Feb 25, 2005

Day 7: Across town and back

Today our hectic schedule finally caught up with us.

Last night's rooster is no longer alone. A whole brood of the creatures have been serenading the neighborhood since about 5am. Rie's feeling worse than last night, so we decide to take advantage of the no-cash medical portion of our trip insurance. She calls one of the participant hospitals while we're waiting for breakfast to show up and gets directions to Praram 9 Hospital, where at least one doctor on duty speaks Japanese. After we finish our yogurt, the friendly morning front attendant at our guest house translates the directions into Thai. This is for the benefit of our taxi driver, as addresses in Thailand are apparently no more intuitive than addresses in Japan.

We leave the guesthouse at 9:30, and the taxi heads east-northeast for about an hour before arriving at the hospital. This is where we will spend the next three and a half hours. According to Rie the hospital smells like ramen, but she prefers this to the usual sterile mediciney smell. Her doctor is Thai and his Japanese is fluent. The nurses, who speak a smidgen of English, are amiable, and the small male nurse with the large body language is our favorite. They check Rie's vitals and draw some blood to test. Her temp is just over 37C (98.6F), and the nurse announces, "No fever!" Japanese, however, apparently run an average temp of 36C (97F). So the armchair physician overrules the decision and declares an unoffical fever. The blood test is what keeps us waiting, and eventually a "nothing out of the ordinary" result comes back.

The official diagnosis: common cold (altho the chart read such-and-such bronchitis)

After picking up the myriad medicines prescribed at the hospital pharmacy, Rie's feeling a little better and we're off to Wat Pho, home of the shiniest reclining Buddha. This is the one Buddha statue Rie definitely wanted to see before we leave, and it's our only sightseeing stop before the evening dance performance at the national theatre. We take Bangkok Metro's one and only (for now) line south, transfer to the BTS SkyTrain's Silom line, which delivers us to the river. From there we hop on a River Express north to the Wat. (I'm really enjoying the variety of public transportation options, if you couldn't tell!)

Anyway, we're getting a little temple-weary by this point. Aside from admiring - really admiring - the hugantic reclining Buddha and his mother-of-pearl-encrusted feet (pics one and two below), we don't really spend too long there. Just a quick walk around the premises (see prang pic number three below) and we leave with just enough time to walk to the theatre.

The dance performance was, in a word, long. Worth the price of admission in the end, but long. Probably would have helped if we understood some Thai. The types of costume we came to see (pic four above) didn't come until the second half, only after a drawn-out first act that involved very little movement at all. Very precise, elegant movement... but not exciting enough to keep us weary travelers from nodding off once or twice.

To keep things simple and facilitate an early bedtime, we had dinner tonight at the guesthouse. What a mistake. Pasta half an hour past aldente for Rie, and a thin green curry with skanky freshwater fish for Eric. The fries and beer were the best part. Bitch, bitch, bitch. At least only one rooster tries to keep us awake at night.


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