February 2005 Archives

Needle in the Eye

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Last Friday, I developed a bit of an infection underneath my right eyelid. I wasn't going to write anything about it, because it was kind of gross and I wouldn't want anyone to try to picture my swolen, puss-filled eyelid.

Besides, it wasn't all that bad. It just was a little bit discolored and a bit itchy to be honest.

The very first night that I noticed it, I went to the emergency room right away to get some medicine. As I have mentioned before, a late night emergency room visit with medication in Bangkok runs around US$15, so it's well worth the trip.

After taking the medicine for a few days, my eyelid seemed to get better, but then today it got dramatically worse. So I headed back to the hospital, but this time I went during regular hours so that I could visit an eye doctor.

And here is where the newsworthy (or is it cringe-worthy?) part of the story comes. The doctor examined my eye and told me that I had an infection and that he was going to poke my eye with a small needle to release the gunk inside it.

WHAT?! YOU'RE GOING TO STICK A NEEDLE IN MY EYE?!

"It's just a small one," he replied.

THAT SOUNDS PAINFUL!

To which he not so assuredly answered, "Yes, a little bit."

So I put my head back into the... not sure what to call it other than "head holder" while the sweet little female nurse put a VERY strong push on the back of my head to keep me in place. As the doctor reached in and grabbed my eyelid to pull it out, out of the corner of my eye I could see the needle coming in closer, closer, closer. I broke out in an immediate and unbelievable sweat. I was literally dripping wet in 5 seconds.

Poke... Stretch... Poke... Poke... AAAARRGGHHH!

"Ok, finished," the doctor told me as tears and sweat mixed and mingled on the way down my face.

"You'll be better in three days."

I certainly hope so, because I don't ever want to see that head holder and that sweet little Thai nurse again!

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This post was selected as one of the "Favorite Posts of 2005". To read more "Favorites", then visit Favorite Posts of 2005.

Exciting News: I Have a Kitchen!

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I have very exciting news to share today: I made my own breakfast this morning! Fried eggs and toast. Delicious!

Why is this such exciting news? For the first time in two and a half years since I have lived in Bangkok, I live in an apartment that actually has a kitchen with a real stove. I bought a frying pan and a spatula a couple of nights ago. Now, I just have to buy the rest of the usual kitchen supplies. (Salt and pepper and a plate would have been nice additions to breakfast this morning, for starters...)

By the way, I have a feeling that if I continue blogging my life, then "Stuart's Exciting Travel Adventures in Exotic Southeast Asia" will become "Stuart's not-so-exciting Adventures in Domestication"!

Electing the Thai Parliament

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Today, the Thai people are voting for Parliment members. I joined Piyawat for his voting experience and learned a lot about Thai Government. (Since we don't have a Parlimentary government in America, a lot of this was new to me.)

Piyawat's polling station was in a school, and actually the set-up looked very similar to precints back in the States. He showed his National ID card and was given two colored sheets of paper. One sheet had numbers and checkboxes. The other had party names and checkboxes.

The way I understand it is that the sheet of numbers is used to vote for individuals who are running to represent your district. All of the election posters list the name of the candidate and his or her number. I didn't realize that you actually have to remember the number because the names are not on the sheet. Luckily they usually match the number of the party, which helps you remember.

The sheet of party names, on the other hand, is to elect at-large candidates for the entire country. I've never heard of such an at-large system, but I think the way it works is as follows: If Party #1 gets 5% of the vote, then they get to pick 5 at-large members in Parliment. If they get 25%, they get to chose 25 members. These are in addition to the named candidates who are representing the districts.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the election is the speed in which the election posters are removed. Apparently, the posters are recyclable and therefore valuable (especially to those with very low incomes). The polls closed at 4 PM; by 5 PM, 90% of the posters were gone.

I can't say that I am sorry to see them go, even though I enjoyed practicing my Thai reading as I walked down the street. That is, except for the poster of Chuwit with a sledgehammer; I liked that one!


chuwit03.jpg

(This picture was taken from the always excellent 2bangkok.com. They have devoted an entire page to election posters.)

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This post was selected as one of the "Favorite Posts of 2005". To read more "Favorites", then visit Favorite Posts of 2005.

