Sunday, September 24, 2017

Bangkok—Medical Tourism Treats—2017

By having two medical procedures done at the Bumrungrad Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand. I saved $6,791 over what it would have cost me in the US.  The US cost would have been $9,507 and the Thailand cost was $2,716—good enough for two more extended travel trips for me.  

Back in 2005, I first experienced getting medical treatment in Bangkok.  After checking on line, I found the Bumrungrad Hospital was one of the most well knows and well respected hospitals that also included dental work.  I detailed this experience in a previous blog at: 

After that, I returned in 2016 to have a cavity filled plus had the last of my amalgam fillings replaced with composite.

This time I made an appointment to return to see Dr. Pacharee Soonthornsawad for some dental work on my 2nd lower left molar.  At home, my dentist recommended that I have put in a crown for $1,507.  When Dr. Pacharee saw this 2nd molar, she recommended that she could fill it instead by removing the cracked areas and fill out the chipped section.  I agreed.  She then saw that the lower right 2nd molar had sloughed off.  She then proceeded to do both of those filling repairs.  The total cost for both fillings, including X-rays, was $255.

While there, she asked if she could take some update photos of the 4 veneers she had done in 2005.  She explained that she was very pleased with how well my veneers had held up over the past 12 years and planned to use the photos as a teaching tool at the university where she is a professor. 

When I last saw my ophthalmologist in the US, he suggested that I may want to have my upper eyelid operated on because it was restricting my vision.  He said the cost would be about $4,500 for the upper eyelids or $8,000 for both upper and lower.  

So when I was planning to visit Sri Lanka, I decided that I would check out the cost of having my eyelid surgery.  I learned that I could have the eyelid surgery done at Bumrungrad Hospital, Bangkok for $1,525 for the upper eyelids and both upper and lower eye surgery for $2,431.  Here is the link to that surgery cost.  You can also check out other surgical procedures and costs at other parts of the Bumrungrad website:

As long as I was planning to do the surgery there, I decided to have both upper and lower eyelid surgeries—medically called blepharospathy—from Dr. Komwit Kaewchaijaroenkit.

On August 23rd I changed into an operating gown and was wheeled into an immaculate operating room where I was given a number of Novocain shots before the cutting began. I remember a neighbor back home had told me that his upper eyelid surgery involved just one stitch in each eyelid.  Imagine my surprise after the cutting and stitching up afterward that I ended up with about 24 stitches in each eye area.

After the operation, and some time in the recovery room, I was released to walk back to my hotel.  When the drugs wore off there was only a slight pain and a feeling of some tightness because of the swelling.   Although I was given some super Tylenol and some ointment, I did not need the Tylenol. I had two follow up appointments: one a week later and the other a month later.  Each follow up visit cost just $15.  In the first follow up, Dr. Komwit removed the stitches. In the last visit Dr. Komwit gave me some eye area massage suggestions to further smooth out the areas operated on. Here are the before and after pictures: 


Immediately after surgery with many stitches.

About a month after surgery

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cruising Colombo in a Tuk-Tuk--9/18-9/22

Colombo is my last place to visit before returning to Thailand and then back to the USA.

I stayed at the Bunkyard Hostel for four nights at just $2000 Rupees—$13 per night including a full breakfast.  It is one of the cleanest and well managed hostels I have ever stayed at.  I found it on Hostelworld and read some of the reviews and was impressed by the comments and rating of 91.  After getting off the Colombo Fort Railway station, I caught a local bus # 138 which stopped close to the hostel.  The staff was friendly and knowledgeable and the place was immaculate and well designed.  

In the morning,I was pleasantly surprised that they served up a full breakfast of fruits, buffalo curd and honey, pancakes stuffed with sweet coconut flakes, and omelet to order.  They also served a Sri Lankan lunch—curries—for just 250 Rupees as well as real coffee and tea all day long.

They had a tuk-tuk tour for $15-20 USD of the major Colombo tourist sites which included a King Coconut beverage stop and a Sri Lanka lunch of Rice and vegetarian Curry.  It was delicious comprised of lotus root and pumpkin curry along with coconut and onion sambol, and and some Kim chee like vegetable mix, accented with crispy pampadam.

The tour of Colombo included visits in the Fort Colombo area of the the Lighthouse and beyond it the huge Chinese financed shipping harbor expansion.  

We passed several government buildings, including the President’s House, as well as some famous landmarks like the Oriental Hotel, Cargills—department store—, the Clock Tower, St Peters Church, etc.

