So it feels a bit strange to be back in the office after being away for 3 weeks, some of that time being spent in Korat, Thailand.
In all honesty, I had no idea what to expect going to Korat as part of my reservist training. All I really knew beforehand was that I was there as part of Exercise Cope Tiger
. This is a joint military exercise between the USAF, RTAF and RSAF, which includes some humanitarian missions. As a medic in my NS days, I was there as part of the medical team providing some basic healthcare services to some of the villagers, and we were stationed in 2 schools over the course of 3 days.
Korat, for the most part, far exceeded my expectations. It is much cleaner than Bangkok, and the streets don't have that lingering sewer smell that seems to permeate major cities like KL and Bangkok. Things are relatively cheap, and people are generally friendly. There is a pretty big mall (unimaginatively called "The Mall") and I was put up at a really nice hotel called V One, which made the stay there that much bearable too.
It was really nice going to the schools to do my bit, even if it was a very small part; though I could see that it meant a lot to the kids and villagers who came to see us for medical care. It was quite an eye opener to see how we take so many things for granted, like basic toilet facilities, and simple medicine like paracetamol and cough syrup. That said, I wouldn't say that they are "worse off" from city folks in developed countries. In fact, they seem much happier and the children seemed much more carefree and innocent, without being tied down by modern fetters like tuition and computers. Nevertheless, I was more than happy to come out of my own pocket to buy some bags of sweets to hand out to the kids, who snatched them all too happily!
It wasn't all work though, we had our fair share of play, thanks to a very nice regular warrant officer who was our unofficial chaperon. There was some nice food to be had, and I managed to do a wee bit of shopping at The Mall and some night markets, so all in all it was a nice break from work.
Ugh back to reality!