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A Volunteer's  Journal

By  Melissa  Taavola

 

 

Dates: 2/3 - 2/11

I arrived in Bangkok late Thursday night, early Friday morning.  For the next two days, I spent time touring the city with Karen, another volunteer, and our tour guides.  Bangkok is a busy city, full of pollution, traffic, tourists, and humidity.  I didn't take too long getting adjusted to the new timezone.  Our tour group visited many sites, such as the Grand Palace, Vimanmek Mansion, the Emerald Buddha, the Reclining Buddha, and several wats or temples.  It was hard at first to talk to our tour guides, since I needed to focus on speaking
slowly and in simple phrases.  As the first few days went by, I got used to this quickly.

I traveled to Kanchanaburi, the town I'm staying in, on Sunday.  I met my host family      P. Att, P. Sert, Pook, and Paeng.  They have 13 dogs at their house!  They are friendly,   but usually bark a lot whenever people come around.  The family is very nice and makes my stay here the best that it can be.  I live in a separate house or bungalow.  It has two
bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen and a living room.  I felt uneasy the first night staying there since I was all alone in this big house.  The family lives in a house about ten feet away from my backdoor.  The houses are enclosed with a fence and gate.  About 60,000 people live in Kanchanaburi.  The city itself is located about 200 kilometers from Burma (Myanmar), if you head to the northernmost province.  The town is a nice size compared to Bangkok and is filled with markets, temples, schools, and other government buildings.

This past week, I worked at the hospital for three days and the school for two days.  At the hospital, I worked with two ob/gyn doctors, a psychiatrist, a newborn care doctor, and emergency room staff.  I was able to observe about five surgeries and many other consultations.  I especially enjoyed being able to learn about medical problems involving
infants and newborns.  All of the staff is very friendly.  It's difficult to speak English with them at times.  I need to remember that the staff knows English but just needs sometime to get to know me before they feel comfortable speaking with me in English.  At the school, I taught several topics to the students.  The students are 14-15 years old and are in grades M2 and M3.  On the first day, I introduced myself and showed the students photos of my family and Wisconsin.  Then, we worked on several questions and answers, such
as "How are you?", "I am great/okay/so-so," "What is/was today/tomorrow/yesterday?" "Today/tomorrow/yesterday is/was (blank).

Next, we practiced days of the week and numbers.  The students enjoy playing games, so we ended the class with a game involving numbers.  I brought along candy and this was definitely a great prize for the winning team.  On the second day, I taught a short dance to the students. The boys of the classes didn't want to participate, but the girls really enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.  Each day I teach four to five classes at the school. 
I really like the school since my host mom, P. Att, is the teacher of the English classes there.This past Saturday, I attended a safari through Good Times Travel Service. 
This included hiking to Erawon waterfalls, riding an elephant, rafting on a bamboo raft, exploring a cave, and riding a train to get back to town.  This was a nice break from the work week, but also tired me out.  This coming Monday is a Buddhist holiday, so I won't be working at the hospital.  I will have a four day week, and then I'll probably travel next weekend.

 

Dates: 2/12-2/18

On Sunday, 2/12, I attended a Thai Catholic mass.  It was hard to follow at first, basically since it's in another language.  However, I was able to find some similarities and differences when compared to a Catholic mass in the States.  For instance, there are different times
to kneel, stand, etc; yet, the same basic format and order is followed.  After mass, I traveled to visit the Tiger Temple.  I climbed over 200 stairs to reach the very top.  It had a wonderful view, and I really enjoyed taking the day to be outside and walk around.

On Monday, 2/13, it was a Buddhist Holiday.  This meant that all schools and other government buildings were closed.  I had a free day and visited a local department store to do some shopping.  I also stopped at a digital photo store to print off some photos.  It was a low key day, and I really needed a day to rest from the business of the week.  For the rest of the week, I spent two days at the hospital and two days at the school.

At the hospital, I was able to spend time with a newborn care doctor, a psychiatrist, and in the ER.  I met a woman from a refugee center who had come to take care of a newborn boy.  She spoke English well and came up to me to talk.  It was interesting to talk with her about the Burmese refugees.  The organization is called the American Refugee Camp
and works to take Burmese refugees to America.  She was waiting her turn to come to America.  In the ER, I witnessed the passing away of a patient - an elderly man suffering from severe anemia (only 8% hematocrit).  He underwent cardiac arrest and the ER staff was trying to bring him back.  They tried CPR techniques, fluids, and several other methods, but nothing worked.  The nurse was tired and called me over to help with the breathing bag.  I also saw the patient's family; they were crying after seeing their dead relative. 
On the second day at the hospital, I spent time with a psychiatrist.  He had open
appointments in the morning.  This meant that patients, drug company marketers, or anyone else could stop by.  We also visited patients in the general wards of the hospital.

At the school, I spent the first day at the Kanchanaburi Educational Exhibition.  I spent the morning leading an English activity for students.  This included having students read words from flashcards and then stamping and signing their booklet.  So many students came by, I
felt swamped at times.  It was an exciting time.  I took the afternoon off and visited a safari park.  The second day at the school, I taught the students about adjectives - using them to describe people and objects.  In the afternoon, I traveled to a wat (temple) and taught young monks.  There were ten students that I taught for two hours.  We focused on some basics from last week, adjectives, and then animals.  The young monks were much more well behaved than the students at the school. 

On Saturday, I traveled to Ayuthuya, the old capital of Thailand.  We visited many wats, even some with ancient ruins.  I sampled Thai style ice cream and other new foods.  On the way home, we stopped at a buffalo village where they put on buffalo shows.  It was kind of like teaching the buffalo tricks.  You could even ride the buffalo if you wanted.

 

Dates: 2/19-2/25

On Sunday, 2/19, I attended the same Catholic mass as last week. This time, at the end of mass, we prayed a Eucharistic Adoration prayer.  I enjoy going to the mass, even though it is hard to follow along.  This week, it was very hot and stuffy inside the church which made it hard to concentrate.  I didn't stayed after mass for very long, but the rest of the congregation usually stays and talks for a short while.

I spent three days at the hospital this week.  On Monday, 2/20, I spent time in the postpartum unit.  The unit consists of 36 beds for mothers and their babies.  The staff conducts classes for the mothers each morning.  I went on rounds with two of the doctors and got to see some really beautiful babies.  Some of the mothers were suffering from
infections or other complications from giving birth.  I also saw another c-section and two vaginal births. 

 

On Tuesday, 2/21, I spent a short time in the pediatric ward.  I went on rounds with Dr. Anon, a doctor that I hadn't met yet.  We visited almost all of the children, and I got to speak with her and her intern.  Later that morning, I went to the OR to assist in three tubal ligation surgeries.  Basically, I got to scrub in and assist Dr. Kung, an OB/GYN, with
basic skills.  I held clamps, retractors, cut sutures, and blotted blood with gauze.  It was amazing to be able to help and not just watch - this was definitely the highlight of my week! 

