Knocked up in Bangkok!
So where do I begin with this announcement? Firstly, it should be stated that in Bangkok as an Englishman I am a farang, which is pretty much the same for anybody here that is not Thai. My being here unraveled after a chain of disappointing events. I fell in love with Thailand 20 years ago and believed it is here I would find peace. I am impecunious and my income titters on the edge. My purpose coming here was to grant my Thai girlfriend an opportunity to make up for the wrongs that have struck her down in life. However, my girlfriend is knocked up in Bangkok. This was never in the design. My passport was cancelled and I was down to 200 baht (£4). Fortunately our hotel was paid up for the month and I hoped for more money to arrive soon. Hopefully my passport would arrive before our hotel stay ended.
I am 44 years old and did not believe I would have children at this point in my life. I gave up that idea by the time I was 40. I believed I’d escaped the responsibly and the potential resentment children can posses towards their parents, and most notably, fathers. My mother is a triplet and my eldest sister joked that if I did have children it will be in the form of three at once.
Each day my ever moodier girlfriend appeared to show incredible size for the duration of her pregnancy. I was confident of when the conception occurred, which I believed was in Phuket (Yep, Fucket) <Common misconception from foreigners about how it is pronounced when it should be pronounced "poo-get" – Stick>. Her assurances following the organic procedure claimed she had taken the pill. This struck me as a surprise since I had no knowledge she’d acquired the necessary medication once we’d arrived back in Thailand. We ran out in the UK and did not wish to collect a product not prescribed by a doctor for obvious reasons and resorted to artificial protection. However, as I continue to write my feeble explanation I feel myself regaled by the cries of, ‘Idiot!’/
So, having received some money we eventually ventured to the hospital. Fortunately I had procured a small amount of money from a helpful source which left my account in £49 credit. The previous day our shopping came to 2445 baht (about £49). This was by chance and our huge amount of shopping was impressively double compared with the UK. Still, since my employer had informed me my outstanding pay would be released following the collection of the company car, then to avoid further charges in transaction fees I withdrew my daily limit from my bank account. Of course the promised money had not been received. However, my overdraft sufficed and the money was essential so as bring my heavily pregnant girlfriend to hospital.
Now, bearing in mind my partner has already birthed children (she only cares for one and the others taken from her by former partners, which is another tale – yep, I’m an idiot), you would expect she has some sound prior knowledge as to the proceeds of maternal care from antenatal to postnatal. Being as she is Thai she would also have sound knowledge as to the practices of GPs and hospitals of this land; of course she speaks the language, and since she is Thai, also well versed in Thai culture and tradition. She has a large extended family; she is gregarious and friendly and enjoys a large social network. The only significant challenge is that she is in the Thai capital which she is not familiar with. However, she has a brother here and friends; friends that are happy to socialise and know the area well such as a venue for a good party. In a nutshell she would have a good idea of what to do and who to turn to for advice. Nothing was forthcoming in that department therefore I asked her to enquire with the reception desk. The three ladies attending were very helpful and advised, ‘There are many places for this in Bangkok.’ Of course, that was followed up with a bright and dazzling smile to add to their useless support.
As a result I used the wonders of Google, a feature also available to my Thai girlfriend on the latest iPhone model I provided for her. Using his marvelous and heavily underutilised feature (here apparently) I discovered a hospital rated by foreigners that happened to be close to the site I would be collecting my passport from. It all made sense and off we went.
To make more of a day it and add to the experience I decided we would use the MRT (and it was cheaper, but she only saw it as such since it avoided the convenience of a taxi without the worry of it costing her either way). It is the favoured mode of transport in the city since it avoids the awful congestion of Bangkok. There was a free shuttle bus to the MRT station and I saw we could utilise the Skytrain from the hospital back to our entry point. The two stops required on the MRT were 32 pence each there and the same on our return. The Skytrain was at just 30 pence each for our return. Experience was afoot, and having suffered two days confined to our hotel (I was happy I had the gym and swimming pool), we were released into the fresh and vibrant world of Bangkok.
