Smile – Bangkok loves you!
March 6th, 2010 by Kate

Bangkok is yet another massive Asian city full of frenetic sites, sounds, and smells.  We arrived late in the evening after three days of travel to find the driver from our hotel waiting for us with a blessed sign that said “Wells Family”.  Hallaluhah!  We were SO tired, and the thought of dealing with a taxi or big-city mass transit was worse than depressing – but Jeff saved the day and had booked us into a 4-star hotel using some of the points we’ve accured on our Visa – and a nice man in a giant Volvo was there to wisk us away with no haggling involved.  I was so happy.

Big beds, nice sheets, fluffy pillows, warm water WITH water pressure enough to actually rinse the shampoo out of my hair, a breakfast buffet, swimming pool and a real gym – yeah!  Our bathroom was marble and the free toiletries were highly stealable – The down side… our street was one of the better known hooker streets (they seem to congregate around the 4-star hotels rather than the 5-star hotels) and so before we had even spent 24 hours in Bangkok we had to have the less than comfortable discussion with Phoebe about what prostitution is… I was actually surprised we’d gotten this far in Asia without having to have the talk, and almost thought I sneak out of this part of the world without her having clued-in… but its Bangkok, and the discussion inevitable…

I think the biggest difference between our life on the road and our life at home is getting around the big cities.  All big cities have that hustle and bustle vibe, and the cracked sidewalks, funky (not good funky) smells, and tons of sensory input to take in.  However, in Asia so much of the input is SO different than the things we’d experience in even San Fran or Chicago –  I never get tired of walking around, peering into shops and alleys, listening to conversations even though I have no idea what they are saying, and trying to figure out the heck the food vendors are selling and if it looks okay to eat.

I am embarrassed to admit that I totally bought all the rumors about Bangkok and was secretly worried about rampant drugs, opium dens, Thai gangs, and of course the infamous fear of being kidnapped and sold into slavery (not me, the kids!).  And while unfortunately all of those things do exist in Bangkok, we didn’t see one lick of any of it.  The Bangkok we enjoyed was one of fascinating shops and markets, great food, super nice people, big parks, efficient mass transit (elevated train and subways) and medi-tourism galore.   Someday when I’m picked to be an ambassador, I will happily accept the post to Thailand and live in Bangkok!

So I know my mention of “medi-tourism” is going to prompt a bunch of people to email/comment and ask what the heck I’m talking about – its short for medical tourism, and it’s BIG business in Thailand.  I first heard about in on 60 Minutes a few years back, and have since seen a few articles in various mags.  When my crown broke back in China a number of people suggested that I go to Bangkok to get it fixed, and we heard lots of travelers around SE Asia & Australia talking about the great care they’d received in Thailand.  It got me to thinking…

Before we left I had inquired with my dentist about having my 20 year old veneers replaced on my six front teeth.  I broke three of them badly when I was a teenager and while the old veneers were holding up pretty well, I felt like they were looking pretty shabby.  That, along with the fact that they were only supposed to last 10-15 years made me think I should take some proactive steps before I found myself snaggle-toothed one day.  I got a quote from my dentist and almost croaked – $2500 PER TOOTH!  Since our big trip was coming up, and knowing we’ll have two kiddos in braces soon after our return, I decided that I’d wait and see how much mileage I could get out of the old ones (the sacrifices we mothers make!).

As we got closer to traveling to Thailand, I started doing some more in-depth research on clinics and doctors, safety records and patient comments.  The internet proved to be an amazing tool (I take back all the bad things I’ve said about you Mr. Internet, well, some of them, not all of them).  I  read dozens of review and blogs, and finally settled on three clinics that I thought looked best.  I made appointments with two, and the third had a walk-in consultation time so I set off on my first day in Bangkok with addresses and a list of questions in hand.  Ultimately, I decided that they were all good (two of the three were WAY nicer than my dentist at home), and that I would get good care whichever I chose. In the end I made my decision based on the fact that my doctor went to the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and he spoke great English, and he had really nice teeth himself (Silom Dental Clinic and Dr. Lee were the big winners).

I’m being long-winded here so I’ll wrap it up…

Day 1:  Full check-up with Xrays, consultation with the doctor, and the decision to first whiten my bottom teeth with home bleaching trays (rather than the brite smile or laser treatments which he said won’t work as well on my color teeth) so my new veneers would be a better, whiter color than my old ones = $175US (would have been $125 for the check up and $500 for the whitening at home).

Day 14:  Back to Bangkok for appointment #2.  They were shocked at how white my teeth got (I was a bit shocked too, as my bottoms were very white, especially next to the old veneers that were still on and YELLOW!).  They took off my old veneers and put on temporaries, and ordered the new veneers in a color that would match my newly whitened bottom teeth.

Day 21:  Back to Bangkok again (we traveled all over Thailand between appointments and came back each time for only a day or two) for my final visit.  They took off my temporaries and attached my new veneers – and they look AMAZING!  I love them!  They feel great, look great, and a week later I still have to look at them every time I pass a mirror.  Its like one of those things that you say to yourself “ I can’t believe I waited so long to get that done”.  And the price (drum roll please…) out the door – $1500 TOTAL!  Eleven THOUSAND dollars less than my dentist at home!

They do everything at this place – from silly cosmetic procedures like mine to total jaw bone reconstruction – and crowns and bridges in between.  Jeff and I both agree that if we ever need major dental work done, we will definitely consider coming back here.  Just wish they could do braces from across the ocean…

So the moral of my story is, don’t let Hollywood be your source of opinions on a place – had I not listened to friends and family about the wonders of Bangkok I probably would have skipped it… when you see my new smile you’ll be happy for me that I didn’t.

PS.  Sorry there aren’t any pics of my new smile, I’ll post some as soon as I can – we have lousy internet access at our current locale…

3 Responses  
Cricket Bourget writes:
March 7th, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Way ta’ score on happy’ing up the bedraggled and weary women-folk, that Jeff! What a relief that must have been after your harried journey from NZ.

And congratulations on your new smile, Kate

Anita (Nana) writes:
March 7th, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Just having a good time reading your stories. As upper back tooth #14 giving this lady pain and I see an endodentist this Tuesday!
Phoebe did Pappy and Nana think of you as we had coconut waffles, last Friday.
Nana had a surprise “hello” from Olivia during my walk to the neighborhood park with Shugorei, yesterday. And the neighbor with her 3/4 year old twins, who Nana met at park awile back, immeadiately recognized me with Shugorei. She asked about you all remembering why Nana had the dog!

Theresa Sanchez writes:
April 9th, 2010 at 8:52 am

SMILE big Kate!

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