On Thursday, 2/23, I traveled to a clinic in the nearby Wong Dong district.  The doctor, intern, and nurse staff on duty conducted a cervical cancer screening.  About 45 women stopped at the clinic that morning.  In the afternoon, I saw a uterine fibroid be removed during an hysterectomy.

I spent two days at the school.  On Wednesday, 2/22, I taught five classes.  We focused on animals - names and descriptions, time, and asking questions, such as "what time do you (blank)?".  Some of the classes are larger than others, which makes it difficult to pay
special attention to each student.  There are some students who are great during class, but others who talk throughout class and do not pay attention at all.  On Friday, 2/24, I led an animal game and practiced the past tense with "what time did you (blank)?".  I only
taught three classes.  Most of the students were distracted since it was one of the last days to turn in their science and English projects. 

On Saturday, 2/25, I traveled to Ban Kao, an archeological site and museum, Prasat Mueng Sing filled with ancient ruins, and Sai Yok Noi waterfall.  I loved standing in the waterfall and being outside in the sun!

 

Dates: 2/26 -  3/4

On Sunday, 2/26, I attended the Catholic mass.  This time, the mass was shorter.  I stayed after mass and talked to a few people.  I met some people from the US and also spoke to Dr. Anon, whom I met at the hospital.  I found out that some people get together for coffee after mass, so maybe next week I'll go with them.

The hospital this week was not really busy for me.  On Monday, 2/27, I helped correct an English abstract for a paper about colon cancer and its treatment at Pahon Hospital.  The grammar was difficult to understand, so I rewrote some sentences and gave suggestions about how to fix it.  I spent some time in the OR and ER as well. 

On Tuesday, 2/28, I spent the morning in the newborn care unit and the OR. 

I love seeing the newborns and their mothers.  It's great to see the interaction of all the family members.  Yet, some of the mothers are there to watch their babies in isolation boxes.  Some newborns are struggling so much to live that it is difficult to watch their mothers stare longingly at their babies.  I always see the same mother and father looking after two twins that are still very sick - they have been there for over 3 weeks already. 
I saw some hysterectomies in the OR.  It was interesting to see the different techniques that can be used depending on the patient's  situation. 

On Thursday, 3/2, I spent a short time with the psychiatrist, Dr. Joompol.  He had a patient come in with a sexual dysfunction complaint.  It was kind of uncomfortable to here the doctor talk about all these different techniques to treating sexual dysfunction.  He kept trying to make jokes about it and laugh, but I felt wierd talking about this topic with him.  Later in the day, I went to the physical therapy department and spent the rest of the day there.  It was great to compare the US's PT treatments and setup to
that of Thailand.  It's so different!!

I taught 5 regular classes on Wednesday, 3/1.  The students had an easy lesson about verbs and forms of verbs.  The students were excited to be done with their classes since this week was their last week of regular class before their summer vacation.  (Summer vacation runs from mid-March until mid-May.)  On Friday, 3/3, I taught classes in the morning with Karen, the other volunteer.  We did some fun activities where the students walked around and asked their classmates questions to fill in a bingo like board.  I only had a half day of school on Friday.

I went to Bangkok on Friday, 3/3, to see muay Thai (Thai kickboxing).  It was crazy at first to travel to Bangkok with just Karen.  We were a bit nervous about being by ourselves in this huge city but we had a great time.  We stayed on Khao San Road where a ton of farangs (Westerners) hang out.  We met people from Finland, Sweden, Japan, and England.  We also had some time to shop on Friday and Saturday (JJ Market weekend market).  We headed home on 3/4 late in the day.  That night, I went to a music club, Glitzy, with my host sisters and friends.  We saw a band and listened to a DJ and danced.  It was fun to go out with them!

 

Dates: 3/5 - 3/11

On Sunday, 3/5, I traveled to a nearby town to see the floating market.  Basically, this is a market where people sell things while floating on small wooden boats.  I went with 4 other people and we rented one of the wooden boats.  You wear big sun hats and have a
guide control the boat with a paddle.  You travel through a canal system and get to a big market.  We left early in the morning to try to avoid the traffic jam of boats, but we hit the jam anyways.  It was fun to be in an old wooden boat and float through the canals, taking in the market scene.  We even tried some new food that day as well.

I spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at the hospital.  On Monday, I spent time in the labor room as well as the OR.  I saw a few births and had a generally laid back day.  On Tuesday, I visited the pediatrics ward for newborns and young infants.  I went on rounds with an intern and Dr. Pansueon.  This only lasted a short time because I headed to the OR to see some surgeries - hysterectomy, tubal ligation, and c-section.  Later in the afternoon, I saw two new surgeries: a maxilofacial surgery performed by a dentist to install a plate on the mandible and an eye surgery performed by an opthamalogist to repair
the lower eyelid.  Both surgeries were due to motorcycle accidents - a common occurrence here in Thailand.  On Wednesday, I spent more time in the labor room and met some nursing students practicing labor techniques and skills.  I saw an ectopic pregnancy surgery - basically an emergency surgery to remove a fallopian tube since the pregnancy
had ruptured.  I also attended a conference concerning the treatment and diagnosis of a young boy.  The interns and doctors discussed possible ideas and settled on TB meningitis as the diagnosis. 

On Thursday, I went to lead an English camp with Karen, the other volunteer.  We led four different groups of about 35 students each.  The students ranged from age 8 until age 12.  We sang songs, played games, learned about animals and animal sounds, and practiced doing introductions.  It was a great day and we spent all of our time outside;

unfortunately, I got sunburn from that (my first burn here in Thailand.) 

On Friday, I spent the day at a subdistrct government office.  I met the staff and spoke with them during the day.  It was hard to find time to talk with them since they needed to work.  I will be teaching them English lessons starting next week.  In the evening, I got a Thai style massage (very different than US), sang karaoke, and went to a lounge/club, Glitzy.  Very fun!

On Saturday, I visited the royal palace of King Rama VI in Nakhom Pathom.  Then, I saw an elephant show and crocodile show in a nearby town, Saphran Elephant Park.  It was a fun day of touring as always! 

We even met a famous food show host and cook (McDang) at a restaurant. 

 

Dates: 3/12 - 3/18

This past week, I only spent 2 days at the hospital.  I decided to spent some extra time in the labor area.  This was really fun since I got to speak with a group of nursing students who were practicing skills for delivering babies.  The staff in the labor unit has gotten
to know me a little more, so I feel more comfortable spending extra time there.  I enjoy asking questions about the mothers and babies as well as checking information in the patient charts.  I saw many different cases where a c-section was necessary.  One day, Dr. Kung, the doctor I work with, performed 4 c-sections in the course of 8
hours.  In addition to the labor unit, I spent time in the OR.  This is always exciting to me!  I observed several new surgeries, such as gastric pull up (pulling the stomach up to attach to the esophagus near the clavicle) and emergency surgery for a ruptured ectopic
pregnancy.  I love watching the surgeries.  It's definitely one of my favorite things to do at the hospital.

