The Frohne Flier
Volume 1, Issue
Friday, August 31, 2001
P. O. Box 4 Muak Lek, Saraburi, Thailand
Off to Laos
I thought I would try to get another one of these newsletters out to you
this week, while I can still remember what we have been doing. Our latest
adventure was to Laos, the small country to the Northeast of Thailand.
The Mekong river separates the two countries. The purpose of the trip to
was renew our tourist visas for another 30 days. Usually they leave at
around 10:00 p.m. Sunday and drive all night, but we weren't interested
in that so we requested leaving Sunday morning. It would be really hard
with the kids. So on Sunday we drove to the Thai-Laos border, and stayed
on the Thailand side. The drive took about 7 hours. That night we stayed
on the Thai side, because the hotels are half the price as the ones in
Laos and are much nicer. We walked through the market, and ate in a restaurant
right on the Mekong river. The river was wide, like the Columbia river,
and very fast. You could see the current moving right along. After we checked
into the hotel, Ann, Leona a Philippine kindergarten teacher, Nurly, and
I went and got a hour long foot massage. My masseuse was much more skilled
then the one I had down in Krabi. It was an excellent massage.
Crossing the Border
Monday morning we got up early as the border crossing opened up at 7:00
a.m. On the Thai side our driver dropped us off and went and parked the
van. We then walked to a booth and our passport was stamped as leaving
the country. We then walked to a waiting area and waited for our guide,
the college visa expert. We waited a long time and finally he appeared
and told us he was having a hard time getting out of the country, and would
have to wait until a supervisor showed up for work. He told us to go ahead
on into Laos and start working on getting a tourist visa to enter Laos.
A 15 day tourist visa on arrival cost $30. We caught a ride on a shuttle
bus and crossed over the Mekong river on Friendship Bridge. The reason
the school van wasn't taken across is the Lao government charges way too
much for vehicles to enter. As soon as we crossed over, we could tell we
were in a very poor country. Many things looked the same, but older, dirtier,
and in more disrepair. It has been almost 40 years since the French left,
and I think that is when progress stopped in the country. Since then there
has been a very strong communist influence in the country, which accounts
for a lot of what we saw. It took quite a while for me to fill our 4 applications
for a Lao visa. Then we had to turn in our applications with a photo and
some money. We didn't have U.S. dollars, so we had to pay in Baht. I gave
them what they asked for, we waited some more, then they wanted more money.
The woman didn't ask for the correct amount the first time. We waited some
more. Then they asked were we were staying in Laos. We said a hotel, though
we didn't know which one. Thankfully they accepted our answer. After a
very long wait, we finally got our passports back with a visa stamped inside.
Then we had to go to two more booths. And pay another 10 baht each for
entering the country. Inside now we sat down to wait some more, but we
were glad it didn't take long for our guide and driver to show up. We weren't
sure what we would do if he didn't. He got a van to drive us to the Thai
embassy, as the others in our group had to apply for non-emigrant visas.
We would just get 30 day visas on arrival, when we went back into Thailand.
While they were taking care of their business, we decided to go out and
look around. I took Araya's hand, and Rob put William on his shoulders.
We were both carrying backpacks. We decided to cross the street.
There wasn't much traffic. We made it to the median strip. Rob decided
to take a picture of a large monument that could be seen down the street.
Once clear, Araya and I started across. We were halfway into the street,
when Rob cried, "Oh No!" I turned and looked around and William was falling
down to the concrete. I ran to grab him up, turned him over and his eye
was already swelling shut. His high cheek bone had hit first. We crossed
the street, and I found a place to sit down, then I realized how serious
it was. So I headed back to the embassy. Rob realized William had lost
a shoe and went to retrieve it. I found the driver first and asked him
to go get ice. He speaks only Thai. Inside I searched for Ann, because
she has a good head and knows a lot about medicine, as she grew up with
a dad who is an emergency room physician. She looked him over. The ice
came, and he wouldn't let us put it on his face, even in a cloth. We could
see his eye swelling further and turning colors. I wasn't sure what to
do. But Ann and I talked it through. He was conscious and screaming good.
He wasn't vomiting. His eyes dilated when we took him out to the sun. So
we decided that he got himself a good shiner, his eye looked like an Italian
prune, but that it appeared it wasn't too serious. Then we noticed that
he was holding his big toe funny. He finally calmed down enough so I could
ask him if it hurt and he answered "urt." We couldn't figure out why it
would be hurt but it was, and it was the foot that didn't loose a shoe.
Apparently his foot had caught on a strap of the back pack when he was
coming of, and it got twisted on the way down. He can't walk now, but it
may have been to his benefit, because it must have slowed his fall. His
face could have been hurt much worse.
Once every one was done at the embassy, we went around the corner to
a hotel, The Chalenxay Hotel. (Any one know how to pronounce that ?) Our
guide got us rooms, and I took William right up to lay down and rest. Everyone
else went to lunch in the hotel restaurant. They brought me back some fried
rice. William wouldn't eat any, and I didn't eat much either. It was too
full of eggs, and I have a hard time eating eggs on a good day. So I finished
up the package of Oreo cookies, not that they are any better for me, but
they certainly taste better, and aren't as likely to contain salmonella.
(You'd probably think the same after you saw the condition of the chickens
A Lovely Market
William went to sleep eventually. And Araya and Rob came back to the room.
