Stickman's Weekly Column November 27th, 2005

A Trip To Hospital



After several years in Thailand, I have had the need to visit a doctor or seek medical assistance a handful of times. Given that neighbourhood clinics, the likes of Dr Wise here, hardly inspire confidence, I like most other farangs, head directly for one of the city's many private hospitals.

My first experience with the Thai medical system was with Phyathai 2 Hospital. Three times in my first year in Thailand I went along with an infection that needed some sort of treatment. No, not that sort of infection! Each time it was a throat or sinus infection and each time I met with a doctor who spoke passable, but not great English, who prescribed a heap of pills every time. I was never asked if I was allergic to anything, was never advised of any side effects and was never asked if I was on any other medication. Looking back at the medical care and service received, it was pretty basic.

The next couple of times I had reason to visit a hospital were for ear blockages. The first time was with Phyathai 2 where the service from an ear, nose and throat specialist was very good. For some reason I decided to try somewhere else and headed for Bangkok Christian Hospital. Again, the care was fairly good.

When I foolishly closed a taxi door with my hand still in the taxi, I decided on a trip to Bumrungrad which I had been told was the best hospital in all of Thailand. The doctor who looked at my black finger gave me a lecture about not getting to hospital quick enough and told me that other than painkillers, there was nothing he could do. I felt his attitude was more like that of a school headmaster who hadn't been laid for years, than that of a doctor. My initial impression of Bumrungrad, supposedly the Rolls Royce of Thai hospitals, was not good.

Some months later I was feeling slothful and generally under the weather so off I went to Bumrungrad for a check up. I waited an eternity and when I finally got to see a doctor she seemed more interested in the telephone than me so I left. Yes, I walked out! Straight out of the best hospital in Thailand! See ya later alligator, I'm outta here! Off I trotted back to Bangkok Christian where I was diagnosed with yet another throat infection, was given the obligatory antibiotics, and that was the end of that.

For some time after that I was a healthy lad with no need to contribute to any of the local hospitals' profits. Good, suits me fine. Never been a fan of hospitals!

A number of friends have at times been less than impressed by medical care locally. Medical botch ups happen everywhere, and unsatisfied customers in medical related issues tend to talk about it. One friend went to his local hospital with a headache complaint that was diagnosed as requiring a dentist's opinion. He had to get a heap of teeth extracted, but so extreme was the pain during the procedure that he ended up shoving the dentist across the room when she failed to respond to his request for her to pause. Another friend ended up belting the dentist during a root canal. I kid you not! WHACK! And then there is the awful story of a gentleman who lost a body part to what he believes was a misdiagnosis of an increasingly common complaint that really should have been picked up.

Back to me. My good health was not to last. A year and a half ago I suffered an injury while playing squash, and knew straight away from the intense pain that it was serious. I'd need to go to hospital to get it checked. Not entirely happy with any of the hospitals I had been to so far, it was time to try somewhere new.

I thought I'd give the misleadingly named Bangkok Nursing Home a go. It is not a place for old folks, but actually a hospital. A couple of friends had sworn by it, its reputation was very good, so it was worth a go. Entering the main lobby, it looked not dis-similar to many of the city's other hospitals, and truth be told, not nearly as flash as Bumrungrad. Had I made a mistake?

I was seen to quickly and when the initial nursing staff had a rough idea of the complaint, they sent me off to the orthopedic department. Yikes, aren't these guys the real deal, the mechanics for body parts, so to speak? I quickly found myself in the care of an orthopedic surgeon who painstakingly asked me a heap of questions in fluent English about what had happened, how it had happened, how it felt etc. He actually seemed to know what he was doing! He ran some tests, made the diagnosis and with various lotions and potions I was sent on my way, a follow up appointment made for a week later. I actually felt like I had been dealt with professionally and competently. I left BNH a happy camper, vowing not to throw away the BNH card they had issued me on that first visit.

Fast forward to this week. After a lot of coughing and wheezing, this week Stick had need to visit hospital again and after the previous experience, BNH was the obvious choice. Whisked up to the very flash 4th floor, the first thing I noticed was not that more signs were in English than Thai, or that there were copies of the Bangkok Post to read, or that there was a lovely garden on that level. Everywhere I looked on that 4th floor, I saw pretty ladies. Attractive female doctors, at least I assume they were doctors, strolled around the corridors. The pharmacists were pretty. The receptionists were very pretty and the nurses, well let's just say that they redefine the word beautiful! The feeling this gives you is something else. You already start to feel better before you've even seen the doctor! Intentional or not, I don't know, but it worked for me.

