Bangkok, Thailand

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Bangkok, Thailand

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These are all photos of Bumrungrad International Hospital. We were in Bangkok for three weeks (June 2007) so Vivian could have surgery. The hospital was first rate, all the way. There was a McDonalds on the second floor and a Starbucks coffee in the lobby (below left). Signs were in English as well as Thai, and we didn't have trouble communicating in English. They also have translation services for many other languages. The second photo shows the "angel bear" Vivian took along for comfort, and her new elephant friend that Michael gave her on the eve of the surgery.

Bangkok was very hot and humid, and the traffic was terrible. To explain, Michael's tour guide pointed out that Bangkok has 12 million people, four million cars, two million motorcycles, and millions of air conditioners running full time; this generates a huge amount of heat, in addition to the natural, tropical environment.

You can see the hospital in the center of this photo, taken from the elevated rail station. The quick and clean "L" (sky train) is wonderful, especially compared to the s-l-o-w traffic below it.

At the end of one train line we found this mall with lots of name-brand places to buy pizza, chicken, doughnuts, hot pretzels, ice cream and more. We don't have much of this in our part of China.

Vivian rarely left the hospital (except to eat out once, at which time she was bitten by some strange bug, which gave her a terrible allergic reaction). Michael got out to shop, and one morning took a canal tour. The guide said James Bond raced through these canals in a 1970's film.

Bangkok is very religious. This was taken from the main river; note the  Chinese Buddhist temple on the left, with a Muslim mosque next to it. There are also thousands of Thai Buddhist shrines. Michael attended one of the few Christian churches on Sundays.

The canal tour included a visit to this centuries-old Cambodian style temple. The guide said that most Thai men are monks at one time in their lives; some for a few weeks and others for years. It's a very old tradition, that helps to keep most Thai people Buddhist. Monks are not paid, so locals give them food and other necessities. The guide said he likes to give monks his grandfather's favorite noodle dish; when they eat it, it also feeds his deceased grandfather. I guess that "ghosts" who died more than a few generations ago get pretty hungry....

Along the canals, I saw expensive mansions and clapboard shacks. Little boats like this one travel the canals like a floating convenience store, though the guide said they are getting more and more rare as people prefer to shop in larger stores. Thousands of people still live along the canals. Most homes have electricity and piped in/out water. If you don't mind mosquitoes, I suppose it is a nice place to live.

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