The Frohne Flier

Volume 1, Issue

Friday, August 31, 2001

P. O. Box 4 Muak Lek, Saraburi, Thailand

Phone: 66-36-344-726

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.
Oh, No!
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 here.)

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.
Ancient Temple
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.

With love,
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.