So here I am in Thailand. Koh Samui, to be exact. Koh Samui is a beautiful little island located down south in the Gulf of Thailand. It is surrounded by warm, clear blue calm water and sandy beaches, dotted with coconut trees and filled to the brim with natural beauty. I have been here many times, and each time I have a very difficult time leaving.
While visiting this little piece of heaven, I have occasionally required medical care. Sun burns, minor infections, the occasional bout with food poisoning or simple diarrhea, all to be expected when staying on an island in a third world country. Never fear — Samui has several hospitals available. So, when you hear the words hospital, island, third world — what images come to mind? A grass hut? Old rusty medical instruments? Unsanitary conditions? I always remember an adventure I had on a Greek island years ago. While exploring a remote and empty beach I had stepped on a sea urchin. With a few of its spines painfully lodged deep in the sole of my left foot, I hobbled to the only “clinic” on the island, a tiny dirty looking metal shack. The “doctor” spoke no english and used no anaesthetic. I was happy to get through the ordeal, and even happier to make it home to Los Angeles with my foot intact. I immediately went out to my favorite Japanese restaurant and scarfed down several orders of sea urchin sushi, a big smile on my face.
No matter — rest assured, the hospitals on Koh Samui are modern, clean, and professionally staffed with smiling uniformed nurses and assistants who speak english competently and are present to ensure that visitors receive excellent and timely care. In fact, I have never waited more than ten minutes after walking in off the street to see a doctor. Most importantly, the doctors, many of whom have studied or done their residencies in the U.S. or Europe, speak very clear english and are every bit as competent as any doctor you will find back home. All this for a price so low I once felt compelled to email my doctor in Los Angeles and rub it in. He didn’t believe me at first. Come to think of it, I heard from someone that he moved here recently. Anyway, I have used the same hospital here since my first trip in 1999. They maintain excellent records of all my past visits, and the nurses and doctors always remember me and greet me with a smile.
I have a lot more to say, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. Right now the sun is shining and the water looks too good to ignore. I’m going in for a swim.