Noi Visits Her Husband in Intensive Care but Dressed like a Bar-girl

A selfie taken by Noi in the same skirt she wore to the hospital

Noi in the same short dress she wore when visiting her husband in ICU (credit, this is a selfie that Noi herself took)

Noi rang me to say that Stuart, her husband, was in ICU in a Thai hospital. I visited him this evening. He was very drowsy and seemed stressed. He had been in intensive care for two days apparently. Noi should have phoned earlier.

He had slipped on a wet floor and severely injured his left knee. Given he had been admitted to the ICU, there may have been other complications. Nobody seemed to know. Thai reticence to give out information?

His private room at the hospital was like a hotel suite. Multi-channel TV, refrigerator, small microwave, coffee maker, a comfortable sofa and chairs. Plenty of wardrobe space and an en-suite bathroom. Some hospitals have VIP suites that include a small dining area for visitors, private phone line, and an internet connection.

You can ask for English speaking staff for a 25% premium, but that is not really necessary as most doctors and quite a few of the nursing staff speak good English. One hospital even offers a daily visit to your room by the hospital director. It’s up to each individual patient whether that particular service is value for money. Some Westerners think it is.

But state hospitals in Thailand have long queues. As you can be waiting for the best part of the day, you need to bring some food and drink. Some patients arrive at 4am just to be certain of being seen in the first hour or so.

State hospitals have long queues in Thailand
A typical Thai state hospital

Thai hospitals encourage a relative to stay overnight. It’s beneficial for the patient. Nurses check patients regularly and are always on call, but having a family member present overnight is seen as a positive advantage that aids patient recovery. Noi slept over every night and spent a large part of the day at the hospital. All private rooms have a foldaway bed and I have seen relatives sleeping in quiet corridors if the family member is in a public ward. Thais don’t like being too far from the family.

Thai hospitals do not have strict visiting times, and Stuart received five Thai visitors, all friends of Noi, while we were there. Most hospital visitors, anywhere in the world, try to be cheerful in front of the patient, but the Thais seem to have that concept in spades. They are ultra-cheerful and smile at every opportunity. They make it a happy shared occasion.

The Thais are like that. Funerals, too, are seen as functions when the community can get together in a social context as well as a time to pay their respects.

Thais always dress appropriately depending on the occasion and, significantly, in a way that shows their position in the Thai hierarchy. If your boss visited you in hospital, everyone present would realise his important position by his manner and the way he is dressed.

Noi had met Stuart in a bar ten years ago, but she still dresses in shorts and revealing clothes. They are still very happy together as a couple. And she is caring and looking after him well now. Nobody minds that she dresses the way she does but it is noticed and gossiped about, even by her friends. However, not in any malicious way. The hospital staff certainly noticed.



MattOwensRees writer on Thai culture and lifestyle

I'm a published author on Thai events and how Thais live under feudalism, and other subjects. I publish on Substack and on my website,