Jill gave me a choice, take the Expressway or the surface streets. For those of you not familiar with Jill I suggest you read one of my other submissions called “My Mai Noi Jill” so you can get to know her better. Looking at my watch and seeing it was only 10:30 in the morning I decided to take the surface streets and reached over and touched Jill exactly where she’d know what I wanted. She made a little giggle noise and asked me to make a U-turn on Patthanakarn and then take the flyover to the right.. away we went.
The ride to Bumrungrad is a monthly affair that I take to get some required medication and if the truth was known they’ve offered to just give me a year's worth of the meds at a time so I don’t have to go back each month. Some more of the truth however is that I like the place, its service, its style.. and if the rest of the truth was to be known I really, really like my doctor as she’s gotta be the cutest Thai/Chinese California med school educated woman I know, and somehow we always get into these personal chats about our families that probably come pretty close to crossing the border into being too familiar with each other. Is having each other's phone numbers on our top ten speed dials too familiar? Probably.. but I assure you it’s only for emergency situations where my health is involved. It’s probably interesting to note that after my third visit the ever present nurses aid doesn’t stay in the exam room any more, but rather just closes the door and leaves us to discuss medical issues. This was about the time my wife decided I didn’t need her to accompany me any more and I knew my own way. After all, she has better things to do than sit around some hospital waiting for me.
Anyway, riding up Phattanakarn is always interesting and Jill is nothing if not the perfect Mai Noi, only talking when I needed to “stay right on the flyover” or “make a left turn on Sukhumvit Soi 3”, otherwise pure silence.. well.. unless I ask her to sing me a song I’ve had her memorize. She knows about 150 songs and sings them perfectly and I’ve been told she can learn more if only I’d spring for a more expensive flash bling card or something like that.. sure, like I’m going to fall for that one and start buying her gifts.. ha! She’ll also read to me from one of the many books she’s memorized, but I save that sort of entertainment for the longer rides on the rural highways and not the inner city traffic. It’s safe to say that Jill and I have bonded in a big way.
Damn, Jill forgot to remind me about the traffic guard right outside the small soi going into Bumrungrad and I almost hit the guy which didn’t make him look real happy at all and I think he swallowed his whistle! I made the right turn into the complex and headed over to the valet parking. Imagine, free valet parking right at the front door so you don’t have to park your own car. Could you imagine this service in your home country? Heck no, in Los Angeles I’d be stuck in a parking garage two blocks away and have to maneuver through two sets of traffic lights and if my doctor doesn’t validate I’d be stuck with a $20 parking fee.. and then have to worry about my car stereo getting popped where you can only hope the thief is skilled so he can pop your lock with a Slim Jim and not just break your window. So, out of the car and I notice I have 300 – 400 baht in bills in a dash cubby I use for Expressway fees but I don’t give it a second thought, it will be there when I get back and besides, Jill will be staying in the car keeping an eye on things and so far the parking attendants haven’t quite figured her out.. she’s telling them where to go in a language they don’t really understand so I think they just ignore her.. but probably thinks she’s recording their faces or something. They give me a card with a number and I walk in the front doors leaving my SUV and Jill in the very capable hands of the valet parking personnel.
Immediately the place feels like a small mall. On the ground floor there’s a bank, some designer clothes shops, some places to eat, and it’s all very pleasant.. but I head towards the escalators and up I go to the second floor which has even more shops and restaurants.. and then one more floor and there I am where I need to be. I walk into the area and give the receptionist my appointment card and am greeted with a big smile and she directs me to the refreshment cart and a seat. I take a water and sip it while watching the reception room. Why do I watch the reception room? It’s a damn interesting place!
You have more nationalities in this waiting room than in the U.N. You have your punters with their bargirls still in costume there for their “fiancée” visa physicals (very amusing to watch as the girls don’t feel comfortable at all with all the “proper” and professional Thai ladies around). Then you have the really old expats who have probably decided to just die in Thailand and get wheeled around in the super-sized wheelchairs from place to place, and then you have the Arabs. The women are always escorted, perhaps the men think they’ll dash off into a nearby bar and go to work? For sure they don’t look comfortable wearing layer upon layer of black (black in this heat?) and their heads and faces are covered as well. Some have what looks like a white 3×5 card held around their mouth by a rubber band around the head. Are they hiding bad teeth? Incentive to talk less? I’m not sure but I’ve been in places where these ladies can make this shrilling sound with that card in place so maybe it directs the sound.. There’s also the constant reminder of the closeness of the Thai family. Lots and lots of dedicated fathers holding their daughters hands and taking them to their medical checks and even occasionally going in the exam room with them to make things go well I suppose. They also seem to take great interest in what birth control their daughters use and how to properly use it. It warms the heart to be sure.
