December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Mark, His Mom, and Sister Stephanie,

Another year is coming to a close and the three of us are all happy to be alive, especially Mark after his prognosis in 2005 that he had three months or less to live. Does this go to show that you shouldn't believe everything you hear?

This Christmas Mark is in Thailand, Stephanie is in England, and Mom in Austin. We'll have another Christmas together another year.

Mark is waiting for our friend Jerry Barrett to arrive in Thailand from the Katmandu valley. Jerry is planning to film another movie with Mark in it. Mark is doing his own cooking and taking it easy.

Stephanie was in Boston area (Southbridge, Mass) last week for a conference and Mom went to be with her and to eat lobster and shop. We were in Southbridge for a couple of days then we went into Boston and stayed at the Royal Sonesta Hotel across from the Galaria shopping mall.We found an Afgan restaurant and it was really good. We toured the historical sites. Good thing we didn't go to Boston this week as the area was snowed in and many of the airports closed on the East Coast.

October 03, 2009

A Miracle Cure?

Mark's doctor at the Veteran's Hospital called me this week. He said he was thinking that Mark might have gotten "a miracle cure." A lot of you, from all over the world, were praying for him, so maybe so. The oncologist reminded me that Mark's Pet Scan was good. He suggested that cancer could come back as a new cancer or the old cancer could pop up again, but he wanted to focus on the possibility of a miracle cure and begin to screen Mark for any other health problems that we might have been ignoring as we focused on the esophageal and liver cancer and the strange suspicious spot on his kidney. Of course that makes sense.

I'm writing an instructor's manual for a text book about to be published and one of the chapters is on Cancer. What do the authors say? For starters that the experience of cancer is a disruptive and life-threatening experience. This is certainly true. Mark left his dream job on the island of Saipan. I left the Rotary GSE team that I had worked with for a year preparing to study violence on the Mexican border. Mark headed to Thailand for treatment and his sister and I followed. I cannot convey how difficult the next two years of treatment were for Mark and how much he appreciates all the support he got from friends, family, his doctors and nurses, medical personnel, and strangers.

It is initially hard for Mark and I to wrap our minds around "a miracle cure" after his various dire prognoses from medical personnel,after all he has gone through, and with the effects of cancer and chemotherapy and radiation still very much with him.

Should we embrace this cure with all our energies and hopes or move with caution knowing the cancer can come back or another cancer pop up like the chest wall tumor that came out of nowhere, was radiated and is gone? I suppose the answer is that Mark and even his sister and I will go on squeezing everything we can out of every day and living life to the fullest to the best of our abilities and we will deal with whatever comes our way.

I'll keep you posted on Mark. He is still having adventures in Thailand.

September 11, 2009

Elke and Hinrich

Another dear friend has died from cancer. Hinrich died September 8, o9 at his home in the loving arms of Elke his wife, who greatly misses him. We celebrate his life and morn his passing. He was a wonderful person and friend. When Mark was very sick and he wanted to travel in case he died and never got to travel again, I took him to Amsterdam. All the rooms in Amsterdam were taken as it was the 25th anniversary of the queen on the throne. Hinrich gave us the information that allowed us to find the last two vacant rooms in Amsterdam. He contacted his cousin in Amsterdam who showed us around. Hinrich and Elke invited us to travel by train to Groningen in the Netherlands where they picked us up by car and took us to their home in Emden, Germany and fed us a delicious meal. Mark was so very cold in those days even in the hot Bangkok sun, but especially so in Northern Germany. Our friends Hinrich and Elke loaned Mark a coat, fed him, and let him rest before going to a small village to visit with distant relatives of ours. Hinrich had helped me with my genealogy sparing no effort to find the descendants of my great great grandfather who came from Ostfriesland Germany. What fun it was for Elke, Hinrich, Mark and I to enjoy an Ostfriesland tea ceremony with our Gerdes relatives in their home and to learn of their branch of the family. We were so lucky that Elke and Hinrich came into our lives. At that time Hinrich looked so healthy and Mark so sick. What a strange thing that Hinrich is gone and Mark continues on nearly five years beyond his three month prognosis.