Rob told me that I could go now and he would watch the kids. I met Ann
and Leona and we walked a couple blocks to the market, a huge market housed
in at least 3 large buildings. The first building we entered was full of
things made of cloth and handicrafts. The sarongs were so lovely. I liked
the colors so much better then the Thai colors. They weren't so bright
and there was less gold used, and still they were very elegant. They also
had the lovely Hmong quilts, with the elephant foot print pattern. The
prices were very good, and the three of us left the market with lighter
wallets, but heavier backpacks.
After William had a bit of a nap, I decided that I should try to get him
some baby Tylenol and that we should try to find a girl I knew from when
I worked in Bangkok, Julie Scale, who now is a volunteer at ADRA Laos.
Our first stop was ADRA, and I was able to give her a nice surprise when
I walked in. We talked a bit, and then invited her to meet us for supper.
I asked about where to get the Tylenol.
A Visit to the Doctor
Apparently they don't have regular pharmacies here, as they said we had
to go to the clinic for that. Scary place. We waited around to see a doctor.
He could speak some English. He wanted me to sit down on the examining
table with William. I wondered how long it had been since the white clothes
on the table had been washed, and the condition of the last person who
had laid down there in this little triangle shaped room. I doubt the doctor
had washed his hands, but he had tried to look in William's eye anyway.
It wouldn't open. He gave up and wrote a prescription for what I hoped
was baby Tylenol. He tried to tell us something but we couldn't catch all
of it. We think he was saying the eye could be blood shot for up to 6 months.
A nurse to Ann to the pharmacy to get our medicine. The directions were
in Lao. So she asked the nurse. The nurse said "1 spoon 3 times a day."
There was no spoon or dropper with the medicine. We ended up having to
guess. The visit to the doctor and the medicine cost about $12. Good thing,
we were almost broke.
What is that price again?
We met my friend Julie for supper at a nice Thai restaurant. You should
have seen the bill when we were done. 239,000! 239,000 Kip that is. Kip
is the currency is Loas and it worth almost nothing, even compared to Thai
baht. We paid for our meal in baht, which they are very glad to accept,
and the total was really only 1,200 baht, or about $27 for 8 adults.
Victory Arch Monument
We ate breakfast together in Leona's room. Fruit and french bread from
the market. Then our guide got a Lao tuk tuk and took us around the city
to a few cites. The first stop was the Victory Arch Monument. Built in
1962 after the French left, It was tall and impressive with a mixture of
French and Buddhist design. For 10 baht each person could climb to the
top and get a great view of the city. From the top you could see the city.
It was then we realized that even though this was the biggest city in Laos,
there was hardly any traffic, even at 9:30 in the morning. The roads were
in poor condition. There were lots of bicycles, motorbikes, tuk tuks and
just a few cars. The city is quite poor. It looks a lot like a very small,
old Thai country town, except it is very large and stretches on and on.
We saw the side of the international airport. The buildings were in terrible
repair, and we hoped that they cared for their planes better then their
buildings. We saw what appeared to be the capital building. It was the
only white, shiny modern building I noticed.
Next stop was an ancient temple originally built in the 3rd century A.D.
It was moved from it's original site to this place in the city several
hundred years ago, where it has been renovated a few times. It is claimed
that it contains one of Buddha's bones. Lot's of Buddhist temples around
the world have this claim. I think it makes the temple more sacred. There
was lots of gold paint, but you could only walk around the outside and
see a display of a few of the stone relics from the old temple.
Finally we made one more stop at the morning market and then we went
off to eat lunch at the best Indian restaurant I have eaten at yet. The
spices were just right and not hot. We kept sending bowls back for refills.
No one left hungry.
Back to Thailand
Our guide picked up the needed visas at 1:00 p.m. and we started back to
Thailand by tuk tuk. At the border, we discovered we were all so broke
that we weren't even sure we had enough money to get back across the border.
Thankfully our guide took care of that. On the Thai side of the border
we had no problem getting another 30 day tourist visa for each of us Frohnes.
Then our driver got the van and we got in for the long ride back to Mission
College. We got back to the college at about 10:00 p.m.
Update on William
By Thursday the swelling had gone down enough around William's eye that
he could open it again. He still will have to wait a long time before the
extra color is gone, but he can see quite fine once again. He is now hoping
that his foot will be feeling good because he really wants to run and play.
He didn't want to crawl at first, but is finding that it is the only way
to go when his foot hurts.
That is all for this week. Next week we are leaving on Thursday for
a long weekend trip to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. After that
I will write one more Frohne Flier before we leave on September 21. Hope
you all have a nice Labor Day weekend. I'll send a notice when the trip
photos are one the web.
The Frohne Foursome in Thailand
P.S. Just after I finished typing this, William wanted me to put his
shoes on. I think that he thought he could walk with his shoes on. When
he stepped down with the injured foot, he collapsed to the floor in screaming
in pain. Rob and I decided it really was more then a sprain. The neighbor
came over to see what was the matter and offered to drive us to Saraburi
to the hospital. While there we saw a surgeon, and opthalmologist, and
an orthopedist, and an x-ray technician. There is an incomplete fracture
of the lower part of his leg, just above the ankle. That is why all the
typical signs were missing. He now has a "slab" from the knee down. That
is what they called a partial cast held on with an ace bandage. The total
price was $36 for every thing.