Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Visiting the Clinic - Bangkok

What to do when you are sick in Thailand? Visit a doctor, get an MC (medical certificate), stay at home? Well sort of. The very first strange thing is that, no need MC to show your employer. In Thailand, every employee is entitled to x amount of sick leave. Some companies however will require you to show your MC if you happen to fall sick on a Friday or Monday. So if you don't feel like going to work, just call in sick with a silly excuse. The privilege of a Thai employee.

The doctors. Now, generally, it is quite expensive to visit the doc. Again depends on where you go. In Singapore, we just visit our family clinic and we pay about SGD$30. Here you could too, visit your typical local clinic but be prescribed with Thai medical instructions, explained in Thai and get yourself overdose for taking the wrong number of tablets from misunderstanding.

We each pay what is know as social insurance or something, automatically deducted from our salary. So we each have this social insurance paper slip that we can use to visit the doctor for free or subsidized. Some companies have more employee benefits and enroll their employees with big name insurances like AIA for medical benefits. The difference between the two if you use them when you go to a reputable hospital or clinic is that, you get double standard medication. The medication that you get when using your normal social insurance benefits are of lower grades. Use the AIA one which covers a higher budget and you get the better medication. So, what if you don’t use both and pay by yourself? You get the best. I did that (actually it was because I did not have my insurance thingy with me).

I went to Param 9 Hospital, yes… a hospital. The moment I registered and they realized I was a sick foreigner in their so strange land, they gave me the utmost of treatment. I was ushered here and there, gently and politely guided, smiles and smiles, the way Thailand should really be. I was so happy I could even forget I was sick.

The doctor spoke in English and best of all the medication had English directions written on them. Yeah, pay more get better treatment, in all it cost THB$1300 (SGD$52) but hey, it was worth it.

Normally I did complain heaps when dealing with related customer services in this land and such. But this was one of those times that I was really impressed in the way I was handled. So if you are sick and don’t want to further aggravate your situation, go to the big name hospitals to find their GP. Your are going to be glad.

Look, even the antibiotic they gave was special.. size XL.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Eco Tour Amphur Wa

Eco Tourism, a trendy word. Any kampong hut that’s on swampy land can be made into an Eco destination. Sleep in the mangroves and enjoy the mosquito bites. Be in nature, donate your blood. Eco tourism, a trend. Seems like many Thais now that have really beaten down homes in their provinces can turn their place into a tourist attraction. They could cost as much as THB$1,000 per night, food inclusive (if you ever could eat them E-san food).

Recently I was in Amphur Wa (correct spelling is unknown, in Thailand, there are 200 different ways of spelling the same destination in English). This district of the Samut god knows what province is located just 1 ½ hours drive away. She is famous for her floating market, shellfish flats and Eco Tourism.

The huts on stilts, next to the river, in the night the water level raises. You can half expect the crocodiles to come by and tear your leg off while you are sleeping.

Sleep in the nettings, the defensive against the mossies.

The monks nearby worked their gardens, the morning air was fresh. And then the pack of dogs came and barked, and chased me away to Holland.

Plant a young mangrove tree, the highlight of the Eco Tourism activity, things that you do to save the planet. Suffered so many cuts the people who went in the mud, the hidden shells sharp like razors. Did I do my part to save the planet? I stayed on the boat.

Reach deep in grab the cockles, on plywood like surfboards they maneuvered. I stayed on the boat. I don’t eat cockles.

And we visited the home grown business, of palm sugar the owner operated. The weather was sticky, there was no single element of luxury. When I bathed the water stopped flowing, my head was still then a mushroom of shampoo. As the night approached I died of boredom, just what the heck we could do in the mangroves? So there was a trip, we rode along the river. The thousand fireflies glowed in a dance of mystic synchronism, I awed, we all did. Shall I go back again Eco Tour? Please no unless it is on an island, with 4 star and above accommodations.

Full photos here under Amphur Wa.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Consolidation of Thoughts

These recent trips consolidated amounts to the longest period I had been out of Thailand. To Singapore, to KL, to JB and to and to re-live the small world where once I lived, oh my tiny life in Singapore.

Changi airport. Everything fingerprint scanner now. The aunty in front of me caused the queue built up in the auto-check lane so funny. Her print was not read, the machine instructed her to remove her thumb. She raised her thumb above her head. And she tried again. And again. And again. And she as she went she spoke out loud “Aye… why cannot leh… ??”. She repeatedly raised her thumb up above her head, down to the scanner, and up above again. Harlo!!! Remove thumb only lah!! No need to so big action lah! Stupid! Technology had moved too fast for the population, the older generation could not catch up.

The next time you do the scanner thingy, watch the glass plate. See the smeared merger of finger prints left behind. Then think of the myriad of bacteria left behind by so many individuals. Then think of the many contact diseases. Think of the prior actions of the individual up front. Think, get eeks. When will we all wake up? This ain’t such a good idea after all.

And me and my Thai engineer was at my lone grandma’s house to drop a luggage. As we left he commented, “Why is my grandma at home everyday, what does she do, she lives like a rat in her cage called home”. And he was right. Everyday that I was there, as I left for work I saw too, the opposite neighbors, the old woman and her old man, just sitting, staring and waiting. We are Singapore, we are Singapore we have no nature in store. When we are old we just wait to depart. That’s life. In Thailand your old folks could wonder and fall on patchy grass. In Singapore your old folks tumble down the HDB and break into pieces. We are the children of the concrete jungles.