I recall when mark got his three month or less prognosis and his saying something like: "Mom I am too young to die, dying before my mother and my older friends. I've just begun to get my life in order." I remember telling him not to count on death before me or others and that I might get run over by a garbage truck on one of the multi-lane streets in Bangkok where you take your life in your hands to cross the street. Ironically Mark has lost a number of close friends including young and old in the past nearly five years. It is inevitable that Mark too will eventually die but not before his time is up.

What is Mark doing now? Mark has been lying low or as he says: "I've been hunkered down: not going out and not spending any money." 10 days ago Mark discovered his debit card was expired and the ATM would not give him any money. I got a new debit card for him, mailed the card one day and mailed a package the next. The package arrived into his hands in Thailand in 5 days and the card in 10 days. Life is looking up as he now can withdraw some money and get out and about. Fortunately Mark has a number of good friends in Jomtien Beach and Pattaya and several would have loaned him a little money as they know he is good for it and they know Mark's mom and that she would never let him go without enough money to make a loan good. He just didn't want to borrow any money. Good for him. Mark says he feels good and life is good. He still has to pace himself to have enough energy and he still has pain.

Kind thoughts and prayers are still greatly appreciated.

August 27, 2009

Mark reports he is doing well. He called Wed. morning US time which is Wed. evening Thai time. He had just finished going to a Rotary meeting where he met a lot of interesting people. There was not long to talk because it was about to rain and he was on a motorcycle so he wanted to try to beat the rain home. Mark reported he had been to Bangkok by bus and gotten his visa business done.

It looks like Mark is feeling much better and getting out and about with friends. Last week when he called he was eating at Shenanigans. This is a nice restaurant with a very reasonable menu. I will double check with Mark the details but my recall is that on Fridays we would get a T-bone steak, salad, and potatoes for 200 baht or about 6 dollars each. If you are in Pattaya or Jomtien Beach, I recommend you go to Shenanigans which is reasonable with good service, however if you want lots of service and atmosphere and are willing to pay much more...go to the News Cafe or Manhattans. There are lots and lots of other real nice restaurants.

August 04, 2009

Mark is back in Thailand Again and it's 2 Years Since any Chemo -

Picture of Mark wearing a hat made by one of the Thailand hill tribes of indiginous Indians.

I was reading old blogs today and was astounded at what I had forgotten or lost track of. I was amazed that it has been two years since Mark last had chemo. His doctor in Thailand had wanted Mark to continue on chemo as long as he was alive and he was willing, but when he left Thailand after two years of treatment and sought care at the VA, the VA doc in Houston wanted him off of chemo and enjoying a quality of life which is difficult or impossible with all the side effects from chemo. While short on energy, Mark has still accomplished and seen a lot that he never thought would be possible over the past two years.

If you have not heard from Mark in recent weeks, realize it is not just you but all his friends and acquaintances who have not gotten a note. Mark had not touched a computer in weeks...too sick and no energy. Today for the first time he used his Acer notebook and sent some thank-you notes. Mark's sister wanted him to have an Acer since she and I both have one. Stephanie paid for it and I picked out a cool red one for him. Mine is red too. Steph has a conservative color.

In some early blogs I reread quotes of Mark writing his sister about why he wanted to be in Thailand once he was diagnosed with cancer. He was saying that people in Thailand have a different view of death and accept people dying differently (better) than we do in the USA. Since Mark has survived now nearly five years, I've had time and opportunity to study the Thai culture and come to better understanding of the Thai thoughts on death and the ceremonies and beliefs surrounding death as well as life. Hopefully I can accept my own eventual immortality and death when the time comes. Maybe Mark will outlive me and if not, I will accept and celebrate his life and his new adventure after life. He has outlived many friends and family members and who would have thought it when he first shared that he had been given three months to live. Thanks again to all of you who prayed for him, sent him cards, letters, kool-aide, licorice, small gifts, and pictures. It meant so much to him that people cared about him and wanted to lift his spirits. Hopefully Mark and I can do this for others in this period when he is doing ok.

Stephanie alerted us that Robbie, one of her young teacher friends and a wrestling coach when he was at Kennick High in Yokoska Japan, had died suddenly and unexpectedly. What a contrast in the length of time his wife Melissa had for good-byes (perhaps none) and the length of time we have had with Mark since his 3 month prognosis (four and a half years). We have to be thankful for what gifts we are given in spite of the diagnosis of cancer and all it entails. It is also joyous that Robbie and Melissa had an extended trip to Australia this summer. I was so impressed with Melissa's work in planning a wonderful trip to many places in Australia. It's not all about Mark or all about cancer but also about the young friends who have died and leave us with a sense of loss as well as the gift of having known them.

