Friday, August 12, 2011
Today (Friday) is the celebration of the Queen's Birthday and is an official holiday in Thailand. The Embassy is closed as it employs almost 1, 200 Thais (referred to as FSNs - foreign service nationals). One benefit of working for the US Government in a foreign country is that all of the US holidays, as well as those of the host country, are observed. Kevin and a few other men went to golf this morning at about 5 am. They were going to a course about 40 minutes north of us and had to be there for a 6 am tee time. I think Kevin was a bit disappointed at not being able to sleep in.
We had a somewhat exciting start to our holiday weekend. Yesterday morning, Caitlynne woke up with what looked to be a mosquito bite on her lower leg. She complained it was itchy and I told her to put some Benadryl on it. About 4 hours later, she began complaining that it was throbbing and was very painful. I took a look and it was indeed very red and very swollen. I could actually see it "throbbing" which was really weird. We have been warned about and/or immunized against several illnesses in Thailand that result from a mosquito bite (dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria). Since Nichada was basically built on swampland, there is no shortage of mosquitoes and we have all been bitten many times since we moved here. Since Friday was the holiday, I thought I should take her to the medical clinic - just in case. As it turned out, the dr. thought she was bitten by a spider and gave us some steroid cream to apply. I was very glad to have had the experience of getting medical care in Thailand in a non-emergency situation. Kind of like a dry run for me. The medical care was fine (but it was only a spider bite after all). However, as with almost all of the drs. in Thailand, ours received his medical degree in the US (Baylor College of Medicine) so we were probably treated as well as we would have been back in the US. For those of you who know what a drama queen Caitlynne is... I later found out that she brought a notebook to the drs. so she could write her will in case the diagnosis was death. She is now referring to the incident as her "brush with death". She does make us laugh!
As I walked the dogs this morning, I noticed how quiet Nichada is with it being a holiday. Two things have impressed me since we arrived...1) how hard the Thais work and 2) how many of the Thai people are employed at jobs that seem to have little significance. The construction workers, gardeners, guards, maids, etc. all work 6 days a week, arriving in Nichada every day about 6 am and working until 5 pm or so. They are very hard workers for the little money that they are paid. That being said, there are several jobs that seems to have no real purpose other than to create an employment opportunity. For example, there is a woman who sweeps the three streets of our neighborhood (20 homes). There is also a team of women who similiarly sweep the main street in Nichada, as well as all of the parking areas at the village center. In the areas where there is construction of new homes, there are sweepers to keep the dirt from the construction site off of the streets. The women just stand there and, after each vehicle goes in or out of the site, they sweep the street. All of this sweeping is done continuously, ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. With a broom and a dustpan. A gardener comes EVERY day to each home in our neighborhood to water plants, weed, pick up debris, and trim the lawns (which are 1/4 acre at the most). In Miami, we lived on 1 acre and were lucky if the gardener came twice a month! Each neighborhood & home in Nichada has this same set up so there is truly an army of sweepers and gardeners employed by Nichada. If you need a taxi, you call the guards at the front gate and they arrange for a "moto" to go find you a taxi. The moto then escorts the taxi to your home and you pay the moto 30 baht for locating the taxi for you. When you leave through the front gate of Nichada, there are about 10 motos at the gatehouse waiting to fetch the taxis (which are often less than 100 yards away & just waiting to be fetched). Not a very efficient means of calling for a taxi and, given that petrol is expensive here, I wonder how the moto can even make money at only 30 baht ($1.00) for each fetched taxi.
Almost every family has a maid and the families that work for the oil companies often have a maid, nanny and driver and, sometimes, more than one of each. All of the homes in Nichada are built with an exterior room and bathroom specifically for the maid. Within a day of our arrival, the doorbell began ringing with maids wanting to work for us. Word spreads quickly when new families move in and the "maid brigade" swoops in almost immediately. Our maid, PeePorn, is working for us full-time but does not live with us. She speaks very good English and has helped me communicate with the gardener and the milkman. She does the cleaning, some of the shopping and all of the ironing. She will also cook for us three nights a week. I told her that I only wanted her to make Thai food so we will get to try some new and different dishes that we might not find in restaurants. She will help me prepare for any dinners or events that we need to host for Kevin's job. She is very quiet and peaceful. Although I was a bit uncomfortable with having someone around all day, every day, I think it will work out fine. Even with the kids still being home, we have managed to work around each other. Kevin keeps telling me to enjoy my "vacation"!