Saturday, 7 March 2009

KL hospitals. Horrible Chinese Embassies. Sod China, Thailand it is.

1000 days

I left England 1000 days ago. One year ago I was eating a steak in Jiali, Taiwan. Two years ago I was eating a ganja pizza in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Today I'm recovering from another medical check. I've been working out where I've spent the last 1000 days:

Taiwan 223
Thailand 170
Philippines 157
Malaysia 129
China 85
Cambodia 54
Vietnam 30
Laos 28
Burma 28
Indonesia 28
Singapore 14
Russia 14
Japan 8
Iceland 7
Mongolia 5
South Korea 5
Latvia 4
Estonia 3
Denmark 2
Sweden 2
Faroe Islands 1
Shetland Islands 1
Lithuania 1
Hong Kong 1

Embassy torture

I arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday night. I went to the Chinese Embassy Thursday morning with an armful of documents. Was my folder crammed with enough paper? Of course not. The young bitch behind the counter quickly flicked through all my paperwork and asked:

"Where's your medical check?"

"Your website doesn't mention a medical check and, besides, I wouldn't have these papers from your government without having submitted a medical check to them previously."
"You have to do another one"
"Really? I need to do two medical checks?" Incredulous.
"Yep, and you have to do it at either of these two hospitals"

The Chinese government obviously likes to support the global health industry. My medical check from Kota Bharu wasn't good enough. If I was sick would I want medical treatment in China's hospitals? This is all a costly, inconvenient, bureaucratic nonsense. I'm amazed any foreigners bother going to China at all.


I go to Tong Shin hospital the first on the list. They inform me it costs 350RM (£70). I've done many and they're a very basic process. Normally involves a young nurse weighing you, measuring you, checking your eyes, blood pressure etc. Very easy. I baulked at that price and went to the General Hospital the next day - the second hospital on the list. This is a government hospital so I was hoping it would be cheaper.

I finally found the General Friday lunchtime. Friday lunch is great if you're Muslim because you get a 3hr lunch break to facilitate Friday prayers. I think Fridays are to Muslims what Sundays are to Christians. I approached the reception when it finally opened at 1445 only to be informed they 'don't do foreigners'. Despite protesting that the Embassy told me to come here I made little progress. It's hot and I'm becoming agitated when a friendly nurse comes to my aid.

He tells me of another hospital that can process me. I follow his directions and arrive at the Puswari Hospital an hour later. This is a private Muslim hospital where the staff are nice and helpful. It costs 130RM (£26) and I can do it there and then. Champion. They did a blood and urine test. An ECG and X-ray. All in about an hour. I have to go back on Tuesday to collect my form since the blood test takes a few days and Monday is a holiday.

I'm stuck in KL for a while. I collect the medical report Tuesday and then submit it to the Chinese embassy Wednesday and wait four days for them to process my application. Then I can book a flight to China but only when I have the visa in my hand. I've already lost one flight to Macau because of the inefficient Chinese government.

More Embassy torture

I collected the medical report on Tuesday and took it to the Chinese Embassy Wednesday morning. The woman took my mass of documents, quickly skimmed through the Xrays, the ECG print out and blood test results before nonchalantly sliding the whole pile back to me. Everything is in order except the medical report is not from a hospital the embassy recognises.

"But I went to the General like you told me and they sent me here"

"Doesn't matter, we can't accept it"
"I paid 130RM for this"
"You'll have to do it again"
"This is unbelievable, do you not want me to work in China?"
"I don't care" she sneered.

I stormed out thinking Bollicks to China. How difficult do they want to make this? I contacted Linfen University and told them I refuse to pay for another medical check. The University staff were disappointed. The University phoned the KL Embassy but to no avail.


I walked across the street to the Thai embassy and applied for a free 60 day tourist visa. The staff at the Thai embassy were the polar opposite of the Chinese. They smiled and were polite and helpful. Much better vibes. Perhaps this is fate!!! Maybe the Chinese job was never meant to be. I'll look for work in Thailand instead.


My passport is now completely full since the Thai visa took the last remaining page. I'll surely have to get a new one in Thailand or Malaysia when I next return.

AIDS scare

The one benefit to all this is that I'm HIV negative although the poorly designed form gave me a scare.

This is my 10th night in KL and I've failed to get the Chinese Zvisa. I've discovered that Chinese Embassies are complicated, slow, tedious and highly unfriendly. I wonder where they find these bastards to work there? Do they have to do a wanker test first?

KL People

Mark from England in KL. I first met him last September in Kota Bharu. He's spent the last three months living in the jungle in the Malaysian state of Perak.

Phil and Irene are from Essex but now live in Spain. They're holidaying in Malaysia and Thailand. They were here in KL for a week. I miss these two since they left. The other two girls are Italian.

A random photo of me Mam at my 2003 degree award ceremony at Newcastle City Hall.


