REVIEW: Do not go to this ENT doctor – Dr. Koh Tat Ngee (ENT)

It’s always more pleasant to recommend someone than to **not recommend** someone. But today, it is my duty to let others know about this unpleasant doctor so that they vote their dollars on a more worthy experience.

I recently visited Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur Medical Center for an ear infection. Dr. Koh Tat Ngee was the only doctor available, the others were fully booked for the next two weeks. NOT RECOMMENDED.

The medical center itself receives quite a lot of positive reviews, but this specific doctor is not to be recommended.

IN SHORT: Very very stubborn, cocky, arrogant, insecure, and unpleasant kind of doctor. The kind that thinks he knows everything and that patients are idiots with wallets that know nothing. A better bet if you want a good ENT doctor in that hospital for a better experience is  Dr. Arasa Raj SinnathurayI cannot personally vouch for him because I never visited him, but he was booked for two weeks when I called, and I suspect there’s a reason to that 🙂 I hope I’m right. But definetely, I had a very negative experience with Dr. Koh Tat Ngee

Now if you want to know more this is what happened:
Dr. Koh Tat Ngee is extremely rude, unpleasant and very unprofessional. And this is not “the cultural gap”. I have been around Malaysians and Chinese for years to know that his perceived rudeness is due to him personally and by no means to any cultural gap. Like everywhere, doctors are people, and they come in different flavours. When he seats you on his lying chair, he enters in his “chain factory” mode and proceeds very fast and a lot of manoeuvres, and moves/spins you on his tables so roughly as if you were a piece of meat lying there, no politeness at all, no letting you know he’s going to spin the chair, just a total rude brute.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to suggest that this doctor wants to process as many clients as possible and make money faster. You are meat, meat with a wallet. And if you’re white, you’re exquisite meat, with an exquisite wallet. From the behaviour he had, that was also an obvious one, the only hint of a smile we saw on this frustrated man was when he received white foreign patients. Sadly, it’s a common thing in Malaysia, and I somehow had gotten use to not being shocked every time that happened. So let’s not even focus on this.

As a doctor, he performed very poorly, luckily he had some good tools. As he was rushing to “process me”, I tried very hard to explain to him the background of the infection.

Ok, when you get an ear infection, it’s either fungal or bacterial. He was going to put me on antibiotics and was utterly convinced it was bacterial, without even hearing my story or checking me. Like he has some super guessing powers. On my side, knowing the context I got the infection from (research experiments around composting using fungi) I was certain it was fungal, and spore bits had been visible on ear buds, so IT WAS AT LEAST FUNGAL. The good thing about looking for evidence is that it reveals a truth people can agree on. But he kept interrupting me the way you interrupt a child who doesn’t know what they’re saying, too proud and insecure, he tried to patronize me with his knowledge, explain the baby basics of ear infections when I happen to be a trained researcher, who had done quite a bit of reading on this, including in recent science journals.

After he finally discovered that, as I had told him 100 times, it was fungal he “cover matcho” (acted cocky to save face) and prescribed me drops. Now, important detail, my eardrums were pierced. There are very clear directions given by doctors to NOT use drops on a pierced eardrum. So like anyone who knows this, I was surprised, and double-checked if it was OK to use his drops in pierced eardrums. If it was a new formula all he had to say is “It’s usually true but these are special drops that you can put on a pierced eardrum”. If the advice I had received from other doctors was mistaken, all he had to say is “The advice about not putting drops in pierced eardrums is mistaken, it’s one of these things that aren’t quite true and become dogma once they’re spread.” But instead, after struggling to provide a satisfactory explanation for the curious, he literally said (brace yourself)

He literally said “I don’t want to hear questions anymore, my hair is grey enough”. You would expect that kind of answer from someone who’s job is being questioned, or if you’d been extremely annoying to them that they don’t want to hear your voice anymore. But I asked only that question “I read and was told by doctors that ear drops shouldn’t go on a pierced eardrum, so is it OK to let sit the drop until they enter the ear canals?”.

“I don’t want to hear questions anymore, my hair is grey enough”. He even dared to give me another appointment for two weeks later to “check”.

If I was a skilled doctor I would welcome questions and patients who come with valuable background information on what is going on, and who did their bit of research to understand what they have. In my experience (around scientists, not doctors) the attitude he showed is a standard attitude of people with strong ego when they are not too sure about what they’re talking about.

We pay these people, isn’t normal to understand what they are doing and prescribing us?

Anyway, now I understand why he was the only doctor available, and you’re warned.

