Après un Rêve

June 8, 2011 - Oxford, United Kingdom

It's taken me almost a week to get round to tying off my blog after I arrived back. Penang was pure indulgence, from start to finish- eating, shopping, a day lounging on the beach and of course more eating. I even had a haircut- my old hairdresser, still in a small shop in a block of flats, has an unnerving divergent squint in both eyes. This has the effect of making her seem like she's checking out the opposite corners of the room behind you simultaneously- she never makes eye contact with you. She tutted and gasped in horror as she ran her fingers through the mess my last hairdresser had made; choppy mullet-effect layers, a fringe that looks like it's been hacked with garden shears. "She didn't know how to cut Asian hair. Ignorant!" Angeline scowled. Despite staring past my right ear and left shoulder at the same time, she managed to smooth everything out perfectly, and all for a fiver. I left, happy as a pig in poo. It rained as I walked home, and turned my perfectly coiffured do into a Gorgon like mess of curls, but no matter.

When I left the house in Penang, there were many tears- Ah Leen Che, so old, frail and bent over with osteoporosis, wept profusely, and said she wouldn't see me again before she died. I hope not but I wonder if she may be right- when will I ever make this trip again? My journey back was pretty damn awful- I'd been travelling for well over 24 hours before I stumbled into my parents' house. But I'm back, and although I'm strangely sickening for Asia, it is GOOD to be back.

I thought I had better finish off my blog, and these are a few of the things that I've learned:

1) I wanted to write short and sweet entries, for my sake and for that of anyone who stumbled upon my blog. These entries have been anything but short, and sadly not sweet. I'm useless.

2) Always bring an umbrella wherever you go- you might not think it's going to rain, but wise up- it's Asia and Sod's Law dictates...

3) Tuk tuk or Suktao is the only way to travel- all the proximity to the action that bikes have, without the deathwish.

4) I brought back tea leaves and made myself a tea-leaf salad; it just wasn't the same. I needed the heat, the humid air, and the company.

5) I am never travelling with The Monster Suitcase. Ever. Again.

6) I will never get used to being told helpfully "Oh lady we have a bigger size for you!". Vietnamese women in particular are so small.

7) The parting advice the Obstetrician in Mae Sot gave me as I left was "I'd de-worm yourself when you get home. Oh, and get a chest X-ray. Yes. Definitely one of those". Perfect.

8) Prof Tom told me that no one would ever understand what I know about Mae Sot, and without sounding excruciatingly pretentious in that despicable Oh-yah-I-was-so-changed-on-my-Gap-Yah, he's probably right. No one ever really gets the attraction of this tiny town until you get there, and suddenly you find you can never leave. Some people have even married Burmese people, and had families, and since their spouse has no ID papers, have had to remain in Mae Sot with them.

I am sad it's all over, but happy that it all happened, and even though I firmly resist the temptation to wax lyrical about being "deeply affected" by it all, I can't deny that my career path has been subtly but irrevocably altered. We'll see.

I refuse to bid farewell to Asia, since I'm know, in the words of Arnie: "I'll be back."



Emma and Laura:
June 19, 2011
Hi Maylin,
We came across your blog whilst searching for a medical elective in Cambodia and Vietnam. We are trying to organise our electives for next April. You seem to have really enjoyed your experiences. We were wondering if you could give us any information or contacts for the hospitals you worked in.
Thanks, Laura and Emma
June 22, 2011
Hi! Thanks for reading my blog. The contact I suggest you use for Vietnam is huong74bm@gmail.com, she's the direct contact for working at Bach Mai in Hanoi. If you wanted to work in Mae Sot (really recommend it!), the email address is: win7@loxinfo.co.th

Good luck!
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