Hey Everyone, RB40Jr and I are heading off to Thailand for 5 weeks! We’ll spend Christmas and New Year there. It’s been very cold in Portland and I’m so ready for warmer weather. The temperature is just in the 40s here, but I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather. Unfortunately, this trip isn’t a vacation. We’re taking my mom to Thailand to find a better living arrangement for her. Also, it will be a good opportunity to reconnect with my extended families and eat lots of great Thai food. Mrs. RB40 (my wife) will stay in Portland this trip. She already used up her vacation days and she needs a break from us.
The main purpose of this trip is to find a better living arrangement for my mom. She was diagnosed with dementia earlier this year and it’s been a difficult adjustment for all of us. For now, we could take care of her, but it will be extremely difficult as the disease progresses.
Currently, she’s having hallucinations and they are causing a lot of anxiety. She hears voices and sees people occasionally. Now, she thinks they’re ghosts and she’s scared. Someone needs to be with her all the time. That’s me because I’m the one she trusts. These days, I can’t go to the gym or leave for long. I also have to sleep in her room because she’d be scared when she wakes up at night. Then she’ll come into our room to wake me up.
Here is an example of the hallucination when she was alone for about 30 minutes. Last month, she thought she heard someone yelling there’s a fire. She panicked and tried to get out of our home. However, she doesn’t function very well when she’s in that panicky state. She couldn’t unlock the front door to get out of our condo (it’s just a regular deadbolt). So she called 911 and told them there is a fire and someone locked her inside. I got back home a few minutes later and was able to calm her down. I explained the situation to the police and they didn’t have to send someone over. Anyway, she can’t be left alone anymore. She can’t tell the difference between hallucination and reality.
Tension at home
Another big problem is that she blames my wife for these problems. She thinks Mrs. RB40 dislikes her and is playing tricks on her. Occasionally, she’d yell at my wife for no reason. The paranoia is causing a lot of tension at home. My mom doesn’t quite believe that it’s dementia that is making her this way. She wants to blame someone and my wife is a convenient target. My mom wants to go to Thailand because she thinks it will be better there. In Portland, she’s stressed out and anxious all the time.
Lastly, she is losing her English. She used to be able to speak English well. But now, she would speak Thai to my wife and son. They can’t understand her. This is the biggest obstacle to staying in the US. There aren’t many Thai people in Portland. It’ll be very difficult to find help as the dementia progresses. Eventually, she’ll probably have to go to a nursing home and I don’t see how she can stay there without the ability to communicate. That’s why we’re taking this trip to figure out a better living arrangement in Thailand. At least, she’ll be able to communicate.
Alright, on to the trip schedule.
This trip will be pretty complicated because we want to go visit my mom’s siblings. Also, I want to check out a few nursing homes along the way to see if they’re any good.
Part 1 – visit my mom’s family (10 days)
This first part of the trip will be pretty quick. I think it’ll take about 10 days to visit all my mom’s siblings.
- Our first stop is in Bangkok. We’ll be there just a day or two to see my uncle and visit a nursing home near his home.
- Next stop will be Nonthaburi. We’ll visit 2 of my mom’s siblings and check out another nursing home. We also need to do some legal paperwork for RB40Jr. In case he ever wants to live in Thailand in the future, he can do so without any issue.
- Rayong is next. We’ll visit my aunt here and relax at the beach for a few days. This province has beaches, but there aren’t many foreign tourists. I guess it’s not as nice as further south. Lots of Thai tourists come here to get away from Bangkok because Rayong is within driving distance.
- We’ll head to Chonburi after Rayong. My mom grew up there and one of her brothers still lives in the area. He runs the shop that they were all born in. There is a shop downstairs and a living area upstairs. They have been renting that shop space for more than 70 years! My mom said the owner refuses to sell. Wow, talk about long-term investment.
Part 2 – Chiang Mai (15 days)
After that, we’ll head up to Chiang Mai. My dad will come to meet us in Bangkok and we’ll take a road trip up to Chiang Mai. He wants to visit a few places along the way, but we’ll see how my mom is doing by then. If she’s okay, then we can take a slow road trip up north. If not, we’ll hustle up to Chiang Mai quickly.
Once we arrive in Chiang Mai, we’ll focus on my mom’s health. We’ll need to find her a new primary care physician, neurologist, dentist, and glaucoma specialist. I got a 90-day vacation prescription for her so she doesn’t have to worry about medication for a while. My mom will stay with my dad in Chiang Mai. I’m not sure if this will work out because my dad isn’t a patient person. We’ll try and see how it goes. I’ll come back to Thailand in the summer and figure something else out if this doesn’t work.
My dad and my mom’s siblings are all against sending her to a nursing home. The culture doesn’t accept it. Traditionally, the kids take care of the parent no matter how difficult it is. However, the times they are a-changin’. There are more nursing homes in Thailand now. People live longer and they have more health problems. Sometimes, the kids just can’t care for their parents. Also, I don’t think they understand how stressful dementia can be.
We’ll be in Chiang Mai for about 15 days. There are quite a few festivals going on around New Year so RB40Jr should have plenty of things to do.
Part 3 – Phuket and Bangkok (7 days)
After Chiang Mai, RB40Jr and I are going on a little adventure.
First, we’ll take the overnight sleeper train to Bangkok. We’ll fly out to Phuket the same morning we arrive in Bangkok. This is a bit of a snafu. It would have been easier to fly straight to Phuket from Chiang Mai. However, my dad already got us the nonrefundable train tickets. I’m fine with that, though. I used to take the overnight train between Chiang Mai and Bangkok when I was a kid. It’s always a lot of fun to go on those trips. RB40Jr took the train on our previous trip and he enjoyed it.
In Phuket, we’ll stay at Kata beach for 4 nights. This is the quiet part of Phuket so we won’t have to deal with the party scene. The last time I visited Phuket was in 2004. It was already built up then, but now it seems to be completely overrun by tourists. We’ll see how it goes.
After Phuket, we’ll fly back to Bangkok and spend a few nights there. My main goal is to eat as much delicious Thai food as I can. We’ll stay in the Bang Rak area and there are a bunch of awesome local eateries in the area. Here are some of the restaurants I plan to try.
- 100 Mahaseth – Upscale Isan restaurant.
- Baan Pad Thai – Upscale Pad Thai restaurant.
- Tealicious – Thai food.
- Chareon Saeng Silom – Braised pig leg.
- Prachak Pet Yang – Roast duck.
Part 4 – Hong Kong (20 hours)
Lastly, we have a 20-hour layover in Hong Kong. I booked us a room in a small hostel in Tsim Sha Tsui. We’ll try to visit a few sights nearby but probably won’t make it to Hong Kong island this trip. RB40Jr’s favorite food is dim sum so we’ll try to find a good place to eat. I read that Tim Ho Wan is a good dim sum place. It’s also one of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants in the world! Mmm… delicious and cheap, I can’t wait. Let me know if you have a good recommendation for dim sum near Tsim Sha Tsui.
That’s it for the trip. We’ll be back in Portland in 5 weeks. I’ll try to post once per week while we’re overseas, but I might not be able to do it. Let me know if you have any questions about Thailand and I’ll try to answer them.
Alright, thanks for listening. This is one good thing about having a blog. I can write about my adversity rather than talking to a psychologist about it. We’ll try to stay positive and make the best of it.
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Image by Alexandr Padvalny
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