Progress in small things
Thanks to all readers who helped me not to rationalize avoiding having that cracked tooth extracted -- the first night, when the clot was forming, was pretty weird, but all seems fine now; though clot management strategy dictates I not chew on that side of my mouth, and avoid crunchy things like fried insects, which are a delicacy here.* And as a bonus, when they took the tooth out, the radio signals went away!
So, I know the extraction wasn't childbirth, or even major surgery, but it loomed large for me. And I can unhesitatingly recommend medical tourism, certainly for dentistry, in Thailand. If you have major work to be done, I'm sure a trip -- with proper advance planning -- would pay for itself, and you get a trip to an interestinwifeg part of the world into the bargain! And if you're thinking of a longer stay, then access to good medical care is obviously important too.
And on another note, I've been here 60 days as of yesterday, and so I had to go get my visa renewed for my last three weeks. I had a little bit of an epic getting the correct forms, but once I did, the process was slick as a whistle, which is a good lesson: Never listen to whiners on the expat boards complaining about the inefficiency of the Thai people; they're probably the guys with the chest hair who thought it would be a good plan to wear a wife-beater tee-shirt and sandals with socks to the Immigration office. Represent, dudes! Represent! And I had a chat in line with a long-term French resident, a medical researcher, who said "I lived in India for five years; this is nothing," and compared the Bangkok immigration experience favorably to that to be had in Paris (and the French, as I understand, are known connoisseurs of bureaucracy).
In normal times, I would have gone to a humongous government complex in Chang Waettana, which reminds me of Boston City Hall:
I've always hated the look of Boston City Hall, and not just because of its Brutalist style, which Bangkok's Chang Waetanna does not share, though plenty of other buildings in Bangkok do; no, the inverted pyramid shape makes me feel there's something heavy and dangerous that's going to fall out of the sky on me, like an iron wedge accelerating directly downward toward my skull. Not the sort of feeling one wishes to have about one's government, no?
Which explains why I was worried about the renewal process, but without justification; as things turned out, I wasn't taken off to an office and interrogated by men in uniforms without insignia and rubber hoses. That will probably come at JFK. Kidding!
However, since Chang Waetanna had been "closed" by PRDC "protesters," I had to go to the temporary immigration office, up on the fifth floor of a battered and aging but humongous mall called Imperial World. With the skating rink on the fifth floor! (And, interestingly, lots of UDD (PRDC opponent) gear and merch in stalls next to the entrance hall to the office; clearly some sort of territory had been marked.
Anyhow, the line was well-organized, the "pick a number" system worked great, I had all the right papers, the expediter was a Mistress of Stapling and Stamping, and the immigration officer, who rigorously enforced order in the line, by the numbers -- which is great, in Thailand; no line-jumping! -- approved it all. Which makes sense, when you think about it, since what's another tourist?
NOTE * The "mouth feel" of the forming clot was super-weird, and I'm glad I just had the one tooth out, not three; four times the super-weirdness would have been too much.
NOTE Thailand is a monarchy, and the lèse-majesté laws are enforced, even against foreigners. Therefore, readers, discussion of the Thai monarchy or royal family is off-topic.