Thursday, August 21, 2008

Siam Country Club Pattaya..

As our return flight to KL was at 330 pm, we decided to play at the famed Siam Golf and Country Club, the Old Course, which hosted the 2007 LPGA tournament which saw famous golfers like Sorrenstam, Morgan Pressel, Ai Miyazato etc playing. After all how often does one get to come to Pattaya!

We had a wake up call at 0500 am and left our hotel at 530. We were joined by another RSGC golfer, Mr Peter Eu (whose brother is a golf pro and now manages the Saujana Golf and Country Club) who stayed at the Marriot. The Siam Country Club is only about 20 minutes away from downtown Pattaya.

too early for breakfast...the Club Restaurant

The Siam Golf and Country Club has 2 courses, the 18-hole Old Course and a newer 27-hole Plantation Course which is at another location along the same road. The Old Course was reconstructed 2 years ago by the Japanese Golf designer I. Izumi and is managed by a Japanese company.
First flight 630 am.....pakdokter, Peter Eu, Mr C K Lim
We had booked the first tee-off time i.e. 6.30 am. We teed-off from the white marker which measured about 6700 yards. The LPGA tournament also played from this tee. So, in a way we were testing ourselves against these lady professionals!
Hole No.1 Par 5 dog-leg right 505 yards.....Peter at tee-off
The course, in general, can be described as immmaculately pretty.... The fairways were like carpets and quite wide and friendly. Even the bunkers had fine white sand which reminded me of the beach at Redang Island. In fact, despite the apparent friendliness of the course, it was so cleverly designed that the the bunkers were always there to trap you in mid-fairways and on the approach to the greens.
Good 'sooot'........!
I think I had to play from the bunkers in almost all the holes but managed to get out of them in one attempt. This is indeed a good course for improving your bunker shots!
Bunkers at mid-fairway and bunkers on approach of green..
The greens were cut to a speed slower than Laem Chabang, so it was not so frustating for us as we were able to putt in, some times ,from a good long distance, of course with a bit of guidance from the very good caddies.
Uncle Lim teeing off at the Hole-9 with Clubhouse in background
I returned a score 0f 52/50 which is what my usual score is. So, don't ever imagine of playing against the lady professionals....
bunkers,bunkers, bunkers....
So next trip, to check-out the Plantation Course and to watch the 2009 LPGA which will be at the Old Course.

The Quad 2008...A Night to Remember...

The prize presentation dinner was a lavish spread of delicious Thai food and free flows of beer, wine and whisky. To liven up the night, the event management company had brought in Thai talents to provide the entertainment for the golfers.

The Ceasars (or Scissors?) ..a Trio of 2 viloinists and a cellist..

Patrick Lam looking in awe of the Thai talent while P M Kallei (used his 'winnings' ) paid the Trio to serenade at our table whilst.

And of course they were happy to oblige...

Ms Kathun was paid by Kalaie for this special pose with Pakdokter

and more.....

The Quad 2008 - Day 2...

We arrived at the Laem Chabang Golf Club to be welcomed by the liason officers rocking to samba music which woke all of us up from the night sleep.

The second day event was an individual event and each flight consisted of one player from the four participating clubs. Our handicaps (based on our own club's USGA Handicap Index was readjusted to Laem Chabang's Rating and probably also taking into consideration the score of yesterday's game) were adjusted accordingly.

Mr Kalaie, Mr Patrick Lam, Pakdokter, Dr Allan Ng

Pakdokter was put in a flight made up of Mr P M Kalaie of RBSC , a former Malaysian from
Malacca who is now a citizen of Thailand running a petrol refinery. The other two golfers were Mr Patrick Lam of Hong Kong (with whom I had played with at RSGC when he visited us two months ago) and Dr Allan Ng, a retired Singaporean obstetrician and gynaecologist.

The Laem Chabang Course is a Jack Nicklaus design and is characterised by a lot of bunkers including fairways bunkers. We were made to play the Mountain and the Valley Courses and after taking into considertaion of the previous day's performance we were happily told to play from the white tee which measured a total of 6305 yards. ( the total yardage of the previous day was 6721 yards.)

The Mountain course must be a little easier (or was it because of playing form the white tee?) because I managed to return a score of 46/54 ( handicap reviewed to 28!). Allan Ng from Singapore (h'cap 24) returned a score of 53/43, PM Kalaie of Bangkok (h'cap 19) did 49/46 and Patrick Lam of Hong Kong (h'cap 23) carded 51/56. As only Patrick, Kalaie and Pakdokter played the game on a small bet against each other, both Patrick and I ended up paying Kalaie for his winnings.