Once at the MRT she revealed a slight sense of anxiety and reluctance. However, her doubts were quickly assuaged and I purchased our tokens. I joked at the ease and she slapped me on the head cheekily. We soon found the passport office and I quickly collected it, notwithstanding the 28 floors which were superfluous to events. Bangkok is a massive place and surely the British Home Office could have located a more convenient location. Perhaps diving into the Chao Phraya River for example and relinquishing it from the river bed.
So, all things set and finally we could gauge just how far gone my partner was and her present state of health. I should say the hotel reception offered one good piece of advice in that I had selected ‘Hospital number one but expensive.’ That was slightly more helpful and came as no surprise.
We made our entrance into the hospital domain and it was clear this place was in another league. My girlfriend was in awe of its presence whilst I noted the site was more like a hotel than a hospital. The nursing staff was present in vast numbers and adorned in garments more associated with hospitality than a hospital. There was little between these effigies of sublime green and they hovered fairy-like in the corridors. It was tranquil and a peaceful place to die, as in accordance with hospital law. Our presence there was brief once we consulted with several individuals and were able to understand the price of a mere initial consultation. I merely wanted a health check and an initial prognosis of my girlfriend’s health and the progress of her pregnancy. However, this was all part of the package which begins at around £1700 basic. The life of a farang that can live a life of luxury in Thailand was placed in check. And myself, the ever-present failure, that counts his pennies when his pregnant girlfriend wants an 80p papaya salad, my heart sank yet again. Still, my girlfriend with her Thai roots and maternal experience suddenly had an epiphany: ‘Need clinic, not hospital.’ Memory had been actualised.
I used to describe myself as a laid back and quite nonchalant individual. Yet, being in this place has exposed the fact that I am far from that; the Thais frown upon public displays of anger, yet it appears that is because it’s almost on par as having sex in public: you have to commit the act under private conditions. However, here, it seems if the partner ends up in hospital following another beating from the husband, then, well, that’s their affair and you are expected to ask no questions. It’s incredible that an individual can be considered as a low form of life for expressing frustration and profanity, when an act of violence on a vulnerable woman is an act of consequence! Sure, it is embarrassing even in the UK to become overly vocal in public, but exasperated behavior is good drama and entertainment for many British observers.
My girlfriend was pleasingly invigorated with zeal once we returned to the hotel. She approached the reception desk with new found persuasion. On this occasion there were not three Thai women serving at the desk, but a single Thai man. He was somewhat camp in his demeanor (nothing unusual there) and was quick to advise us on a suitable clinic. He imparted his own knowledge of Bangkok and its services and was sharp in his capacity to make use of Google (Waheyyy). Following what appeared to be a well-informed conversation, my partner was thankful and came away with an address and phone number. She made use of this convenience quickly and we journeyed to the clinic the following day.
The taxi journey was swift and we made it to our destination in just ten minutes. We arrived early and were quickly attended to for some basic details. We had thirty minutes to kill until the doctor arrived and so we scoured the nearby area. My girlfriend was happy to identify there was Isaan food for sale whilst I was less happy to relinquish my wallet. Once we returned to the doctor we were seen at 6 PM as arranged. The ultrasound scan revealed she was 9 weeks pregnant and the baby is due on November 10th. It is not a multiple pregnancy as we were anticipating (but who knows). I also realised that the due date meant there was a good chance she’d still be able to fly if she was successful with her visa application in four months time. This only frustrates issues as we need to decide which hospital we should proceed with and whether the birth should take place in Thailand or to take a chance on a successful application back to the UK. Yet, of course, nothing is easy in this place and helping these people sometimes feels like helping a cow out of a sandpit. And what I find strange about this land is how quickly the days go by, and in eight weeks I feel I have lost eight years of my life! Peace is a piece of shit.