The Land of Smiles

Trip Start Dec 31, 2004
Trip End Apr 22, 2005

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, January 4, 2005

"The Land of Smiles" is to the best of my knowledge something cooked up by the Tourism Association of Thailand and is used quite often as a moniker for those in the know and is now bastardized even worse by the pretentious who type "LOS" in message boards across the globe. I'm not saying that Thais aren't lovely people, I've certainly got no gripes with them and the ones I've met are seriously charming. It's so "I'm more with it than you" and I really detest that. It's like me saying to you, "God I hope that the Pham Ngu Lao doesn't turn into KSR (Khao San Road) and loose all its charm -- that would be dreadful." Now if truth be told it really would be dreadful because I love the area of Pham Ngu Lao in Saigon (or "HCMC" after its official name, Ho Chi Minh City). I think I've made myself clear and deviated far enough from my intended subject: Smiles.

That's right in the Land of Smiles what better thing to buy (other than a live human being) than an improvement to your smile? This morning I had an appointment at Bangkok Smiles only a few blocks away (I took the BTS anyway because I knew it was only a quarter for one stop -- plus I wanted to show off). After a brief consultation I was looking at a fraction of what I'd be charged at home for a couple of porcelain crowns and some filling replacements so I made an appointment to return three hours later for a cleaning ($15) and three composite fillings ($82). The place was crawling with white people by the way and on their website there are testamonials from expats, which put me at ease being accustomed to western medicine.

I walked around and found a very upscale area and a mall of all things that was refreshingly chic and the air-conditioning certainly was welcome since it was in the 90s today around lunchtime. I found a posh little inexpensive boite for lunch and as with everything I've had here in Bangkok it was absolutely delicious and I've been trying everything but Pad Thai the past two days. On the walk back to Bangkok Smiles I saw a man pay a woman to release not just one little sparrow but a tiny cage packed chockfull of little harvesters of the Avian Influenza. He must've been up to no good last night to be needing to acquire that much merit and I'll bet you're thinking what I'm thinking: he was probably picking up whores. Maybe I've been in Bangkok too long already but I'm pretty damn sure that if you've got the Bahts you can have sex with anyone in this city and I mean anyone. If I exhumed my milky-eyed Uncle Buck and shipped him over here I guarantee you I could make a fortune -- these white people will screw anything over here.

Back at the dentist I had the most thorough and gentle cleaning that was so relaxing I actually nodded off. They placed a little light cloth with a hole in it just for the mouth over your face, which is very soothing and makes everything dark plus they can't see you grimace or wince while they're working. Next came the fillings and those were pain-free and he showed me each and everything he was going to do and then paused for me to inspect his handiwork, which was terrific. I have another appointment tomorrow with the cosmetic dentist to discuss our options for a few problem teeth and while this cuts into my budget for the trip and I may have to make some concessions I'd be a fool to pass up this opportunity for two porcelain crowns and two porcelain veneers for only 800 bucks and trust me I need it. The most painful part of the entire two and a half hours was Gloria Estephan who is still by the way "Coming Out of the Dark" playing over the speakers. Now that's torture and I was afraid that it'd be a marathon, which would mean that the dreaded Rhythm was gonna get me and that scared the crap out of me. First there's a drill in my damn mouth, I can't understand what this dentist and his assistant are giggling about and now I've got to worry about the damn rhythm coming up in here and getting me.

I'm going to head out now and enjoy a refreshing gin and tonic because those ladies at the pharmacy hooked me up and my cold is gone. My travel doctor back home told me not to take any medicine prescribed by a pharmacist and never accept any drugs that aren't written in English and made in Western (she emphasized) Europe. Thanks for the sage advice that I will completely ignore right down to the Thai script on the pills.

Maybe if I don't blink I can catch a performance by Miss Mum Laconics tonight..."I will survive! 'Night! It's over! HUSH!"

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