Allan Ng teeing of under close watch of caddies while Patrick readying himself with a few practice swings
The team event was won by the host club, the Singapore Island Country Club followed by thr Royal Selangor Golf Club close behind with the Royal Bangkok and the Hong Kong Golf Club in third and fourth places consecutively.
Vincent Lien, SICC Captain receving the Quad Trophy from Dr Adul, the current Chairman of Laem Chabang and Past Chairman of Royal Bangkok Sports Club.
And a special achievement of mention during this tournament, one of the Hong Kong's player did a hole-in-one at the hole No. 8 par 3 which measured 143 yards from the white tee.
The Royal Selangor Golf Club team.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Quad 2008 - Day 1...

The 'Quad' is a biennial event involving RSGC, RBSC,HKGC and SICC, this year's event being hosted by SICC at the Laem Chabang Golf Course, Pattaya. Each team was represented by 24 players playing on 2 days, the first day being a team competition and the second an individual contest.
With Singapore's management efficiency and Thailand's famed hospitality, we were welcomed upon arrival at the Laem Chabang by a parade of event management liason officers who kept our body temperatures rising immediately.
The RSGC team mascot 'Lisa' with pakdokter
Each team had its own mascot and the team of liason officers were kept busy making sure that the players were never short of 'rehydration' and 'dehydrating' fluids on the golf course and after the game during the post game cocktails.
The liason officers on patrol with rehydration fluids for the golfers
At the registration we were given our bag of goodies which included a dozen of Tietlist Pro V balls, Laem Chabang Cap, the official Quad face towel and other mementoes from Singapore Island Country Club. At the Welcome reception we were briefed on the programme and our team mascot and the bevy of liason officers were individually introduced to us
Mr Ian G McLean, A Scot (RSBC) who has made Pattaya his home since 1944, Mr Jimmy Pun of Hong Kong in a 'family photo-shoot'...
It was a pleasure to meet up with old friends from the other clubs some of whom I have played with in previous inter-port matches.
Pakdokter partnered Uncle Lim to play against Royal Bangkok's Mr Nattasin ( an investment banker and a committee member of RBSC) and Mr Chanchai ( a businessman against whom I had played in Bangkok 2 years ago)
Mr Nattasin, pakdokter, Uncle Lim and Mr Chanchai Hanthanakul
Laem Chabang is a 27-hole golf course, and we played the Lake and Valley courses from the blue tees which measured a total of 6271 yards. This was very long for many of us when compared to the Phoenix Golf Course we played yesterday and to make matters worse the green speed was cut to 11. The positions of the holes were made difficult as many were on slopes which easily caused some of us to putt 3 or 4 to hole the ball.
1st tee-off at the hole-5 Lake Course, a par-3 measuring 191 yards
There were many lakes to cross and it was costly for some who hit their precious balls into water. And the par-3's were all long especially for me.
Chanchai teeing-off at the hole 8 Lake Course par 3 ,measuring 165 yards over water
hole-5 Valley course, a par-3 measuring 195 yards

Considering the level of difficulty of the course, I must say that we played quite well. I returned a score of 53/52 with 2 pars to boot. Uncle Lim (handicap 20 returned the same 53/52 with also 2 pars). Mr Nattasin (handicap 17) scored 47/48 with 3 pars and Mr Chanchai carded a score of 54/51 and only understood what a par meant after playing 12 holes. He said he was sufferring from a hangover after a 'very hard work' the night before.
Uncle Lim introducing Mr Rin Lee (HK Golf Club Captain) to Mr Lee Tak Suan ( RSGC Captain)
The post game cocktails had free flows of beer, wines and whisky which kept everybody happy while discussing how good or bad their games were. And the event management liason officers added more colour to the evening.

Phoenix Golf and Country Club, Pattaya

We planned to play a practice round at the Siam Country Club, Old Course, but found out that the club was closed for maintenance on Mondays. So in its place a game was arranged at the Phoenix Golf and Country Club.

multi-tiered waterfall at the lobby of Phoenix Golf Resort club-house

The group of 13 RSGC golfers who came later on Sunday evening had a bus to shutlle them and was staying at the newly completed Ibis Hotel,Pattaya. It happened to be just next door to where C K Lim and I were staying, so we hopped on to a tuk-tuk with our golf bags and joined them at 7.00 am in the morning en-route to Phoenix Golf Course.

a view of the golf course from the club-house

Phoenix Golf Course was just about 20 minutes out of Pattaya. It is a 27-hole course, one of the older golf courses in the region. So it is a mature course, well maintained and manicured with a huge new club-house. Our group was the first to arrive that morning and we were happy to tee-off without any pressure at all.

the flat and friendly course of Phoenix Golf Resort

The course is generally short - the Lake and Mountain Nines that we played totalled only 6222 yards from the white tee. It suited us( mostly senior golfers) fine and allowed us to have a leisurely game - although I must admit that the scores I returned with did not reflect how friendly the course is! I guess the fatigue from the early Sunday flight and the overdone 3 hours of massage had its telling effect.

