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With the New Year rapidly approaching and the time limit coming close to expiring on certain administrative duties, we decided that there was no time like the present for my wife to journey up north to Lamphun.  The two main reasons are that Tim needs to change the name on her ID card to reflect her marital status (why this has to be done in the province of a Thai woman's birth is just one more frustrating thing about bureaucracy in this country) and that she needs to change the name on the deed for 2 rai (approx. 3200 square meters) of land her father gave us.  These tasks need to be done at the provincial amphoe office.  She also misses her family a great deal and wanted to stay with them during her visit; this explains — in part — why I didn't go along as she knew I wouldn't be comfortable there (no electricity or running water) and the closest thing resembling a hotel is almost two hours away.  I also had an easy-to-cancel meeting this week that she didn't want me to miss.

Anyway, Tim left Friday evening journeying with her cousin — Ahn — to Bangkok on the overnight bus (for free, arranged by our friend "who-knows-what-he-really-is-in-the-military?", Opat) and almost immediately leaving for Chiang Mai on another bus (a very tight connection).  The timing and packing for this trip had been accomplished in less than two days (including a whirlwind trip to the supermarket Friday morning to buy groceries so I wouldn't starve while she's away).  We'd talked about her trip a few times but suddenly we realized that her ID and deed changes needed to be done before December 31st; she would need to leave almost immediately if there was any hope of her getting back before Christmas (and I have something very special planned for the anniversary of our introduction on New Year's Eve!).

Although I knew I'd miss my wife immensely (the first time we've been apart for any length of time since late June when our granddaughter was born), I began to look forward to having some time in the house by myself.  I thought I'd have time to get caught up on lesson/course plans, some "fun" reading, listening to music on the living room stereo, and watching VCD's of downloaded American t.v. programs.

Alas, tonight is the first time I've truly had the house to myself since Tim left.  First of all, Thursday night Nadia returned from her trip to visit family in the Isaan region.  It had been planned that she would find an apartment in Patong upon returning — closer to her job and Tim wouldn't have to drive her out and pick her up every evening.  However, we couldn't find anything suitable Friday (it is high season and everything is either full or too expensive) so it was decided she'd continue to stay here until she did.  She returned to work that evening so I was alone for a little bit; Ben and Nid were in town for the evening (they moved to Chumphon a little over a week ago) and invited me out for Mexican food at Los Amigos.

I then suffered from a case of Montezuma's revenge (which I'm going to rename "Thaksin's revenge" here, in "honor" of our recently overthrown prime minister) all day yesterday.  This was made even more "enjoyable" due to the fact that our water wasn't working (it finally came back on late this evening after being off since sometime Friday).  Although Nadia spent a few hours out looking for a new room, she kept checking on me to see if I was doing okay.  When Tim called me tonight, she told me Nadia was worried that I wouldn't eat right if nobody was around to take care of me.  That's just how Thai women are — they really take care of the men in their lives no matter if they are their husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, or just friends.

Anyway, Nadia did find a room for rent yesterday — in Phuket Town which is even farther away from her job than Chalong is.  But she is renting it with a girlfriend from her job so she'll have transportation to and from work each night.  The rent is 1,700 baht (approx. USD $48) but I don't know if this is the total or just Nadia's share; it does have a bathroom with shower in the room but no air-conditioning.  I can only imagine what it looks like!  She delayed moving last night because she said she would be too tired after work but finally left around 3:30 this afternoon (only after making me lunch, having me conduct an English lesson, and generally fretting over me for much of the day).  She didn't take all of her stuff (she must have more shoes than Imelda Marcos) and said she'd call later in the week to check if I want her to bring me any food.  She also warned/told me that she'd come over when she had any holidays from work (few-and-far between with the current high season and given the fact she just returned from ten days off).

Needless to say, I'm enjoying my newfound "freedom" tonight by getting caught up on computer work without the constant interruptions ("how do you spell 'restaurant', Khun Mark ka?", "do you want some drink, Khun Mark ka?", etc.).  But truth be known, it certainly is nice to always have someone looking after you be it your wife or daugther-in-name (if not in-blood).

I'm sure that Tim's best friends, Lek and Jum, will be dropping by tomorrow to check in on me.  Their idea of making sure that I'm okay is to bring me (very greasy and boney) fried chicken — why is it that Thai people think that farangs love chicken and only chicken?  (I'm personally sick of chicken and cringe whenever I'm given any; at least Nadia and Tim realize this so their unsolicited offereings have lately been beef or pork satay).

Well, as I've said, it's really nice to have people look after you but at the same time I'm just not used to it because of the years I spent as a loner.  Hell, I'd like to be able to lay on my sofa in my underwear without worrying about Tim's girlfriends dropping by unannounced...

I miss my wife and look forward to her quick return (then, she can entertain her friends and I can retreat to my room/office once again...).