the messes that they make; it makes the kids feel at home too.  You know then that she really loves to have them home.  Allison will be leaving soon and I hope that I will still have time to bond with her before she goes off to college, get married, have four children, and get a steady job.  Don’t let those chances escape.  So, to all the empty nesters I can and will relate.  So I cherish this moment that I have to spend with my favorite oldest daughter, Jennifer, not be confused with my favorite youngest daughter, Allison, or my favorite son, Steven, as they are known.  I’m not getting any younger (although I can look younger since I have friends in the business).  Jennifer and I get to witness in our different ways and you can see our different perspectives and impacts that this trip has been on us on our blogs.

It was nice to just walk back into the room where we worked last night, which was already set up and just start working.  No setting up chairs or tables.  No unloading trucks and unloading bins. No looking for power outlets.  No jockeying for position.  Bill swung open the doors and just said, “Bring It!”  We worked our tails off today.  Lots of patients showed up, several hundred.  Lynelle’s area was a haze due to the cloud of dust of tartar in the air from grinding it off the teeth.  The floor was littered with teeth from extractions and Bill was melting his gold jewelry for bling and gold crowns.  The medical docs were injecting left and right (I guess that means bilateral) letting the patients know that we mean business.  They got the point.  The eye people see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not tunnel vision.  Leroy and Jen have dueling grinders to see who can grind out the most lenses. Dr. Chinn gives sight for sore eyes while Dr. Tajiri holds up the finished eyeglasses in the air and triumphantly declares, “And let there be Sight!”

I’ll have to say that many, not all mind you, we Americans are spoiled in our cushy jobs with 15-minute breaks in the morning and 15 in the afternoon including an hour lunch break.  We get overtime pay and weekends off.  We are subject to injuries too, but we can claim a worker’s comp. injury and get sick leave and even get retrained at WC expense, even if it was our fault for getting injured in the first place.  Then there are vacation days, holidays, sick leave, and retirement.  We can hang around the time clock discussing what a tough day it was waiting for 5:00 pm to click around.  If anyone was offended we should be guilty or appreciate it to have a good paying job.   Until you see what these people do just to survive and make a meager living, you I don’t think one can truly understand the meaning of hard labor.  I still can’t relate because I am not doing the hard labor but I see it’s effects first hand.  I think that is why they call it WORK!  I feel lucky or guilty or both that people pay me for unnecessary surgery; surgery they WANT and don’t necessarily NEED. Yes, I admit that I am one to have a cushy job but I am truly humbled by what I see that some of my guilt is eased and I attempt to fulfill my obligation to help my fellow man-kind.  My plea to you is to take your God-given talents and get out of your comfort zone and give back.  Not only is it the right thing to do it will make you a better person.

They average patient that I have seen in the clinics have been less than 5% body fat, rippling muscles that are tense and tone and developed no matter if they are a teenager or a 75 year-old laborer.  They’re buff.  I’m envious.  The children work or beg.  The mothers and fathers work.  Grandma and granddad work.  It could be bailing bamboo, gathering sticks, weaving yarn, getting water, feeding the animals, harvesting vegetables, planting rice, slaughtering the animals, or caring for children; they redefine the meaning of labor and work 24/7.  I really admire these people in the 3rd world working just to put food on the table.  They show up at these clinics with so many musculoskeletal complaints and repetitive strain injuries.  They want to be cured just so that they can return to work.  They have a great work ethic and with our limited resources we do what we can and they sincerely appreciate it.  Pastor Khoon summed it up as we gathered our things and are about to leave this village by saying that it was through God’s grace that we came to this village and that He made it possible because we are all children of God. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

Health check.  There have been a few illnesses and causualties.

  1. After all those nine vaccinations, Jennifer, of all people has been inflicted with the common cold. I am proud of you for hanging in there, baby girl.
  2. David has come down with a nasty cough which is getting better but now we are out of dextromethorphan.  He gets dibbs on the meds.
  3. Richard’s plastic chair leg collapsed under him due to, well, er, a, too much, a, how do you say, a,… Let’s just say that they don’t make plastic chairs like they used to but fortunately he landed on something soft.  He was doing a different type of spread eagle.
  4. Richard hit his head on the doorframe sustaining a small laceration on his head.  Good thing it hit something hard.  The average Southeast Asian that we see here is less than 5’ and weighs less than 90 lb.
  5. Richard fell into the bushes sustaining a green stain on his pants.  To his defense he was looking for trash bin for Jennifer’s tissue that she brought out of the outhouse since there is no place to flush it.  (Jennifer is the only one who wears a mask into and out of the outhouse.  Is it you, Jen, or is it them?)
  6. Poor Richard, I thought I was clumsy.  You were in the Marines?   What does it mean Special Forces?  Like Special Olympics?
  7. I tripped over the edge of the raised floor and did a kung fu roll to purposely land on my back to absorb the fall.  I am good at this because in kung fu I’m always the one getting knocked down.  Interestingly no one offered me assistance or CPR.  I get first dibbs on the AED since I brought it.
  8. Lynelle’s chair collapsed under her due to, well, er, a, see #3. She’s very graceful when she lands.
  9. Kane almost chopped off his finger from a ceiling fan.

10. Bill’s is suffering from insomnia from all the details that he has to deal         with so he reads my blogs in order to fall asleep. Thanks Bill. You made me do them.

Don’t worry though; we’re all in one peace…MTI signing off.


  1. Did you put stitches in Richards head wound? Is he okay? Are you working him too hard? Is he eating okay? Tell him I will take very good care of him when he gets home.

    Comment by Nanette — March 2, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

  2. I can relate to the head lacerations. I have many from my month in Thailand–tall man in a short mans world. From the bus, from the low shelf hangining in the guest room below Khoon’s house where we stayed (got several here), from taxis, etc. Even my hat could not spare me all the grief.

    As for tripping, I think they have something against level floors in Thailand. Seems they want you to step up or down every time you change rooms, so you either trip (not expecting the step up} or stumble (not expecting the step down).

    Comment by Edd — March 5, 2010 @ 12:58 am

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