My First Coup d’Etat: How It Hasn’t Changed Anything For Me -So FAR!

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We’ve all been waiting for this to happen which is why I was I perplexed by the BBC’s correspondent when he was quoted saying the martial law came as a surprise here. Sweetie: you should be spending less time frequenting Patpong, and more time sober and talking to people. It was a surprise to you maybe, but not to the rest of us. The only surprise was that it was initially just martial law and not a coup –well not for long!

On that topic,  how smart was it to just invoke martial law saying they were only interested in keeping things safe and help a peaceful resolution? The follow that by getting all the leaders in one room and, after a bit of dissent,  detaining key players and taking control.  Well played sir, well played.

Don’t you just love how I say this as if I’ve experienced a bunch of them? My brother was in  Paraguay for the ’89 coup so I am claiming expertise by association.

Many friends have wondered how this is affecting me. Apparently some people are flying home. If this is true, they are using the coup as an excuse to get out of here. Thai coups are typically sedate as far as coups go and those in power make a big effort to keep things as seamless as possible for foreigners and tourists.

Here’s my list of why, so far, it has changed nothing:

1. Schools are closed for five days, two of which are the weekend. I homeschool so nothing different here.

2. All TV broadcasting is off incl. international news channels. I don’t have an antenna or cable connection for my  TV  Again no change.

3. Ten pm curfew. Bawhahahahaha. I homeschool two kids 6 and under. I am in bed drooling wine by this hour watching Game of Thrones and pretending to prepare tomorrow’s lessons. “Kids, this is how you brew mead!”

4. Um, I can’t think of anything else for the time being. But I’ll be sure to update you all.

So, it’s official. I am a coupbie! Yes that’s coup newbie. Genius right? Sadly not my creation but credit given via twitter. Yes that’s a please follow me on twitter @multilingualmum! It’s also where I am RT some of the more salient stuff related to the current coup.

Readers please note, I am not trying to make light of what is going on here. Well, perhaps I am a bit but that’s my coping mechanism. I just hope that Thailand can find a way to resolve this peacefully and find democratic and lasting solution.

 

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From One Expat to Another: Go Home!

gold plane pin on map of thailand

It’s hard enough trying to integrate into a different culture, especially if you barely get by in the language, and particularly if the city is rife with expats, some of whom are often living in fairly luxurious conditions and may have slightly lost touch with reality, as well as others who aren’t living la-vida-expat, and yet, have still lost touch with reality. Can we keep that farang sense of entitlement in check please?

I am no Thai political expert so I won’t go into details. Thailand has been through a number of political upheavals over the years. The country is experiencing one now, with the supporters of the two major parties clashing over the political future of the country. We have faced months of on again, off again protests and road blocks. The violence has been mostly sparse and contained. As far as having to experience political upheaval, we foreigners –a.k.a. Farangs– have had it pretty easy here.

Last week, the country’s supreme court ruled that the current prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra,  had to step down due to an abuse of power. I have no comment on these charges. I neither read nor write Thai and I don’t pass judgment on here-say. This ruling led to an announcements by both groups to march and protest. It was called the ‘final battle’. One should note, if these last few months are anything to go by that Thais like using the word ‘final’ and this battle will likely continue to drag on for some time.

In any event, public transport was packed with people getting to their rally sites. I brilliantly chose this day to head into town to run errands. All the protesters I came across were  in good spirits, donning their ‘colours’ . As I squeezed into the BTS – also called the sky train- I heard a fellow farang with a very sour face say

For f*ck’s sake get a job!

I wanted to go all bat-poop crazy on him but I didn’t. Because culturally, it would have been inappropriate. So here’s my open letter to the guy riding the BTS around Noon on Friday, who said those words as the train filled with passengers at the Sala Daeng station:

 

Dear Farang man, dressed all in black and sporting, in my opinion, way too much jewelry,

Excuse me? Get a job? Who the f#%k are you? What do you know about these people? Really? Can you tell me that you know for sure these people don’t work nights, or took off for the long weekend, or took a personal day? Do you know how many of them may be teachers and currently on summer break? What right do you have as a GUEST in this country to pass such judgement based on absolutely ZERO FACTS –though I understand this is all the rage in the US where you, like me, are from.

And on the topic of the US, aren’t we the first to support free speech and people’s right to protest? Where the f*%k do you get off being so rude?

Oh I am so sorry, did these actual citizens of the country you are temporarily living in get in your way? Were you late for an appointment for yet another piercing? Is that a problem for you, that nationals  of their country are using the public transport system put in place for them? If so, may I suggest, from one farang to another:  GO THE F*%K HOME.

You give the rest of us a bad name and you don’t deserve the visa you were issued to be here -if you even have a valid visa.

Oh, and one last thing, the only person who should wear a ring that size -let alone three of them- is the Pope.

Sincerely,

A fed up farang.

 

 

Rabies: A 5 Point Primer for Expats and Travelers in SE Asia.

Rabies Immunization Clinic Photo

Creative Commons. Photo by C Newlin de Rojas

1. Fatal.

If you are exposed and don’t get treatment, it is 100% fatal. Receive treatment within first 24 hours of contact with a rabies carrier for best chances of survival.