Last weekend in KL I went on a date! Yes, a date! A real one. I'd put my details on and said I was from Malaysia. Mel who works in Citibank contacted me and arranged to meet on Saturday night. We chatted over some Chinese food in KL's nightmarket area just off Bukit Bintang (Star Hill). Mel is 25, originally from an Iban tribe in Sarawak in Borneo. We walked around some famous KL nightspots but didn't go in any. The thumping music and packed bars just didn't appeal to me. One club called Beach Cafe had some sharks in a fish tank – I wonder what they make of the racket.


It was a nice evening after the Embassy traumas last week. So, with the Chinese job out of the equation I applied for jobs in Thailand teaching either Maths, Science or IT and got 4 responses. The two most likely positions were for an IT teacher in Chiang Rai and a Maths/IT teacher in Trang. I love Chiang Rai having visited there in 2007. However, the bloke replying to the emails gave me the feeling that he's a bit of a dick – bollicks to that. I worked with an American prick in Taiwan and I don't wish to repeat the experience. The position in Trang seemed better for two reasons. Firstly, Trang is close to Malaysia for easier visa runs. Secondly, Ian the bloke I contacted by phone seems like a great guy. He's from Manchester and has been in Thailand 7yrs.


So I left KL for Penang encouraged by this converstaion with Ian. I spent Tuesday night sleeping on the floor of the 75 hostel again. My mates from previous visits were all there with the exception of Kiwi Mike who has gone to Isaan for reasons we can't fathom. We think he has a phantom woman up there. The following morning I spoke to Ian again and arranged a face-to-face interview for Monday 23rd March (tomorrow).

Cut throat shave and Drunk Indians

We then went for a haircut and cut-throat shave in an Indian barber shop. We felt really handsome leaving that place and decided to celebrate our fresh-face looks with a few beers in Abracadabra. 

This place is easily the cheapest bar in the back streets of Penang. It's also full of pissed Indians. I personally reckon all the booze and tabs are smuggled from nearby tax-free Langkawi Island. The stuff in this bar is cheaper than buying it in shops! I have never witnessed Indian blokes on the lash before but it is quite a sight. The bar's name isn't really Abracadabra but the Westerners have christened it because its real Malay/Indian/Chinese name is too incomprehensible.

Careful mate!


Down an alley close to the hostel is a woman affectionately known as Gluey. She has a bag of glue permanently stuck to her mouth. As you walk past her little cardboard house she will gladly flash you her tits with a beaming smile as if this is the most ordinary thing in the World. If it wasn't for the glue you might be tempted (as a suit-wearing laptop-carrying Westerner was) because she has a great figure. One day Trev walked by her only to see her 'straddling a Yuppy'! What makes these men sink so low? Paying to shag a homeless glue sniffer? Especially when he gave the appearance of a Canary Wharf business guru! The mind boggles.

Sprechen Dutch?

Then I was taught some additional Dutch by a canny South African geezer. Any idea what “Loyken in the Koyken” means? It is Dutch for “shagging in the kitchen”. Sounds good if you say it with a real Dutch accent.

Penang to Trang

Yesterday I took a minivan from Penang at 0830 after buying a ticket to Trang. I crossed the border and received 60 days of permission to remain in Thailand. My passport is now jam packed – the Thai immigration bloke struggled to find a place for his stamp and had to stamp over other stamps. I need to get a new one in the next 60 days. I changed from a Falang-filled minivan to a Thai-filled minivan at Hat Yai and arrived in Trang tired and hungry at about 1600.

I got a cheap room, showered, slept and then went to watch football on a massive screen in a coffee shop. First, Everton rolled over against Pompey (not good for the Toon). However I soon cheered up when Fulham beat Man U. I was the only the only person who cheered when Danny Murphy slotted his penalty home – whoops! I couldn't stay awake for the NUFC-Arsenal encounter.

So, it's now Sunday morning. I'm sitting in a Trang Guesthouse drinking coffee while writing this. I'll upload it today or tomorrow. I'm a little bored and lonely since I left Penang. I'm off to rent a motorbike and go to Hat Pak Meng, a local beach about 40km away. I'll get a Thai SIM card and give Austrian Armin a call. I'll also call Ian at Saparachinee School tomorrow to organise a time for the interview. I might try to find an iron to de-crease my 'new' second hand shirt. You know – give a good impression and all that!


Peering down the murky telescope of history I remember writing about never teaching again. However, I think I said I would never teach English again. Luckily this is Maths/IT in English so I am hoping I'm far better suited. Teaching English is like being a clown or entertainer. However, teaching Maths or IT, I can have the kids doing actual 'real' activities like solving some problems. It won't be me talking constantly for  an hour at a time - exhausting! Get the kids to do some work – I thought that was what school was meant to be – you know – work????

I'm also getting back into learning Thai again having done a couple of chapters this morning. I impressed myself last night by ordering food and drinks. There seems to be little English spoken here. After three months of not using Thai, it goes to show that some sh*t does stick!

Finally, will NUFC get crowds of 52,000 against MK Dons on a wintry Wednesday night? Will all the 'stars' stay?

We'll see.

1 comment:

  1. Sigh..pooor thing...You are always stuck with medical report,when you already have maybe a couple of dozens done!Hope you can settle everything,and get to start work in china asap!


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