C K Lim doing a practise swing

Alex Hwang IL Rok and Chun Ki Hoe, the two Koreans (who run Korean restaurants in KL) decided that they were better off playing from the black tee, or else they would be putting 2-on on most of the par 4's.

ex-Captain Lee Tuck Chew and Korean Chun Ki Hoe raising his glass of Black Label

I played with C K Lim (handicap 20) and Wong Yew Kwong (handicap 19). With my handicap of 24,I returned a score of 57/49, C K Lim scored 51/45 and Y K Wong carded 50/52. We played a small stake and Yew Kwong collected a few dollars from both C K and I.

Wong Yew Kwong wong collected money from both C K Lim and pakdokter

All in all, the Phoenix Golf and Country Club was a good venue for a warm up.

the ever scientific Dr Francis Ho who will only believe in anything if it is evidence-based (extreme right) and Ronald Yeo,the introspective lawyer and chi kung practitioner who reads everything from philosophy and religion to holistic medicine.. Captain Lee Tak Suan looked on the two colleagues who finally decided to stop their intellectual discourse and savour the delicious Thai food...Korean Alex Hwang IL Rok at extreme left.

C K and I decided that in preparation for the competition on Tuesday, we must tone up our bodies with another 3 hours of Thai massage.

The group went for a sea food dinner at a restaurant in downtown Pattaya where I realised how bustling has Pattaya become since I was here some 20 years ago and again about 2 years ago. The new Central Pattaya Beach Department Store to be opened in 2009 looks set to rival KL's Pavillion!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Destination Pattaya...

I was lucky to have been included in the Royal Selangor Golf Club's team in the biennial quadrangular golf tournament with the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, Hong Kong Golf Club (Fanling) and the Singapore Island Country Club.The venue for this year's competition, the Laem Chabang Golf Course in Pattaya, was chosen by the organising-host club, the Singapore Island Country Club.

at the lobby of Amari Orchid Pattaya

my partner and room-mate, C K Lim

My partner and room-mate, Mr C K Lim, and I left KLIA on Sunday morning on a fully sold out Airasia flight to Bangkok! From Suvarnabhumi Airport the limousine we hired breezed along the fully completed highway to deliver us to our hotel, the Amari Orchid Pattaya, within 90 minutes. The Garden Wing of this hotel has been refurbished recently and had a touch of class ( though not quite up to the standard of Singapore's Raffles) and adjoining its sprawling compound stood the new Amari Orchid Tower which stretches almost to the Pattaya beach.

the brand new Amari Orchid Tower

After a light lunch at the Garden's restaurant, we walked down to the beach and along the Pattaya Beach Road. I was last here about 2 years ago and so many things have changed since then. Many of the hotels and apartments under construction then had been completed and are now in operation or being occupied. The streets are clean and free of litter. Notices were put up warning about on-the spot fines for litterring - I guess this must have been enforced seriously to have such an obvious result.

As both of us had no plans for the day we decided to pamper ourselves to 2 hours of the traditional thai massage and one hour of foot reflexology. We could not deny ourselves of this pleasure as it only costs 200 bahts per hour of treatment.

my professional thai masseur

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On being a patient..

I was standing in queue to pay for my income tax dues on Friday morning when suddenly I developed a gripping pain in the interscapular region of my back which radiated in a band across and to the front of the chest. I stretched and extended my body, suspecting that the pain was caused by a muscular strain from the recent spurt of a few days of golf followed by the few days of snorkelling in Redang and swimming against the somewhat strong waves at Tg Jara.

But the pain lingered on for a good two or three minutes causing some difficulty in breathing and light-headedness. As I went through the diagnostic mental work-out of what this pain might be due to, and trying to reassure myself of the absence in me of risk factors to cardiovascular illnesses, I could not avoid the arousing sense of anxiety bordering on panic that only worsened the whole experience.

I decided that I did not want to be embarassed by causing a commotion in the crowded hall if I were to collapse from the increasing giddiness and the cold sweat that was building up. I walked out of the queue for the fresh air outside, found the side-walk railings on which I held on to steady myself and kept my head low to allow blood to feed the brain.