I spent one day at Karen's (the other volunteer) school.  It was the last day of class for the students.  Basically, I introduced myself and we played games, sang songs, and danced.  The students were in grade 5 and definitely enjoyed the silliness and fun that we brought into the classroom.  Since it was the last day, we took photos.  All of the students wanted to give us hugs and have us sign (autograph) their notebooks, arms, or shirts.  It was pure craziness and really hard to try to leave the room with a bunch of students surrounding me.  It was a good day of fun! 

After spending some time at the school, I decided to get a haircut.  I picked out a photo in a magazine and showed it to the hairstylist.  I was quite nervous because I've never gotten my hair cut by someone I didn't know.  My hair turned out great!  Even though it didn't look like the photo (at all), I really enjoy it since it's a little shorter and cooler in the hot weather. 


I spent the last 2 days of the week at my school, learning to play Thai musical instruments and to do Thai dance.  I really enjoy learning songs on the instruments.  It looks really simple at first, but it's a bit hard to learn quickly.  The students helped me to learn
a few songs on several different instruments, such as the kim, ranaud, kong, and saw.  Then, came the dancing...I absolutely love doing Thai dance!  It focuses on specific hand positions and rhythmic patterns with the feet.  I learned about 10 different movements that can be put together in several patterns. 


On Saturday, I traveled to Bangkok to pick up my sister.  Since she didn't arrive until about 1130pm, I spent the day touring around the city with Karen.  We wanted to try traveling around the city by ourselves and to visit places most tourists don't go.   We definitely had a great time and then met up with some friends for dinner.  My sister, Sarah, arrived safely and we spent the night in Bangkok. 

 

 

Dates: 3/19 - 3/25

This week, my sister, Sarah, came to visit me in Thailand!  We picked her up on Saturday and then spent Sunday touring in Bangkok.  She was definitely feeling the culture shock but she enjoyed traveling around the big city.  We went to a few wats, traveled by boat, tuk tuk, and taxi, and just barely made it on our night train Sunday evening.

We spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand.  Chiang Mai can be thought of as the capitol of the North.  It is a relatively big city, filled with many things to do and places to see.  We arrived Monday, midday, got cleaned up at our hotel, and then ventured out into the city.  We took a boat tour and later that day went to the night safari.  This attraction just opened about one year ago, so we enjoyed the newness of everything.  It was amazing to see so many animals and I loved how the animals actually had nice areas to live in.

On Tuesday, we took a tour to Doi Suthep, Doi Pui, and a Mong tribal village.  Doi Suthep is a gorgeous wat with about 306 steps to walk up.  With a wonderful view and beautiful buildings, it was well worth the stairs.  Doi Pui is a village area and also a forest region.  We stopped at a tribal village where they sell hand made crafts and clothing.  We saw a beautiful garden museum with flowers, such as poppies (opium flowers), roses, and many others.  In the afternoon, we went to the zoo and saw 2 lovely, adorable pandas on loan from China.  The zoo was fun but the living areas for the animals were not very nice.  While looking at the reptiles, one of the workers saw us admiring the snake, so he jumped in, grabbed the snake, and put in on our shoulders.  Whoa, that's never happened to me before!!


On Wednesday, we traveled to Bo Sang, the umbrella village of Thailand.  It was amazing to see the steps of making an umbrella.  We watched the workers cut sa-kee trees for the wood frames, make paper, assemble the strips of wood, use a wood saw to fashion the
handle, and paint beautiful designs.  We got a few things painted: a wooden container for my mom, my handbag, my shorts, my sister's shirt, etc.  The designs were incredible and the painters were really talented.  We also visited a hot springs, where you can boil eggs in the water.  Those were some yummy eggs!  We then headed back to the center of Chiang Mai to catch our night train back to Bangkok.


We arrived in Kanchanaburi (finally) on Thursday afternoon.  After getting cleaned up, we went out to dinner and to the night market.  My sister really liked seeing the town where I lived. 

On Friday, we toured around the town, went to some wats, and stopped at a hot springs nearby.  It was a fun day with my sister!  That night, we had a bunch of people over for dinner.  After, we packed up some bags and went to sleep.  We left early for the airport - around 230am Saturday.  Sarah arrived safely home and I spent the rest of Saturday lounging around since I got sick (stomach flu and a cold). 

 

 

Dates: 3/26 - 4/1

This week, I suffered from a stomach flu and a bad cold.  Not very fun in the hot weather!  I couldn't really eat any food.  I spent Sunday and Monday at my house: sleeping, resting, trying to get better.  I didn't go to the hospital since I could barely stand up!

On Tuesday, I started to feel a bit better which is good since today I traveled to Ko Samui, an island in the Gulf of Thailand.  I traveled with Karen and 2 people we met the program.  We took a bus to Bangkok and luckily got the last 4 tickets for a bus to Ko Samui.  We left Tuesday night and arrived in Ko Samui on Wednesday morning.  We rode
in a really great VIP bus that had big seats so you could actually sleep.  Then, we took a ferry for about 1 hour to get to the island.  Wow!  The landscapes were so different than Kanchanaburi.  My first view of the Gulf of Thailand was so beautiful!

On Wednesday, we settled into our bungalow - Wandee Bungalow, located right on a nice, quiet beachfront of Maenam.  We got a nice deal on the price since the people from the program knew the owners of the bungalow.  We rented 2 motorcycles and the 4 of us traveled parts of the island.  Every place we went was so beautiful!  I took many pictures.  We visited the Big Buddha by the beach and stopped at Chaewng Beach, the busiest beach of the island.  It had really clear water and great waves!  We visited some rock formations called Hin Ta and Hin Yai.  This day I got a little sun burn but now it's a nice tan color.  At night, we took a night swim by our bungalow.  A little scary at first, but it was great to float in the water and look at the stars and some lightening in the distance.  An island nearby is known for the Full Moon Party.  It wasn't a full moon this past week, but a black moon.  So, we went to the Black Moon Party.  Basically, it's a
big venue filled with great decorations, techno/mixed music, games, drinks, and food.  It was fun to dance and be outside!  Definitely lots

of crazy drunk people dancing in wild fashions!

On Thursday, we took the motorcycles to see some new parts of the island.  We stopped to swim on the beach and registered for a tour to a national marine park.  We went to some waterfalls too.  It was nice to have an early night!

On Friday, we took the tour to the Angthong marine park.  This consists of 42 islands in an archipalego.  It was gorgeous!  We got to snorkel (kinda difficult with my cold but fun), hike, and kayak.  The water was so clear and I loved swimming and floating in it.  We took a speedboat with the tour and met some people from New Zealand, Ireland, and Great Britain.  We saw the lagoon which is the setting of "The Beach," even though it wasn't filmed there. 

On Saturday, we traveled to nearby Ko Pha Ngan.  We took a ferry and spent the day on the beach.  The water was the clearest I've ever seen with some great waves.  The water is so warm in Thailand that it feels like a bath.  I picked up some great shells and rocks on the islands too.  We arrived back on Ko Samui and went to dinner at a friend's house.  Good local food!!  We packed up a bit to head home on Sunday. 

