We are now in Bangkok, Thailand, where we are getting our bodies refurbished at Bumrungrad International Hospital. Getting here was an adventure in and of itself. From the start we had to deal with delayed flights, but even that resulted in blessings. Sitting in Richmond for 2 hours 10 minutes after our flight should have left, we met a wonderful woman named Phyllis. The conversation with her was great, and we encountered her again in the baggage claim area at JFK. We met her boyfriend, Jack, who was equally nice. The two of them helped get us to the air train so we could catch our next flight. They helped ease the stress of a difficult situation, and we owe them a debt of gratittude.
Being late had advantages, too. There was no line when we finally found the China Air counter, so check in was easy. Even the line through the TSA checkpoint moved swiftly. Overnight flights are another story, however. On the two longest legs of the journey - JFK to Anchorage, and Anchorage to Taipei - we had a couple of babies who spent their considerable waking hours crying loudly. That made the flight less than comfortable, but toward the end of the second one, we started a "spite and malice" card tournament, which helped pass the time pleasantly.
On the flight to Taipei we got into a conversation with Mr. Huang, who is from Taipei. He was sitting next to Tina & she got the brilliant idea to see if he could help us with some Chinese phrases. I think he was surprised that we would take an interest in learning a little of his language, but he was also clearly quite pleased with our interest, and persuaded Tina to try out some of the phrases on the woman sitting in front of us. That was definitely a fun encounter.
Taipei airport was confusing, but we did eventually find our gate, in plenty of time, and ended up in a conversation with a couple from the San Francisco area, who were also great to talk to. On the last leg of the flight, going from Taipei to Bangkok, we finally got to truly enjoy the wonderful service on China Air. The flight attendants were all beautiful, and the service great. It was a peaceful time because there were no babies on board. The "spite and malice" tournament continued, and at the end of the flight, Tina was ahead, four games to three.
The building at Bangkok airport is a huge and beautiful contemporary structure done in steel, glass and white canvas. We were pleased to see the directional signs in English as well as Thai. By then we were pretty tired, though our day had just begun. Fortunately for us, Bumrungrad International Hospital has a representative stationed at the airport. The hostess welcomed us with cool moist face-cloths and cold water to drink. She took charge of our luggage, and got us a reasonably priced taxi to the hospital. The highways here look very much like those in any major city, with the green and white signs, written in Thai and English.
Once we got to the hospital, we proceded to the international center to check in. That was accomplished easily, with the exception of getting my birth date corrected. They had me with a birthdate of February 22, 1928, age 79. I don't think so! That did get resolved, and then we were on our way to meet our surgeon. Tina had evaluated all the surgeons & had chosen him for me. Her original first choice for herself didn't work out, so we both have the same surgeon, Dr. Preeyaphas Nilubol, who is absolutely delightful and has great sense of humor. He is also a highly skilled surgeon with a great esthetic sense. He truly enjoys what he does. We weren't sure where we were to spend the night, and he had his assistant arrange a hotel room for us.
Following our consultations, we went through the pre-admission lab tests & x-rays. I had a cardiac stress test also, due to my age - even the real one required that. Fortunately, I passed with flying colors. The day ended with the most stressful event: trying to get a cab to take us to our hotel. Most of them refused to go there, probably because they had no clue where it was. The one that finally did agree to take us did a lot of driving before asking a friend he saw; the friend knew where the hotel was, and we were soon there, despite the incredible traffic. The irony of all this is that the hotel is only 3 blocks from the hospital. It is a longer drive than that to get to the hotel because it is located almost all the way around a loop with one-way traffic from the hospital.
Our first dinner was wonderful. We ate in the hotel restaurant and among other things had a wonderful chicken satay, with perfectly done peanut sauce. Then it was time for sleep in a real bed, in preparation for my surgery the next morning. The beds were very welcome and we were soon enveloped in sweet sleep.
So much happened in getting here, but all of it was only a prelude to the adventure to come, which will be elaborated on in future episodes.