Have you been bitten by a monkey

The day had come, only weeks into our new life in Jakarta, Indonesia and someone was sick, we had to face the worst and visit the health clinic.

Some might say I should have realised the water was dirty when I had replaced twelve goldfish in a week.  The current two, now named Thirteen and Fourteen have survived a record thirty six hours in their new tank of Evian.  Flushing goldfish down the toilet everyday may urge some people to change their choice of pet but not me, I was determined to prove the benefits of keeping goldfish to my young son who wanted a puppy for Christmas.  At just under fifty cents euro for two, I was willing to go another few weeks before conceding to Rover.

Others might say, children shouldn’t drink the bathwater in any country, let alone Indonesia.    Not one to argue the toss and unable to calculate volume displacement, I took the plunge and headed for the nearest medical centre.

Bear in mind that attending the doctor in Jakarta, Indonesia was among my biggest nightmares.  I had heard stories of situations turning critical due to misdiagnosis and poor treatment

Reaching the door of the SOS clinic in Kemang, I could feel myself falter, my jaw dropped.   “SOS?”  What a name!   They could have called it “Community Clinic” or “Healthcare Today” but SOS!  We were talking about a cough and rash here, not leprosy.   I was assured that this clinic was for “professionals”, a private clinic, this was the top tier of a multi-tiered cake.   Loathe as I am to a society with tiered social classes when it comes to healthcare and I’m on the top tier, I can make an exception.

Inside, it was nothing like the jungle I expected, short orderly queues,  staff were wearing crisp white coats and the waiting area had a playzone,  hardly the sawdust floor and blood smeared walls I’d been expecting.  Recognising my son’s name being called midst the Barhasa Indonesian language, I followed the young Japanese doctor to the room.   Usually, the first question they ask is “has he a temperature?” or “has he any allergies?”  but here in the cold light of day, the first question the doctor me was “HAS HE BEEN BITTEN BY A MONKEY IN THE LAST FEW DAYS?” as shocked as I was at the question, I was also shocked to realise that I hesitated with the answer, but eventually it came with a broad smile, “No” I replied, “we live in Executive Paradise” I added in for good measure.    Leaving the clinic and heading home I snickered at the idea of him asking such a question, maybe he was just a joker, bitten by a monkey – indeed.

The following morning, I heard the commotion from the kitchen, a snake (a real snake, not a euphemism for a worm or a snail) had dropped down from the ceiling and was hissing his way around.  Panic struck, I forgot all my emergency snake handling skills and telephoned maintenance.  While the reaction was rapid it was also unnerving when the receptionist replied, we will send The Snake Team immediately.   I had hoped that this was a rare occurrence but a dedicated team didn’t imply that.  “Its ok ma’am, it is only a baby snake so we can handle with just two men” said the guy holding the large net.   The other guy holding the bag said “we have to come back to treat everywhere in case the mother and other babies are around, they are poisonous so better be safe”.  Apparently there are over 450 types of snakes in Indonesia but thankfully only 5 of those types are fatally poisonous – Phew! They loaded the legless, venomous, slithering repile into the canvas sack and for a second I thought, it’s a pity ex’s couldn’t disappear like that.

Speechless as words couldn’t come and then I struggled to say “what about monkeys are there any monkeys here”, he laughed “of course not ma’am, there are no monkeys in Executive Paradise, not anymore, only outside”.

How reassuring……….. it really is a jungle out there

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