Unfortunately my leering wasn't to last and within 10 minutes I was in the specialist's office, explaining the nature of my compliant, having already had my vital signs measured by the said some drop dead gorgeous nurses.

After establishing the nature of the problems, I was sent off to the X ray department and then off to a nurse for, shall we say, special testing. I had to undergo a test in the presence of a nurse and I was scoring about 20% of what a healthy person should register. The nurse could see that I was struggling but encouraged me to do better. She even joked that the readings were so low that the machine must be broken! She joked with me that I could do much better. I tried and tried to please this drop dead gorgeous mid '20s beauty, but I just couldn't. She kept on encouraging me, telling me that she was sure I could do better, and patiently reset the machine after each failed attempt. "No, don't do it like that, do it like this", she squealed at me, with this huge grin on her face.

Back to the specialist I went, the nurse presenting the results of my test to be analysed along with the X-rays that were already displayed at the doc's terminal. After examining me himself, examining the X-rays as well as the results of the test, the doctor then explained the nature of the problem and what the treatment would be. A follow up visit would be needed and based on further test results, a long term solution looked at. I was then told exactly what medication I would be prescribed, and what each drug did. I was told why these drugs were chosen over others. I was told about the side effects and various other pieces of relevant info. It was so thorough, so transparent that I just couldn't help but be impressed. The cost was very reasonable, not cheap, but I have absolutely no complaint there. Sure, I could have gone elsewhere and paid less, but it's my health so I'm not cutting corners.

Isn't it wonderful how we can get straight to a specialist in minutes in a Bangkok hospital? I cannot imagine what sort of wait one would have to incur, and what sort of cost that would be, back home. I would go as far to say that having seen the way that things work at Bangkok Nursing Home, and the way that you are generally referred to a specialist straight away, how could I ever be content going to see a GP back home? The service at BNH is just so far superior that it is hard to imagine going to the bumbling, but well-meaning GP in New Zealand, being charged a King's ransom, and potentially being diagnosed with what is perhaps inadequate information to make a thorough diagnosis. Your average Kiwi GP just doesn't have all of the high-tech equipment and lab facilities that somewhere like BNH does.

But BNH is not the only flash hospital in Bangkok – there are a heap of them. The aforementioned Bumrungrad is generally considered the best, closely followed by a group that includes Bangkok Hospital, Samitiwej and BNH. Obviously there are also the specialist medical centres like the Rutnin Eye Hospital near the Japanese Embassy, the Bangkok Dental Hospital and Bangkok Heart Hospital. Of course for plastic surgery there are the likes of Yahnhee and Bangmod. For quality care at more reasonable prices, Bangkok Christian Hospital and St Louis Hospital are also recommended.

I have always felt that hospitals share many similarities with schools. It doesn't mater how good the institution may be, your experience and satisfaction will ultimately depend on the individual who treats you. Even the British Council, generally acknowledged as the best language school in Bangkok, has teachers who are not nearly as good as others, or who are perhaps less suited to teaching Thai students. So too it is the case at hospitals. You could go to the best hospital but get cared for or treated by a member of staff who is perhaps not as good as they could be, or not having a good day. This probably explains my average Bumrungrad experience.

For me, BNH is hard to beat. I would go as far to say that I was as satisfied at BNH as I have ever been with any product or service that I have bought in Thailand. BNH is truly a great advertisement for the rapidly growing medical tourism market, something that various hospitals in Thailand are actively promoting. It is one of those few businesses in Bangkok – 5 star hotels are the only other exception I can think of – where you actually seem to get the best of the farang world (quality product, high technology, properly trained and certified staff, systems that actually work, order) and the best of Thailand (friendly service, affordability and numbers of staff on hand). Thailand's 5 star hotels are world famous, right up there with the very best in the world – and at very competitive prices. If my experience at BNH was anything to go by, the best Thai hospitals might be of a similar standing.

WHERE IS THIS PICTURE Competition?

It was the Patpong Market being set up.

This, I reckon, is ULTRA difficult!