 

 

Dates: 4/2 - 4/8

On Sunday, I finished traveling on Ko Samui.  We stopped at the Big Buddha Wat and two more smaller wats after a rainstorm hit the island.  We finished packing and got on our bus in the afternoon to head home.  We traveled by ferry and bus through the day and night. 
We arrived in Bangkok on Monday at about 4am.  We got on another bus to head to Kanchanaburi and arrived back home around 630am.

On Monday, I relaxed and stayed at home.  It was nice to have a day off, plus I needed to unpack and get some more sleep.

On Tuesday, I went to Pahon hospital.  I had not been to the hospital for about 2 weeks (traveling and being sick).  I spent time in the labor room and OR.  Dr. Kung was in charge of OPD (outpatient services) this week so there wasn't much to do with her.  I saw a c-
section, repair of fractured zigomatic bone, burn cleaning of a young boy, removal of femur plate, and a few vaginal births.  It was hard to watch the young boy getting his burns cleaned.  About 65% of his body had 2nd degree burns.  This was evident by the area being white or black.  He could not move most of his body and screamed loudly in pain
as the nurses removed his bandages and cleaned the wounds. 

On Wednesday, I went to Tha Muang hospital.  This hospital can be described as a community hospital while Pahon is a general hospital.  Tha Muang is a small building.  In fact, they are currently building a brand new structure that is much bigger.  I worked with Dr. Kittypoon (Dr. Kit).  He is a general practicioner and currently works in OPD.  He sees
a wide variety of patients: young and old with many different problems.  I saw many patients with hypertension, respiratory distress, possible tuberculosis cases, back pain, skin problems, and much more.  I get to help by listening to breathing and heart sounds,
checking muscle movement, and palpating the abdomen or sore regions.  After work, I traveled to Bangkok to use a visa service.  I stayed with Paeng (host sister) and Nok (works with TSC).

On Thursday, I boarded a bus headed to Cambodia so I could renew my visa.  I paid $50 to use a company service for the 8 hour round trip bus ride.  I didn't realize that I had overstayed by 4 days.  Ah, I read the wrong date on my passport!  So, I had to pay an extra $50 for the overstay.  Not fun.  The ride was long but I met a few foreign travelers.  I arrived back in Bangkok, met up with Paeng and Nok, and headed back to Kanchanaburi. 

On Friday, I went to Pahon hospital.  I met Dr. Kung in OPD, but I had to wait for awhile until she came.  There was a special luncheon for the new hospital director.  I attended the event and had fun eating lunch with the doctors.  I spent the rest of the day in the OR seeing a repair of an eyelid from a dog bite and a c-section.  After work, I traveled to Bangkok (again) with Nok, Paeng, and Karen.

On Saturday, I went to Dream World.  There was a special promotion with Care powder.  All you had to do was buy 2 bottles of powder and you could get in free for the day.  Dream World has many rides, like rollercoasters, water rides, and small kiddie rides.  There's also a fairyland, giant house, and haunted house.  Thais say that they "play" many games at the park which means they go on many rides.  I liked hurricaine, space mountain, bump car, grand canyon and many others.  We traveled back to Bangkok that night.

 

 

Dates: 4/9 - 4/15

On Sunday, I went to mass to celebrate Palm Sunday.  Instead of receiving normal palm leaves, I received one that was folded and cut into a really neat shape.  We started mass outside, then proceeded inside to finish the service.  Even though I cannot understand the
actual words of the mass, I know the meaning that each section has.  I love the songs and how small the church is.  In the afternoon, I went to Erawan waterfall for the second time.  Since I didn't make it to the top the first time, Karen and I wanted to hike to the 7th tier.  This took awhile since there wasn't a set path near the top and you had to find your own way.  It was definitely worth the hike up the mountain since the top was so beautiful.  Even though there were a lot of bugs at the top, we got in the water.  I love the feeling of clean water flowing down the waterfall onto me.  It's so refreshing and
makes me feel connected to nature.  Afterwards, we celebrated Karen's and Pie's (Karen's host sister) birthdays.

On Monday, I went to Pahon.  I spent much of the day in the labor room.  This time I got to help suction the baby's mouth right after birth and help to clean the baby.  Suctioning isn't very difficult, but it's so important because the baby must breath.  As soon as the
head is delivered, the mouth and nostrils are suctioned.  Then, after the rest of the body is delivered, suctioning is done again.  A type of olive oil is used to clean the baby since a baby cannot have a real bath until after about 24 hours.  The oil helps to soften the skin and remove blood, fluids, and other matter stuck to the body after birth.  I went to lunch by myself and met some doctors there.  I went to the labor room again and stopped in post partum to visit the nursing students.  For one hour at the end of my work, I taught an English class for the nurses and doctors.  8 nursing students came and 1 doctor.  We practiced conversations, did an activity to explain photographs, and chatted.  The doctor knew English really well, but the

students didn't know as much.  I also began teaching P. Att's friend's children and the children's friends.  5 students in total.  They come to my house and we practice English for about 1.5 hours.  We did intros, basic conversations, and the photo activity today.  They also made up stories about animals.

On Tuesday, I went to Pahon.  The main highlight of today was seeing an amputation.  A 16 year old boy got his right arm stuck in an ice making machine in a factory.  It was so mangled that they couldn't save it.  It was amputated just below the elbow.  It was a bit
gruesome to see the broken bones, tendons, and muscles of the forearm just hanging loosely.  The hand was pretty much intact, but the lower arm was destroyed.  During the surgery, the doctor apparently performed a step considered to be below standard for medical technique.  The nurses were worried that I would inform my government that Thai doctors perform below standard work.  I am not quite sure what the step was but I think it involved suturing the muscles so that they would not be funtional anymore.  The doctor switched the origin and insertion instead of trying to save the muscles to use with a
prosthetic arm.  I also had a class for English today, but no one came.  A man named Sage (pharmacist) stopped in and we talked in English for about 45 minutes.  He speaks as if he lives in an English speaking country and enjoys talking a lot!  I taught the 5 students again today.  We played a board game that I made and practiced a conversation.
 

On Wednesday, I went to Tha Muang.  At 12pm, we celebrated Songkran Festival.  This is considered to be the Thai new year.  Everyone wishes each other good health and fortune for the coming year.  Water and paste/powder are used in the celebration.  The official day is 4/13 but it creates a 4 day holiday.  At the hospital, younger workers pour perfumed water and flowers into the older staff members' hands and wish them good health and fortune.  You also pour some on Buddha images to start.  People wear really colorful shirts, shirts that Americans would describe as Hawaiian shirts.  After the lunch and ceremony, people will pour water onto you or put paste onto your face.  I was drenched and full of paste on my face when I left.  At 2pm, Songkran was celebrated at Pahon.  After changing my wet clothes, I went to Pahon to celebrate with the doctors.  This was inside so there was not extra water and paste thrown.  We poured water into the older staff members' hands as well as the Buddha image.  Most older staff wished me good health and a good time in Thailand.  I went to karaoke this night with Karen, Pook, Pie, Paeng and Nok.  Fun times singing as usual!!

