Sunday, September 10, 2006

Well my trip to Bumrungrad International Hospital was definitely the best medical experience that I have ever had! I did not have an appointment, and I showed up for my shots and a doctor’s appointment. I walked into the hospital and it looked much more like a hotel than a medical center (wood paneling and trim everywhere!). The woman at the entrance asked me if I had been there before. When I said, “No,” she directed me upstairs to “International Registration”. There I sat down immediately in a comfortable chair (no clipboard!) in front of a receptionist dressed in a Thai silk suit who gave me a one page form to fill out, scanned in my passport, and took a digital photo of me for identification purposes. Apparently this hospital is world renowned, as I was sitting next to a Kuwaiti and an African (I’m not sure which country) and across from a Saudi. After my form was complete (no longer than 10 minutes) I was directed to the Women’s Center on the next floor up. I arrived and handed the nurse my paperwork (which included my photo so she could easily identify me) and she asked me to take a seat. I expected to wait for several hours since I just walked in without an appointment and needed to see a doctor. Amazingly, not five minutes later a nurse comes by and directs me into the examining room and the doctor was in there! Yes that’s right! None of that American song and dance where they put you in an empty examining room, tell you to put on a piece of paper and then leave you there for forty-five minutes. I quickly changed into a (cloth!) gown and saw the doctor. The exam was very quick and then he sent me over to the nurses’ station to get my shot. The nurse again told me to sit down, which was funny, because less than five minutes later she tells me to come behind the curtain where she administered the shot! I was blown away by the service, the details, and frankly the design of the hospital. The appointment took much less time than it took to drive there and back. And what was the price for this excellent service? 2323 baht – that’s $66!! Yes! You read right, $66 American dollars (with no insurance!) for the appointment and the shot with no wait time! In New York I would normally have to wait one to three hours when I HAD an appointment and paid ten times as much! Moral of the story – all my medical care will now take place in Thailand. It is totally worth the cost of the ticket over there! I predict that within 15 years everyone will be going abroad for non-emergency health care. It is cost and time effective!!

OK, enough of my commercial for Bumrungrad Hospital, you are probably wondering what else I am doing in Thailand! Well, I got off to a slow start due to extreme jet lag compounded by crippling heat. The time zone is 11 hours different from New York, so my system is expectedly wonky. I did manage to see the Grand Place and Wat Phra Kaeo (place with the Emerald Buddha) yesterday, however. Both are AMAZING. I am attaching a couple of pictures below, but I will post more on my website soon as my fabulous Uncle Don has graciously agreed to help me set up the slideshow on kristinboekhoff.com!! I will send out an e-mail when everything is up and running…

The Thai architecture is absolutely stunning. When you walk in, it looks like the structures are all decorated with gemstones and everything sparkles like mad! (woo hoo!) When you take a closer look, it is actually colored mirrored glass cut into tiny mosaics. (And I thought the Moroccan mosaics were amazing!)

Unfortunately due to the sweltering heat and the 150% humidity, I came home at noon to shower (again) and ended up falling asleep until midnight, which was unfortunate, because I could not bring myself to go back to sleep again after that! Tonight I have made it my goal to try to stay up until 8:30pm at least. It may be difficult as I am already getting sleepy, but hopefully this blog and my photos (I have my computer with me this time so I can start editing my photos on the road) will keep me up!

Oh, one fabulous thing that I discovered today – Thai massage!!! (Sorry Heather, the price has gone up to $6 an hour; you can get a half an hour for $3 though!) This is now my favorite kind of massage. The masseuse folds you into different pretzel shapes and then kneads your muscles at various acupuncture points. It is AMAZING!! My legs and feet were killing me after walking for about 6 hours in thinly padded flip flops and I felt like butter when the guy was done. I am kicking myself for waiting two days to go to the massage parlor! I will definitely be getting a massage every day if I can!

Everything in Thailand is amazingly inexpensive. Meals are $2-3, fresh fruit on the street is $0.30, and I can hire a tuk tuk driver for $0.14 (5 baht) an hour or a dollar a day. My Bangkok hotel (which is my most expensive one) is only $17.15 a day! If Bangladesh prices are similar, I will be in heaven this year!

I am hoping that I will begin to adjust to the heat soon. Drinking lots of Gatorade seems to help (as usual), but I come home in the middle of the day swimming in sweat. I then shower, put on another set of clothes, and go out again. Walking makes it worse; air conditioning makes it better. Note to self: get an air conditioned apartment in Dhaka. It cools down to a pleasant, less humid temperature at night though. I am glad there are laundry services all over the Khao San Road area (where I am staying) as I am going through clothes fast! Speaking of clothes, I learned that it is impolite to wear sleeveless tops to religious and royal sites. I had to go buy a polo shirt before they let me enter the Grand Palace. Of course I took all of my short sleeved shirts out of my pack to reduce the weight, so it looks like I will have to buy a couple of more cheap shirts on Khao San Road!

6:30pm and I am still awake…

Here are some photos of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. It is absolutely AMAZING!!


Sparkles up close...

Cute little devils on a gold chedi!

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