Readers' Submissions

Thai Hospital Experience

  • Written by Aussie Ian
  • January 19th, 2008
  • 5 min read




During my recent visit to Thailand, I had cause to seek medical attention regarding a blocked ear.

A very minor problem caused by a build up of ear wax which is easily attended to.

Now this was a pre-existing problem I had before leaving Australia the day before and whilst I was in no pain, it was nonetheless very uncomfortable as anyone else who has experienced this complaint will attest to.

So on Tuesday, the first day of the New Year, after a night of merriment in the Big Mango, {what better place in the world to celebrate} I set out to the nearest hospital and one that I had attended to previously with an eye complaint several years ago.

On that occasion, I had travelled up country where the quality of the water is dubious at best and no doubt whilst showering, water got into my eyes as one would expect which caused a reaction and I came down with Conjunctivitis, something I had many years ago in similar circumstances.

So on that occasion, my eyes looking like some junkie's, I went looking for a hospital.

Which hospital? Bumrungrad off Sukhumvit soi 3 {Near Nana}.

Now I chose this hospital several years ago when I experienced the eye problem because it was recommended to me by a friend and they were certainly efficient. The doctor diagnosed the problem and put things right with the appropriate medication. The cost, whilst a little high in Thai terms, was nonetheless cheaper than what I may have expected back home in Australia. But not by a great deal I must add.

After a few short days, the Conjunctivitis had cleared and I could see clearly again thanks to the wonders of modern medicine.

Fast forward to New Year's day 2008.

I set out from my Sukhumvit hotel, wonderfully located between Sukhumvit Soi 5 and 7, up to soi 3, turned right and set about the short walk to Bumrungrad Hospital. Traffic seemed to be much lighter in and around the hospital and as it was a public holiday, thought that was to be expected. Crossing the road was still a dangerous task as the pedestrian crossing signals were out, the controls having been taken away which left the hapless pedestrian having to run the gauntlet of the Bangkok traffic.

As an aside, if ever you need to walk to Bumrungrad up Soi 3, make sure to cross over to the western side of the soi at the intersection of Sukhumvit and Soi 3/4 {Nana} if coming from the east of the intersection.

Anyway, I made my way to the front reception desk and briefly described the problem and was directed to the second floor.

Up I went and was greeted by the sight of around a dozen or so people sitting behind a desk, bored out of their collective minds no doubt and all with computers in front of them. All were free so I chose the nearest and sat down.

I told the man behind the counter that I needed to see a doctor regarding my ear which was blocked. He seemed to understand and then said; "No HAB!"

"What – no have a doctor?" came my response.

"Today holiday. You can make appointment for tomorrow if you like."

Regaining my composure after the initial shock I retorted that I will think about it and left.

What kind of place is this I thought as I left one of the most expensive and prestigious hospitals in south east Asia, with its hotel like appearance, boutique shops, and best of all McDonald's, or is it Burger King? Funny I thought. The hospitals back home have just banned all junk food from all the hospitals in the interests of healthy eating…but well, TIT {this is Thailand} and it certainly is not home, which is why I am here, right!

So I made my way back to my hotel and explained my situation to the manager of the hotel who kindly offered an alternative.

She is a very helpful lady of Indian ethnic background who was more than willing to assist in any way she could – always accommodating with a ready smile, as were all the staff at this small boutique hotel.

"You can try the Bangkok Police Hospital. Not far. Just go to taxi outside and he will take you there."

She also wrote down the address for me on a piece of paper and I left the hotel, crossed over Sukhumvit via the BTS station at Nana, handed the note to the taxi driver and within 15 or so minutes I was at the Bangkok Police Hospital. {Ever wondered why you never see a female taxi driver in Bangkok?}

As one would imagine, the place was crawling with Thai police so as always, I was on my very best behaviour remembering where I was and who I was. A farang in the den of the beast!

I made my way up the small steps at the entrance to the hospital and glanced upon the attractive nurse at the front counter and explained the problem.

"Do you have your passport?", she asked smiling and in perfect English.

Oh dear – I forgot that one. "I have my drivers license…will that do?" I asked with some trepidation, the thought in the back of my mind that it is the police who will often stop farangs and demand to see their passport. If you "no hab", it could be the monkey house for you bozo.

To my great relief she said "No problem" the smile never dimming and after filling in a form with my details, and much wai-ing by me, I was directed to the ear, nose and throat department of the hospital for Thailand's finest.

I must have waited no more than 5 minutes and before I knew it I was seated in front of a doctor who duly attended to the problem with some kind of sucker device he had readily at hand and soon I was on my way down the stairs, ear now clear, however with a hefty bill in hand.

The cost?

70 baht!

Now in Australian dollar terms that is about $2.50.

The hospital of course was nothing like Bumrungrad. It was very ordinary, typically Thai it would be fair to say. Nothing fancy but certainly functional and certainly very cheep.

I hate to think what the bill would have been at Bumrungrad.

Stickman's thoughts:

Great story! Perhaps for the non-urgent stuff we should take our custom to hospitals like this one. I really enjoyed this story – and there is something about hospital or medical experience stories which I think has broad appeal to the readership.