Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stranger in a Strange Land

We moved to Nee's house two days ago.  I had forgotten how hot it is here as I had always stayed in an air conditioned hotel.  Her house is more typical.  A row house in a neighborhood, called a Soi, two story, with only fans if you have them.  Some people have installed air conditioning and Nee was considering it seven years ago and then she married me and moved to the US.  Funny how things work out sometimes.

Her friends and family have been supplying us with an endless supply of food.  Our once empty refrigerator is now so full we can't find room for anything else.  We have a toaster for our whole wheat bread, an induction cook top for cooking, and a microwave.  That is a fully stocked Thai kitchen.  Many homes have their kitchens outside on the back porch as folks don't like their house to smell of food.  Nee was a hardworking office manager so she didn't do much cooking, thus the simple arrangement indoors. 

Challenges I have run into are things I hadn't anticipated, though I had them three years ago.  I just forgot.  For instance, over-the-counter drugs I have gotten used to getting from Walgreens are a total mystery to the pharmacies here.  I wanted some Sudaphed and Mucinex but I may as well have asked for the moon.  We went to the local market yesterday.  Most of the market consists of small stalls like I have seen at farmers markets and flea markets in the US.  The stuff sold includes cooked and raw food, fish cut up and lying on piles of ice, vegetables and fruits I have never seen before, plus new and used clothes, coffee, shoes, tires, and so on.  Tucked inside all this, behind a peddler or two, are tiny pharmacies.  I am not sure how Nee even found them though this is her old neighborhood.

She asked for what I needed and we got looks of shock.  They piled a number of different medications they had on the counter and, though the names were in Thai, the drug was in English.  I knew what I wanted but none was to be found.  Finally, we gave up and headed back home, buying some steamed chicken and rice for our lunch.  Nee chatted with the stall owner for a few minutes to find out what it cost to be there.  It turns out that the stall was a franchise that sold steamed chicken all over Bangkok.  Her job was to steam the rice and the company supplied her with the rest.  Her stand looked like all the other stands, so looks can be deceiving. 

Two nights ago, we were attempting sleep here when suddenly the bedroom got hotter and hotter.  We had arranged a portable air conditioner at our door to blow cold air onto us but the air had turned hot and I was feeling like I was in an oven.  Out of nowhere, I heard was sounded like God had unzipped a cloud and all the water it had been storing fell all at once.  Our back porch has a fiberglass roof which was outside our window making the sound of the rain sound like someone was hitting it with a fire hose.  We went downstairs to find a leak in the kitchen roof and a chair we had moved to the back porch was getting wet.  Thus at 3AM we were moving furniture and cleaning up water.  When we got back to bed, Nee realized that perhaps we needed to check the water collector inside the AC.  In just one night, with the humidity being so high here, the collector had filled with a gallon or so of water.  We dumped the water in the bathroom and the AC worked again. 

Since these adventures, we have stayed close to home, though over the weekend friends took us to lunch on two occasions.  I love my American friends, but I have never been treated with so much time and generosity as I have seen here.  Even our neighbor lady who has taken care of the house since Nee moved out, comes over at all times of the day to bring us something, chat, drink coffee and go her way back home.  As an American it seems intrusive so I have to get used to this new place I call home.


  1. Roy, not sure where you are, but if you want American type drugs, head for the Sukhumvit area ..

    I have used KS pharmacy for years and they speak English. it is near the Robinsons on Soi 17, so very near both the MRT and BTS stations

    KS is on the same side of the street as Robinsons between a couple of hardware type stores ..

    oh, just a note, a soi is the small road, not the neighborhood .. the area you live in has some name .. for example we live in Khlong Toey, on soi Phai Sing To

    I find that fan cooled rooms are fine, but get a good one and have it aim right at you .. also, taking a shower right before you go to bed helps to cool you down.

  2. Thanks, Paul. I am on Teparak across the street from the Nam Deng Temple. The cab drivers seem to know where that is.
    You are the one who inspired me to take this chance so I appreciate any other suggestions you might have. Are you in Thailand now?

    What is a Moo, btw? We are on Moo 1 of this Soi Patcha.