Visit To Yanhee Hospital Bangkok
Not wanting to bore you with another bar, beach and babe story from the land of smiles I decided to tell a story away from the bars, away from the beach and away from the whores – a story of real Thailand- away from all the glamour, glitter and neon lights. We are all aware of the reputation Thailand has acquired over the years with regard to ‘sex tourist’ and ‘bar girls.’ So not wishing to add fuel to the innuendos received when mentioning this country I decided to write about a non controversial subject, however a subject that in the cold light of day will unfortunately affect us all at some point – illness. If you should ever become in need of medical attention while being in a foreign country it would indeed be a worry and this being a ‘guide to Bangkok’ I decided to give a light-hearted view on my recent experience in the city of angels and in the process hopefully giving any unfortunate farang peace of mind should he/she fall ill during there stay. Not having to scrutinize every word and make sure it’s suitable for others to read made a refreshing change. Hope you can find the time to read it.
Although I would not best describe myself as a ‘whinger’ I am clearly not the best when trying to deal with an illness or for that matter any pain whatsoever which has been inflicted onto me, all be it intentional or not. My suffering is very easily detected amongst any poor soul that becomes close within my proximity during these frail times. This is not to say that I am some kind of hypochondriac, on the contrary after all it would take a bit more than a few insect bites to send me off running to the hospital. Or so I thought…
Bangkok, Thailand. Anyone who doesn’t even have an ounce of geographical knowledge will still be aware that Thailand is a hot country and you don’t have to be Einstein to work out that with its warm climate it becomes just the perfect breading place for incubating airborne bacteria and nasty little creatures with the ability to carry and to transmit them. After visiting Thailand now on numerous occasions you would think I would be aware of this little fact and you would also be right to assume I would put into place any necessary precautions to combat them. So with this in mind and with my latest trip to the far east only a few weeks away I reluctantly went to visit my local quack to find out if my immune system needed any help to cope with the above mentioned risk of contracting some horrible infectious disease as it was a while since my last inoculations.
Apparently, the main one, Typhoid, was currently still serving its purpose within my system which only left a necessary booster jab for Tetanus. Great stuff not even a mention about Malaria or more to the point malarial tablets. I’m led to believe that unless you’re climbing mountains or venturing into the heart of the jungle Malaria inoculations just aren’t necessary when travelling to the majority of the cities and coastal areas of Thailand. On hearing this news I was extremely relieved as I have heard many tales of woe from people who have suffered with the side effects from this particular drug and being no Steve Irwin (crocodile hunter) I really didn’t seem the need to take such precautions. After all, I did have my trusty bottle of anti mosquito spray to put paid to any of the little blighters wishing to deposit a dose of malaria while extracting an involuntary blood sample from me.
Ok I’ll cut to the chase.
It took less then a week into my holiday for Mr, Mrs, Miss, Aunty, Uncle – in fact the whole dam Mosquito family to find out there was new ‘farang’ blood in town. I swear they must have been watching my every move as I regularly applied the Mosquito spray, taking meticulous care every day following the instructions to the letter on the bottle. They must have been in waiting, watching, listening even as I applied the last remaining few squirts of the bottle on to my upper torso, “I’m out of mosquito spray, better get some more tomorrow.”
My ‘tee-ruk’ obviously not paying full attention to my plea either because she was paying more attention to the latest tomfoolery on the local Thai TV channel I could hear coming from the other room – although on reflection more likely her lack of enthusiasm was due to the fact that because she had been brought up with the little bloodsucking midges she couldn’t quite see what I was making all the fuss about. My guess is that from an early age the Thai immune system has formed a bond with the blood thirsty critters, some sort of truce, yeah I think a truce and in return for the mosquitoes not biting them Thai nationals would provide stupid farangs by their thousands. Every day hundreds of new unsuspecting farangs would parade themselves half naked in the blistering tropical heat for the six legged flying disease transmitting gnats to torment them with their painful, itching bites as they feast on their pray of puffy pink swollen flesh drinking the warm ripe taste of fresh farang blood… Nice.
Well, that’s how I see it anyway; No sooner had I drained out the last drop of mosquito repellent did they plan their attack. That very night I’m sure the ‘word’ got out amongst the entire Dipteral insect family of Thailand who found it within themselves to give me a warm welcome to their part of the world. Or in simple terms; a rude awakening from the home of the Mosquito. Ah yes I remember it well. That night we went out for a meal, my tee-ruk and I. A beautiful evening sat under the stars eating the delights of Thai cuisine while sipping on a glass of wine. I distinctly remember the waitress sliding what looked like a small tray of smouldering charcoal under the table apparently to ward off any mosquitoes with ideas of joining us for dinner. How nice, so thoughtful of her.