Now some tips on your next ENT visit for ear infections:
– Get an ENT doctor who’s equipped with a vaccuum pump for ear canals, they might all have that I’m not sure, I can only tell it did a lot of good to remove all the junk that accumulated there.
– If you’re going to go with a first round of drops, look for NEO DECA (5ml), probably costs 5 to 10 RM like most drops. The active ingredients are Dexamethasone 21-Phophate 0.1% and Neomycin Sulphate 0.5%, just copied the label, so haven’t had time to research on these but from what I was told it’s both antibacterial and antifungal.

Aerial Photography Using Paramotor. Verdict? POSSIBLE.

My friend and paramotoring instructor James Gibbs worked around May to June 2011 in contributing to produce a documentary called Shoot For The Sky in Sabah. It was aired on Bio Channel Asia from February 25th to March 6th, 2012.

The whole point of the documentary was to experiment aerial photography from a paramotor, the cheapest form of powered aircraft. It is extremely relevant to do so, because usually a helicopter or plane is used at a huge cost. A paramotor is also a very transportable aircraft and a whole great for one passenger fits easily in the average car. Additionally, because of its limited size, a paramotor can access places that would not be accessible by plane or helicopter.

Two top-rank Malaysian photographers, Jon and Cede, were first trained. 5 days of an epic adventure.

Then the production team flew to Sabah with all the gear, and photography equipment. Despite some dramatic landings funnily commented in the documentary, the pictures came out outrageously clear. They can be seen in the photo album of the documentary Shoot for the Sky.

The paramotor training in Malaysia was provided by AirVenture.

Salsa In Kuala Lumpur: A Fine Selection Of The Best Spots

Where to go dance Salsa in Kuala Lumpur?

Last update on: Nov, 30th, 2011.

Following a nice encounter with a CUBAN salsa instructor in Kuala Lumpur (the inevitable Lingerto) here are some of the best spots for Salsa (and possibly other latin dances like Merengue and Bachata) in Kuala Lumpur City. (List may not be exhaustive).

Waste no more time, here’s the best Kuala Lumpur daily Salsa diet.
Lines with a “★★★” refer to truly happening nights.

★★★ Mondays at Shifz Grill, a few steps away from the McDonalds in Bangsar, KL.
Also got Bachata.
Rarely Merengue.
Directions: No 64 Jalan Maarof, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur. +6012-314-1668 (DJ Steiner)

Tuesdays @ G Point (formery Salsa Havana). Still a bit calm on late Nov 2011, maybe it was insanely calm tonight.
Apparently no cover charge. To be confirmed.
Some websites say Qba is every night but I have tried tonight (Tuesday) and at 11:30 it was not a Salsa night at all.

Wednesday @ Shivz Grill
(address above)
Cover Charge: 10RM.

★★★ Thursday: @ Qba, definitely. It’s at the Westin Hotel in Bukit Bintang area, near the Pavillon.
Some Bachata.
Rarely Merengue.
No sleeveless shirt.

No cover charge.
Directions: The Westin Kuala Lumpur, 199, Jalan Bukit Bintang

★★★ Friday @ Paradisso Club is nice. It feels like in an igloo due to the blue lights but dancing heats up the vibes.
Directions:
Paradisso Club (Lodge Paradize Hotel), No 2 Jalan Tengah, Intersection of Jalan Raja Chulan / Jalan Sultan Ismail

★★★ Saturdays @ Modestos. I have been there, I really liked this place, lots of room to dance and to relax, good DJs
Got Some Bachata.
First Drink Charge.
Directions : Cap Square Centre G33 Persiaran Capsquare, Kuala Lumpur – 03-2697-4020

Sunday @ Shivz Grill
(address above)

NOTA BENE: La Bomba has permanently closed (triple-confirmed) despite the door sign that says “closed for 15-day renovation”.

More here: http://www.salsapower.com/cities/malaysia.htm
Salsa Power is partly obsolete, but great if you adventure yourself in unknown territories. At least you have something.

Facebook Groups:
Salsa Social Nites in Kuala Lumpur

Salsa Cubana in KL

“The world is not a straight line, it is round”.
Lingerto Sabor

Climbing Mount Kinabalu

If you’re around South-East Asia, you like nature, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, challenge, and you’re in good physical condition, then I do recommend that you go for climbing the 4000+ meters of Mt Kinabalu. Here is some very valuable advice from someone who’s done it in the worst possible conditions and learned from it for next time.