Last week's pic showed the Patpong market being set up and the photo was taken quite early, around 5:00 PM. This week's picture is far, far more difficult, and I would be surprised if more than a couple of people got it right. Thai towns and temples often look the same, don't they…? This week's prize is a 500 baht credit at Tony's Bar in Soi Cowboy. The prizes is only available to people in Thailand now – either resident or tourist.

FROM STICKMAN'S EMAIL INBOX

Pattaya is life with the volume turned up to 11!

I have a theory about all the suicides in Pattaya. A lot of people view Pattaya as a final hurrah…the last stop in life. They come here to live out the final months of a terminal illness, to make a temporary but final escape from dire situations elsewhere, or from just a general sense of desperation or depression. Whatever the specific reason, many people here consider themselves to be at the end of the line. They come here for one final blow out before ending things. It's simple – if you know that your life is ending, what better place than Pattaya to get one final rush of life before moving on to the hereafter? Another reason is that many people choose death over leaving Pattaya. After living here for years, faced with the proposition of going back to the humdrum of Farangland, many choose death. I know personally of 2 people who made that choice. Pattaya is life with the volume turned up to 11. It's hard for some people to fathom going on with life at any lesser level.

The cost of violence?

I am told 3,000 baht should get you someone who knows what they are doing in the fighting department (boxer etc.) and the recipient should not be able to stand up afterwards! 1,500 upwards for an average street hood. I thought 50,000 was enough to have someone dead but I am told this is only half of what is required. 100,000 is the minimum and more would be required for anything close quarters. I personally believe all of the prices I was quoted were well over the top because I am a farang. I work with a lot of rough workers who earn 180 baht per day and I am sure they would be more than happy to rip someone's head off for 10,000 baht!

That's a bit harsh!

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to read that the bars in Bangkok and Pattaya are doing great business. This means that the mainstream scum of western society are still persisting in their mistaken belief that they have discovered paradise and are therefore not invading certain other places in the region, pushing up prices and poisoning the minds of the local people against us.

Patong Harbor View Condominiums

Time and roosters.

Televisions aside, the whole discussion regarding Asians – Thais in particular – getting a grasp on AM and PM is quite interesting. I'm sure the whole six-hour clock has something to do with it. Before my days of living in Bangkok, I often travelled to the kingdom via airplane and would make my own hotel reservations a few weeks prior. I speak Thai relatively well, especially the basics like telling the time. But there was always some concern when my flight would arrive at 11:30 PM Thursday (for example) and I told the hotel receptionist that I wanted my room for 1:00 AM on Friday. Even speaking Thai and using their six-hour system, I would often arrive and be told that my reservation listed for some time on Saturday (or some time other than what I had intended). It got to the point that I would say it in Thai using the six-hour clock, Thai using the 24-hour clock, and English as well. My wife, who's Thai and well-educated, sometimes has a hard time grasping date / time when we're talking about very early AM times. The fact that in America, when we're talking about 1AM and we say "early morning," really throws off some Thais. I really think that this has something to do with the Thai concept that the day actually begins some time around when the sun comes up and / or when the roosters begin to crow rather than what the calendar / clock says.

The benefits of learning the language.

I learned to speak some Thai before moving here. I then studied to a point of reading and writing and my speaking is quite good now. I must admit it has opened some doors for me including 2 jobs. I have friends who can say no more than 50 words after living here for more than 10 years (even the busiest person could at least learn a word a month!). They do well getting along in Thailand but the problem I see is that they have to rely on other people. They are always asking me to help them or they rely on their girlfriend / wife for everything. I am very independent, and I like that I can do everything on my own. If you like to ask for help for everything in your life then there is no need to learn. What’s more, I am happy with the many experiences I have had just because I can speak Thai. I have met people from all segments of society (including the girl factor), I have been invited to more events and occasions and I get some more respect from both Thai and expats because my Thai is good.

Local friends?

Do you genuinely enjoy Thai people as friends? One measurement might be to count how many Thai friends you have. I know several foreigners who have lived and worked here in Thailand for many years, and don't have a single Thai friend. You could also examine how much time you voluntarily choose to spend with Thai people. How often do you get together with a Thai friend to go for a meal, catch up on each other's lives, exchange ideas, and enjoy each other's company, with no other agenda? This means getting together without getting drunk, going to a gogo bar, talking about a business deal, using each other in some way, or distracting yourselves with other entertainment. This means getting together because you genuinely feel relaxed with the Thai person, you aren't playing games or trying to impress them, you feel you can open up to them, you respect each other's thinking, and you are genuinely interested in each other's ideas about the world. I would guess that this kind of relationship between Thais and foreigners is very rare. From my observations, genuine friendship between Thais and foreigners is rare. Choosing a Thai for a day of companionship will be far down on most foreigners' lists from my observations. I don't know of a single case where a foreigner's best buddy is a Thai. In general we appreciate the superficial aspects of Thailand.

