My First Month in Bangkok and Laser Eye Surgery
It’s one month since I moved to Thailand.
I haven’t posted for a while, so I thought I’d throw up a quick narcissistic update to confirm that, no, I haven’t been digested whole by a black widow ladyboy, and yes, I will be posting about affiliate marketing (the alleged theme of this blog) very soon.
In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to since the STM London meetup.
(There’s a subtle clue in the title and header image.)
A Skirmish in London
Unfortunately, I only caught the first day of STM London.
A cracking day it was, though.
I’ve never seen so many affiliates in one building.
Don’t get me wrong. There are larger affiliate events held around the world. But you’ll find a conspicuously small percentage of actual affiliate marketers at most of them.
(And an abundance of hot air.)
One of the things I appreciate about STM gatherings is their ability to attract Internet Marketers who operate daily in the trenches. It’s a ‘clued in’ crowd; some might say cynical.
Anyway, the first night was a blast. It was a pleasure to meet so many new and old faces.
As for the rest of the week, that was a different kind of chaos.
While the rest of the affiliasphere was gallivanting merrily around old London town, I was playing a furious game of Sell, Chuck or Donate with my entire belongings.
It’s not easy condensing a house full of clutter in to one 20kg suitcase to be exported to your new home on the other side of the world.
It’s even more problematic with two very live dogs who are coming along for the ride.
Alas, we have made it to Bangkok, and we have spent the last month settling in to our new home.
Even the pups have adjusted to the searing heat:
Before moving, people would ask me, “Why Thailand? What’s the appeal of Asia? Wait– you’re not one of ‘those’ guys, are you…?”
I would try to answer, “For the beaches! The food! The weather! The way of life!”
Well, I can’t be bothered to elaborate anymore.
My short answer? Because it’s fucking awesome out here, that’s why.
Seriously, Bangkok feels alive.
Like it’s crawling up your shorts alive.
For some guys on Soi Cowboy, it probably is.
The New Apartment
You get a lot of bang for your buck in Thailand.
I’m paying 60,000 baht (around £1275) for a 250 sqm, 3-bedroom apartment on Sukhumvit Soi 31.
It’s a great area with a ton of amazing restaurants at a stone’s throw. Plus, a pool and a gym downstairs.
Special thanks to Don at Bangkok Real Property for hooking us up with a fantastic place to live.
Our apartment is in the Japanese district.
I have a karaoke club directly across from me.
I suspect it will remain untouched.
Partly thanks to my lack of dulcet tones, and partly because I think it might also be a brothel.
You can never be sure. The Japanese are unpredictable — especially when they’re horny.
Karaoke and sushi bars aside, this is a really cool place to live.
Awesome coffee shops, amazing restaurants and 5 minutes access to Phrom Phong BTS, which is becoming one of the trendiest hubs of Bangkok, and not only because I’ve just moved in to it.
We’re also close to Craft: the second most handsomely stocked bar in Asia for ales and draft beers.
(I have no idea what the first is.)
It’s like a tiny beer festival nook in amongst the chaos of Sukhumvit.
Craft received a visit from the famous Daniel Thaiger burger van over Songkran.
Now, this burger… is kind of a big deal.
I didn’t know what the fuss was about until I ventured to an affiliate meet up organised by Nickycakes and a group of Internet Marketers in BKK.
I’m no food blogger, but I’ll tell you this much for free:
If the opportunity arises, grab a fucking Thaiger burger and stick it in your face.
You will not regret it.
They are sold every day at the Game Over Lounge, which is a sort of restaurant slash bar slash ultimate nerd station with pool tables, a pile of board games, giant screens of Fifa, and lots of western expats.
Very good fun.
Fixing My Eyes
It was over a particularly strong 8.7% IPA at Craft last Sunday that I decided to book an appointment for laser eye surgery.
It’s not the first time I’ve tried to have my eyes repaired by lasers.
I had a consultation back at a London clinic in 2010.
Back then, I couldn’t have the surgery because my eye pressure was too high.
Ironically, I ended up spending the money that was supposed to go towards LASIK on moving to Thailand the first time.
Anyway, why laser eye surgery?
I’m not against wearing glasses, but they have always been an inconvenience.
If you want to play any kind of sport, say snooker or golf, they are a big burden. Likewise, if you want to swim in the sea…you better pitch a flag where you left your towel.
Many people settle for contact lenses, but I have never been able to insert them properly. Mainly because I am the ultimate pansy when it comes to things touching my eye.
It’s not that it physically hurts. I just instinctively blink, or twitch, or refrain.
All of my attempts to wear contact lenses failed miserably, so last Sunday I decided to go for the jugular, get over the fear, and book in another LASIK appointment.
One week later and here I am, three days after surgery, with the crispest long distance vision I’ve ever had in my life.
It’s an amazing feeling.
I’ve had a few people ask me about the surgery itself, so here’s what happened.
LASIK in Bangkok: Consultation to Operation
My initial consultation was on Thursday at Bumrungrad Hospital.
I had my vital signs taken, plus a basic vision test and an eye pressure measurement (it was fine this time).
After meeting the doctor and discussing the risks (“In thousands of operations, we have never lost an eye” — I should fucking hope not!), it was off for more tests aimed at measuring peripheral vision, the strength of my cornea and the composition of my tears.