The ascent is done in 2 steps. You register the first morning at the base of the mount, already at about 1000 meters above sea level actually. After you’ve cleared the paperwork and got a guide, your first objective is to climb to the half-way guest house called “Leban Rata”. That’s DAY 1. Then you’ll go super-early the day after at 2 a.m. all the way up to the top to be there before sunrise (~ 5:45 ish).

First of all, book it much in advance. Not that the mount can’t carry the weight of numerous visitors but the number of dorms is the limiting factor.

I recommend that you check out the cheap flying dates AND the available dates for Mt Kinabalu before you order both.

WHEN TO GO & THE IMPACT OF RAIN

Outside the raining season DEFINITELY ! The dry season in Sabah is April/September, even then it’s not dry all the time. So don’t be a fool, go ONLY during that period.

IMPORTANT : If your objective in reaching the top is strictly to enjoy a marvelous sunrise as it was for me, do not finish the ascent if you’re guide asks you if you still wanna go because it’s (or going to be) rainy and foggy. It would be no fun at all. I insist, I know there’s a big time and money investment, but in my experience rain, wind and fog  totally kill the fun part of doing this. So now I’d rather be wise, get on with it, and try my luck another time. Having a plan B in KK in case it’s rainy is probably a great idea too. This being said, if you’re there for pure challenge, well then go, you’ll have it all the more.

TRANSPORTATION

Getting to KK : Air Asia Airport, from SG : Air Asia, Tiger Airways, or Jetstar (Kuching)
Going from KK to the mountain : 15RM, KK bus interchange
Staying in KK : Book on hostelworld.com

Trick : On your way back, don’t wait like everyone for an official bus : There are mini-vans bringing people from the city every now and then. They’ll be happy to take people back for a small fee. Just walk outside a few minutes to reach the main road and catch one there.

BOOKING FOR Mt KINABALU

STEP 1 : Book a bed at the dorms + access to the mount

Call “Sutera Sanctuary Lodges”

+6088-303-914
10-5pm

COST : ~500 RM / pax (about 100 Euros total)

HOWEVER : Do take food and water for the first ascent because the sandwich they give you is really not filling.
Food at the guest house is unlimited, it’s not the best food I had but it’s still okay and filling.

STEP 2 : Book a Guide at Sabah Parks

You MUST have one, it’s obligatory.

It’s better to make a very large group since the guide is not very useful until Leban Rata, in practice there is no real group as in you’d have to stick together. So you can stick with your boyfriend or girlfriend or stay alone or with only your friends…

80RM to 100+ RM total per guide, depending on size of group (limited to ~10). It’s like a taxi, the more people the cheaper.

STEP 3 (optional) : Pay someone to carry your heavy stuff

The carriers are paid  3RM/Kg to climb food/gas to Leban Rata
For tourists : 5RM/KG

INTERESTING FACTS

Time to go up

If you are young and in normal healthy condition : 5/6 hours to go from the base to Leban Rata, halfway to the top. Then 3/4 hours to go to the top from Leban Rata.

Count 4 to 6 to go down from the very top. I recommend taking as much time as you can while going down, i.e. resting, because that is the most straining part.

Optimising time, reducing pain

I experimented different ways to ascend and descend faster and with less pain:

In both cases chatting helps a lot to keep the mind busy, providing that you get good breathing.

While going up, I felt making much less effort by combining rapid bouts of climbing with frequent rests, rather that walking slowly all the way. It can be fun if you do that in a group, and it’s great workout.

While going down, I realised that it’s in fact MUCH less straining and painful to run down rather than walk down step by step or stair by stair is also, of course much faster. Do it only if you feel agile as you may hurt yourself seriously if you make a wrong step.

Random important info

Take as little weight as possible.

Take cashew nuts to play with squirrels.

Equipment:

Obligatorily a damn good head lamp. They will NOT lend you one, believe me. I took none and luckily our guide was the sweetest man on hearth and gave me his and walked in darkness cause he knows the place. Believe me, you won’t see ANYTHING if you don’t have one. and not much if it’s a bad-quality one. To avoid any of that frustration and say “Damn I should have…” then invest in very powerful one and make sure to have spare battery.

Ideally ankle-high hiking shoes because they reduce ankle pain, otherwise non-slippery sports shoes.

Ideally, some sort of equipment to clip yourself to the safety cord just in case you make a clumsy step.

Ideally, a hiking stick.

Clothing :

Keep in mind temperature badly drops as you go up, and if you’re unlucky like I’ve been you’ll have tons of rain too…in the dry season. So be ready to face that.