In some good news from the Pong, this past Friday the bars were still open and the girls were still dancing right through until 2 AM.

In more good news the VERY short skirt fad that started in Pattaya has moved north to the Pong and some girls' skirts are so short that you think they now have two more cheeks to powder before they get up on stage.

A Bangkok based website has erected a page with pictures of a bunch of Westerners roaming around the Sukhumvit / Nana area. The page shows photographs of older, larger Westerners and has some fairly questionable labels and comments attached to some of the pictures. There is a provision on the page for user feedback which has been mostly positive, something that surprised me. In fact I'd go as far to say that webmaster is putting himself in a slightly awkward situation and what I am sure was intended as humour may not be seen as such, not only by those pictured there, but others too. In all truth and honesty, I am surprised such a site would have been put up long before now, although I thought a bunch of feminists would have been behind it, not a 23 year old American.

The blackened, grilled burgers of the Big Mango, the newest bar in Nana Plaza, have been getting rave reviews. At least one Nana Plaza bar manager says they are better than Woodstock burgers ever were – and at half the price! I really will make it along to test them soon – usually the promise of a good burger sees me following up promptly, but such is my busy life that it will have to wait a few days longer.

And speaking of Woodstock, apparently they have re-opened down in Soi Thonglor, soi 13. Soi Thonglor is Soi 55 off Sukumvit. I have yet to check out the re-incarnation as it is somewhat away from where I like to venture out, but for old time's sake, I'll pop down and check it out soon. It looks like burger dinners for the coming week.

If you thought you saw men of the cloth, orange cloth that is, strolling through Nana Plaza this week, then your eyes were not playing tricks on you. Yes, a bunch of Buddhist monks entered Nana Plaza. But don't go getting concerned that they were there for anything other than religious duty. Pim, Angelwitch's head honcho, organised a tum boon (making merit) session and managed to raise 25,000 baht which was presented to the good monks after they had blessed Angelwitch and wished for prosperity, maximum profits, healthy girls, favourable mentions on Stickman and all the rest.

Rumours of a well-known Nana Plaza bar owner's demise that ran elsewhere online recently were greatly exaggerated. Said gentleman has been spotted strolling through the plaza this week, a picture of health and happiness from all accounts.

I was surprised to hear about the HIV policy of a particular Pattaya gogo bar. This bar claims to test all of the girls every 3 months – the girls have to pay 300 baht towards the cost. If a girl tests positive she is not fired but is allowed to continue working there. However, the bar cuts her salary which essentially means she becomes a freelancer operating out of that bar. Now it is great that the bar actually insists on the girls getting tested regularly, but really, what is the point of them? Customer safety and health is apparently not on the agenda! One can only assume that the bar is actively looking to cut expenses while retaining the girls' services – something a cynic could describe as a win : win situation for an unscrupulous bar owner.

Are you old? Nothing wrong with that, and with a bit of luck, most of us will live a long life. The quote of the week comes from an investor at a certain Pattaya gogo who said that "all Stickman readers are old and not the time of people who venture to his establishment"! Hmmm, even if all Stickman readers were old, what would be wrong with that?! Is this the first instance of ageism in Pattaya?

This week Ko Samui was hit by a flood that killed nine people and injured hundreds, Phuket was hit by a report saying the restoration of Patong Beach was still incomplete, and Pattaya was hit by an invasion of tourists. Nightspots throughout the seaside resort welcomed the belated start of high season, though visitor numbers are not expected to reach their peak until mid to late December.

However, somewhat worrisome to the tourist trade is the continuous flow of downbeat news affecting Pattaya and the nation in general. Events this past week included an oil spill off the coast that threatens to further deteriorate Pattaya Beach. An accident involving a Japanese oil tanker resulted in the dumping of about 30 tons of crude into the Gulf, creating a three-mile long oil slick. And as if to demonstrate that not all negative events are accidents, Pattaya’s mayor used the beginning of the high season to focus on the dangers of bird flu, the local police launched yet one more anti-pornography campaign, the federal government imposed a ban on the sale of alcohol after midnight, and wild rumors abound of a coup in the making. All this on the heels of last year’s catastrophic tsunami, continuing terrorist violence in the south, and an effective police clampdown on Beach Road working girls.

