Why did I choose to retire here in Thailand? This is a question I am asked often by my American friends – especially those who think I actually live in Taiwan. Of course there are very many reasons; my decision to retire here was not taken lightly and took many years to formulate. But the story of my day today serves as a great illustration of why I retired half-way around the world from where I lived for 59 1/2 years.
Actually, the story of today began yesterday morning. As I was eating my green curry and rice for breakfast I had that familiar feeling of a foreign object in my mouth….a crown that covered an upper molar had dropped off into my soup (yeah it has happened before). I fished it out and placed into a baggy, finished by breakfast, then called the dental clinic at Bangkok Hospital (Chiang Mai branch).
Bangkok hospital is the nicest hospital I have ever been in – far better than any I have been in in the USA. The ambiance is that of a five star hotel. You are treated as an honored guest and the facilities (as far as I can tell) are world class. My call yesterday morning was answered promptly and in perfect English. They wanted me to come in straight away, but I opted for the next day (today). I wasn’t going to let a missing molar mess with my regular Thursday golf outing.
Back to today…I arrived at the appointed time at the hospital and entered their large parking lot where a uniformed attended directed me to an open spot. As he guided me in, he noticed that my tire looked flat. He looked closer and noticed the bolt that I had picked up that was slowly but surely releasing the tire’s air. Shit… when things start going wrong you wonder where it will stop. I didn’t wonder long though, the attended said not to worry, he would see to it that my tire was changed while I was in seeing the dentist.
Up I went to the 4th floor dental clinic where I had to wait about 90 seconds before being ushered into the examination room. I ask my American friends: whens the last time you waited for only 90 seconds in and doctor’s office? The dentist happened to be the same as had just cleaned my teeth a few days before. She took one look and said “no problem”. Within 15 minutes my crown was glued back in place. I had to wait another 5 minutes while they tallied up the bill – the princely some of 1070 baht – about $34 US. My Thai friends would be shocked at this extravagant price – the same service might be half this much elsewhere. Such is the cost of luxury here.
When I returned to my car, the flat had been changed and the attendant rushed over to give me my keys. I asked “how much”, and he shook is head and waived his hands. I tried to force a tip on him, but he ran off saying helping me was part of the hospital security service. No need for AAA here. I still need to fix my tire because I only had a donut spare – fortunately there was a “Cockpit” tire store 200 m down the road. It took them 10 minutes to fix the flat with a plug and change out the spare. My cost? 120 baht or $3.80.
Thirty minutes later I was having lunch with my SO at small cafe – we like to try new restaurants whenever we can.
I awoke that day in dread of having to get a new crown (or worse) and having to spend a couple of hours in the dentist chair and the rest of the day with a numbed face. My dread increased when I saw the flat tire. What next? But the Thai’s have a wonderful way of making life easy. Days like this (i.e. most days) make me happy about my retirement choice.