“Mr. BKKSW?” “Mr. BKKSW?” Ah, they’re calling me and I noticed a rather stern looking nurses aid motioning me over to what I call the public humiliation centre.. There’s a scale and she weighs me and smiles a bit at the number. I tell her to remove 20kg for my clothes and she looks doubtful until I offer to take them off and prove it to her and then she quickly agrees with me and at least pretends to adjust the numbers.. and then there’s the “you’re fat as hell” chair that they make you sit in for your blood pressure. It’s a small chair to begin with and I’m convinced some 50kg Thai guy designed it just to humiliate farangs since if you’re hips are narrow enough to squeeze into it your hopes of then being able to close the “gate” which is a thick piece of wood that comes down across your mid section so you can lay your arm flat out to be worked on. This “gate” is very wide, maybe 10 inches, and about 99% of the farangs really need to suck in their gut so it can close if they can get it closed at all. I’m happy to report that after 8 or so months now on a Thai diet I can comfortably sit in this chair AND have the gate closed without sucking anything in. The nurse notices this and shows me how I’ve been consistently dropping between 1-2kg a month and I think she’s going to give me a lollypop for being a good boy. Looking around I notice other farangs were watching to see if I could make it in the “chair” without embarrassing myself, especially the Arab men who seem to have the most difficult time with their robes and layers and big bellies. So.. back to my seat.
So I’m sitting in my seat dreaming about whether my doc will require a hernia check, maybe a prostate exam, something good.. after eight months the most she’s asked for is to listen to my heart and this is disappointing. I suspect she’s saving the good stuff for another time however.. “Mr. BKKSW?” “Mr. BKKSW?” and the doc's assistant is waiting for me by the door, leads me in, and leaves shutting the door behind her. There she is.. just as beautiful as last month! Though this time I think I notice a warm glow around her as we sit and talk about everything other than medical. She notices the clock and quickly types on the computer asking if I require the same amount of meds which I do.. and then tells me she’ll see me next month and asks me if I still have her mobile number “just in case” and I assure her I do. I’m standing by the door and she approaches me and I look down into some very pretty eyes and she just smiles and I notice we’re kinda close, so I quickly open the door and say goodbye heading over to the receptionist desk to get my appointment for next month and my number card to take to the payment desk.
700 baht for a doctors visit? By medical standards that’s pretty cheap, for an “almost” “short time” experience it’s still pretty cheap.. so I head over to the cashier to pay my bill, pick up my meds, and head down the escalators once more wondering “what could have been”, perhaps in another life, before I was married, perhaps..
Stepping outside the air conditioned hospital I hand my card to the valet supervisor and he radios for my car to be brought down. The valet parking area is a subset of those upstairs, perhaps a more upscale subset as many of the cars are Mercedes, BMWs, etc.. but I don’t mind as they bring my lowly SUV down the ramp and right up to me and I notice the 5 foot tall driver didn’t even touch my seat adjustment even though I’m a good foot taller than him, that earns an immediate tip after glancing at my dashboard cubby to make sure the money was still there, it was.. I hand him my ticket with a 20 baht note and he seems pleased and holds the door for me as I climb in and then closes it gently. Looking at my watch I notice the entire affair took a total of 45 minutes and it probably would have been 30 without the small talk in the doctor's office, but sacrifices must be made.
Heading out to Soi 3, Jill asks me where we’re going and inspiration hits! I tell her we’re going home by way of the Expressway so we make a hard right on Sukhumvit to get to the Expressway and I call ahead to my massage girl telling her I’ll be home in 30 minutes if she has time on her books. She does and promises to be there and Jill makes not a sound. The perfect Mai Noi! I’ll be home in time to take a shower and cool off the bedroom before my massage and while my massage girl is very cute in her own right she’s not the doc.. but if I close my eyes I’ll have two more hours to think about next months visit and the eventual prostate exam or if I’ll ever dial that special number she gave me..
Trust me, the nurses are more attractive at BNH!