Nevertheless, revelers were out and about helping fill the coffers of beer bars, gogos, restaurants and shops throughout the seaside resort. Walking Street was particularly busy beginning midweek. The bulk of customers seem to be attracted to those gogo bars offering the winning combination of all-night cheap draft beer, erotic shows, and lots of attractive ladies. That last feature apparently is a problem lately as the growing number of gogo bars intensifies competition for pretty ladies. Many nightspots have the numbers but not the quality; others lack numbers as well.

The newly reconstituted soi just beyond Tony’s, off of Walking Street, is attracting some customers, but it’s slow to catch on because of its unlikely location. Many visitors do not know the new beer bars and gogos are there. Even those intending to go that far south are often lured into nightspots closer to the Walking Street entrance. One new spot on that soi, Club Boesche, is certainly worth a visit, if only to see a unique venue. Dancing girls (albeit not the most attractive) all over the two-tiered nightspot, shows, and a bubbly Jacuzzi on the lower level and a modern shower on the upper level – both of which feature very clean nude bathers. Club Boesche is adjacent to Catz, another new and attractive gogo.

The new Angelwitch T-shirt is now available. Matt has worked very hard to get them designed, printed and delivered with the new Angelwitch logo on them. The new logo is owner Matt's design. There is a whole range of sizes – none of this "free size" nonsense so prevalent with promotional shirts and polos here in Thailand. They would make great presents for fans of Thailand.

Don't forget that this coming Tuesday, the 29th of November, is the Jaidee Appeal JW Drunkatholon. It is the second annual Jaidee Appeal JW Drunkatholon fundraiser in support of the Camillian Centre, Rayong. The Jaidee Appeal is an initiative launched on the 31st of December 2001 under the BahtBus umbrella to help children orphaned by and / or born with HIV who live under Father Giovanni Contarin’s care. If you find yourself down in Pattaya this week, it'd be nice to get involved.

Before watching the movie "Harry Potter" there are the usual adverts and then on comes a new one featuring funky hip-hop style cartoon characters, an ad for mobile phone services of one sort or another. All very good, all aimed at the youth market, with the hip hop style characters and the like. What makes one laugh was the choice of music and how the advertisers played a specific part of the track from which you can hear such words as 'suck his dick' as well as a couple of 'fxxxs' and a 'fxxxing' too. Is the government aware of this "moral depravity" that could corrupt the minds of clean living, clean minded young Thai teenagers? The guilty party, the company whose product is being sold on the back of such profanity, well that would be AIS. Maybe someone should mention it to the owner of the company? Wait, isn't that owned by…?

As the political landscape of Thailand starts to become more and more interesting, a number of Thais have been joking that the name of the prime minister's political party should be changed. Simply change the "r" in the second word to an "f". I've heard this from a quite a few Thais now.

One of the big problems that Patpong has is reputation. No, I don't mean that it is known as a place for naughty nightlife and lewd shows – that is a given – but the reputation it has concerning bar rip-offs. As the original farang gogo bar area, and the place where tourists tend to end up, it is inevitable that there will be a number of problems there. The most common problems in the past were rip-offs in the "upstairs bars" where tourists would view the infamous ping pong show or something similar. All would be well until they went to leave and they would be presented with a bill that had a charge for the show, usually in the vicinity of 1,000 baht or more per person. Locals were usually able to get out of it but intimidated tourists often paid it and fled, often under duress from heavies who had crawled out of the shadows. That is perhaps the most notorious of all the rip offs. The other, and one which was even more common, was the inflated drinks bills, where tourists were charged 300 baht for drinks when 100 baht would have been the typical price. Funnily enough, I have seen heaps of people happily pay 300 baht, believing they got good value. But that's another story. Word reached me this week of a major rip off operating out of Sawasdee Bar. Friday before last 5 guys entered the bar at about 10:00 PM. they had a good time, enjoying a few drinks, and buying some drinks for the girls too. The guys started drifting off and the last of them left at 12:20 PM, meaning he had been there the longest of the group, and had been there for no more than 2 and a half hours. He was presented with a fistful of bar chits, something which surprised him as he thought his friend and already settled the bill. He was horrified at the total of almost 12,000 baht. Of course bills can mount up quickly in bars, but at approximately 100 baht a drink, the figure quoted was on the high side for sure. A protest was made to the cashier who insisted that no-one had paid the bill. He then tried to call his friend to check, but, you guessed it, his phone was already off for the evening! Given that he had no way of checking one way or the other, he paid the bill with his credit card and left – thoroughly pissed off. When he got to work on Monday morning he mentioned the bill to his friends and they then discovered that three of them had paid parts of the same bill at various times of the evening, adding up to a total paid of nearly 30,000 baht! It would seem that the cashier simply gave them back the same chits over and over again with any new chits added to the pile! There is no way this could have been a mistake. It was a planned scam, a complete rip off. The gentleman in question said that he would never return to any of the Patpong bars as a consequence – meaning all of Patpong loses. As already mentioned, scams are not unusual at Patpong but it is amazing that this sort of thing still takes place. Worst of all, the guys had been generous with the girls up to that point. So, goodbye Sawasdee Bar, don't expect to be on Stickman's favourite bar list!