Something to fully cover your head and ears

Scarf

Rain protection : This is VERY important, winds are strong and the rain and humidity if they occur will make it a very unpleasant time if you go without appropriate protection. Don’t buy those cheap 5$ disposable raincoats. Having had an awful time with rain there I would make sure I can cover 100% of my body with a good full-body 100% waterproof rain coat.

100% waterproof gloves

A warm winter jacket

1 pair of spare shoes + 2 spare outfits : in case you come back all wet and frozen.

AFTER Mt KINABALU

Sleep, good hydration and nutrition are very important at all times, and definitely will help your fast recovery.

Going down the hill will produce eccentric exercise on your legs (eccentric = when your muscles lengthen under weight, typically running downhill or going down stairs) and that is responsible for immense muscle soreness after the descent. I insist, immense soreness. So, for the week after your ascent, cancel any sport training or event that will require your body to function normally…maybe you’ll be too sore.

I did some research to cure that painful state so here’s the very best I found from that long and passionate research :

  1. IBUPROFENE is what will kill your pain. It’s an efficient antalgic that work better than anything with paracetamol (Panadol).
  2. Aspirin and Arnica increase blood flow therefore undo the soreness
  3. Massages help circulation
  4. Couldn’t find anything truely reliable about the effect of stretching on muscle soreness for this type of effort, not even in medical scientific journals.

Thailand & Laos

Thailand

The first marking experience you have in Thailand is definitely the people. “Thailand” literally means the country of a thousand smiles and that you will agree of when you land there.

Prices are fairly cheap for food, accommodation and goods, from 2 to 4 times cheaper than in Singapore, which is already roughly from 1 to 2 times cheaper than France.

It will be a good deal though only if you don’t fall in one of the many scams in Bangkok. The typical scam is related to tuk-tuk drivers. A tuk-tuk is typical type of motorbike that was transformed to be halway between a car are a motorbike. Many tuk-tuk drivers are part of large soft mafia. They wait around the guest houses and other tourist hotels or places of interest like temples. They offer you an insanely cheap tour of the city instead of bringing you to wherever you want, which is tempting. Basically the cheap charge is covered by FORCED AFFILIATION. This driver will bring you to many places that will charge you a crazy price and they will get a commission that’s far more interesting than a tuk tuk ride for them financially speaking. The worst possible affiliation they have is jewels stores. Tuk-tuk drivers will tell you it’s the last day of some promotion than allows you to buy sapphires at company price and resell them in your country for much more.

If you go to Bangkok, if you are on low budget, go for tuk tuks never accept ANY STOP or prefer city buses even cheaper but quite slow. Or simply take a taxi meter, which is still relatively cheap.

Tuk-tuk drivers elsewhere Bangkok are just insisting are only sponsored by guest houses. They are so insisting that the only way we found to turn that into something was to answer “tuk-tuk” to whoever asked “Tuk-tuk ?”. Further in the joke, every time we were riding a bike, we couldn’t help reversing the joke and asking real tuk tuk drivers if they wanted a ride on our low-cost one-day tuk-tuk bike. “Hello, Where you go ? Tuk tuk ? Guest house?”. Most of them laughed a lot, that was fun.

There’s a regret though of not having had more time to explore trading opportunities and to trek around especially around Chiang Mai.

Laos

The first this that strikes when you arrive in Laos, is the absence of smiles. We had indeed been spoiled by the nice Thai people. Three days are definitely too short to draw conclusions on the locals but that was the first impression. Country is really poor. Prices are insanely high considering we’re in Asia. It’s almost like in Singapore (1 to 2 times cheaper than in France) which should be OKAY, minus the fact that Singapore offers very high standards (cleanliness, modernism, transportations, safety…) for the same price.

I want to explore a bit more to find out how much communism is responsible for the sad situation of Laos. Planned Economy seams to be practised everywhere. Laos is probably the only country in the world where you will find 10 stalls, all near each other, ALL selling the EXACT same things, at the exact same price with virtually no possibility of discount.

This applies to all types of businesses, the similar business all cluster in one place, and all do the same thing atidentical places. No differentiation, no innovation, barely any marketing. The agressive business man travelling in Laos will easily wonder whether those people are here because they have to. It could be given the motto of communism : everybody according to their needs and according to their capabilities. In other words, do whatever you can do for the community, and we’ll give you (not what you produce but) what you really need.

Landscapes however are tremendously beautiful. If you’re a lover of nature, you will be amazed by the northern part of Laos with its abrupt hills and dense vegetation. Going south, the land flattens, and you will see more rice fields, but I would recommend outside the harvesting period when the rice is flashy green.

