Saturday, February 8, 2014

More from Thailand . . .

Next stop UDON THANI, Thailand -

This city is the one close to Laos, where medical emergencies from Laos are taken.

We were met by the Senior Couple, Elder and Sister Hart, in a Tuk-Tuk, and headed off for visits to three Hospitals.  At AEK Udon Hospital we certainly had our most impressive reception, complete with a sign by the elevator announcing our visit.  At the conclusion all of us were presented with gifts.

A view inside the hospital

The Church Building in Udon

They were doing a big landscaping project around the Church

The TUK TUK driver and his ever present Dog!

The final destination on the trip was Bangkok.  We had been a bit worried about the time to be spent there because of the political unrest happening for the past few weeks.  Our hotel was behind one of the barricade lines so the taxi dropped us off a block to two away and we walked in.  There was no problem.  We moved around the city comfortably on the rail system accompanied by Elder and Sister Goodson, a Humanitarian Couple serving there.  It was great to have them go with us to find the right trains and get out at the right stops.  The rapid transit system in Bangkok is amazing and so efficient!!  Bangkok's signature taxi is PINK!

The Goodson's and a really big Buddha

We visited the Bumrungrad Hospital, rated as one of the top ten destinations for Medical tourism in the world.  It was a huge facility, including every specialty and all the most modern and up-to-date equipment.  It was set up looking like a cross between a fancy shopping center and a posh hotel!

A few scenes from the PROTESTS:

A load of "protesters" bussed in 

The messages speak for themselves!

Tents set up in every nook and cranny!

Protest material sold wherever there was an empty space.
Always whistles - the "Whistle Blower" protest making it very noisy all the time! 

Near our hotel was a beautiful park with a wonderful walking path around the lake.  It did not look or
feel like the -30C we left in Mongolia!!

The Church Service Center is located near a good transportation connection and it is planned that sometime in the future, it might be the location of a Temple!!  Presently it is a beautiful building with great green landscaping in the center of the busy city.

What an incredible experience - 3 countries, 16 hospitals and clinics, 7 wonderful Senior Couples, and so many things to see we felt a sensory overload!!

We are grateful for the opportunity to be serving a mission both here in Mongolia
 and as the "Asia Area Medical Advisor".  

Life is indeed good, and All is Well.

Thailand Mission tour continued . . .

Buddhism is the most common religion in this area. We were told there were 600, 000 monks in Myanmar alone.  They are all different ages, both female and male.

Some of the basic beliefs of Buddhism as I have learned include:

  • Nothing is fixed or permanent
  • Actions have consequences
  • Good actions such as generosity, righteousness and meditation bring happiness
  • Bad actions such as lying, stealing, and killing bring unhappiness in the long run
  • Change is possible

Cute girls - a range of ages!

We saw a long line of monks

Just as Cal caught up to them, they crossed the road

The youngest ones were at the end

They all carry a big dish to collect food or donations.  As they go around in the mornings, they are not allowed to wear shoes.

A young man studying his scriptures

The next Stop was Chiang Mai, Thailand.  One senior couple and 8 young elders and sisters serve there.  We were met at the airport by Elder and Sister Ure in a "Red Truck", the favorite method of transportation.

Benches on each side in the back - a great way to get around

Elder and Sister Ure

We went to the Church right a way where there were five people being baptized, two active and supportive branches.  The Ures are working on a new English curriculum to be taught all over Thailand.

Here we visited two really modern hospitals who cater to foreigners - each with an International wing.
Another stop at a smaller one and at a private University.  Many tourists come to Chiang Mai.  We did not have touring time but on the way to the Airport in our Red Truck, we stopped at the
                          "Tiger Experience".

"I've got a "Tiger by the Tail"
More to come . . .

Friday, February 7, 2014

Change of Climate!!

One of Cal's responsibilities as Asia Area Medical Advisor was to visit the Thailand Mission and evaluate the Medical Facilities there.  For the past two weeks we went there to do just that.

The Thailand Mission covers Laos, Myanmar as well as Thailand.

Our first stop was Laos where we were pleasantly surprised to feel the temperature.  We left Mongolia in -30C. and got to Laos where it was +28C.  Not too hard to take!

We visited 3 clinics and one Hospital.  Often in emergencies the people of Vientiane, Laos go across the Friendship Bridge into Udon, Thailand for more advanced  medical care.  The Senior Couples visited the facilities with us and were glad to see what their options were for care should they need it!

The Singleys and Jorgensens
when we visited the Australian Embassy Medical Clinic

One of many "Reclining Buddhas"

The market opens very early on Saturday morning and what a variety of products!

Although it was about 70 F.,
the people said it was their coldest winter!!

We met Elder Murray from Magrath, Grace and Bob William's grandson and Lori and Harold's son.  It is sure a small world and we were always seeing somebody whose relatives we knew or knew someone who we knew.  Gordon Gedlaman's cousin, Wayne:  Tom Olson's son, Joshua:  a relative of Jack Hicken:   people who served in Vietnam with Clark and Doris Wood, etc!!

Elder Johnson, Elder Xiang, Elder Murray

Cal likes sunsets . . .

Fisherman, his nets and boat on the Mekong River

 Myanmar (formerly Burma) - there are 2 Senior couples serving - teaching English and doing Humanitarian work.  Four hospitals and the SOS Clinic were visited, again accompanied by the Senior Elders.  It was great to have the connections and get to know the couples in each of the places.  They were kind and always met us at the airports and helped arrange the hospital visits.  We felt like we had known some of them much longer than a few days!!
Tun, the driver, the Haymores, Kameron (a pharmacist who showed us around one of the hospitals), the Hobbs

Their driver was an expert guide for the Shwedagon Pagoda -
he shared many insights into Buddhism and the Pagoda 

One of the newer Hospitals in Yangon, Myanmar

One of the highlights of our stop in Myanmar was a ride on the train, not a regular tourist attraction, but a photographer's dream.  The locals use it to haul their goods to market, sell stuff while it is going, and just to get from point A to point B.  It is a three hour round trip and moves very slowly but goes all around the city and out into the countryside.  The price was $1. USD and could only be paid that way by foreigners.  We had a five dollar bill as well as Myanmar money, but for three of us (Sis. Haymore came along), they only wanted three $1. bills, would not give us change or just keep the $5. bill.  Finally we just got on the train and figured when we got closer to the city center someone might have change.  Along the way we struck up a conversation with a young Australian and wife who were on the train. He told Sis Haymore he had three $1. bills so when the conductor came along and wanted our money and still would not take the $5., we found the Aussie and traded him the $5 for his three $1. bills and everyone was happy!!

Some views from the train

Harvesting and weeding "water cress" -
(the name a local told me in his English)
yes, they are standing in water almost to their waists

A guy hauling the above product to market

some had big loads on the train

the local quick stop shop

In Myanmar many girls, young and old, and even some men, use "thanaka" on their faces.  It is supposed to do many things, cure acne,  prevent and/or remove wrinkles, whiten the skin, act as a sunscreen, etc.

Note the scale for weighing our oranges!

She not only has a beautiful face but beautiful fruit!!

To be continued . . .