Immunizations

Late Night Arrival in Bangkok… And Early Departure to Myanmar.

So I arrive in Bangkok after 21 hours of actual traveling.  It still hasn’t really hit me where I am yet.  Guess it will when I arrive in Myanmar tomorrow.

The first part of this journey will be with a small tour.  On the Myanmar pre-trip there are only 11 of us.  Traveled on the plane with one of the women on this trip.  Sat next to an aircraft engineer who is married to a Thai woman and who just returned from a year in South Africa.  He was in Hong Kong for a job interview for an American company.  It made the 2½ hour flight go by quick.  He was telling me about Thailand and its culture.  I got a kick out of the fact that he was quite impressed that I was an actress.   I thought being an aircraft engineer to be so much more laudable. Interesting how we give ourselves so little credit instead of recognizing that we are accomplished in our own right.

So I am in line chatting away with the lady I met that will be on my tour as we wait to go through customs.  I let her go first and then I go and the woman at the counter tells me that I need a yellow fever shot.  Oh no!  Mind you I went to a clinic to get all the shots I needed.  Three days before I saw something that said I needed it.  So I call the clinic and they tell me it’s only if I am traveling to South America and I think he said Africa.  Well it turns out that since I have a Paraguayan passport seems like I need one regardless.  Ay!  So she tells me there is a doctor in the airport I have to go to.  “But I am a legal resident of the United States.”  Even so.  I go.  He looks at me and stamps my entry and tells me to go back to the line this time no wait, go to the front.  And so it goes that I enter Thailand.  Joan, on the other side was getting worried she told me.  So sweet.  Now I am worried that this is going to happen trying to enter the other countries and on the next two times I am entering Thailand on this adventure.  Need you all to send good vibes, good thoughts and prayers so that I make it through without a glitch!

So we take our charter mini bus and arrive at the Pantip Suites in Bangkok.  It is 1:00 a.m. and it’s 85 degrees Farenheit.  They say that in Myanmar it will be 100 degrees with 75% humidity.  I am ready.  I really am.  Heat and humidity does not scare me.  Here are some photos of the hotel.   It has a bedroom, kitchen and living room.  The bed is ginormous!  Too bad I probably won’t be sleeping much in it since they pick me up at 5:30 a.m. and I am completely awake and not sleepy at all.  Think it will be another up-all-night nights!

The Football Sized Bed!

I will probably not be able to blog much in Myanmar.  Spotty internet and traveling all over the country these 7 days.  Will take loads of photos and report as soon as I return to Thailand, this time to stay for 3 days.   We are off and running!!  Hope you enjoy traveling with me.

The Living Room. Off to the side is a work room where I wrote this post. Place is humongous!

The Kitchen Which I Won't Even be Stepping In

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Categories: Immunizations, Myanmar - Burma, Ramblings, Thailand, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

41 Days and Counting…

It’s Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012. So the rest of the world seems to have had enough time to recover and return to real life. For those that read my blog regularly, you already know that I don’t need much recovery since I have had the most relaxing and actually pleasant of holidays. I was starting to enjoy the almost deserted streets. But, alas, everything ends and today as I head out in the Baby Blue (my Prius). I encounter way too much traffic and as I start to walk on one of my favorite streets (Honolulu Ave. in Montrose, CA) there are way too many people.

I go into a new restaurant for me and open my reading material. My itinerary for the first half of my trip stares at me in full color. The photos are amazing and I smile broadly. Maybe a little too much so, since I catch the people at the table next to me stealing perplexed glances. But I don’t really care. This “world traveler” is absolutely ecstatic about this journey. I’d like to be blasé and worldly about it but I am not, not, not!!! I must admit that my heart goes pitter-patter and that my inner toddler manifests itself and jumps up and down

Yay!!

(fortunately figuratively) with glee. Forty-one days till departure (minus 3 days in Vegas with a friend). An eternity. But the adult in me shows up and is thankful that I still have over a month since I have a million –no, a zillion things to finalize before I leave. I have finished the four pills that I had to take to prevent typhoid fever and they are valid for 5 years but I still have the lovely final vaccines/shots to get. The tetanus shot is the one that scares me most. I already am quite averse to needles and to top it off, they said my arm will be sore for a few days.

Today I find Myanmar

Myanmar

in the New York Times list of the 45 places to go in 2012. ☺ I am fortunate that I have gone to a lot of the rest of the places they suggest. Panama, which is on the list, I even lived in. So glad that – even though I don’t believe in bucket lists – I will be able to say that I went to Myanmar before the crowds did. I’m extra excited about the week I will spend there.

