My participation in the FAM trip for the Medical Tourism Blog Contest has certainly put a new spin on Thailand for me. Before I participated in the event I really did not know much about medical tourism to the Kingdom, true I knew that it happened and I also knew that Thailand had some top class medical facilities. But that was about it.
Spending five days in Bangkok as a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand(TAT) however has changed all that. My whirlwind, sometimes exhausting schedule exposed me to facilities, treatments and terminology that quite frankly were difficult to take on board as the week flew by.
However it also sparked an interest that quite surprised me. I have always enjoyed writing about my adopted home, but its always been tourist, expatriate or travel orientated writing along with commentary on the country,its politics and media. Now I find that there are so many issues, related to healthcare and yes medical tourism, that fascinate me just as much as writing about my visit to a fantastic temple or discovering some part of what I like to call my unseen Thailand and reporting it to my readers.
So why am I so surprised? Well I guess its about expectations, or at least my expectations of what the FAM trip and subsequent competition might involve.
I remember doing an Internet search when I found out I was a finalist and finding an article written on a medical forum. It wasn’t particularly complimentary to me and my fellow finalists, but what really stuck in my mind was a part that said something to the effect that we would not be independent and what we wrote would not be a true reflection of medical tourism in Thailand. The article also added that we(the contestants) were motivated by cash prizes which was also likely to colour our thinking on the things we experienced.
It certainly made me think and given that we were supposed to be promoting medical tourism to Thailand I decided I needed to find a balanced way of presenting what I had experienced while exploring other issues surrounding the subject.
Reporting my week in Bangkok hasn’t proved too difficult, but just reporting facts, figures and my personal experience of treatments is somewhat limiting in reader appeal in my opinion. So where to go? The answer I soon discovered was already there for me since the FAM trip had sparked an interest in medical matters that I really didn’t know existed before I arrived in Bangkok.
Perhaps it was the shock of finding out that I was not as healthy as I thought when I had a medical on first day of the FAM activities, but I was hooked, albeit at that time for very personal reasons. I then started to look at other medical issues that affect me and people in my particular age group. Snoring, high blood pressure, diet and ageing for example, all of which suddenly demanded further research, my appetite now wetted by what I had experienced.
Writing about medical tourism and personal medical issues has certainly not proved to be the chore I thought it might be when I first embarked on this journey. It has proved to be both interesting and personally rewarding and whatever the results of the competition I know that for me it has been a worthwhile trip. Not only have I found a new interest but as a direct result of the FAM trip I am now a healthier person too.
Of course the competition was not really about the personal satisfaction I have gained from my participation. So I sincerely hope that my written work and promotion of medical tourism goes some small way to repaying the organisers for having the faith in me in the first place to help promote Thailand as a top destination.
Like I said at the beginning of the article for me the FAM trip and the subsequent experience has put a totally new spin on Thailand for me.
I hope that if you have been following this blog then maybe you have another take on Thailand too.