February 13th 1984

posted in: The way back | 0
Helga and George

After a leisurely breakfast, Helga drove us into town.  We had Stefan with us, suffering from a bad attack of schoolitis, judging by the way he perked up when it became too late for school.  Originally, it had been our intention to finish all our business + leave at around lunch-time, But G + H had made it clear we were welcome to stay as long as we liked, so we decided to stay another day.  The first task in the morning was to visit the hospital, the brand spanking new one.  It certainly is marvellously well-equipped, the only thing missing being a morgue.  It had had one, but there’d been a land-slip, + it had slid off down the hill.  There were separate out-patients depts. For men + women, + at each one went to a receptionist, obtained a number, + then sat + waited until that number came up.  I had no trouble at all obtaining a number, but Val was subject to some fierce interrogation by the administrator.  But we both had a very long wait before the doctors were able to work their way  thro’ the people ahead of us.  Not that we minded particularly, but it was a bit awkward with Helga + Stefan having to wait as well.  Fortunately, there was a shopping centre close, so they were able to kill some time there.

Eventually, I got thro’ to see the doctor, an Indian, tho’ for some reason – interpreter, keeping a check on things – there was a Bruneian official also in the surgery.  The doctor was very nice, however, + was able to help with my 3 requirements – more anti-malaria tablets, pills to help my upset stomach, +, for the cut under my toe (my longhouse injury) an anti-tetanus injection, my foot dressed, + some anti-biotic ointment.  One certainly could not fault the support services – the doctor did not have to give me my injection, he simply passed me on to an orderly to do that, then another one sprayed my foot with an anti-biotic spray.  The dispensary in the hospital was also able to supply all the drugs, + all free of charge.  Crazily, the dispensary had different windows on either side of it for men + women, carrying Muslim fundamentalism a bit too far.

Helga and Val

Val too got what she required – an ointment for a rash on her back, + some malaria tablets, tho’ of the latter her doctor only prescribed 6, while mine had given me 15.  A useful chore performed, but it had taken the whole morning, so, not wanting to hold Helga up more than necessary, we cut short our business, merely collecting our photos + buying some brown paper + string to send home a big parcel.  One important thing we omitted to do was make arrangements for our travel from KK to peninsular Malaysia.  I favoured buying an APEX ticket from KK to Johore Bahru (near as dammit Singapore) saving us 20% on the normal economy fare.  The problem with this was that it meant a definite commitment to flying across, + on a definite date, at least 2 weeks from now, + Val wanted to keep our options open as long as possible, hoping, in fact, to find a boat to carry us across, either to Singapore or to Hong Kong.  The Hong Kong option is something that came to our attention at  Niah, when we discovered from Joe that there were cheap flights across to there from Bangkok, + from Klaus that it was possible to earn good money there, + get an interesting trip, smuggling electronic stuff to Japan + Korea.  Sounds perilous, I know, but Klaus assured us it was established + risk-free, since one would only take one thing of a kind – one watch, one camera, one Walkman, etc.  So, with the possibility of getting to HK cheap, the less certain opportunity of making some money while we were there, + the definite opportunity to travel into China from there, it’s certainly something that interests us.  And obviously, if we could travel direct to HK, that would save us money.

Back at the barracks, we rested for the afternoon, + then, when Melanie returned from school, Val + I took her + Stefan down to the swimming pool.  Melanie is 9, Stefan 7, + they’re a nice couple of kids.  Not zingingly intelligent, I don’t think, but pleasant + fun.  Another relaxing evening after a good meal.  (Unfortunately, Helga decided to cook noodles instead of potatoes, but one can’t have everything, I suppose.)

Absolutely the best place to have our medical needs seen to – high-quality service, and all for free, even if it was attached to some strange bureaucracy. And enjoying some more home-style hospitality, before we venture off on our own once again.

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