On Thursday, I celebrated Songkran with my host family.  Since today was a Buddhist holiday, we gave merit to the monks, which means to give them food, drinks, and supplies without wearing our shoes.  The monks walked along a huge area near the river.  The street was closed so we could give merit.  After this, I poured water onto the Buddha
image.  Then, my family and I let a big bag of many little fish loose into the river.  The merit symbolizes asking for good fortune, while the releasing of fish symbolizes letting the bad fortune go away.  I taught the 5 students today.  We talked about directions, practiced a conversation, and did some questions/answers about a wide range of topics.

On Friday, I headed to Bangkok to celebrate Songkran near Khao San Road, the tourist road.  It was so crazy!!!  We had to find a place to stay, so we went to the nearest guest house but were still wet and pastey to a small extent.  After dropping off our bags, we loaded our water guns and went out to play.  Barely any farangs played!  We were
usually the targets of massive pasting and water.  But paste in the eyes, nose and mouth is not fun so we constantly had to rinse our faces off.  You could buy paste and water for really cheap so it was easy to keep playing.  The actual Khao San Road had a foam machine and on our second trip down the road we were in a giant mob that was
pushing and shoving.  It was a bit scary but we made it out alive and safe!  We played for 5 hours, then went back to our guesthouse and cleaned up.  We met some cool farangs at our guest house that evening and hung out and talked.

On Saturday, we went to JJ Market, a huge weekend market.  I bought a lot of gifts and a few things for myself.  Such a great place to get deals!  After, we went to a Thai movie with English subtitles called Nong-Teng.  It was a comedy.  We really enjoyed the movie, but then had to hussle to catch the last bus back to Kanchanaburi.

 

Dates: 4/16 - 4/22

On Sunday, I went to mass to celebrate Easter.  The church was decorately very nicely and filled with fresh flowers.  With the new decorations, the church looked much different.  The mass was great, and there were snacks and drinks afterwards outside.  I met a couple
from Canada who have lived in Thailand for 2 years, teaching English.  They were named Melissa and Brian.  It's rare that I meet another person named Melissa so that was fun. 
I taught the students (6 this time) in the afternoon.

On Monday, I went to Pahon.  Today was the official day for Songkran festival in Kanchanaburi.  I spent time in the labor room and OR today.  Both units were slow and there were not many things to see or do.  It was nice to have some time to talk to some of the nurses and doctors.  In the afternoon, Pahon celebrated Songkran outside.  We
poured water into the elder staff members' hands.  There were about 12 staff members present.  There were a ton of nurses and other staff there, throwing water around and putting paste onto people's faces.  I got really wet and full of paste, but it was fun!  I headed home after this and changed to go out and celebrate in Kanchanaburi.  I went with
P.Att, Pook, Paeng, Nok, and their cousins.  A few people sat inside the truck we used, but I was in the back of the truck (outside).  We had one huge bucket and one medium bucket of water.  We used containers, water guns, and pvc pipes to shoot water at others in the town.  It was hilarious to just drive slowly and get wet from others and then shoot them with water.  Since I am a farang, most people wanted to get me with water and paste :).

On Tuesday, I went to Pahon again.  I met Dr. Anon in pediatrics, but there were only about 6 patients to see (not many sick children).  Dr. Anon is also Catholic so I sometimes see her and her family at mass.  The children had different conditions, such as abdominal pain, respiratory problems, renal failure, hemoglobin dysfunction, spleen removal, fever, etc.  I also spent some time in the OR.  I saw the following: plate fitted for fractured femur, stab wound to abdomen, maxillary facial surgery, c-section (called phonetically see-saa in Thai), hysterectomy with chocolate cyst.  I taught an English class for the doctors and nurses today.  Only one doctor came, Dr. Jern, whom I normally talk to at the hospital.  It was good to have a chance to talk again.  We talked about America, vocabulary, definitions of words, pronunciation, etc.  I taught the 6 students in the afternoon.

On Wednesday, there was a holiday because of an election.  The election was for parliament officials.  I hung out with Pook, Paeng, and Nok.  I also taught the 6 students in the afternoon.  I played badmiton in the evening and got my hand slightly bit by one of the
dogs.  Cannom bong (the dog) wanted to eat the birdie (shutterfly) and I reached to pick it up and he bit my hand.  It was just a small scratch like bite but it did bleed. 

On Thursday, I went to Tha Muang hospital.  I met with Dr. Kit.  I like his OPD work because I see a variety of cases.  Today I saw the following: osteoarthritis, internal hemmoroids (2 cases), abdominal pain, work checkups, back pain, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, etc.  Dr. Kit tells me information about drug choices and the patient's
condition.  I can help by checking breathing, heart sounds, and joint movement.  Patients usually ask Dr. Kit for additional medicine that they really don't need. His response is that the hospital isn't a restaurant and you can't order what you want for medicine.  He
continues and says that if the patient wants to sit in his chair and order what they want on the computer, then they can and he will take a rest.  I taught the students in the afternoon.  I went to Pahon hospital in the evening to see a doctor and get a rabies vaccination.  It was weird to be there in the evening.  I had to wait a bit.  I will
have to have a total of 5 rabies shots and 3 tetanus toxin shots. 

On Friday, I signed up for a trip to Cambodia.  In the afternoon, I went to a government office to teach the workers.  It was kind of hard because some are much more advanced than others.  There were about 8 people at the class.  The staff is nice, so I had a good time.  I taught the students in the afternoon.


On Saturday, I went with Pook, Paeng, and Nok to the local department store (3 levels) and took photos in a photo studio.  For about $6 you can get a total of 20 photos.  The studio is filled with colorful backgrounds and many, many props.  We just pick what props or background we want to use and the photographer takes a bunch of photos.  Then, we can pick what photos we like for the package.  You can also order individual ones. 
I taught the students in the afternoon.  In the evening, we cooked food for dinner and
I wrote down recipes for the food. 

*I taught my family, friends, and students some card games from America.  Very funny!!  They always want to play now. 

 

Dates: 4/23 - 4/29

On Sunday 4/23, I went to mass.  It was a nice service.  The Easter decorations are still being used.  Today was the last service with the current priests.  Next week the church will have 2 new priests.  I had a relaxing day, then taught the 6 students in the afternoon.  This coming week we will have some fun days for the class. 

On Monday 4/24, I went to Pahon.  This was the usual Monday with the morning in the labor room.  Today, I met some of the new interns.  There were 2 male interns working in the labor room.  The doctor working with them is a senior staff member and kept drilling them with questions.  It was interesting to watch the interns think and try to answer the doctor's questions.  Sometimes she would tell jokes to the interns but other times she was sarcastic.  Today, instead of teaching English at the hospital, I got a foot massage.  It was relaxing and different than I thought it would be.  I taught the students in the
afternoon and we had "sports day."  I taught them to throw a frisbee - rather interesting experience - and a form of ultimate frisbee.  We also practiced badminton. 

