To obtain a work permit in Thailand you have to get tested for syphilis. While I've spent a lot of time worrying about getting various diseases, contracting syphilis was never something that I thought about. After living in Nakhon Pathom for just one night, one of the Thai teachers, Anchalee, drove me to a nearby hospital to get my blood drawn. I would never step foot in a hospital like this back home, actually I don't think hospitals in America ever have outdoor seating. No one spoke English, so I had Anchalee roughly translating things for me.
First, I was weighed by a nurse. Upon seeing what I weighed, Anchalee warned me that if I ate too much I would be fat like her. I was constantly reminded that I could get fat at any moment. Lucky for me there was rarely any food where I was living to eat and I got sick so much that the weight just wouldn't stay on!
Next, I was seated in a chair in a small room, where there was an older Thai woman laying on a bed in a patient gown with her eyes closed next to me. I have no idea if she was alive or not, I'm just going to hope that she was. A nurse came in and tied a tight rubber band around my arm, poked a needle in my arm, and left the room for several minutes. My eyes were about to bug out of my head and I struggled to hold back tears because this really really hurt. She drew an insane amount of blood and put a bandaid over my wound. I'm fairly confident that contracting some kind of disease from this doctor's visit was more likely than leaving with a clean bill of health.
Little did I know that I wasn't just getting tested for syphilis, but elephantiasis, alcoholism, drug addiction, tuberculosis, and leprosy. An hour and less than $30 later I was presented with this certificate of good mental and physical health!