June 28, 2009

Mark got an encouraging report on his Pet Scan done at the VA Hospital in Houston. He is apparently still in remission and he will head back to Thailand soon. He will travel using his air miles.

Mark Presented his Rotary Club Banner
( Pattaya-Jomtien Thailand Club) at the University Rotary Club Austin, Texas on June 28th to outgoing president Linda Nowlin. This meeting was the initiation of new officers for the 09-10 year. Linda went over the club accomplishments for the year and outstanding contributions by individual members. Dr. John Doty, Austin oncologist for 20 years and now Executive Director of Austin Samaritans, a group dedicated to providing care to the poor and undeserved in Central America and elsewhere in the world spoke about the work of this group. If you are interested in helping in some way and/or for more information go to

June 09, 2009

Mark is Back in Texas and Checking in at Houston VA

Mark came in Tuesday June 2nd arriving from Bangkok and all turned around time wise. Bangkok is 12 hours ahead of us so when it is sleep time here, Mark is up and ready to go and when it's time to go, he is ready to sleep. He is working hard on turning his sleep cycle around.

On the 8th Mark saw his oncologist, Dr. Arce-Lora at the Houston VA. Afterward he told us that Dr. Lora has scheduled a pet scan for him. In Bangkok when Mark was treated at Bumrumgrad in 05-07, we wondered about a pet scan but at that time there was no pet scan in Thailand. The hospital had a staff member whose job was to help patients with arrangements for pet scans in Singapore or Hong Kong. A young woman with cancer being treated in the same clinic as Mark went to Hong Kong for a pet scan because she could take her two-year-old son to the Disney Park there in addition to getting the scan. She shared the details with us. There was the cost of travel, the hotel stays, and then somewhere around 1500 to 2000 for the pet scan. The first pet scan to be installed in one of the hospitals in Bangkok so people there no longer have to travel abroad to get a pet scan was I think located in Bangkok Hospital which has numerous facilities around Thailand under its umbrella including Wattanosoth Cancer Hospital which seems to have a Pet Scan or access to one. Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhava elder sister of the King of Thailand, was a royal patron of Bangkok Hospital and I believe it was she who was instrumental in getting a pet scan for Bangkok Hospital and the people of Thailand. She died of cancer in 2008 at Siriraj Hospital, the oldest hospital in Thailand located on the west bank of Cho Phraya River in Bangkok.
More recently Bumrumgrad hospital installed a Pet Scan. "The scanner installed to provide services at Bumrungrad is the PET/CT Biograph 64 TruePoint, Siemens’ latest technology ... PET/CT provides high resolution images even in traces of the disease as small as 3-6 millimeters in size. This instrument provides an anatomical map for pinpointing the ex-act location of tumors in the body with 64-slices per revolution in only 0.33 seconds, thus providing enhanced quality and faster views for both 2 and 3 dimension images ( "

At any rate, we are excited and scared too that Mark will get a pet scan and learn the results soon.