On Tuesday 4/25, I went to Pahon.  I met with Dr. Pansueon who works in pediatrics.  Today, I worked with her and an intern.  There were many cases to see this time in the young children ward.  I saw some new cases: infant with cyanotic heart (50/50 chance to live), young boy with HIV who was orphaned since his parents died from AIDS, young
girl with nephrotic syndrome, and a girl with abnormal hemoglobin and an enlarged spleen.  I also saw a few of the same patients as last week.  Some of the kids were pretty crazy and wanted to run around the unit or hit each other with toys.  I taught an English class today with Dr. Jern.  The class focused on several issues in America, such as education, government, religion, family, etc.  It was really interesting to compare Thailand and America and to listen to her views and ideas.  I taught the students today and we had
a "team challenge day."  The students were on teams and had to use tape, cardboard, and
scissors to create an object.  They were then judged by 3 of my friends.  It was really cool to see the students work together and be creative. 

On Wednesday 4/26, I went to Tha Muang in the morning.  I spent time with Dr. Kit in OPD.  It was really fun because Dr. Kit is a funny person and has an interesting sense of humour.  He always tells jokes to the patients.  But he focuses on trying to get the patients to understand the importance of their condition and treatment.  I saw cases of UTI, protozoan urinary infection (I got to see the cells under the microscope), diabetes checkups, hypertension, and ischemic heart disease.  Dr. Kit also supervises some cases in the ER, so I got to see a patient who forgot to come in for a wound cleaning and
developed a very infected foot.  I went to a luncheon with the Pahon doctors as a "leaving party" for the old interns.  It was fun.  Then, I spent the rest of the afternoon at Pahon - in the OR or relaxing with the doctors.  I taught the students in the afternoon.

On Thursday 4/27, I went to Tha Muang in the morning.  I met with Dr. Kit in OPD.  We had some of the same types of cases: hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, etc.  Sometimes when I ask Dr. Kit questions, he'll grab a piece of paper and draw some sort of diagram, chart, or phrase.  It's usually pretty funny looking but helpful in my understanding of a medical topic.  I've really enjoyed figuring out lab reports and learning about how results will pinpoint a condition in a patient.  After lunch, I went to Pahon to get another rabies shot.  Then, later on, I taught the students.  It's nice to see how the students can grow in the understanding of English.  They are all really fun and put forth effort in learning and participating in games and activities.

On Friday 4/28, I had a free morning.  In the afternoon, I went to teach at the local government office.  Today, I taught a group of students and a few staff members.  It was an interesting mix of people - young and old.  Sometimes this poses a challenge in selecting activities because of varying English levels.  It was a fun time.  Then, I headed back home to teach the 6 students at my house. 

On Saturday 4/29, I went to the local government office in the morning.  They have a workshop for making things out of "sa" paper.  It was really cool to see all the things they make, like lanterns, bags, tissue boxes, small and large boxes, etc.  I decided to make a
star lantern.  I choose some really cool colored paper, but the end product wasn't so good because the paper did not weigh enough to keep the shape of the star.  Nonetheless, it was a fun experience.  You need a lot of patience to make something from the paper since it takes awhile to do and precision is necessary.  Today in the afternoon, I had a party for the students since 2 of them will be leaving to go on vacation.  We had food and played games - badminton mostly.  It was fun to see the students be excited in planning and setting up the party.  They even brought balloons and a souvenir from Thailand for
me.  In the evening, I went out with my 2 host sisters and some friends.  We went to Discovery, a lounge/club.  There was a band that played good music and we danced and had fun!

 

Dates: 4/30 - 5/6

On Sunday 4/30, I went to mass.  This time there were 2 new priests. It was a little different and mass seemed to be shorter.  The priests are friendly and have a good sense of humour too.  I didn't teach the students today, so I had some free time to relax with my family and friends.

On Monday 5/1, I went to Pahon.  I stopped in the labor room, but there were no cases to see.  I headed to the OR to check on the cases there.  Dr. Sahathep had a case of total hip replacement (THR).  He allowed me to observe his case which took a total of nearly 4 hours.  The patient was a woman around 50 years of age.  She originally had a bipolar hip replacement but the prosthesis became loose around the insertion point and needed to be replaced with a new design.  It was amazing to be able to see the removal of an old prosthesis and the insertion of a new one.  The surgery was rather messy and I got
splattered with blood a few times and needed to be cleaned with an alcohol swap (neck, ear, forehead).  Dr. Sahathep is an interesting doctor - head of the orthopedics unit.  He always seems to give me a sarcastic smirk or glance whenever I see him.  During the surgery, he asked me questions about anatomy.  I knew almost all of them, considering it was difficult to understand exactly what he wanted to know.  My afternoon was relatively calm compared to the morning.  I taught the students in the afternoon, 4 this time.

 
On Tuesday 5/2, I went to Pahon.  I did some work in pediatrics, labor room, and OR. 
I also taught a class to Dr. Jern.  This time, we talked about dance since she wanted to learn some dance from America.  It was fun!  I taught the students in the afternoon - great time as usual!  They love to learn!! 

On Wednesday 5/3, I went to Tha Muang to work with Dr. Kit.  One of the highlights of the day was in the ER.  A woman, age 28, came in by police escort to the hospital because of physical abuse from her husband.  She looked horrible.  Her entire face was swollen and she could barely see out of her eyes.  She had numerous bruises and cuts across her arms and legs.  (The husband used a cooking stone to hit her).  Apparently, her husband gets drunk on a regular basis and beats her up each time.  So, accordingly to a quick calculation, she would get abused about 200 times a year!  She's been to the ER many times and has quite a few x-rays of her skull, chest, and nasal cavity.  She had to be admitted because of her enlarged facial region.  The husband does not get arrested or anything - quite the opposite of what might happen in America.  Other cases included checking osteoarthritis on a monk (need permission because women aren't allowed to touch monks unless health care etc), diabetes checkups where the patients are not following the doctor's orders, and some of the usual cases I've seen before.  I taught the students in the afternoon.

On Thursday 5/4, I went to Tha Muang in the morning.  Dr. Kit had a meeting to attend, so I spent time with Dr. Jeb.  She was an intern at Pahon when I met her, and now she works as a doctor in OPD for 2 years at Tha Muang.  Today was part of diabetes checkup day so I saw a lot of patients with DM.  Currently, it's mango season in Thailand so many people like to eat mangoes and sticky rice (rice with sweet coconut milk).  Unfortunately, patients with DM tend to eat way too much of these sweet foods and have very high blood sugars.  All of the doctors have to remind them to watch their diet and have control over it so that DM doesn't progress to more complicated problems, such as neuropathy, heart failure, kidney failure, etc.  In the afternnon, I had another rabies shot and then took a bus to Bangkok.  I met with Nok and Paeng and we went to a scary Thai movie called "Ghost Game" (Lata Pee).  The movie used a killing camp (used during the Khmer Rouge control) in Cambodia as the setting.  It was scary! 

On Friday 5/5, I headed to Cambodia with a small tour.  I almost missed the bus since I woke up late but everything turned out to be fine.  At first, I thought the tour was huge, but it headed up being me and 2 other women (Thais who live in Bangkok).  We met our tour guide (Don) at the border and traveled by minivan to Siem Riep, a city in Cambodia.  It was an interesting ride since our minivan overheated several times.  We made it to the city and toured around.  There are many lovely sites to see with temples and great views.  Cambodia is filled with poor people and definitely offered a different atmosphere than Thailand.