Ask the Sticks

Mrs. Stick is here to answer questions surrounding anything that confuses you in Thailand, particularly issues of the heart. Please note that for general bargirl related questions, Mr. Stick might answer them. It has to be said that Mrs. Stick is not your stereotypical Thai woman. She is not Buddhist and she is not shy to criticise things about her own country and culture, although having said that, she remains proud to be Thai. Mr. Stick will try and answer the questions which Mrs. Stick is not so sure about. Please do try and limit the length of questions to Mrs. Stick to about 100 words. We get many questions that are entire stories of several hundred words which I'm afraid are just too long to run here.

Question 1: In several Carabao-songs, I understand phooying yak, but I don't catch more. To me, it translates to tall lady or tall ladies. Is Ed Carabao obsessed with tall ladies, or does phooying yak mean something else, maybe "high-ranking female professional"?

Mrs. Stick says: I have never heard pooying yak – this is something I have never heard before. I am fairly sure it wouldn't mean tall woman or giant woman – it is never used like that. I am unfamiliar with this song, but if you can tell me the name of it, I'll try and find out for you.

Question 2: I am returning to Thailand in December and we go to visit my girlfriend’s hometown to meet her family. It is there that I will also ask her to marry me. She pretty much knows but I want to talk to her grandmother who raised her. Can you give any tips on how to act? I am somewhat of a gruff guy, mostly out of habit now. I am 6’2” and at 250 lbs (116 kilos, I think), and 34 years old ex-army dude. Sometimes I appear menacing but I really don’t mean to it is just my “look”, kinda like a Viking raiding the English coast I guess. I have sometimes accidentally intimidated certain Thai people because of my size. My girlfriend thinks I’m a big teddy bear but I want to make sure not to do anything stupid in front of her family. What can I do to make sure that I don’t come across as an American elephant on a rampage? Even when people would wai me I go straight for their hands to shake it out of habit which has freaked a few people out. Any pointers?

Mrs. Stick says: Wai people a lot. A beautiful, slow wai will help no end! The way you conduct yourself, and your body language will also help a lot. Do things slowly, no sudden movements. Smile a lot. This is really important! Smile, smile, smile! Being well-behaved, and polite will help to offset much of this. Try and speak as much Thai as you can and even if you only know a few words, that will help to break the ice and make people feel more comfortable with you.

Question 3: On many commercial (or government) buildings, up towards the top, there is often a red "bird" mounted on the facade of the building. It has wings, looks kind of like a demon or something, and is wearing some type of headdress. What is this bird? I assume it is a Thai symbol / mascot of some type. Does it have a name? Is there a story behind it?

Mrs. Stick says: I am not 100% sure on this but if you mean this bird pictured here, this is a symbol that whatever it is attached to belongs to the government. The message underneath the bird translates as "under royal patronage".

Thanks for all of the feedback on the re-design of the site. It is coming along ok and most of the feedback has been positive. A few readers alerted me to a few bits and pieces that they felt could be improved upon and I'll certainly act on some of these suggestions. As always, your feedback about any aspects of this site is both welcome and appreciated. Also, if you have any Thailand hospital stories, do let us know. Short stories I'll run in the readers' emails next week and anything longer will go in the readers' submissions.

Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick

Thanks go out to Mr. Write, Claymore and Bkk Grasshopper.