May 23, 2009

Mark, here with shrimp,
is coming to Texas June Second

Mark paid rent in advance on his small condo in Jomtien Beach, arranged for cleaning and bug spraying and is preparing to come home for awhile to get tests at the VA hospital in Houston. Pray that he will still be in remission.
Report on Recent Chaos In Thailand which reached Pattaya Jomtien Beach I've promised you a report and finally here it is. The Financial Times headline on page one April 14 said "Thailand gripped by chaos".... "Anti-government protesters and the military fought dramatic battles on the streets of Bangkok that left at least two dead and almost 100 injured." The red shirted anti-government protesters want an ousted exiled prime minister Thaksin back in power and called for the resignation of current prime minister Abbisit Vellajiva. How did this affect Mark and his sister, Stephanie, and her friend Rossina who were visiting him? Prime Minister Abbisit had arranged an Asian summit to take place at the hotel where Mark's Rotary Club meets on Wednesdays. Mark planned to take his sister to dinner at the Rotary Club. Prior to the Rotary meeting, the red-shirted protesters pushed past the gate guards and stormed the hotel complex. Dignitaries were moved safely by the government in helicopters and by boat, but PM Abbisit's car windshield was damaged. All this activity forced the closure of the Asian Conference and a change of meeting place for the Rotary Club. There were street closures and two way streets were changed to one way streets. Lots of excitement in Pattaya-Jomtien Beach. Mark and his sister and Rossina were actually able to buzz right on past the roadblocks to get to the hotel, in a hired baht bus, only to find out the meeting had been cancelled. They ended up at a nice restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms. Yes, Condoms! They all also had a harder time getting around due to traffic changes. Nonetheless it was a big adventure.
Addendum May 31st Cabbages and Condoms (C&C)Restaurants - The C & C restaurants were established in several cities in Thailand with all proceeds going to support the activities of PDA which stands for Population and Community Development Association. The Cabbage and Condoms Restaurants offer excellent food and promote health and safety aspects of condom use. Diners can get free condoms and the glass table tops reveal an interesting collection of condom packages. Handicrafts produced by rural villages are on sale with profits funding PDA's development and social welfare activities. There is a C&C at 12th and Sukhumvit in Bangkok. This is about half-way between where we lived in Bangkok (near the corner of Asoke or Soi 19 and Sumhumvit) and Bumrumgrad hospital (just off Soi 1 and Sumhumvit). Another C&C is in Pattaya and this is where Mark and Rossina and Stephanie ate when the redshirt anti-government group stormed the hotel complex where Rotary meets.

April 16, 2009

Early pictures of Mark in Cancer treatment. Contrast these pictures with how he looks today 4 years beyond early prognosis of three months or less to live.

Mark and The Mom in Amsterdam, 2005

Mark and friend Ruben's cousin Eugenio in Amsterdam
Mark had lost his hair other than a bit that was light gray to white and thin. He had lost a lot of weight and had no appetite. He started feeling better after visiting some coffee shops and museums and riding in boats on the canals in Amsterdam.

I have pictures of Mark looking sicker but even sick he always tried to look his best and smile with and for people. He would look really really good and often after the pictures would go back to bed for several hours and sleep interrupted by pain, nausea and vomiting.

Mark with former co-worker. Mark is thin, weak, and hair falling out in 2005

I took a picture of Mark at one of his low points trying to have supper with Charlie Praloomratana who, along with his wife, was visiting family in Thailand. They were former co-workers in the respiratory therapy department on Saipan. Mark had no strength, could hardly stay awake and got so nauseated he had to leave in a taxi with Jin, who fortunately had a plastic bag so Mark could vomit during the taxi ride home.

I want people who are fighting cancer and having a difficult time, or their caregivers, can to contrast this picture with Mark now in 2009- see that for some people adventures are possible, remission is possible, we never know what will happen, and it's best to hold onto some hope until it is crystal clear there is no hope . Mark told me in January that no matter how sick he was early on, he never once thought of giving up...never once thought he would actually die.

Check in frequently to the blog. We often say in our family: "Don't worry about it especially if you can't do anything about it." This may have been one of the many things that helped Mark: the ability to not worry. I'm sure he knew he did not have to worry about many things as his mom and sis would take care of whatever needed attention while he was sick.

April 05, 2009

Click on any photo to see it larger

Pictures from Mark's induction into Rotary Club of Pattaya-Jomtien Thailand - pictures taken by Graham Hunt Crowley one of the Rotary members. Pictures are of Mark getting his Rotary pin from the president, receiving his membership, and the dinner with fellow Rotarians

Mark's birthday is April 20th. This is his fifth birthday since being told he had three months to live. We were amazed he made it to the first birthday after that dire prognosis and the wild roller-coaster ride that year was. We celebrated that first birthday as if it were his last. This is not a bad attitude for all of us: to enjoy each birthday and each day as if it will be our last. Time and life are precious. Mark's sister Stephanie and Rosina, one of her friends who is a DODDs teacher, are in Thailand right now to see the sights during Spring break and they will celebrate Mark's birthday early.

If you want to send Mark a birthday card that would be wonderful. Mark enjoys home-made cards, notes, and pictures drawn by children or adults and loves to hear what's going on with you. It is the thought that counts the most. His address is Mark Richardson c/o Angel and George Richardson, Angel's Guest House, Jomtien Beach Road 131/23-24 M0012 (Chaipreuk Road), Nongprue, Banglamung, Thailand What an address! Even if you're reading this after the big day, send a note - he loves news and we're still celebrating every day.