When the giddiness went away and I was able to breath easy and the pain somehow gone without me realising it, I called up makdokter, my partner, and told her to get ready to take me to the hospital and sort out this sudden medical emergency.

I was able to walk to the car-park, drove home for a good distance and jump into the other car in which I was driven to the hospital. Makdokter had already called up a physician-friend at the hospital and forewarned him of a possible medical emergency.

The ECG reassuringly did not show any signs of a cardiovascular incident and my former Professor of Medicine who is a cardiologist at the hospital was requested to see me for a second opinion from him.

The good old professor (whom I have not seen for many many years and still looked the same as he was during my medical school years) was in his usual cool, collected and clinical way. After a detailed history-taking, a physical examination and a confirmation from me that the pain was gone, he told me that even though the ECG was normal but considering the age group that I am in he was going to manage my case as a possible cardiac incident until proven otherwise.

Some blood was drawn out and sent to the lab for tests and I was registered to be admitted for monitoring. I was put on a drip of GTN ( a vasodilating drug that will improve blood flow into the muscles of the heart) and given tablets of cardiprin and plavix and an injection of Klaxein. ( the last three substances were to help prevent my blood from easily forming a thrombus or clot - which is usually the cause of a heart attack).

I was actually glad for this proactive intervention and I was extremely reassurred to be under the good professor's care. I was not at all alarmed or panicked by this apparent aggressive approach to the problem ( I must be very good at suppressing my anxiety if there was any). In fact if it had turned out to be a cardiovascular incident, I was already prepared to go all the way for an angiogram and surgery if it so necessitated.

The blood tests came back 3 hours later and showed normal levels for those relevant to ischaemic heart incidents. Enzymes levels of the liver were high though, perhaps a result of my 'oral over-indulgence'. A repeat ECG was also reassuringly normal.

As the professor was held up in a complicated interventional cardiac procedure that afternoon, the planned stress-test had to be postponed to Saturday morning.

I was hoping that I would be able to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics that night on the big screen in the company of my friends, but as I had to continue with the GTN drip and monitoring, I had to settle for the 14-inch tv of the hospital suite.

Makdokter, who had brought along my laptop to the hospital, enabled us to keep in touch with our children who are away overseas via MSN Live Messenger throughout the Olympics Opening Ceremony without them having a clue that we were in hospital. We did not want to raise any unnecessary alarm to worry them.

I had a good night sleep ( normal for me) only to be awakened by the phlebotomist early in the morning who came to draw blood for repeat tests. I was scheduled for the stress test under the watchful observation of the good professor and I went through it without any indication of any cardiac difficulty. What a relief.......

All my life I have been fortunate to have had a good health. I have been hospitalised only once many years ago for a bout dengue fever. But like many of my doctor friends I have never put myself through regular medical check-up! I had an almost similar attack of chest pain about 2 years ago towards the end of a golf game and I did the blood tests and a stress test a few days later to rule out any possible heart problem.

What had actually caused the pain? Was it a muscular strain.....? Or was it a panic attack which many of my patients seek help and treatment from me? I honestly do not know but I am truly reliefed that it was not a heart attack.

Thank you professor and thank you friends who were there to reassure me. Thank you Eddie for wishing me well and with your permission may I reproduce the quote you sent me....

You dont get to choose how you are going to die or when.....
You can only decide how you are going to live - now.... ( Joan Baez)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Aging Hippie Tales...

My partner, makdokter, had actually started blogging in 2007 after my golf trip to Bangkok to play against the Royal Bangkok Sports Club in February last year. She had blogged at However after just one posting, she became distracted by her other passions like yoga, knitting, beading, jogging, shopping, travelling and sleeping ! So the blog was left unattended.

My involvement in blogging since May this year has awakened her from the slumber and got her back into blogging. However due to failing memory, she was unable to recall her password to access entry into her old blog! So it necessitated the creation of a new if you are interested, you may read her thoughts at

pakdokter and makdokter in the 70's

Happy reading..

Tg Jara Resort....Unmistakably Malay

We wanted a quiet day or two before we get back to the frenzy and hectic life of KL and what better place for it than to adjourn to Tg Jara Resort in Dungun. Billed as the resort which is 'Unmistakably Malay' the villas are built in the grandeur and style of the Malay istana (Malay royal palaces) and to the credit of its architect this resort was awarded the Aga Khan Award in Achitecture in 1998.

We were here at about the same time last year when Raena returned home for her summer vacation and knew we would not be disappointed by this place. The resort has been maintained well and has in fact undergone a refurbishment and redesign of its interior. There is now a second bed in the suite (in addition to its original king-sized bed ) which can easily fit a child or even an average Asian adult.