The next morning as I peeled back my eyelids my attention was drawn down the bed covers… (behave; I’m trying to keep this story clean.) Further down than that – actually to my legs. They resembled the pages from a dot-to-dot book, there were more holes in them than a pin cushion. It appeared the flea biting little bleeders had truly had their fill and during the course of the night they had seized the opportunity to extract the red stuff that pumped through my veins. God only knows how or precisely when, but they had certainly had their breakfast, lunch and dinner at one sitting and left behind their calling card. I swear if someone had wished to write the entire novel ‘war and peace’ – in Braille on my lower body, there would be less spots! It’s a wonder I could stand up they must have taken at least a couple of pints of blood. I felt like a zombie from the film ‘The living dead’ more over, I looked like one!
“No pompem dear, I have cream.” My ever endearing tee-ruk came to the rescue. Like pulling a rabbit out of a hat she produced out of nowhere a small jar containing what I can only described as Thais' equivalent to Vic’s vapour rub and proceeded to apply it to the affected areas – which consisted of the entire bottom half of my body. I’m not quite sure what she was thinking or more to the point what I was thinking allowing her to do so but not before long my legs felt like they were on fire. I tried in vain to refrain from the terrible, incredible urge to scratch them. It wasn’t until we both agreed on closer inspection that because my ankles were increasingly starting to resemble a couple of melons that we should pay a visit to the local hospital. Brilliant, I’m on holiday in one of the most exciting cities in the world and I have to look forward to a day trip to Bangkok Yanhee hospital. If hospitals in the UK are anything to go by I knew I was in for a long day.
The thoughts in my head were not good as we drove towards the hospital. I was in a foreign country with the prospect of spending the rest of the day waiting, standing around in queues in a busy hospital. Admittedly I had tee-ruk on hand with me who would be my mouth piece and ears for that matter to help me with any translation problems I anticipated were to be inevitable. But nevertheless I had resigned myself to standing around in queues for the rest of the day while desperately trying to refrain from scratching at the blisters that had now began to grow in stature leaving the skin on my inner thighs resembling the surface of the moon. How long would I have to wait?
Luckily on this occasion I need not have worried. On entering the hospital I must admit I was amazed to find no apparent queue we walked straight up to the reception counter where two members of staff it seemed were personally waiting for my arrival. Wow, I was impressed no wait, no take ticket number 371 and wait as they shout out number 23. Not even a small queue.
After a very brief discussion between tee-ruk and the hospital receptionists I was handed over a tiny slip of paper from one receptionist and a pen from the other and asked politely if it would be possible for me to fill it in. Nothing too difficult, name, address, contact phone number and reason for visit. Even I could complete this questionnaire. In less than a minute the completed form was handed back to the receptionist (impressive eh?) Without any further delay she immediately called over her shoulder to a young girl waiting just out of view. The girl promptly came into vision and as she headed towards me I distinctly thought there was something odd about her posture it was as though she was almost gliding towards me. It wasn’t till the rest of her body appeared from behind the counter that I realized why. She was wearing roller blades! I barely had time to take it in. In no time at all she had emerged from nowhere and skated off into the distance down the hospital corridor, taking my slip of paper with her. As I looked at my beloved I really couldn’t help but smile, I was feeling better already. Ah nice.
So we moved on to the next stage of the hospital procedure for ‘stupid farang with mosquito bites.’