I then had my pupils dilated whilst the doctor disappeared for lunch.
It’s funny, but Thais don’t often differentiate between breakfast, lunch or dinner. They call all three meals ‘Eat’.
And they are pretty bloody adamant that you do not fuck with ‘Eat’.
Woe betide the poor bastard on life support as the clock strikes feeding hour.
This break gave me about 45 minutes to stumble downstairs in to Au Bon Pain for a motivational Whoopie Pie.
After one more eye examination — the most awkward of them all, where the doctor inserts a weird lid on to each eyeball — he gave me the sweet music to my ears.
“You are a good candidate for surgery.”
Followed by a strange Thai hard-sell, “You want it – yes or no?”
I was delighted just to have passed the tests, “When’s the earliest I can have it?”
Well fuck a rubber duck, OK then.
I was relieved to get a slot in the next 24 hours.
It gave me no time to worry about it.
I went home with sore eyes, ate at Au Bon Pain for the third time in a day, then sloped off for my first Thai lesson.
My girlfriend had work so I went in for the surgery alone, marginally bricking it.
My vital signs were taken again — blood pressure through the roof.
The doctor gave me one last examination then sent me outside with a cup of water and some Valium.
A gift from the Gods.
A few sips later and I was being hauled out of the building in a wheelchair and whizzed over to the 5th floor of the adjacent hospital.
This was news to me.
I thought the surgery took place in the clinic.
I wasn’t expecting to be wheeled past intensive care, asked to change in to full hospital garb (with an ill-fitting pair of pyjama bottoms that I had to hold up) and then parked in a busy ward.
The valium definitely took the edge off the experience.
I was transferred on to the trolley, and then rolled in to the operating room.
Very strange seeing the fluorescent hospital lights passing above you. Eerie, even.
I was pretty relaxed.
Relaxed, but still not happy to be there.
The nurse scrubbed my face down and applied a couple more eye drops.
The eye drops were local anaesthetics. They burned initially, but pretty quickly my eyes were numb and being drawn on.
The doctor then talked me through the procedure, which involves staring at a blinking red dot while the machine clamps around your eye, lifts a flap in the cornea and surgically corrects the retina.
You don’t feel pain, but you certainly feel the dull pressure of machinery at work.
It was uncomfortable and took a lot of fist clenching to keep my head steady and eyes from twitching. But ultimately, it was over pretty quickly.
5-10 minutes per eye, I’d guess?
When the laser went to work, I lost vision completely.
All I could see was a fuzzy haze of stars fluttering.
The doctor then cleaned up, ‘brushing’ each eye as my vision returned and the red dot reemerged — sharper, clearer.
Good signs, I thought.
As I was wheeled away from the machine, I didn’t want to open my eyes again — they were streaming and shell-shocked. But when I did, the operating theatre was in sharp focus.
The results were good, and the valium took over immediately.
I just laid there, let the nurses wheel me back, plastic cones taped over my face.
They gave me 30 minutes rest; took me to fetch my clothes.
Not easy getting dressed immediately after laser eye surgery.
Think my bare arse was parked in the sink at one point.
My girlfriend had arrived from work by this point.
I delegated all existential functions to her, kept my eyes closed and felt myself bundled in to a taxi home.
A lot of people have asked about the initial 24 hours after surgery.
I was encouraged to go straight to bed when I got home (it was 8pm), and I did.
I had trouble sleeping from the mental exhaustion, and the awkward position required by plastic eye protectors taped to my face.
When I woke up, my eyes felt sticky and sore.
A bit like conjunctivitis.
Not painful, but again, I didn’t want to keep them open.
The discomfort went away within an hour or so.
I started looking around my apartment, looking outside, focusing on Terminal 21 in the distance.
And it was amazing.
Seeing clearly, for most people, is an afterthought.
Something you take for granted.
Not being able to has troubled me since I was 14 or 15, when I would struggle to follow notes on the school whiteboard.
I remember my vision declining rapidly through school, but being too self-conscious to get reading glasses. My grades would suffer. I’d dread the classes where I wasn’t sat at the front.
(Try algebra with bad eyesight.)
I would squint, and deny, and squint, and deny, and laugh about how bad my eyes were but never actually address it.
Well, it’s only April. But getting 20/20 vision for 80,000 baht (around £1700) is the soundest investment I’ll make this year.
Since the operation, my long distance vision has continued to sharpen to the point where it’s now as close to perfect as I could wish for.
- My near-distance vision is blurry, and will remain so while my muscles heal.
- I have to wear sunglasses almost constantly for the next month.
- I can’t wash my hair for 4 days (it’s a bit like Glastonbury, except I can’t get rat-arsed either).
- I can’t use my pool for a month.
- I have to apply eye drops, four times per day, for ten days.
- I have to limit my time at the computer for the next two weeks.
Oh, and I have to wear these fucking things to bed for the next two weeks:
A great look!
All in all though, zero regrets.
One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
If you’re considering LASIK, I’d say… go for it.
There are a few hairy moments along the way, but nothing too bad, and the end result is life changing.
That’s what I’ve been up to.
Loving life in Thailand so far.
I’ll be back posting affiliate marketing bollocks in May.
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Thanks for share you experience. Happy to read your blog and I hope your vision recovery will run smoothly. I…