2. Saliva.

That’s how it is transferred. It isn’t about the bite, though deeper bites are more dangerous. If you are licked by a stray animal in a country with a high rate of rabid animals, i.e. SE Asia and India, you should get yourself to an emergency room. You could take a chance but it’s a game of Russian Roulette. Once you develop symptoms, you can start planning your funeral.

3. Painful

On the up side, they no longer inject you in your abdomen. Yay! But if you haven’t been pre-vaccinated, you must have an injection of RIG or Rabies Immune Globuline in addition to the vaccine shots. RIG jump starts your immune system and this part of the treatment is *painful*. They need to inject as much of this stuff as possible under the surface of your skin where the bite/lick occurred. The balance goes in your bum.

To give you a sense of this part of the treatment, imagine slipping a deflated balloon under your skin and then inflating it as much as possible. My daughter’s hand looked like the hunchback…except on her hand. Many ‘brave’ candies and biscuits were doled out by the nurses. Oh and my daughter got some too!

If you haven’t had a Tetanus shot in the last 10 years you need one of these too. And if you have a deep puncture wound, you actually need shots every 5 years. (Without treatment or vaccinations 1/4 people infected will die of Tetanus. The rate is higher for infants)

4. Ka-Ching.$$$

It’s expensive. Well, the RIG is expensive. Prices will vary. At our local (Bangkok) Catholic non-profit hospital, for an adult, you are looking at THB20,000 or $200. Of course everything is relative. If you are an expat on a juicy contract, this is likely peanuts for you and you are probably already at the more expensive snazzy hospitals. If you are in the US, you’d shell out about $1500 for a RIG dose Which brings me to #5, and this will make you Mambo.

5. It’s un-necessary

Well the balloon injection pain and loss of cash is un-necessary. If you get the pre-exposure vaccination consisting of three shots over a month, you do not need the RIG treatment, saving you money, tears, and time.

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If you work for a government agency, chances are they will have obligated you to get this done. You should thank them. If you are negotiating an expat package as we speak, you could consider asking them to organize and cover the country’s recommended vaccines prior to moving.

If you are like the rest of us, moving or traveling by choice (or working for one of those shoddy companies who are increasingly cutting corners) I’d wait until you get to Asia to get it done. It costs a fraction of the price: In the US, the three shots will cost you about $600 total pp while in Bangkok, at the local travel clinic, we paid about $15 total pp. You also have the option to choose the intra-dermal instead of the intra-muscular jabs. They are cheaper, less painful, and just as effective.

Check in later this week for our amazing story: Horses, Humans, and Rabies Oh My!, where I recount how two of us were bitten in one week, by different animals, and ended up at a snake farm for our shots. For real folks. Welcome to Thailand.

 

Readers please note: This is a short and basic overview. There are many things to consider. For example: RIG shots must be given within the first 6 days. By day 7, it can impede your own body’s response. Depending on risk factors e.g. animal and exposure types, some doctors will recommend a ‘wait and see’ approach, given the cost and availability of RIG. But then all of this is avoided if you simply get pre-vaccinated.

Kids, Food, & How to Kill a Chicken, Improvised.

Poultry chart via etsy

My kids, overall, are good eaters. I won’t go into my philosophy in detail just that I take a French-mother/Man Who Ate Everything approach to feeding them. It seems to be working for us –despite the occasional protests.

One thing I have always tried to do is make sure my girls know where their food comes from. I do not want to find myself, burger in hand, facing my kid around 12 suddenly stricken with a look of horror saying:

Wait you mean burgers and cows are the same thing? So what was the animal we ate last night?

Me: Well we had venison so you could say we ate Bambi, well probably her mother.

Living in Thailand has made this pretty easy. Granted, we have not passed Daisy the cow on our way to ballet class, but we have waved hello to many other edible friends. I knew I was succeeding  with my mission when upon seeing new animals, SweetPea would point to the creature going by and ask first:

What is that

followed closely with

Can we eat it?

Both girls love chicken but for SweetPea, it’s an obsession. She will choose chicken over any other food including sweets and cake any day so chicken features pretty regularly on our menu.

While eating chicken for dinner the other night:

P: Maman why can’t I see the chicken’s blood?
Me: Well they remove it before they sell us the chicken.
P: How do they remove it?
Me: They cut the chicken’s head off and hang him upside down.
(At this point I know that chickens get heads cut off and pigs are bled so I am just trying to piece this together)
P: Like this? (Showing me with her dragon piggy bank conveniently located next to her).
I nod in agreement.
P: Maman can I please do that next time we have chicken for dinner? And how do we catch a chicken?
Me, quiet worrying about a Dexter in our house.
P: And I want the chicken blood.
Me, thinking it is time to redirect this conversation: Well how about some boudin noir which is blood sausage?

Close call.

The next day, I worried as we head out of the house. There’s been a trio of scrawny birds hanging out by the front of our mobaan –a cluster of houses, like a little village. I didn’t want SweetPea getting any ideas. Fortunately the chickens were so scrawny. They were like the Kate Moss of chickens: breast-less, always in black, and in need a good meal and long night of sleep. I figured she wouldn’t find them appetizing enough to want to make the kill.

Right, I must brush up on my art of butchering skills. Til the next time readers.