We then made our way to the World Trade Center.

Across the street we saw the Dutch Hospital which had been transformed into an upscale shopping and eating mall.

We headed over to the Pettah shopping area that was jammed with storefront merchants, both retail and wholesale.

We stopped for a refreshing King Coconut beverage and then walked to the “floating market” which was really a food court with floating rafts opposite the various restaurants.  We stopped for some refreshments there as well.  I had a fuda concoction consisting of a dollop of vanilla ice cream in a rose water beverage—this time it was missing the red and green jellies I earlier had tasted. 

A Swedish couple and a Moroccan joined me for the Bunkyard Tuk-tuk tour.

In the same area we saw the red and white checkerboarded Jami-Ul-Afar Mosque with several Halal restaurants clustered around it.

There were also several Hindu shrines in this area as well.


We explored the Pettah shopping area including the Federation of Self Employees Market right by the Central Bus Station where I can get the 187 Airporter bus.  Nearby they also have lots of fruit and vegetable stalls as well as a covered market area.

It was then on visit Independence Square—from British rule—where I toured the museum under the Independence Square pavilion.  There they had all of the names of soldiers who had died in the cause of Independence along with the political and war history of Sri Lanka.

Following that we visited the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple which is the most renowned Buddhist Temple in Colombo.  While there they were busy trimming the tree that was wrapped around the large white stupa. Throughout the complex I found thousands of relics and photos celebrating Buddhism.

We ended our tour by having lunch back at the Bunkyard as a part of the tour.

Most Sri Lankan people eat with their hands rather than utinsels as these Hostel workers are doing.

Muti sex shower/bathroom

Hostel Manager/owner in the orange shirt.

Cost of Trip
The 23 day trip throughout Sri Lanka was $1,234 for a daily cost of $54 per day.  Food costs were $388 with a daily cost of $17 per day. Lodging costs were $410 with a daily cost of $18 per day. Travel and tour costs were $456 with $240 for the round trip air fair and much of the rest of the travel cost was for train travel.  The round trip air distance was 4,530 miles from Bangkok.  Train mileage was 1,360 miles and long distance bus mileage was 132 miles.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Train Trifecta--Badulla, Batticola, and Trincomalee--9/9-9/13

After leaving my “Holiday Inn” room early morning from Badulla, I took the train back to Kandy and then on Polgahawela where I transferred to the night train to Batticaloa.  It was a good day for train ride since it was raining so much. 

In the morning, I took a 4 hour crowded bus ride up the windy coast to Trincomalee.  I was glad to get a seat by the window even though my knees were jammed up against the back of the seat in front of me.  Fortunately this is my only long distance bus ride. The drivers are constantly jerking and braking the bus as it rounds the corners, passes slower vehicles and honks its way up the highway.

After arriving at Trincomalee, I headed further north along the beach road and spotted a sign for the Suraya Guesthouse.  It turned out that not only was the sign new, but the guesthouse near the fishermans’ beach was also new.  My room was very clean and neat for 4,000 rupees per night with A/C.  I tried the fan only option, but it was just too hot and humid so an extra  1,000 Rupees got me the needed A/C.  Here is the view of the beach area near the guesthouse.  It is a fisherman working area.

This is the ruins of a guest house that was hit by the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami..

After checking in, I took the local bus to a beach area called Uppuveli that was popular with Westerners.  Here there were few fishing boats and several beach side guest houses that featured shaded cabanas and western food as well as Sri Lankan food.  

After getting a mild sunburn under this shaded lounger, I returned the 6 km to Trincomalee by bus.

The downtown area was fairly small with few restaurants as I headed down to the public park including a pleasant sandy beach. On the way back I stopped at the local market.

I discovered a fruit drink and ice cream shop where I had an avocado shake followed by a fuda ice cream float.  It was a scoop of vanilla ice cream with red and green jelly pieces that had sunk to the bottom of the rose water sweet drink.  Both were very tasty.

That was followed by a delicious mushroom curry dish along with some lime juice.

Throughout this trip, I have been able to stay away from eating meat other than fish and shrimp.  Some of the vegetable curries are very tasty that range from beets, lotus, beans, onions, pumpkin or squash, ocra, and some other unknown vegetables.  Some are very mild and some are so spicy I get the hiccups.

After staying here for two nights, I caught the early morning train back to Colombo.