The second floor of Yanhee General Hospital was absolutely buzzing. People of what seemed every walk of life were milling around. Some sat obviously through no choice of there own while others chose to stand. I wasn’t quite sure which position to take as sitting or standing didn’t really ease the uncomfortable itchiness that was increasingly taking over my body. “So this is where all the patients are” I remember quietly mumbling under my breath, even though I do have to say it was blatantly obvious the number of staff still grossly out numbered the patients by at least three to one. Quite literally, everywhere I looked there was staff at hand. As my eyes scanned around the open plan level I was totally gob smacked. The first thing you can’t help but notice is the immaculate dress and presentation of all the staff. Every department and every level of authority doctors/nurses, even down to the cleaners it was obvious they all took very much pride in their appearance each one having their own code of colour-code as they went about their duties with what appeared military precision . There were drinks trolleys scattered around at regular intervals with what looked like an assortment of fruit juices on. The air conditioning gently brought down your temperature from the stinking hot heat outside and as I was promptly led to the ‘skin’ department I watched as the girls on roller blades skated by, carrying their latest dispatch to its port of call. Everything seemed just so efficient. In no time at all I was met by another two members of staff. “Sawadee Ka” they greeted me in unison with their hands placed together in front of their face. Their eyes lit up and their smiles just could not have got any bigger as they each displayed two rows of perfect white teeth. As one took my blood pressure the other weighed me. I must say I felt like royalty it did cross my mind at this point just where our own national health service had gone desperately wrong. Just by receiving a warm welcome and smile to match, I had almost forgotten the reason I had come in the first place. Admittedly I appreciate Yanhee hospital is not a government run hospital and patients do have to shell out their hard earned cash to receive treatment but still hospitals back home really are such a morbid, time consuming depressing place. You can feel the very life draining from you as you sit and wait endlessly while staring at the bland four walls waiting for the overweight, overworked, underpaid nurse in the undersized uniform to give her over opinionated, unfounded view on you’re present state of health. Not to mention the ever increasing risk of contracting the latest ‘superbug’ M.R.S.A. (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in other words to us mere mortals – filthy hospitals riddled with bacteria. At the moment throughout the UK it does appear you invariably leave the hospital with more illnesses than you came in with. But don’t get me started down that road … Back to the story.
Having had all my vital organs checked out with the latest in ‘state of the art’ electronic equipment I was told to take a seat and the doctor would see me within ten minutes. How disappointing is that? Only ten minutes to sit around in what was proving for me to be one of the real eye openers of this particular Bangkok trip. During my stays in the Thailand I have spent many hours walking round temples taking in the wonderful architecture and historical background. I enjoyed many evenings sampling many different cuisines in many different restaurants. I have travelled on many modes of transport, boats, cars, sky trains, underground trains, buses, planes, even elephants. I have been to shopping malls, bars, parks, water parks and theme parks. I had looked around museums seen culture shows, Thai boxing bouts and concerts. I have had my photo taken with tigers, crocodiles, bears, elephants, panthers, snakes and monkeys. Throughout Thailand I have become acquainted to numerous different nationalities meeting people from many different walks of life. I have stayed in hotels, apartments, and even Thai homes. The list really does go on and on. But I really must admit I didn’t think I would be adding my visit to a Thai hospital to the list of things to see. Ok maybe I’m over stating things a little, but I can’t emphasise enough on how making this trip to Yanhee hospital opened my eyes yet again to the way how we can learn so much from this ‘supposedly’ third world country; Thailand had yet again not failed to surprise me.
True to form in precisely ten minutes yet another nurse came through to escort me in to see the doctor. The doctor on taking up no more of my time was quick to diagnose ‘severe insect bites’ – well tell me something I don’t know! She scribbled something in Thai on a prescription which somewhat resembled an English doctor’s handwriting. Could it be that doctors the world over have there own illiterate, inimitable, incomprehensible handwriting that only they can understand? Anyway the out shot was that she prescribed me with two sets of tablets, a tube of cream, some cleaning solution and gauze. Total cost; = 420 Baht (£6, or $11 U.S.). Quick as a flash out came the magic hat again as my tee-ruk produced one of the many hundreds of ‘10% off’ discount cards she had accumulated. So to that end with the final procedure of parting with my cash and collecting my prescribed drugs on my exit complete, I was in and out from start to finish within 30 minutes. Not bad eh? Totally unbelievable, totally impressed and according to the smiling doctor – soon to be totally cured. Undoubtedly the best six quid I’d ever spent.
Back on the street outside Yanhee General Hospital life went on as normal. That is if you consider an elephant walking down the middle of the street normal. Well I guess, as normal as can be. The next couple of days my tee-ruk took good care of me catering for my every whim, gently cleaning my battle scars with the sterile solution and generously applying the ‘correct’ cream.
Now it does seem to be compulsory to at least mention the words ‘bar girl’ in all your submissions more than once so not wishing to be the one to break tradition my guess is that 95% of people who visit your site and upon reading this will see similarities and make comparatives between bar girls and mosquitoes. Starting from buzzing around outside the bars (and as there hasn’t been an anti bar girl spray invented yet) down to taking a dose of antibiotics to completely rid yourself of them.
But for me… well there’s another story, maybe another time.
In conclusion, I took the anti itching and antibiotic tablets prescribed and pretty soon I was back on my feet reeling in the delights of Thailand and ready to take on man’s deadliest foe… the Mosquito.
Don't tell me. In part 2 your legs fall off due to an original mis-diagnosis?! But seriously, it is good to hear about this particular hospital and hear it get the stamp of approval. It is not one any friend of mine has been to before.