Shots in Bangkok

Friday I woke up early to Skype with my family during Thanksgiving dinner. I am thankful for modern technology that allows me to be with my family during holidays even though I am on the other side of the world. There were ants in my bathroom again. Not one, two, or even three, lots of ants. I was not happy. However, I had chocolate balls left over from my Thanksgiving dinner. They tasted like brownie batter and were delicious. They sort of made up for the ants. Chocolate balls are not a filling breakfast so I stopped by the street vendor selling the pork on a stick I have had before. I burnt my tongue; apparently, they were fresh off the grill.

There was low attendance in my first class again. Only 12 out of 40 students showed up. Too bad I cannot actually fail the students who have not shown up at all. I had lunch with my usual lunch buddy, the Japanese teacher. He translated for some of the other teachers who were at the rice place; a bunch of the teachers want to get to know me and talk to me but they cannot speak English. He also taught me some more Thai words; I can order fried vegetables with pork or chicken now. After lunch, he decided he wanted dessert. So we went for dessert. He borrowed the noodle woman’s motorcycle, I rode sidesaddle on the back. We got fried bananas. They were so good, anything fried is good but these were especially good. I have no idea what they were fried in but it was a sweet coating. They would have been divine with chocolate or caramel sauce.

I asked my coordinator how to get to Bangkok. There is a van stop in Ban Bung that goes to Victory monument (which is where I wanted to go, perfect). She offered to take me to the van stop. I quickly went back to my apartment, packed, and was ready to go. She showed up on her motorcycle with another package for me. I got a package from my granny! Two packages in one day, it was a good day. I am thankful for global post. In college I called snail mail “love” because someone has to love you an awful lot to send you snail mail. I got lots of love on Friday. I rode on the back of my coordinator’s motorcycle. Today, I was wearing pants so I rode it normal. I think I prefer riding sidesaddle, I squeeze too much with my legs when I ride normal and I think I balance better sidesaddle.

The van was supposed to go from Ban Bung to Victory monument. However, the van driver told my coordinator he was not going to Victory monument but could drop me off at a sky train station. He dropped me off on the side of a highway near an underpass. The other passenger who got dropped off with me asked me if I was going to the sky train. I said yes, so he flagged down a motorcycle taxi for me. He gave the taxi driver the instructions and paid for me, then sent me on my way. I love how Thai’s treat people like family, even something as simple as a ten baht taxi ride or a five baht chocolate ball is really touching.

For this motorcycle taxi ride, I was glad I wore pants. I was holding on for dear life as we wove in and out of traffic and sped down the highway. We arrived at the sky train station in one piece. I rode the sky train (which is like the El in Chicago, an elevated train) to my hostel. My hostel was pretty nice, the people were nice and helpful and welcoming. I would definitely stay there again.

Saturday I woke up before everyone in my dorm. It is always the worst when you are the first person awake. You try to be quiet and every noise sounds like a gunshot. Sometimes I do not care how much noise I make when the other members of the dorm come back drunk at the wee hours of the morning and made lots of noise. But I was trying to be quiet. During my shower, a cockroach appeared. I have no idea where it came from; all of a sudden it was there. I did not scream, or cry, or run away (I was soapy), I just tolerated it. It was awful. The hostel has everyone take their shoes off at the door so we all walked around barefoot so I did not even have a shoe to squish the bug.

The reason for going to Bangkok this weekend was to get my Japanese encephalitis shot (JE is a mosquito borne disease, which occurs in Asia. The disease is not common in travelers but is recommended if you are staying for more than a month). The hospital for tropical diseases was near Victory monument. Since I woke up early, I took a leisurely walk down to Victory monument. It was only a half hour walk (I was going slow). I stopped and got an iced Thai coffee with waffles for breakfast. The ice Thai coffee was a shot of espresso with condensed milk, poured over ice with cream to fill the rest of the space. It coffee was still so strong it made my hair want to curl. The waffles were chocolate, and by chocolate, I mean there was some sort of chocolate filling in them. The chocolate filling tasted like mashed bananas with chocolate syrup on them, more banana than chocolate though. I sat on a bench and enjoyed breakfast while watching Bangkok go by. People were giving me weird looks as if I was crazy. Apparently, people do not eat breakfast on benches in Bangkok. As I was on my way to the hospital, I found a fried dough cart. Even though I just had breakfast, I stopped to get some (it was a good thing I did since it was not there when I got back, they are elusive). It was delicious, tasted like funnel cake without the sugar, it could have used some sugar but I was not complaining.