March 25, 2009

Songkran Festival is coming to Thailand (April 13-15). This is the Thai New Year. The Thai people believe that water will wash away bad luck and in some places the people shoot water at each other with water guns and hoses and also throw buckets of water on passing folks It is also a time when many Thais return home and honor the parents and grandparents by pouring scented water over their hands. It is a time of washing Budha statues and a time of doing merit (good deeds to others). This seems like a good time to post some pictures of past festivals enjoyed with Mark's friend Jin (Yuwanit Tipkunok July 1976-June 2008) who left this earth way too soon. Pictures posted are of Jin, Mark and me, Mark having fun with the hose and Stephanie and her friend Phil in a dousing trying to hold their own with water guns. At the time, Mark was getting chemotherapy and was very sick. He was cold even in the hot Bangkok sun. He wondered if he should wear his good suit jacket or not to keep himself warm against the cold water soakings. I advised him to go ahead and wear it, to live every day to the fullest and not save anything for a special occasion. Right now is a special occasion.
Mark's sister Stephanie and her friend Rosina are going to Thailand during Songkran this year on their spring break. I think this may be the first time to Thailand for Rosina.

Mark's birthday is coming soon. (April 20th). Does anyone want to send him a card? He is doing well, living in his own apartment and doing his own cooking in Jomtien Beach, Thailand.
Mark has officially joined the Pattaya-Jomtien Rotary Club - hopefully we will get a picture of that occasion from Mark soon. He really enjoys being with the people in the club.

March 11, 2009

Mark is joining the Pattaya Jomtien Rotary Club. He's been to five consecutive meetings and received word he has club approval to join. Formal initiation will take place soon. Mark has been concerned that he'll not be able to do as much service as his Rotary peers in the club, since he still has to pace himself due to his cancer and after effects of treatment. He describes the members of this club as enthusiastic for club projects. When the president asks who will help, it seems nearly everyone raises their hands.This club does all kinds of projects to raise money such as road rallys and club members swimming the bay. The money raised is used for a number of fine projects including water projects involving taking potable water generator systems to remote areas of Thailand to provide drinking water to school children and others. Mark reports that he is excited to be joining this club and will participate in whatever projects he can to the extent he can. He enjoys helping people and worked very hard when he and his mom volunteered in the Moskito Coast of Honduras and Thailand.
Mark will be in Thailand until June and then will come to Texas to check in at the Veteran's Hospital in Houston for tests and evaluation of his cancer status. He will go back to Thailand as soon as he gets a green light from the VA docs.
I (Mark's Mom) am in Austin working at the community mental health center. High lights of the week include going to the symphony to hear the Charlie Daniels Bank backed by the Austin Symphony (tickets compliments of a co-worker whose wife plays in the orchestra) and being invited to meet Mark's sister Stephanie in Phoenix in April. Read old blogs and you'll see she lives north of London. She is coming to the states twice this spring for educational conferences.
Watch this site for pictures which Mark is sending soon.