I finish dinner and head over to FroyoLife, which I believe serves the best frozen yogurt I’ve had anywhere in the city. I also like it ‘cause everyone there is just really cheerful and helpful. My inner child is asserting herself again and telling me to skip. Actually she is demanding it. Skip! You are happy. Just do it!! (Sorry Nike, my inner child watches way too much TV and has a tendency to repeat slogans.) The adult me is okay with just walking, albeit with lots of darling yellow smiley faces flying around me.

(I really had to give my younger me some concession and I give in to a little childishness.)

As I sit and eat my yogurt, as much as I try to avoid it, I have a laundry list of things to be done that has been playing for the past hour in my head and still I am nowhere near the end. Argh! Will be mentally checking tasks off, as well as in this blog. That way, when we go on this little journey both you and me will know (if you have been with me so far you are my traveling companion) what I managed to get out-of-the-way and what was not accomplished. Hmm, let me restate that. It will serve as a testament that one can do a lot in very little time as long as you put your mind to it… hopefully.

Categories: Immunizations, Myanmar - Burma, New York Times 45 Places to go in 2012, Ramblings, Restaurants/Cafés/etc. | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Immunization = $$ = Needles = :(

I am good at procrastinating.  If it were a class and I were in school, I’d be getting an “A” with no effort at all.   But they say change is good and this is a facet in me that I must make an effort to abolish.  Well, maybe modify.  Perhaps just alleviate?  You see how good I am at procrastinating?  Because I feel uninspired, I am using words to stall (at times I  equate stalling to procrastination) and not communicate what I have come to say.   But, no more.  Here goes.

I have a strong aversion to needles and side effects so I have… yes, you guessed it: procrastinated in going onto the Center for Disease Control website to find out what immunizations (ie: needles) I will need to go to Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Hong Kong.  I promise I will find a pseudo-acronym for this trip.  I got it!  BLT+ (B for Burma –actually Myanmar- but for this purpose it will be Burma; L for Laos and T for Thailand and the “+” for Cambodia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.)  Phew, no more repetitive typing!

As I have lunch at The Black Cow in Montrose I pull out my trusty computer and get on-line.  Victor, the best server ever, knows exactly what I order so he greets me with a hug and asks “The usual?”  This feels like home.  So I am on the site.  Lazy me can’t believe that she has to go to each country one by one.  No cheat sheet.  I find a link to a Global Travel Clinic Directory that “know all about traveler’s immunization needs.”   So here I am.  I call the first one in Glendale and they are closed.  I leave a message.  I call the next one in Pasadena.  Also closed.  I leave a message.  I try another.  Ditto.  So now I have nothing left to do but wait.  And enjoy my steak salad.

My cell rings and I am told that this is the Medical Clinic for Immunization returning my call.  So she gives me the laundry list of immunizations that are recommended.  This is not sounding good.  Well the Hepatitis A and B (a series of 3 shots) is $170, then the Rabies shot is another $100.  I become restless.  “Could you give me an approximate figure of how many and how much?”  “Well around six of them would be around $800 but that’s without the two most important ones which are the typhoid one and the….” I stop registering anything until she says:  “Those two are $1,600.”  And this is without the malaria pills.  I’m not that great at math but I immediately add it up to $2,400.  I calmly thank her for the information, hang up, and panic!  Are you kidding me?

I get on-line and e-mail, Facebook, go to the OAT Travel site and message everyone if this is even remotely in the ballpark of what others have paid.  Two of my friends whom I know well and have traveled to BLT+ say: “Noooooo, no need for any of that.  Just go and enjoy!”  I have yet to hear from the travel company’s previous clients.

In the process of checking for responses I find a post from a traveler that says that the CDC has just posted a health warning for travelers going to Vietnam due to an outbreak of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, though it seems to primarily affect children.  What the heck?

My cell rings.  I’m starting to feel real important.  My phone is ringing a lot.  This is the Healthy Traveler Clinic in Pasadena.  Me:  “Well, you are calling at a time when I am still almost speechless.  Just got a call from another clinic saying that all the vaccines I need are going to cost me roughly a third of my trip so far.”   On the other side I hear a compassionate voice saying that she understands and she hears that a lot.  She wants me to see the doctor who will go over the priorities, if any, on the shots and pills and that I am at liberty to decline or even go to another clinic to get them.  Things are looking better.   I have an appointment tomorrow morning.  But before I go to the doctor, I must fill out 9 pages of forms. Will be reporting back.

Categories: Cambodia, China, Immunizations, Laos, Myanmar - Burma, Ramblings, Vietnam | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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