my cousin eric chou the taiwanese travel agent called me this morning at 8:30, wanted to know my itinerary and what he needed to do for me before i arrived, like book flights or secure visas. sitting in my bed and still disoriented,


more days!

i was able to give him some information with the promise of a few more details i'd send via e-mail. he said he'd hook me up with some local travel agents in southeast asia, in case of emergencies i could get in touch with them. he told me how i didn't have to worry about where to live, that there are hotels for "US$40 a night." i didn't have the heart to tell him that i wasn't planning on spending more than $10/night at guesthouses. he told me an alarming statistic: asians traveling through southeast asia are more likely to be victims of crime, because the traditional "westerner" stands out too much and people are less likely to try anything with them, as opposed to asians who seem to be less scary targets.

i couldn't go back to sleep so i got out of bed to start my day early. i watched as an UPS truck pulled up to my street and delivered a special package on my frontstep. it was my 80gb vosonic multimedia viewer! it arrived in a fancy blue hard shell, about the size of an old-school cassette walkman. i plugged it in and played around with it for a little bit. there's no frills but it seems sturdy enough and gets the job done.

in the afternoon i headed out to the new england medical center for a 2:30 appointment at their travel clinic. i filled out a form summarizing my itinerary and immunization history before a nurse brought me inside. the doctor who introduced herself looked like natascha mcelhone. she was very nice and everything she said i already knew from my own personal research. she listed the shots i'd be getting today (tetanus, typhoid, and hepatitis A) and the drugs she'd be prescribing (azithromycin to cure bacteria diarrhea, loperamide a prescription strength immodium, and malarone a daily malaria drug). minutes later she came in with another doctor (who looked like amy pietz from "caroline in the city"), who went over everything again, providing a few more travel tips. this other doctor told me that normally they'd also vaccinate me against japanese encephalitis and rabies, but both those require a series of 3 shots that unfortunately i don't have time for, so i just have to be careful about petting monkeys and guard myself even more against mosquitoes in may (when encephalitis season starts up). the hospital was doing some sort of survey and the doctors asked if i'd be willing to participate. i said yes, so after they left, a young woman came in to ask me a few questions about my experience at the travel clinic. after she was gone, the nurse came back in to administer the shots. "which arm do you want the tetanus?" she asked, "this is usually the one that leaves you sore." she shot me in my left arm, along with the typhoid vaccine. on my right arm i got hepatitis A. it went really fast, the whole thing probably took just 30 seconds, she basically stabbed me and pulled the needle out right away, one after the other. she gave me my immunization records and off i went.

my new health insurance doesn't cover prescription. it's something i can add to my policy, but it won't be ready by the time i leave, and it'd be hard to do all that paperwork when i'm in tokyo and taipei. i knew the travel drugs would be expensive so i went to the cvs in porter square to ask for prices. the pharmacist said she couldn't tell me until they actually filled out the order, since pricing is all determined by what kind of insurance you have. flummoxed, i slowly walked home, trying to figure out some way that i can get a discount on my medicine. when i got home i looked for the prices online. 60 capsules of loperamide costs $15, 24 tablets of azithromycin is $187, and a 3 month supply of malarone will set me back $500. so just the drugs alone will cost almost as much as my plane ticket. my parents recommended that i e-mail my aunt about getting in touch with a pharmacist friend of hers in taiwan, maybe drugs are cheaper in taipei. by evening's end however, we arrived at a solution through some creative health insurance juggling, so i'm all set with the drugs now, expensive crisis avoided.

i tested the vosonic some more, downloading some photos and videos and audio clips from two different CF memory cards. it pulls them off pretty fast, and i was happy to learn that i was able to play the videos (.mov) and the audios (.wav). hooking it up to my computer via USB 2.0 was just as easy, the device shows up as a hard drive and i was able to throw in some mp3's.

i finished out the night by making my infamous anchovy pizza for dinner then watching the killing fields on dvd. it's good that i read up on some cambodia history before seeing the movie, because i felt i understood the movie a lot better. tomorrow, the quiet american.

by the way, my left arm feels like somebody punched it. it hurts! so does my right arm, but it definitely hurts more on my left.