February 10, 2009

Mark saw Dr. Theera Umsawadee at Bumrumgrad Hospital in Bangkok, We were in Bangkok yesterday and today. We took the 2 hour bus ride from Pattaya to Ekami Bus Station in Bangkok for about 3 dollars each then a 3 dollar taxi to our hotel and a 50 cent taxi to the hospital. This was the economy trip to Bangkok. Dr. Theera had ordered an x-ray of Mark's hips since he had complained of hip pain and Mark got the x-ray before seeing the doctor. A suspicious lesion in the sacral area warranted a Cat scan this am which we thought would be 700 dollars but ended up about 3 or 4 hundred dollars (11,000 baht). Mark is actually having joint pain in many joints. It may just be mild osteoarthritis but Dr. T. is like a cat ready to pounce on any possible cancer. He feels certain Mark will have cancer crop up somewhere eventually.Wouldn't it be wonderful if this did not happen. Dr. T. is very happy with Mark's overall health at present and pleased with the chemo regimen he prescribed for Mark when he first went to Bumrungrad for treatment. We are happy with it too since Mark is enjoying what has been labled as remission. We still recall times on chemo with the vomiting in plastic bags in taxis, complete loss of appetite, the weight loss, the dizzyness, feeling faint, the neuropathies, low blood counts, low BP, the loss of some hearing and lots of other side effects which we tend to
blame on chemo but Mark seems to think it was all worth it. Dr. Theera was so careful with Mark, monitoring him very closely during chemo, hospitalizing him for some of the chemo runs and 24 hour urines to monitor kidney function. Notice all the papers and journals surrounding Dr. T. He reads everything he can about cancer research.
Peking Duck We ate an assortment of appetizers and Peking Duck in a Chinese Restaurant in the hotel last night and stuffed ourselves. We took the bus back to Pattaya Jomtien Beach today. Tomorrow is my last day in Thailand. I am sad to leave Mark, the beach, the sea, and the seafood.
Friday Feb. 13 I am back in Austin and Mark is still in Thailand.
Friday Feb. 20 Probably should do a new blog instead of a post script on this one but not much news. Mark has moved to a new place that he loves. It has a pool which he is enjoying. Unlike the guest house, he is now doing his own cleaning and reports he has made many trips to the store for cleaning and housekeeping supplies. He is still close to the beach. I think he is still visiting the Jomtien Pattaya Rotary Club with a plan of joining the club.
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January 29, 2009

We are on the island of Koh Chang - Mark and I nearly cancelled our trip as Mark injured his knee and could hardly walk. We decided to carry on as it would cost us to cancel the car and driver we'd scheduled to take us to the ferry at Trat. Mark wasn't up for the minivan ride with 12 backpackers to save a little money. We had a nice trip from Jomtien Beach to the ferry and for 100 baht (a little over $3) we had a ferry ride. Our hotel is the Chang Buri which has accommodations on the beach and accross the road from the beach. We are in the hotel part across from the beach and is a very nice. The part of our hotel that is on the beach is very exclusive and very expensive.
At the other end of White Sands Beach are some colorful accommodations welcoming backpackers. Next time maybe we will stay there. Koh Chang (koh means island) is the second largest island in Thailand. Puket is the largest island and Koh Samui is the third largest. Koh Chang is part of a large island chain. We hope to get to Koh Mak which was voted to have one of the 100 best beaches in the world.
Day two: Mark is hanging out in the exclusive area of our hotel and sunbathing there by the pool overlooking the sea. Because of his knee pain he is not up for scuba diving and island hopping. I took him to eat at the Texas Steakhouse tonight. It is owned by a man from Switzerland who was interested in our Texas connections. The food and drink were outstanding.
I now know a whole sentence in Thai. I can ask where the toilet is. This is an essential thing to learn.
Saturday Jan. 31 I can now ask for ice and lemon for my drink in Thai. We have eaten so much seafood. The best are the scallops with garlic pepper sauce. We have rented a car for tomorrow to go see all of this island.

I noticed that Mark still has a string bracelet one of about 30 put on his arm when we made a visit to Jin's family near Korat in his chemo and radiation days. This particular string has 33 knots each tied by a different monk from the village temple. Mark has worn this for 4 years through showers, scuba diving, skiing and all the things he does.