The restaurants maintained the same standard of service as we had experienced last year and we were happy to order our favourite dishes in advance for which, Ana, the Chief Waiteress/Restaurant Captain made sure that she bought them fresh when she went to the Dungun market early every morning.

waiting for dinner to be served at the di-Atas Sungei Restaurant

We relished the deep-fried garoupa, sambal prawns with petai, grilled sotong, scallops on hot-plate in oyster soyce and local greens sauteed in prawn sambal. And there was endless choice of local and western food for breakfast in addition to freshly-squeezed juices and fresh slices of tropical fruits. You lunch ala carte at the Nelayan, the poolside restaurant facing the sea.

sambal udang petai, scallops,grilled sotong...

Tg Jara is a picture of tranquility and serenity. It is a place for a quiet break,a place to be at peace with nature in a truly tropical and 'Malay' surroundings. The Spa Village offerred several packages of traditional Malay massage and baths to rejuvenate your body. As I stretched myself on the garden lounge facing the sea under swaying palms and casuarina trees, after a few laps in the somewhat rough and violent sea ( a storm was predicted for the next day), my peaceful nap was only broken once in mid-morning, when a procession of rambling kompangs (drums) paraded around the resort singing praises for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

a procession of 'kompang' drummers singing praises for the Prophet

And what a fitting place it was for us to celebrate Dollah's (Ben Haron) fifty-sixth birthday at the Tg Jara Resort..

makdokter jogged 8km before breakfast on Ben's birthday

Monday, August 4, 2008

Kuala Trengganu...

After 3 days of sun,sand and sea with an 'oral' overindulgence to boot, I was actually looking forward to leave the island and escape the noise and crowd of Redang Laguna. In our haste to get to the jetty for the ferry ride back to the mainland, my partner, makdokter, did not realise that she had left her Nikon on a bench by the Tupai Bar where we had asked a Bangla sweeper to shoot our group photo on the beach. Makdokter only realised the missing camera half-way across the sea and immediately informed the ferry pilot who radioed back to the hotel. Lo and behold, the honest Bangla worker must have found the camera, sent it to the reception whose staff had the quick mind of delivering the camera to the pilot of the next ferry which left Redang a short interval after our departure. To our relief, the camera was delivered safely to makdokter almost at the same time that we arrived at the Merang jetty. Thank you Laguna Redang...and as I had said earlier I am quite impressed by the overall organisation and management of this resort.

The complex on Pulau Duyong built for the Monsoon Cup

We drove to Kuala Trengganu and saw the so-called Islamic Civilisation Park - a miniature replica of several mosques from different parts of the Islamic world - while crossing the bridge that span the Trengganu river. I wonder whose miniature brain had come up with the idea of spending so much money for such a stupid project. ( I remember reading an article in the New Straits Times by a Professor of Architecture at Universiti Teknoloji Malaysia some months ago which was highly critical of this project from its architectural, environmental, educational, spiritual, functional and whatever other perspectives you can think of - and I cannot disagree more than this learned professor about this project). Can't the administration think of a better way spending our tax-payers money for the benefit of the community at large? I am not bothered to post any picture of this "park"!

shop-house in KT chinatown

We diverted into town to check out Kuala Trengganu and was pleasantly surprised at the rehabilitation of KT's chinatown. So....there are some smart people around I guess. Many of the old shops have been maintained, spruced up and painted without destroying their original character. It was a delight for makdokter who took this chance for photo-shoot.

boat to Pulau Duyong

We then checked out Pasar Payang....the central market where we collected some tit-bits and could not miss checking out the newly completed Kompleks Warisan across the market - a mall to cater for arts and crafts I guess - for the few shops that have operated there are mostly selling good quality (and of course pricey) batik and songket. I guess this project is to complement the development on Pulau Duyong which hosts the annual Monsoon Cup Regatta and its expected influx of international tourists.

Pasar Payang...KT Central Market

durian in season.....outside Pasar Payang

wanna expensive batik or songket? Kompleks Warisan

I am not too critical of the Monsoon Cup though - for I believe - if organised and promoted successfully - it will be another opportunity for Malaysia to become recognised worldwide as what the Formula One races have done to us. Except I am not sure if the Monsoon Cup has as big a following and audience as the F1. I have travelled through Eastern Europe during their communist days and nobody knew where Malaysia was but today you will be proud that in Budapest, Prague, Bratislava, Warsaw....Malaysia is on their radar because of F1! And just keep yours ears open when F1 is in hear a lot of strange languages on the street. F1 has brought in many tourists from the New Europe.