After completing two months in Thailand, I (Royce), I will share my updates and some photos here:
I am humbled by the genuine kindness of the Thai people. The generosity especially extends to the staff at the Bureau of Epidemiology (BOE) who welcomed me warmly from day one and have adopted “Nong-Royce,” as a younger brother to their family.
My home base is Nonthaburi, an urban satellite of Bangkok, in a small apartment complex just one mile from the BOE and Ministry of Public Health. The inescapable traffic jams of the capital city extend to Nonthaburi but fortunately I can commute by walking or by waving down one of the ubiquitous orange-vested motosai taxis, who (providing a helmet) get me to work in two minutes for just 15 Thai baht (~$0.40 USD).
One of the cool aspects about interning at the BOE is the exposure to other ongoing national and international projects. I observed Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) events and also traveled with BOE staff to Phang Nga and Tak provinces for a migrant health project. This allowed me to briefly revisit the Thai-Myanmar border town, Mae Sot, where I spent some time in 2016.
The current rainy season in Thailand presents spontaneous onslaughts of thunderstorms (an unfamiliar weather pattern for a Northern-California boy), ensuing flooded roads making for an interesting commute, and persistent humidity and being sweaty. Rainy season also brings about the deluge of tropical fruit available at markets and fruit stands, especially the king of fruits, durian. I have been fortunate to visit some durian farms thus far.
For my project, I have just completed the sample collection phase in the pig farms of Sisaket province. I enjoyed spending several weeks in rural Isaan. Everywhere I went, I was greeted by endless stretches of green rice fields and smiling faces. And of course the food was delicious as I devoured my share of som tum pla ra (an exciting variation of papaya salad), gai yang (the famous Lao-Isaan style grilled chicken), and larb.
The local public health and livestock officials assisted with my project a tremendous amount, especially with navigating though the countryside to visit all of the farms. One of the officials invited me to stay in a spare bedroom for the duration of my time there, located on the second floor of an animal clinic/pet store. As a result, I saw many dogs receive their rabies vaccinations and even watched an emergency dog C-section. I will post another update soon! Thank you for your support.