Sunday Feb. 1 Mark drove us all over the island. You can't drive all the way around. The roads don't go through. We went down one side and then backtracked and went down the other side which is much less populated and none the less beautiful. Our first stop today was an elephant camp where we fed the elephants. For 900 baht you can ride one to a watering hole and swim with the elephants.
We went to several beaches and to a Fisherman's village where the shops and restaurants and homes are built over the water. We saw a little dog in a dog house built over the water. Continuing our trip up winding mountainous roads and hairpin turns, we had to stop for a monkey sitting in the road. We meant to get home before dark but we didn't and it was stressful for Mark driving on narrow hairpin mountainous turns coming back. I offered to drive but for some reason he turned me down. We had dinner close to the hotel at Paddy's Irish Pub and watched Newcastle play soccer against a team whose name I have forgotten.
Monday Feb. 2 - We took another drive, turned in the car, sunbathed, and walked on the beach. The restaurant was out of scallops so we had mussels and two kinds of shrimp. We have found no Americans on Koh Chang...lots of Canadians, Englishmen, Germans, Russians and French. Some of these European ladies even go topless on the beach.
Tuesday Feb. 3 - Leaving Koh Chang We hate to leave and I wish I had scheduled the car for two days later. A car came from Pattaya to pick us up at the hotel, take us on the ferry and all the way back to the guest house. It was about a six or seven hour trip. We stopped for late lunch at a Thai restaurant for Thai people and ate duck soup: a dark broth with yellow noodles and a duck leg and pieces of duck. This was the first duck soup I had ever eaten and it was good.
Wed. Feb.4 - Mark, George Richardson who owns the guest house we are staying in and I went to the Pattaya Jomtien Rotary Club at the most fabulous hotel, The Royal Cliff Grand Hotel,where the Rotary club has their own room. The man who built this gated hotel complex was a Rotarian and built a room especially for the Rotary Club. On the right is the President of the club,Brenden Kelly. Instead of the 4 way test, the national anthem is played while everyone faces a portrait of the king. Mark is thinking about joining this Rotary club.
Sunday Jan 8 Lot's of beach time since last note. Sorry about cold weather in other parts of the world, but if any consolation it is really really hot here right now. We are headed for Bangkok today. We wanted to do some banking tomorrow as well as for Mark to get an x-ray and check in with Dr. Theera Umsawadee and take him all the records from the VA in Houston where Dr. Theera used to work. It seems that tomorrow is a big Budha day and all bars will be closed which is a clue that the banks might be closed as well. We may have to stay two days in Bangkok. We will stay at the Ambassador Hotel which is nice and I will try to take Mark to the Oriental Hotel which is so posh there are fashion police in the lobby to prevent people in shorts from entering. Only guests going from pool directly to rooms may cross the lobby in shorts but they can not linger there. Mark has not seen the Oriental or some other places in Bangkok due to being so sick for so long while living in Bangkok for two years.

January 17, 2009

Watch for new post soon. Mom is going to a Thai Rotary meeting Wed. evening and Mark and Mom take off for some Thai islands on Thursday

Mark and Mom are Now Both in Thailand: Welcome to the Land of Smiles

I (Mom) arrived in Bangkok at 2:30 am January 15 after long flights. A delayed flight in Japan made the trip longer. Mark sent a taxi to the airport for me. I slept on the ride to Jontiem Beach. When I arrived at the guest house, I found an orchid plant from Mark in my room and a note to warm a mother's heart. It started with "Welcome to the land of smiles and the biggest smile is mine since you are here."
Up at 9 am and to the beach day one. Day two we took a motor scooter ride to explore the area looking at beaches, hotels, temples and monuments. The excitement of riding on the back of a motor scooter in Thailand with Mark driving is similar to accidently skiing the black slopes. It brought back memories of when he was in high school and had a motorcycle. He would tell me: "Get on mom. I'll take it easy this time" and then he would go like a bat out of hell through the woods and scare me to death.
We had a heart to heart talk about what his doctor in Bangkok told him. The doctor thinks this fight with cancer isn't over even though Mark seems in remission. We are enjoying our adventures and making ready for the battle. Thanks to all who are praying for Mark and we are praying for you.
Addendum: Day 3 in Thailand. We have a routine : I walk an hour then we have breakfast at Yorkies, a British place on the beach. We get the same thing each day: egg, bacon, sausage. a hot canned tomato, and toast. One day I got the "baked beans" too but it was just pork and beans out of the can. Between 12 and 2 we get a bowl of soup at a Thai kitchen. Today we went to the beach. I stayed all day. Mark came and went. He has adopted a beach dog and he reads and plays with his dog. We are thinking of going to Hua Hin for a couple of days. We will go see his doctor again too.
Mark Thinks Mom takes too many pictures This is Mark hiding under a book with his adopted beach dog in the background.
Lost track of time. We went to eat with friends then to an Austin Texas type open mike bar. Foreigners can't play music or do any work without a big fine so this was a charity event and that makes it ok. George, our Host at the guest house was fined 80,000 baht for working on his own house. I was sick in bed 30 hours, lost track of time . I'm just creeping out to take a cup of tea. I think it is early on day 5. Sidetracked now thinking about whether to go to a Thai wedding or not and how to get transportation and a hotel in Koh Chang. In the meantime we went to eat at King seafood. Mark is holding a two pound lobster and a one pound shrimp