The new experiences mount every day.
Last Monday, Theresa and I went to the U.S. Embassy to get some documents that I need for my work permit certified. Security was quite tight, but we were able to get in and out within about an hour or so.
After the embassy, we went to the BNH Hospital, which is virtually across the street from our apartment, so that I could get the medical certificate that I also need for the work permit. BNH, formerly Bangkok Nursing Home Hospital, was set up over 100 years ago to provide health services to ex-pats. While it is open to anyone today, I have heard from some of my colleagues that it is an expensive place for locals to get health care — it is viewed as a farang hospital. Let me relate my story and you can judge for yourself.
I arrived about 9:30 a.m. and I did not have an appointment. I checked in at the registration desk and they took some basic information from me. Within minutes, I was being taken care of. First, a nurse weighed me and measured my height and then took readings of my heart beat and blood pressure. Let me note that the nurses actually looked professional — white hat and sharp looking dresses, not those crappy looking, god-awful scrubs that seem to be de rigueur for any medical person in the U.S. no matter how unlikely that they will ever come in contact with blood or other bodily fluids. Anyways, I digress, but it sure is nice to deal with professionals who dress the part.
Next, I needed some lab work, so a couple of vials of blood were drawn. I also needed a chest X-Ray (to check for tuberculosis, I think), so I was taken to the radiologist. Since I had to wait about 10 minutes to see an internist, the hospital staff gave me a voucher that I could use for a snack. There was a waiting area on the same floor, so I had some fruit, water and a coffee. The doctor was ready before I was, but I was told to finish my snack and that the doctor would wait. After I finished, I went and had a brief physical exam. I was done 90 minutes after I arrived and I was told that I could come back in about an hour to get the results. (My driver chased these down for me. For those of you who care, I do not have tuberculosis, leprosy, syphilis, elephantiasis, narcotic addition or habitual alcoholism.) The total cost — not a co-pay but the total cost –was 1,560 ThB (US$52), and they gave us free parking!
Later in the week, Theresa and I went out to dinner in Patpong, an “entertainment” district not too far from the apartment. We had a fabulous meal at a small French restaurant (Le Bouchon), but the local color is what made the night most interesting.
Patpong arose as a red light district during the Vietnam war when U.S. GIs would come to Thailand on R&R. Nowadays, it has a mix of adult entertainment — go-go bars; young women who can apparently perform amazing feats with their genitalia if the menus that the touts show can be believed; “ladyboys” or katoey; and, of course, the ubiquitous working girls — but also a thriving night-time market where you can buy knock-offs of virtually any brand name product that you want. Indeed, I picked up a genuine, 100% phony, Mont Blanc pen for myself for a mere $12. While I probably over paid by at least $6, I will have far less anxiety if I misplace this fine writing instrument than I would if I paid several hundred dollars for the real thing.
Kop Khun Krab.
© 2011 Kurt Brown. All rights reserved.