Banana trees grow everywhere, as omnipresent as undesired plants. A local snack is some sort of BBQ banana: it’s a not-yet-ripe banana that’s gently grilled and it makes a delicious and not too sweet, not too soft snack.

Oustide a few funny plants here and there, we barely found anything TYPICALLY Lao in terms of food. You’ll find fried rice and other very healthy fried foods and over-sweet drinks like everywhere else in southeast Asia but don’t expect anything too fancy.

Currencies ! Nearly everywhere in Laos, you can pay in either USD, THB (bahts), or KHIPS (the Lao currency). I would however recommend two things for your savings. First, the locals are convinced that 1 USD = 7000 KHIPS, truth is it’s worth around 8500 Khips. So it’s often better to pay them in Khips because most will apply this rate that advantages them a lot. Second, sometimes price is indicated in several currencies and barely updated to keep up with stock exchange fluctuations. Do convert all of them to see what currency advantages you more and pay in that one. That’s how we saved a bit by choosing USD and BAHTS instead of KHIPS a few times.

The regret with this trip is to have been to Vientiane where there is nothing to do, more affecting yet, I wish I could spend a bit of time with a mainstream Lao family with one person that can converse in English, and understand everything about their lifestyle.

Stop in Pulau Penang (Malaysia)

If you travel from say Singapore to Bangkok by bus (overall 35 to 45 Euros against 60 Euros by low-cost plane) and achievable in 2 nights and one day (leaving evening from Johor Bahru and arriving not the next but the following morning in Bangkok at 6/7am), you might consider stopping in Penang. I warn you: there is nothing much about this island ! No nice beaches, normal landscapes, absolutely nothing very entertaining. The only fun thing I considered was Parasailing (parachute 30 meters above water and pulled by a boat) and jet-sky. For 2 RM,Take nothing else than a 501 “Rapid Bus” bus from the Jetty in Georgetown to the beach Batu Ferringhi (one every 20/30 minutes), like anywhere where you are tourist ignore the seemingly friendly agents one the way to the beach and go talk to the people directly in charge of the activity you want to do. Jet-Sky can be negotiated for 65 RM / 20 minutes (13 Euros) and for Parasailing 50 RM/ 5 minutes (10 Euros).

Expenses Record:

Night Bus: Johor Bahru (Malaysia) to Pulau Penang (Malaysia)
From 10:30pm to 10am, 70 RM (14 Euros) (Malaysia Ringits) (company “SuperNice”)

Guest House :15 RM (3 Euros)
100 Cindra Street, Pulau Penang (Georgetown), Malaysia.

Bus : 33 RM (6.5 Euros)
From Butherworth (near Penang) to Hat Yai (Thailand), 3 hours.

Night Bus: 740 TBH (15 Euros) (Thailand Baht)
From Hat Yai to Bangkok (Thailand), from 8pm to 8am, SIAM Transport (02-8946160-2)

Guest House: 150 TBH (3 Euros)
Bangkok, Krao San quarter.

Thai Massage: 180 TBH (3.5 Euros)
Bangkok, Women Prison, 1 hour, nice but a little too strong.

Bus: Bangkok – Sukotai : 273 TBH (5.5 Euros)

Guest House : 150 TBH (3 Euros)
Old City Guest House, Sukhotai.
Main ruins temple entrance : 150 TBH (3 Euros)
Bike for a day : 30 TBH (0.6 Euros), end of the main street on the mekong side, in front of Kmuh massage (Tel: 567-1306).

Bus : Sukhotai – Tak, 53 TBH (1 Euro)

Bus : Tak – Chiang Mai, 275 TBH (5.5 Euros)

Bus : Chaing Mai – Chiang Rai, 180 TBH (3.5 Euros)

Bus : Chiang Rai – Huay Xai (Laos) : 55 TBH (1 Euro)
Lao Customs : 30 USD (

Bus : Huay Xai – Luang Prabang (Laos), 20 USD
From 2pm to 5am.

Bike: Luang Prabang, 3000 Khips for a day
Lao Massage : 45000 KHIPS
Kmuh Massage, 1 hour, very nice.

Night Bus: Luang Prabang – Vientiane (Laos), 13 USD.

Vientiane – Nong Kai (Thailand) : 60 THB
Customs exit fee : 2500 KHIPS

Nong Kai – Bangkok: 325 TBH

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Food + local buses and tuk-tuk : 250 TBH/day on average