Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Boy Who Dances For Monkeys

Peelawat and the Monkeys of Kumphawapi
Our 18 month old grandson, Peelawat, has been doubly fortunate recently.  Twice we have taken him to medical clinics to get his scheduled vaccination.  When he was born his parents were given a paper book in which his medical statistics are kept.  In addition the book informs the parents of what shot and vaccinations as well as when they are required.  His height and weight are added and charted on pages in the book.  It appears to be a very effective communication tool for ensuring the health of babies.

Twice the clinics have not had the vaccines so he did not get his shots.  Both times we took advantage of the time as well as location to visit the local wild monkeys.  Peelawat enjoys monkeys perhaps as much as I do.  Whereas he will run from chickens and cats that approach him, he stands his ground and often closes ground with the wild monkeys.

A Typical Private Medical Clinic in Isaan
In Isaan there are government clinics set up in various villages throughout the area.  Poor people can obtain free medical care there by showing a government issued Medical ID Card.  Duang and I once accompanied him to one of these clinics outside of his other grandmother's village outside of Kumphawapi.  It was a great place, it was packed with babies and toddlers.  It was interesting just to sit around and watch the parade of babies and children through the facility.  The rural clinics are more than just a room for medical treatment of the local villagers.  The clinic is a walled or fenced compound with a building for medical treatment, and a building where the doctor and his or her family live.

Freshly Powdered Peelawat Checks Himself Out at a Clinic
Since Peelawat has been staying at his great grandmother's home in Tahsang Village, we took him to a private medical clinic in the nearby town of Kumphawapi.  Medical clinics are staffed by doctors from the local hospital.  The doctors typically are available in their clinics from 9:00 A.M. after their morning hospital rounds until Noon and then again from 5:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M.  Various clinics specialize in specific groups or conditions.  There are clinics for babies.  There are ear, nose, and throat clinics.  There are OBGYN clinics.  There are fertility clinics.  There are General Practice clinics.  As people identify a need for a doctor, they show up at the appropriate clinic, sign in or grab a number and wait their turn to see the doctor.  So far in almost three years here in Isaan, we have yet to make a scheduled appointment with a doctor - if scheduled appointments are even utilized here.  If the clinic is too busy you are told of another clinic in the area that could help.  A final  resort would be to go to a local hospital to see a doctor.  Local hospitals are usually a last resort because they provide free services to qualified poor people there by increasing waiting times significantly.


Peelawat Weighs Himself and Contemplates the Growth Chart


Peelawat Checks Up On Another Patient At the Clinic

In addition to clinic visits, we also visit the monkeys on our trips to the Amphor visits and market forays in Kumphawapi.  Peelawat always enjoys watching the monkeys.  You can always count on the monkeys to put on a show for your amusement and entertainment.  This expression "More fun than a barrel full of monkeys" is a realistic observation.  Monkeys, especially the young ones, tease and play with each other while hanging from trees.  Monkeys are also very curious and clamber all over parked cars, under trucks, and on motorbikes to look for food or to just check things out.  Peelawat has now become a very accomplished monkey spotter.  He will constantly point them out to me and say "Ling, Ling ..." (Monkey, Monkey)


Happiness Is Being Amongst Friends

Besides getting excited when he sees monkeys, Peelawat will also breakout into a dance.  I am not sure if it is an expression of joy or is meant to entertain the monkeys.  Whatever his motivation, I find it amusing.


Peelawat Busts A Move for the Monkeys


Another "Monkey Greeting Dance" Move

Four Monkeys In the Park
In the central park of Kumphawapi you can purchase food, peanuts, to feed the monkeys.  Peelwat likes to get in the middle of the monkey feeding frenzies that frequently occur as people throw out food for them.  Peelawat is not intimidated but Yai Duang, Grandmother Duang, can only bear to watch for a short period of time before she races in to "rescue" him despite his protests.  Peelawat and Tah Allen, Grandfather Allen, then both get a lecture regarding not getting too close to monkeys.

Yai (Grandmother) Duang to the Rescue
Life here in Isaan can be different but is usually entertaining and interesting.  With a boy who dances for monkeys, I eagerly anticipate our next visit together with the monkeys of Kumphawapi.

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