From Thighland to Thailand

February 23, 2014

February 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — markchinmd @ 9:53 am

February 22, 2014


Thailand/Myanmar 5.1 (Fifth trip to Thailand, Day 1)


Bon Voyage: LAX to Seoul, Korea

We’re off to our medical mission trip to Myanmar and Thailand.  Many friends arrived to see the team off in the wee hours of the night, as we gathered at First Chinese Baptist Church at 0345.  Thank you so much to our send off team: Auntie Vi, Auntie Ginny, Jean, Ed, Patti, Scott, Darlene, Dr. Chinn, Dr. Tajiri, Dr. Chu’s wife, Arlene, anyone else?,  Of course, Pastor Dennis who was with the BYFers spending the night doing 30 Hour Famine raising awareness for world wide famine.   If I missed someone I didn’t see you, I’m sorry.  It was somewhat sad leaving the church.  I thought I caught a glimmer of a tear running down Dr. Tajiri’s eye.  I was wondering if he was thinking that he missed going on this trip and at 85 years-young; now, that would have been an incredible feat.  Or was he reflecting on the times that he accompanied us on prior trips helping the poor bring sight to the blind?  Then after a big long yawn, I saw another tear…Nope, just sleepy thinking “Whose Idea was this getting up this early??”  And jolly Uncle Dennis waving us good-bye.  “Good Luck!”  Now why was he chuckling?,,,


Our dedicated bus driver, Linda, who has chauffeured us several times before, carried us on the first leg of the journey.  We have nearly a ton of luggage and supplies: drugs (legal), equipment, medical/dental/optical, Kashi, and electronic gear.  Bin there, done that. Twenty-five bins, 4 duffel bags, 8 MAP (drug) boxes and several dozen miscellaneous pieces of luggage.  I think we brought just about everything we needed, save Botox. All along, Bill has been stingy to the medical team with regards to allocating the number of bins.  He’d rather use the space for blow up mattresses since he feels guilty that we have to lay on wooden floors at the Buddhist monastery instead of life-saving drugs.  Priorities, priorities. 


Well, as the team members loaded the bus, you could see some obvious separation already.  The extroverts sat toward the front while us young introverts and newbies tried to hide out in the middle and back of the bus trying to go unnoticed.  At the risk of suffocation, several stayed hidden under covers to avoid conversation.  The conversationalists, in their loud voices, on the other hand kept up the rest of us in our futile attempt to resume our shut-eye, now where were my earplugs and can’t they turn up their hearing aids?


The Naomi Ruth group graciously gave us care packages for the road while Dr. Bill and Gail provided the sausage McMuffins and water for hydration.  Fortunately there was a Porta-potty in the bus that allowed us to test our coordination, while some adventurous women tested their personal “Go Girl” devices which allows strategic positioning of a voiding assistance tool, Get the picture? Okay, we’re all adults, a straw to pee into when straddling the urinals in the grounds of Southeast Asia.  Just don’t get pissed off if you miss.  Which reminds me, ever read the book “Yellow River” by I.P. Freely?


We made a quick pit stop at our usually pre-Grape vine rest stop and here again there was segregation.  Some of the more affluent members (Vicky and Gail) bolted to get jolted at their favorite java house, Starbuck’s, for their $6 cinnamon coffee and low cal Carmel Macchiato (isn’t that an oxymoron?) while us peasants frugally obtained our $1 McD’s coffee.  I even got my senior coffee discount (I borrowed Bill’s ID).  After that, the trip didn’t seem that long with Linda speeding along at the wheel despite missing a semi-truck by a foot (the sleeping introverts missed that).





We arrived at LAX to meet up with Kane Kuo (he likes to go by Candy Kane), Diana Lee, Lisa and John Shimada and Trevour Zin.  A big surprise was seeing our children, Steven, Kelly, Lindsay, Stephanie, Lauren, Brittany, and Aimee who gave us a big send off.  Good to see you all! They are all grown up and accomplished.  Good for them, we’re proud of you!!


We checked in the team fairly smoothly.  We even got away with pieces over the 50 lb weight limit.  However, a few bins held us up.  TSA rejected several bins carrying the three air compressors,  We never had this problem before. For whatever reason, they didn’t like the X-ray so we couldn’t take them. Compressors are responsible for the infamous whining sound we are all familiar with that bring chills up our spines while we sit in the dental chair with our mouths wide open and are responsible for the  tears running down the faces of children and adults alike.  So maybe that’s a good thing.  They’re used to run the drills and ultrasonic tools to clean the thick calculus off the teeth and remove tooth decay.  It was like pulling teeth trying to get them through TSA but to no avail. I know Bill wanted to stick a drill up something. No big smiles for the dental team.  Plan B will be to purchase them at our destinations.  Otherwise the dental team will be doing a lot of flossing, brushing, and pulling instead of restoring.  Plan C is to have hamsters run in place on the spinning wheels to run the make-shift compressors using kazoos for sound effects of the drills.  Plan D is for Decay.


So during this 12 hour leg on this plane that is seemingly not even moving and to avoid staring at the open sky through the window wondering “Are we there yet?”, occasionally being distracted enjoying this Seoul food, wondering when our next meal will be and how close the toilet is, I am entertaining myself, not by watching countless new movies that I can buy on DVD in Thailand, but by journaling because in a few years the details of this trip will surely fade away from my aging memory and this blog, if you want to call it that, will provide some recollection, albeit, almost accurate, yet from my exaggerated perspective, a record of events, that have been put in motion by the Almighty God that will hopefully, in the future, provide a clearer picture of who is benefiting from this mission trip (the team members themselves or the intended patients), what we are trying to accomplish, where are we going exactly, why we are doing this, and how we are going to make a difference if that was are intended goal.  Maybe some of you actually know the answers, think you know the answers, or you think I’m dumb because you think I should know the answers.  I think for each of us, we have our own individual answers. 






I am not a writer.  I am not a scholar.  I am not a philosopher.  I lack wisdom even though I am often called a wise guy.  I am not a good communicator so you may have to decipher some of my thoughts, innuendos, and diarrhea of the mouth/mind.  But trust me, I’m a doctor.  Bill assigned me this task to keep me busy and no one else volunteered.  Perhaps I am an entertainer, attempting to relay our journey to my faithful reader (thanks, Kelly Quan) or readers (thanks family).  I will try not to bore you and for those reading this for the first time you’re probably lucky.  I will try to make you smile. And laugh.  And cry.  If you don’t then you didn’t get my jokes (whoosh, over the head) or you’re insensitive and need to get some help. That’s my opinion though you can always get a second opinion..  There is anxiety for those of us traveling and for the loved ones left behind (unless they are inheriting something).  Perhaps this blog will elicit stronger caring feelings towards one another, while creating long lasting relationships and new friendships.  I am actually thankful that you readers care what we are doing.  This blog functions as a connection between us.  This way we are experiencing this trip together so that we can emote together.  We will no doubt be enriched by this experience and I hope that you do to.  On behalf of Medical Team International thank you for supporting the team, praying for us, thinking of us, and caring for us.


Remember the profound words of wisdom quoted by our fearless leader Pastor Jack and my very wise wife, Lena “We are not taking God with us…God is taking us.”


Nigh Nigh, Mark Chin


  1. Have a safe trip and I miss you guys

    Comment by Richard — February 23, 2014 @ 2:41 pm

  2. Thanks for the shout out Mark. Praying for the team and your families everyday. –Kelley

    Comment by Kelley Quan — February 25, 2014 @ 9:01 am

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