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    Tropical Storm Tour: Thailand Part 30

    Monday, July 20, 2015
    Bangkok, Thailand

    A line of tuk-tuks in Bangkok, Thailand.
    A line of tuk-tuks in Bangkok, Thailand.

    After reading up on hospitals in Bangkok this morning, I chose Bumrungrad, which is touted as the best. Unfortunately, it’s also the most expensive. I tried seven or eight times to book an appointment through their web site, but every time I clicked the submit button, I would just get the spinning circle for five minutes. Exasperated, I asked the lady at the front desk of At Home Guesthouse if I could call the hospital, and she dialed it up for me. She was really nice and only charged me 10 baht. I was surprised there was an appointment open for the same day at 4:00 pm. After lunch at May Kaidee’s at 2:00 pm, I caught a bus number 15 to Siam, followed by the SkyTrain to the Nana stop on the Sukhumvit line.

    A SkyTrain station on Thanon Sukhumvit in Bangkok, Thailand.
    A SkyTrain station on Thanon Sukhumvit in Bangkok, Thailand.

    Stepping out of the chilly SkyTrain into the oven-like air outside, I schlepped around the bar, restaurant and pharmacy-filled back lanes of the Nana area trying to find Bumrungrad hospital, to no avail. Dumb me didn’t look at the map on my laptop close enough before I left my room. A couple of prostitutes beckoned for my business on the main drag, Thanon Sukhumvit. After walking in circles for a half hour, I asked some girls who worked in a pharmacy which way to go, and they pointed me in the correct general direction. A few more missed turns and unnecessary trips down side lanes later, I finally found myself in the gigantic main building of the Bumrungrad complex. It was so bewildering, I had to ask a man inside where the heck to go, and if I was in the right building. He said yes and directed me upstairs to the second floor.

    A view down Sukhumvit Soi 5 in Bangkok, Thailand.
    A view down Sukhumvit Soi 5 in Bangkok, Thailand.

    The first thing I noticed was how deluxe this hospital was, what with the big, plush chairs everywhere in all of the waiting areas. When I finished filling out my registration form, the clerk took a photo of me, printed it on my hospital card, then sent me packing over to the escalator up to the third floor. After a half hour in the waiting room of the ear, nose and throat department, which included free plastic cups of water, I got my blood pressure and weight checked. I was really surprised to learn that I only weighed 160 lbs. I weighed around 165 lbs. in May and thought I may have gained a few pounds since then because I’ve been eating quite a bit. But, no, I’m still skinny as can be. Maybe I should eat a pizza.

    A laundromat on Sukhumvit Soi 5 in Bangkok, Thailand.
    A laundromat on Sukhumvit Soi 5 in Bangkok, Thailand.

    Right around 4:00 pm, a nurse called me into the doctor’s office, where, after asking me a few questions, he looked inside my throat with a head-mounted light, then felt up my neck for any lumps. From that, he figured out that I had Pharyngitis and wrote a note for me to buy a box of Zithromax antibiotics and Difflam Forte throat spray. I was instructed to take two Zithromax capsules once per day for three days, and spray the Difflam Forte into the back of my throat every three or four hours up to six times per day. Then I was given a bill to pay downstairs at the pharmacy and payment counter. Down there, I encountered a couple of large screens on which each patient’s call number appeared, just like at the DMV. At least there was another field of huge comfortable chairs to wait in.

    After waiting for 45 minutes, my number never came up, so I went back upstairs to ask if that was a normal wait time. I was told to go back downstairs and inquire at window one. When I did, the lady there stamped my invoice and told me to sit back down and that I would be able to pay within 15 minutes. I had my doubts, but sure enough, my number finally appeared on the screen five or 10 minutes later. Hallelujah! The bill came out to nearly 3,000 baht, which is about $90.00. I asked the clerk to remove the Zithromax and Difflam Forte from the invoice, because they constituted nearly one third of the total, and told her that I would buy them at an outside pharmacy instead of the one in the hospital, hoping to save some money. I must insert here that all of the staff members of Bumrungrad I encountered were very polite, and a pleasure to deal with.

    A few of the food stalls on Sukhumvit Soi 38 in Bangkok, Thailand.
    A few of the food stalls on Sukhumvit Soi 38 in Bangkok, Thailand.

    Back outside in the sweltering heat, I walked through the back lanes until I found a decent-looking pharmacy, where I located the Zithromax and Difflam Forte. I was surprised to learn that they were available over the counter, and a bit disappointed that the price was just a little bit lower than the hospital. There was also the possibility that they were counterfeit versions of the drug, even though the Zithromax said Pfizer right there on the box. One time when I was in Myanmar, I bought a camera battery that, much to my chagrin, turned out to be a counterfeit and barely held a charge. Pretty much every product in the world you can think of gets bootlegged in developing countries. After I procured my medicine, I walked around for a spell to shoot a few more photos.

    Evening traffic beneath the SkyTrain on Thanon Sukhumvit in Bangkok, Thailand.
    Evening traffic beneath the SkyTrain on Thanon Sukhumvit in Bangkok, Thailand.

    Before I headed back northwest to Banglamphu, I took the SkyTrain a few more stops southeast to Sukhumvit Soi 38 to eat at the legendary Pad Thai Fire Look stall. When I arrived there, the chef, Mr. Dum, was just setting up shop. A short while after placing an order, my plate of super-heated Pad That arrived via a pierced up surly young server. It was pretty damned good, but not as yummy as May Kaidee’s. I have yet to taste any food in Bangkok that is as good as hers. Just as I was walking up the stairs back to the roof-covered deck of the SkyTrain, a totally unexpected and super heavy torrential downpour burst out of nowhere and completely dumped rain down upon the vicinity. Luckily, I managed to stay mostly dry, although a little bit of rain blew in from the sides of the covered walkway. Considering that I usually get soaked in such rainstorms, this was quite a positive end to the evening!

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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