Going to Baguio is an option to experience the famous 9-degree weather at this time of the year. But news spread around that even our favorite one-head per room apartelle is fully booked until February this year.
Changing gear, we hovered on the internet and booked ourselves until we’re blue in the face: four nights and five days somewhere in Austin, HK. Cebu Pacific offered ground-kissing fare and the hotels followed suit. We find the hotel tariff at two thirds less than Marco Polo and we find it a good bargain taking into account the reviews accompanying the hotel website.
It looks like the days of Travel Agencies are numbered. Travelers now are wise enough to skirt the overstated services of these booking trip entrepreneurs.
We booked at BP International along Austin with a couple of bunk beds that can fit four lodgers. So off we go.
Of course we had some thermals with us to blunt off the famous nippy winter of HK. Finding our hotel is a breeze. It was right on the dot like what we expected it to be as it was described by its website. No overselling here.
Then we settled ourselves and reviewed our very own itinerary: day 1-Victoria Peak; day 2-Disneyland; day 3-Macau; day 4-Lantau Island; day 5-Jordan-Monkok-Nathan Road (and its environs).
BP International is strategic. Turning one corner, you find the Kowloon Park and with no vehicular traffic hounding us pedestrians, we are headed to Tsim Tsat Sui.
Binging in corner eateries, like superheroes, we thought we can replenish lost energy from a fourteen-hour ride/walk per day.
One by one, we fell on the way side except the youngest in our pack. The daughter caught her fever on the second day but recovered on the third day. This vagabond caught the temperature on the fourth day with asthma complication without his nebulizer. He could feel his pulse skyrocketing and his blood pressure as well. Of course, an alarming situation. The missus has her body pains.
In our twenty-year back and forth in this island this is the first time we need medical help. The situational algorithms swirl in this traveler’s mind: the Chinese despise us; there’s a resurgence of the avian flu; what if this physical malaise turns out to be the renowned avian flu; or SARS; we are looking at the probability of being quarantined and detained in a specialized research institute and turned into guinea pigs; will our consulate assist us; and where in Hades are the hospitals here? Algorithms again have to be set up: situation one, two, three….until eleven on how to deal with this “we have a situation” situation. Our worst fear is the prospect of quarantine and detention in government health facilities and released until the fever subsided… or worse. And the Chinese hate us (remember the Luneta incident? (emphasis)).
The daughter however took care of that like a detached clinician. Call the Concierge, she said. But of course.
The guy at the end of the line gave us a list of hospitals both government and private. The privates appealed to us because the algorithms of long queue in the midst of the noisy afflicted, grunting and coughing and spitting, mainlanders in public hospitals simply petrified us. The daughter called the hospitals and asked the prospective tariffs of consultation and other related costs. Peeping at our respective wallets and finding some colorful papers inside, it took us some painful moments to decide whether to go or not. This is a joke of course.
Since we are tourists who need medical attention the guy at the other end reminded us to bring our passports. Hailing a cab, we surveyed the private hospitals within the area. One hospital at Prince Edward Road drew us to it: the St. Teresa’s Hospital.
Repairing at its Emergency Ward, we enrolled at the counter. The ER is immaculately sanitized. We were dispensed a number. The assisting nurse leads the patient to an automated sphygmomanometer to record the sick’s blood pressure in real time together with the temperature and pulse. They speak good audible English (unlike the taxi drivers whom you have to hand the hotel brochure (for instance) to tell them where to bring you).
The data collected are transmitted to the attending physicians’ personal computer. This traveler’s data are shooting thru the roof. The patients are mostly children and young adults. A face mask vending machine sits in a corner and after getting a couple we settled at the waiting lounge to wait until our numbers are called. Just like the banks, the ER of St. Teresa’s has ubiquitous plasma screens festooned on the walls that flashed the numbers in sequence.
Once your number is called the procedure flows: the doctor sees you first (in his/her room across the treatment room (he/she does not mingle with patient and the medical attendants)), asks questions, probes your back and chest with his/her stethoscope, looks at your throat with a tongue depressor, writes a prescription, and if something has to be done on you (like administering a nebulizer) a nurse leads the patient to the treatment room. In a jiffy, this traveler’s pulse and BP plummeted to normal. Once you have been attended to (and got relief from your affliction), you proceed to the Pharmacy and the Cashier to get the medicine prescribed and settle the medical services and “materials dispensed” on you.
Going thru this motion, the patient-tourist feels revitalized and ready to take Mao Tse Dong’s first step towards Chek Lap Kok Airport now baptized as HK International Airport.
This traveler was not quarantined. And that was a relief.