We arrived in the Malaysia hotel. Someone had to tell one of my Thai engineers the green arrow sticker up on the ceiling points to the direction of prayer for Muslims, not the direction of the wireless LAN.

And food in Singapore, as usual excruciatingly expensive at the diners. Dining with the slightest bit of style burns THB$2,000 for two, while I can do that for just about THB$500 here in my paradise. My life in the reasonable land, the Singapore life there I can no longer afford.

The number of foreign work force had increased. The Chinamen had taken the common jobs. I see no future for the uneducated population, your rice bowl taken by the immigrants. Younglings, study get rich be quick, or be left in the voids of the society haven. The invasion starts first with night clubs, the trap for gullible Singaporeans. And now they moved to the hawkers. They control the basic low down pillars, the needs of our small word living. And soon we will find them an integral part, an irremovable part of our nation. Sit back relax and watch the culture change, a turn for the worse I reckon.

At the taxi stand there I waited. No smoking in any queue or risk the fine. I saw the opposing teens, they spoke and smoke bellows from their breath. I saw the people down the queue. Smoke bellows, them smoking. Daring bunch I say, you are the future of this country. Daring to exhibit your free will, in the country of countless restrictions. I call them “Daring to be me”. Not me as in me the blogger, but daring to be oneself, to exercises the freedom of actions, to be what one wants to be, to do what one wants to do. To be an individual and not the common. Hey wait a moment, think back and I wonder. Were they all Singaporeans or some were the immigrants? I not sure and I don’t give a damn. For I am here soaring in my dreams, the live I left, I forsaken.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Air Asia Very Smelly

It had been sometime since I took the budget airlines. And now there are baggage charges and a ridiculous option for express boarding (no need queue), all of which had to be paid for. I can live with those.

Now, I sat in the small plane two hours and it smelt like there were urinals that had not been washed for three days installed in the cabin. Does budget airline means no frills till the point where sewage processing is thus not a necessity when the plane makes its stop? Oh jolly smelly shit.

And what’s new is also the cheapo looking menu “Snack Attack”. Oh so much joy looking at the menu, the only reading material available other then reading the fine prints on the puke bags.

Budget. The paint on the airplane was peeling. I saw them clear when boarding. I was half expecting the metal skin to peel away from the wings while in flight. Of course.. that did not happen for I won’t be here to blog.

Landed in Changi Airport and all passengers were so specially welcomed by the unexpected cordoning of our arrival gate. All the police guiding us like criminals for this extra security check, such a warm surprising welcome for all us folks, tourist and businessmen on Singapore’s National Day. To tell the world that Singapore likes to harass our visitors on arrival, they put us on the glorious pedestal to be scanned by the strange unfriendly beeping device, looking under our shirts to see the metal belt bucket. And they x-rayed and they opened the Indiaman’s bag, to remove the computer power cord out. I wonder, the Indian wonder if the police wonder it to be a cobra for the snake dance performance, the Indiaman’s show. I have but two Hokkien words for this encounter for all on arrival – gey gan (extra fuck).

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Professional Traffic Bangkok

Bangkok traffic handling, very professional. During peak hours, many parts of roads will be so jammed up. The traffic police in this amazing city of angles have their own very amusing ways to solve the traffic lock ups.

It normally takes me 20 minutes to successfully make a u-turn in the heavy evening traffic back home. The queues of cars are long as each inch daringly with balls of steel into the oncoming traffic the other side of road. This particular u-turn causes massive traffic built up all the time. And the police came up with a very good idea that eliminated the jam. With their professional planning derived from their excellent clever brains, they barricaded this u-turn during the peak hours. With three of them there waving the traffic on, we each drove angrily by.

So the next u-turn is down the road and all cars had to make their turns there. Well, since the u-turn there then caused a massive build up next, the police then with their professional planning derived from their excellent clever brains, barricaded that u-turn during the peak hours. With three of them there waving the traffic on, we each drove angrily by.

So we had to go further down to the traffic junction and turn right to an alternative route. And since that right turn then caused a massive build up next, the police then with their professional planning derived from their excellent clever brains, barricaded the right turn during the peak hours. With three of them there waving the traffic on, we each drove angrily by.

So we can only go straight on to the next junction to make a left to an alternative route that can bring us back to the first u-turn point which was where we originally wanted to be in the first place after going on for an extra 5 kilometers that took close to 30 minutes burning our precious fuel contributing to global carbon built up which Thailand don’t give a dam about since the politicians are happy making money from fuel taxes and such so that they have extra pocket money to go for their weekly massage escapades. But since that left turn then caused a massive build up next, the police then with their professional planning derived from their excellent clever brains, barricaded the left turn during the peak hours. With three of them there waving the traffic on, we each drove fumingly by.

And so… we all want to drive our cars into the policemen who barricade the junctions, the peaks hours of the evening we want to go home. We want to ram them down and have their big balls cut off, and squeeze them tightly into their ears, into their so empty brain cavity until the brain juice leak from their nose. Oh Bangkok, you are so darn amazing.