On Saturday 5/6, we did more touring and visited Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world.  It's listed as one of the 7 wonders of the forgotten medieval world.  (There are actually about 49 wonders of the world when you count all categories).  The day was hot, but I really enjoyed learning about the temples.  Some are Hindu and others Buddhist.  Our tour guide was great too!

 

 

Dates: 5/7 - 5/13

On Sunday 5/7, I spent the morning in Cambodia.  I did some shopping at the market, then headed back to Thailand with my tour group.  It was a long day of car rides and bus rides.  I finally got back to Kanchanaburi at 11pm.

On Monday 5/8, I went to Pahon.  There weren't too many things to see in the labor room.  I went to the OR to check on cases there as well.  Today, in the OR, I got to help with a debridement and a hernia repair.  For the debridement, I helped to clean the wounds from a motorcycle accident.  The wounds were pretty bad but it was interesting to see everything up close and to participate.  The hernia was really neat too.  I helped hold some retractors and did other simple tasks.  It was interesting to see the layers of abdominal tissue and how the repair needed to be made very specifically.  The doctor explained the layers of tissue near the inguinal canal as well as the method of repair which is different than in America.  In the afternoon, I taught an English class to 2 scrub nurses from the OR.  It was interesting to have a conversation about Thailand and America
and to try to get them to talk more.  I taught the students in the afternoon - we talked about Thai weddings and funerals and compared them to Western versions.  Only 2 classes left with them! 

On Tuesday 5/9, I went to Pahon.  Today, I worked with Dr. Moss in the morning.  She's a pediatrician and we went on rounds in the postpartum unit to check on the newly born infants.  The babies were so adorable!  Some of the mothers still seemed so tired though.  During one checkup, the baby boy went to the bathroom and the pee shot up in the air and got the baby's chart and papers all wet!  Everyone nearby thought it was so funny and laughed!  I stopped in the labor room after, but no cases to see.  Kind of slow today.  I also stopped in the OR.  I met up with a visiting doctor from America (Dr. Jerry, psychiatrist) who was observing how TSC works at Pahon.  We went out
to lunch with a bunch of doctors.  In the afternoon, I got to see a catarac surgery.  It's a very precise surgery and uses small instruments and specific motions.  The lens of the eye was replaced after the removal of the stiff lens particles.  Dr. Wichai was the surgeon.  No one came to the English class today.  I taught the students in the afternoon.

On Wednesday 5/10, I went to Tha Muang.  I worked with Dr. Kit and with Dr. Jeb (who used to be an intern at Pahon).  Dr. Kit said some really hilarious comments about some patients.  One elderly woman patient came to the hospital at 3am to wait in the queue (line) in order to get a number for the out-patient service.  Even though she came that early she wasn't number one (she got number 9).  Dr. Kit told her that she should really get rest since she's older and come to the hospital at 6am if she wants to come early.  He said that the hospital won't give her a golden cap for being the first person in the queue to get number one.  Later in the day, a patient came in wanting treatment and meds.  Since they were initially treated at Pahon, Dr. Kit told them to get the hospital records from Pahon and then come to Tha Muang.  He told the patient that he can't meditate to see the records from Pahon and that if he ordered them meds, it would be blank because it doesn't know what the previous treatment was.  In the afternoon I worked with Dr. Jeb because Dr. Kit had a meeting.  We did a lot of diabetes checkups and other cases, such as hypertension, infections of throat and lungs, boy with down syndrome, etc.  One crazy incident happened when a young boy around 3 came in and didn't feel well and started crying during the checkup.  His mom set him down to stand on the floor and he threw
up all over!  If it had happened a few seconds earlier, the mess would have been on Dr. Jeb and me!  Today was the last day of class for the students, since they will be starting school on 5/15.  We played a version of Wheel of Fortune and I gave them all some coins from America.  I'll miss them a lot!

On Thursday 5/11, I headed to Songklaburi with P. Att and P. Tan.  This town is in the northern part of Kanchanaburi province, along the Myanmar border.  We spent the day and night here.  We took a boat along the river to see a wat (temple) that's submerged in the water.  Since the river was low, we got to get out of the boat and walk around the ruins.  It was really cool to see!  The area has lovely scenary with mountains, trees, water, clouds, etc.  I loved it!  In the morning, I ordered some plane tickets to travel to the south of Thailand.  It was a bit difficult to order, but it's done now!

On Friday 5/12, we went closer to the Myanmar border to visit Three Pagodas Pass.  This was a famous site during WW2 has the Japanese conducted the building of a railroad from Myanmar to Thailand.  I expected the pagodas to be bigger, but they were really small.  We went to a market filled with goods from Myanmar.  Then, we headed home.

On Saturday 5/13, I got to relax a bit.  I did some planning for travels, got a haircut, and played sports with my famqA{iBY]ѐO|4Wķb8]V2pD,\"DpLq=c#5/YL;V X"=kbsmG8ǁba!>Urs\0×t+!LOD^P\yQKSr\2qϟTu -)@t{( y jhU6=L!zlCT J$+dxlk.\2ϸگƀ#kp`o3x<PliAgsz^ujyzMLMs ǰ?OZuPEiT=fQe|ʧCuP폇41,j_k +ʣQ2܉b_Rs60L$(gpAU*S9 KWL| ` J˿* @vObh?"xAut come to Kanchanaburi to visit their families on the weekends.  They were very nice and friendly.  In the afternoon, I helped P. Att's professor, Dr. Nisai, record an English book in a recording studio.  Basically, I read sections of the book, such as pronunciation, things, animals, vegetables, and fruits.  These sections were recorded to make a cd to distribute with the book.  The book and cd are part of a government service project to promote the English language in schools across br> Kanchanaburi Province as well as Thailand.     

On Monday 5/15, I went to Pahon.  I spent the morning in the labor room.  There were so many cases today!  I saw 4 vaginal births in the morning and 2 c-sections in the afternoon.  There were even more cases after I left for the day.  I did not work with Dr. Kung today but worked with Dr. Youpa instead.  It's always interesting to see which
nurses will be working in the labor room.  Some of them know me and others don't, so I like to see their reactions when we talk.  In the evening, I met two new volunteers who participated in a 2 week program.  I really enjoyed talking with them and they were both really fun and friendly!  We ate dinner together too.

On Tuesday 5/16, I went to Pahon.  I met up with Dr. Ot and Koy, an intern, in the pediatrics ward.  It was a fun morning because Dr. Ot has a great sense of humour and enjoys talking with much passion and excitement.  There were many cases to see today. 
I really enjoyed speaking with Koy.  She has a good handle on English and it was fun to
talk about medicine and America with her.  I met up with some of the doctors for lunch.  In the afternoon, I met with Dr. Kung.  This week she is on the surgery rotation.  Before her scheduled surgeries though, Dr. Youpa had a c-section.  She invited me to join her in the
surgery.  It was awesome to scrub in and actually help during the surgery - just doing simple things of course.  After this case, Dr. Kung had 1 case of total abdominal hysterectomy and 2 c-sections.  I observed the hysterectomy, then scrubbed in to help her with the c-section.  It was a pretty intense and fast paced afternoon.  I stayed
late at the hospital (about 6pm) in order to help with the surgeries.  In the evening, I headed to Suphanburi to help with an English seminar.