I showed up to my appointment early. There was some new patient paperwork I had to fill out, and I was not doing anything, just roaming the streets of Bangkok trying to kill time. But, you know doctor’s offices, they are always running late, and Thai hospitals are on Thai time. My appointment was at 11, I did not actually see the doctor until 11:30, and I did not actually leave the hospital until 12:30. The doctor spoke pretty good English, so did the nurses, which was great. Though it makes sense since they deal with foreigners a lot, there were six other foreigners there besides myself. The doctor asked me how long I plan to stay in Thailand and how long I have been here. I told him. “You’ve been here a month and you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet?! Why?” He did a good job of making me feel guilty for not being vaccinated the moment I entered Thailand.

One of the things I did not like about the hospital was I had to get my own shot from the pharmacy. The clinic was on the second floor and the pharmacy was on the first floor. I had to take my paperwork to the pharmacy, they gave me a bag with my vaccine in it, and I took the bag back up to the second floor where I gave it to the nurse who gave me my shot. I was not a fan of having to carry my own shot; I hate shots and the whole time I was carrying it I wanted to throw it as far away from myself as possible. The nurse saw my doomsday look and she assured me “it doesn’t hurt; it feels like getting bit by a mosquito.” Fortunately, I did not faint when I got the shot, and it hurt. My arm felt like I had smacked my funny bone, it was tingly and numb.

There is a Thai Zumba/aerobics class near my apartment, I want to join but I do not have the proper shoes for it. Hiking boots were not made for aerobics nor were sandals. I needed a good pair of running shoes. I went questing for shoes. I had asked at my hostel where I could find running shoes, they said if I look on the street I could find some for 300 baht but those would most likely fall apart and or have no tread on the bottom, or I could go to the mall and find some for 500+ baht. Neither option was looking very good. Hence, the quest. I searched all around my hostel and Victory monument, some pairs were too expensive and others too flimsy. It was getting hot so I stopped in a mall to cool off in their air conditioning and I found the shoes. Decent price, decent quality, and they were in purple. The sales woman laughed when I bought the purple pair, she pointed to my shirt and my watch (both were purple).

I went to a huge weekend market in the afternoon. The people at my hostel said it was the largest weekend market in the world and you can find anything you could ever want there, like foxes, wombats, puppies, food, and clothing. I did not see any animals. The only animals I saw were giant alligator (or crocodile) skins. I did eat some delicious garlic toast, it came on a stick. Everything tastes better on a stick. Though, I do believe the statement that you can find anything in this market because it was indeed huge. I saw all sorts of things: clothing, food, shoes, bedding, leather products, jewelry, fabric, lights, sculptures, cards, soaps in the shape of fruits, perfume, and the list keeps going! There was no way I saw everything in the market, I just wandered through a bit of it. Also, going in the afternoon was kind of a mistake because it was baking in the market and it was crowded with a quarter of Bangkok there (or at least it felt like a quarter of Bangkok).

In the evening, my hostel had a rooftop barbecue. I decided to go, get out of my comfort zone and socialize, and eat food. The food was really good, we had burgers. For being Thai burgers they just threw together, they were delicious. It has been over a month since I had a burger so maybe my memory of burgers is a little fuzzy, but I think they were just good. The people I met were very nice. When you stay in hostels, you meet many other people. The people you meet are very similar, usually backpacking or adventuring around Asia for one reason or another. It is a nifty experience to be able to sit around and swap travel stories, you also get some good ideas on where to go and where not to go.
Sunday morning I went to Starbucks for a peppermint mocha. Since it is past Thanksgiving it is time to start celebrating Christmas, starting with Christmas in a cup. After I was properly caffeinated, I went to the food street near my hostel. To get there, I walked through a bunch of walkways between houses. I ended up on a street with some food; my expectations let me down again. I had envisioned a street lined with food vendors, the people at my hostel made it seem like it was a smorgasbord of food, it was not. I was disappointed. I wandered down a random street on a whim and found the actual food street! I was in heaven, so much food! For breakfast, I had fresh fruit (not as good as the fruit cart near my apartment) and fried bananas. It was a great breakfast.

Then I meandered my way to Victory monument to catch a bus back to Chon Buri. I am becoming a champion at getting around my corner of Thailand. When I arrived back at my apartment, I opened my packages from my mother and granny. They sent me lots of chocolate for the really rough days at work, and plastic containers to keep the ants out. My mother even sent me a Christmas tree. I spent the evening singing Christmas carols and building my Christmas tree.

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