As we reach our midway point, here’s an update from Bangkok, where we are on the visa run. From the work point of view, I’m currently overhauling the doctors’ training package and planning a workshop as well as a small project I want to do. Hoping I can complete it all and taking advantage of having decent speed internet in Bangkok. Ned has been helping finalise the building plans for the new Emergency Dept at Parami Hospital and seeing some dengue cases and continuing teaching.
Last Saturday the Yangon Dragons had a match against the Rhinos who are a renowned expat team and also really big (physically). Unfortunately the Dragons have had several injuries and unwell players so were struggling with numbers, despite this they made a really good effort and played well. No medical emergencies this time, one chap knocked himself out but was fine. Afterwards we went for dinner with Thura, a family friend, who had joined the match with some cousins and friends and later to Vista Bar, where you get a pretty impressive view of Shwedagon Pagoda.
On Sunday, Ned had some patients to see and then we met Fraser, a brother in law of a friend, who has just arrived in Yangon to work. We had what’s been labelled as the ‘best pizza in Yangon’ at Pa Pa Pizza and it was pretty good.
Now I’m going to write about an episode from an evening last week. We walked to Onyx, a steak restaurant about ten minutes away. As we walked inside I felt some movement on me, as if an insect was buzzing around. Being an insect bite magnet I was worried, as even though I had repellent on, the restaurant door was open and it wasn’t air conditioned which usually keeps mossies away. We sat down and I could still occasionally feel as if a mosquito was flying around me and I actually moved to sit cross legged and scoop my skirt up around, so that they couldn’t get to my legs (error). After a few minutes I suddenly could feel definite movement at the top of my skirt and put my hand underneath and pulled out an object trying to crawl into my knickers which turned out to be a COCKROACH. Yes, I know it’s ridiculous but I’m terrified of cockroaches – phobic. I had a funny turn (shaky, sweaty!) and Ned laughed at me. Fortunately the service was so slow that by the time the food came my appetite had just about returned. Amy labelled the incident, ‘cockcrotch’.
So back to the current: Bangkok. I’ve been here several times, but this time we actually experienced culture shock. Big. Loud. Shiny. Lights. More foreigners/westerners/whatever you want to call them in the first 20 minutes in MBK (shopping mall) than we had seen in our entire 70 days in Myanmar. People in vests and inappropriately short shorts. Icy air con everywhere. So many food options – brain exploding. Brands (Subway, McD’s, Boots the Chemist!!). Internet speed that I had long forgotten existed – even at the best wifi hotspots in Myanmar, it just doesn’t compare.
Of course I’m not knocking Myanmar – and there are elements of BKK which are definitely not my thing. Also most things you want you can get in Myanmar – at a premium – and if you know where to look. But BKK is a very pleasant break. The hotel is located right by the sky train and MBK mall and has a lovely rooftop swimming pool and gym. I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve been on a holiday and used the gym – membership of a gym with this modern equipment in Yangon costs $100-150 per month so I’m taking full advantage. So far we have both bought new pairs of glasses – I’m very short sighted and the lenses alone cost me over £200 in the UK but are much much cheaper here. We have also eaten lots of food and been overwhelmed at the food courts at the various malls. We have bought a few items of clothes and three retailers we dealt with were all Burmese! At least our Burmese language is better than our Thai. And of course we also made the trip to the embassy to get our visas so we are safe to return to Myanmar.
Tonight we went to the ‘Bangkok airways blue ribbon’ cinema screen at Paragon Cineplex. It was relatively pricey for the cinema here but we thought we would go for the experience. Basically it’s a screen with 16 pairs of seats which fully recline, you get a blanket and pillow and included with the ticket is a 15 minute foot massage and either huge drink & popcorn or a coffee or a glass of wine, for £16 each. It was really comfy and amazing. We saw ‘Edge of tomorrow’ which was actually quite good.
Back to Yangon on Saturday (trip to Chatuchak just before)! Quite looking forward to getting back into a routine. Plus being here is dangerous when you’re trying to be frugal 🙂