On Wednesday 5/17, I helped Dr. Nisai with an English training seminar for teachers in Suphanburi.  I basically led exercises for pronunciation and other games and activities. 
It was fun to get the teachers excited about English.  The main goal of the day was to
promote 3 traits of a good English classroom: active, productive, communicative. 

On Thursday 5/18, I went to Tha Muang.  Unfortunately, Dr. Kit was gone (but I didn't know in advance), so I worked with Dr. Jeb.  Her English is soso and definitely offered an interesting aspect for the day.  However, since I met her, her English has improved.  There were many OPD cases in the morning, but slowed down in the afternoon.  Dr. Kit came back about 2pm so I saw him for 2 hours.  He always enjoys jokes and stories, so I'm glad I was able to see him on my last day of work.

On Friday 5/19, I went to P. Att's school, Wat Thai.  I taught 4 classes.  It was the first week back to class for her students.  Some of her students recognized me from the previous school year (they moved from M2 to M3).  I did a short introduction, then we played games with candy as a prize.  The students really enjoyed the class and loved it when I inserted Thai words into the class.  They really didn't think I could speak Thai until I used Thai words for animals, colors, numbers, etc.  I had a great day at the school!

On Saturday 5/20, I spent the morning with P. Att.  We stopped at Wat Thai to give food to the head monk.  He gave us a blessing for good luck in return.  For the rest of the day, I cleaned my room, organized things, and started to pack.

 

 

Dates: 5/21 - 5/31

On Sunday 5/21, I went to mass in the morning.  It was a good service as usual.  In the afternoon, I finished packing my bag and then headed to Bangkok.  I met up with Naree (from the program) and 2 other volunteers, Michele and Geoff, for dinner.  After dinner, I headed to the airport with Michele and Geoff (who were leaving for Paris) to wait for my mom to arrive.  Yeah!

On Monday 5/22, I spend the day in Bangkok with my mom.  We visited 3 wats: Wat Arun - temple of the dawn with beautiful mosaic designs and wonderful views; Wat Pho with the reclining Buddha and home of Thai massage teachings; and Wat Phra Gaew - temple of the Emerald Buddha and home of the Grand Palace of the former kings.  It was a great day
traveling with my mom.  It was fun to see Bangkok once again and visit some of the same sites again.  We also stopped at Siam Square shopping center.  We headed back to our inn on Khao San Road (tourist road) to shop and get some dinner. 

On Tuesday 5/23, we took a plane from Bangkok to Krabi, a town along the Andamen Sea (location of tsunami damage).  The flight was short - about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  From the Krabi airport we took a mini-van to travel to Koh Lanta.  Basically, our route to Koh Lanta island was drive along the coast and then take two short ferries.  We arrived
at our bungalow in the early afternoon.  Since the weather is in the rainy season and low season for tourists, there were not many visitors on the island.  We decided to swim on our beach, but the waves were so huge that they almost knocked you over.  The beach was okay but not as beautiful as during the high season/dry season.  The service at our bungalow was not good, and most of the staff appeared to be lazy and unhelpful.  Nevertheless, we made the best of it and had some fun on our own!

On Wednesday 5/24, we decided to rent a motorbike and check out the island of Koh Lanta.  It's a small island about 30 kilometers long and maybe 8 kilometers wide.  There is one main road, one side road, and many small dirt roads leading to the coastline and bungalows.  The roads were easy to drive on.  We started out and found a cave to visit
called Tham Mae Gaew.  We took a dirt path on the motorbike to a family's house.  The family gives tours for 200 baht per person to the cave.  You walk through the jungle, up a mountain, past a waterfall, and up more mountain to reach the cave.  We spent a little over 1 hour in the cave.  You wear a light around your neck to see.  The cave was
so awesome!  Beautiful designs and rock formations.  Most of the rocks were slippery, and we got really dirty during the cave exploration.  On our way back down the mountain, we walked through a rubber plantation and got to see some great views of the island.  We took the motorbike around the rest of the island and returned to our bungalow before dark.  We made plans for the next day to head back to Krabi by mini-van and ferry.

On Thursday 5/25, we left Koh Lanta at about 830am to head to Krabi.  The ride was really long because the driver was late and we had to wait in a long ferry line.  After arriving in Krabi, we changed our plans and decided to go to Koh Phi Phi instead of visiting Ao Nang,
a beach area near Krabi.  We took a boat to Koh Phi Phi, an island without cars or motorbikes that received the second most amount of damage and loss of life during the tsunami.  The island was absolutely beautiful!  Definitely the most beautiful island I've seen in Thailand.  Before the tsunami, it was the most popular tourist destination in Thailand, and now, I understand why.  There were tourists, but it wasn't crowded.  Our bungalow was away from the main shop area, so it was quiet.  The beach was gorgeous too.  We visited
parts of the island and walked around.  The area where the tsunami hit is not rebuilt yet.  I'm not sure if they'll rebuild it or not.  However, almost all the other shops and restaurants are open.

On Friday 5/26, we took a snorkeling tour of Koh Phi Phi's islands.  We visited Koh Phi Phi Leh, parts of Koh Phi Phi Don, and Bamboo Island.  The weather was rainy when we started out but turned sunny around midday.  The water was a bit wavey when we started snorkeling, but by the 3rd snorkeling site, the water was perfect.  The coral reefs are damaged in some parts because of the tsunami, but still offer many colorful fish and other creatures.  I really enjoyed the snorkeling, but it was really hard to swim back to the boat because of a strong current.  When swimming back one time, I hit the boat with my
foot and got a puncture wound.  My foot's pretty sore right now, but I'll be okay.  The sun was hot and I got some sunburn (it'll turn into tan soon).  That night, we went to a good Thai restaurant and shopped around. 

On Saturday 5/27, we swam in the sea, picked shells, and lounged by the beach.  We also swam in a pool and lounged by the poolside.  It was so hot and sunny out!  We took the 2pm ferry back to Krabi.  I really didn't want to leave Koh Phi Phi because it was so beautiful and the weather was so great.  We took a plane back to Bangkok at 7pm,
then took a bus back to Kanchanaburi at 1030pm.  We arrived home around 1230am.  Whoa, a long day of traveling! 

On Sunday 5/28, I went to mass with my mom and then toured around Kanchanaburi.
For the next 2 days, I will visit the hospital one more time, buy some things to take back home, and pack.  I fly back to Wisconsin on 5/31!!

 

My 4 months here has been a wonderful experience.  I've really enjoyed learning about the Thai culture and living everyday in Kanchanaburi.  Traveling was also great too!  I will really miss everyone I met here: hospital staff, teachers, students, my friends, and my host family.  Thanks for an awesome experience!  I can't wait to come back and see everyone again in the next couple years. 

 

Chun rak kun!  Melissa (Mel or Mal)

 

 

 

 

 

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