Paperwork Demon

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A day after talking about how easy it is to buy a condo, the paperwork demon attacked me at work today. I have spent the entire day filling out sheets of paper. Here were my tasks:


  • Request a few vacation days:
    • One memo to my boss, the boss' boss, and the boss' boss' boss.
    • One sheet of paper to cancel one class that I will miss.
    • Permission to use the computer lab for the make-up class.

  • Turn in two mid-term exams:
    • Printouts of the exams (Legal size, Veranda 10 point, 1.5 line spacing, with the proper cover page filled out)
    • One floppy disk for each exam with a copy of the exam on it.
    • One pink sheet for each exam with all the information about the exam (teacher name, class name, date, format)
    • Another pink sheet for each exam requesting the use of the OMR grader for the Multiple Choice sections. (I incorrectly filled out the green sheets for this, but those are for Final Exams. Duh!)
    • One filled out OMR key for each exam

  • Two 15 page midterm exams that I helped proofread
  • A memo to my boss and to the payroll department telling them that the automatic clock-in/clock-out system said that I was negligent by not coming to work on Saturdays during January even though I am supposed to work Monday - Friday!

Taking the Plunge: Buying a Condo

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Ok, I've decided to do it! The downpayment has been made. This whole process of buying a condo has been both very frustrating and difficult on the one hand, and very easy on the other.

The frustrating part has taken place over the past month as I have scoured Bangkok for a place to buy. I guess it's partly my own fault because I was a little bit picky: I wanted two bedrooms, bigger than 70 square meters, close to skytrain, less than 5 million baht (US$125,000), and having at least one bathtub. (That last requirement is harder to fill in Bangkok than you might expect.)

So I have been dragging Piyawat all over town to see many, many apartments. Most of the nice tall buildings near the Skytrain are serviced apartments and not for sale. The ones that were advertised in my price range were in very old, poorly maintained apartment complexes that I would never want to invest in.

But, through a friend of a friend, we finally found a decent place that met all of my requirements. (Except for the one about being next to the Skytrain.)

Now, for the easy part. Actually buying the place seems to be a very easy, painless process. First, you make a down payment and sign a 2 page intent-to-buy contract that basically lists the price, the size, and the location of the apartment. Then, when you're ready to pay the whole amount, you just sign a one-page contract and register at the Land Department.

For a country that seems to have a love affair with paper work and red tape, spending millions of baht to buy a condo has been one of the easiest things I have ever done. Opening a bank account was 10 times more difficult!

Home Found?

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After a month of searching, I think I have finally found a condo to buy! The good thing about it is that it's huge yet the price is low. I've been racking my brains to try to figure out what the catch is. But there doesn't seem to be one, at least not one that is a deal-breaker for me.

One small catch is that even though it is in a high-rise, it doesn't have a view. Well, that's not true; the view is just of the condo that is next door. I'll definitely have to fill the balcony with plants and just pretend that I live in a jungle.

The other small catch is that it is a lot farther away from the Skytrain than I wanted. But, I think I can get over that con considering the low price.

Now that I am at this point, I just have to make a decision. A few thousand dollar down payment and the place is mine.

Bangkok Subway Opening, Take Two

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Today I was at the Sala Daeng Skytrain station above Silom Road and noticed that the sky walk to the Subway station was now open. I had a little bit of free time, so I walked down the walkway above Silom to Rama 4 Road.

I had been on the new sky walk connecting Chit Lom and Siam stations last week, and really enjoyed the stroll. As I walked above Silom Road today I thought about how much better it is to walk above the traffic rather than next to it. Not only that, but you don't have to dodge noodle carts and soi dogs like you do on the uneven sidewalks.

When I arrived at the Silom subway station, I noticed that it was re-opened after the crash a few weeks ago. So, even though it wasn't the most convenient route (and even cost me an extra 15 baht), I decided to take the Subway to Asoke/Sukumvit and then take the Skytrain to Ekkamai.

Everything seemed to be running normally. The trains were moderately full: most of the seats were taken with a few people standing. One thing I did notice was that big posters explaining how to open the doors in case of emergency were now hanging on the walls.

I am glad the subway is open, but I have to admit that I will miss the recorded voice on the Skytrain saying, "Please be a-wise that the MRT is temp-a-lalaly close."

Update 8:25 PM: I rode the subway again tonight to Queen Sirikit Center to go to a Furniture Show, and the subway was packed. I'm glad Thai people are not afraid to ride it.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2005 is the previous archive.

March 2005 is the next archive.

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