A Blind Date And A Medical State!

Trip Start Jul 16, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Saturday, May 11, 2013

There is something about travelling that makes you do crazy things, I am not talking about eating scorpians on a stick or walking in the bottom of a shark tank in an aquarium. I am talking making arrangements to meet complete strangers.

Some of you might recall back in Thailand I included a couple of book reviews in my blog, one of them was by a mad traveller who wrote a book about his experience working for an animal rescue centre in Ecuador.  For anyone looking for a new read, That Bear Ate My Pants and You Don't Need the Whole Dog by Tony James Slater are both available for download for a very reasonable price on Amazon, go on give them a try!  Thanks to the power of the internet and social media, after reading these books we were able to look up Tony on Facebook and let him know what we thought of the books.  For most people this is where the story ends, not for us, we struck up what felt like a stalker type friendship on Facebook and eventually when we discovered that our travelling paths were set to cross in none other than Nha Trang in Vietnam, we arranged to meet up for dinner and some drinks.  It did feel a bit like we were turning up for a blind date, but having now read two of Tony’s books we already felt like we knew him and his adorable wife Roo was just so cool we all hit it off and fuelled by the extremely cheap and strong cocktails of Why Not Bar we chatted into the small hours and left as friends hoping to cross paths again.

I did expect the next day to wake up with a bit of a sore head, what I didn’t expect was for the Saigon Stomach to have returned with a vengeance!  Back to the Imodium and rehydration sachets.  Lots of water and no food I was sure that I could get myself back on the road to recovery.  After 2 days of being room bound and watching none stop animal planet, I pretty much had to admit defeat and accept that I needed to see a doctor.  Sadly we were no longer in Thailand with the shiny luxury tourist clinics on every corner. No, I had to go local.  Walking into the hospital we were greeted by a Russian girl at a huge desk claiming to deal with insurance claims.  We told her what was wrong and within minutes she had whisked us over to A&E and left us in the safe hands of a lots of people in white coats, none of whom spoke a whole lot of English.  The entrance to the A&E had a bed in it, with a Vietnamese man who was writing around in pain, I was ushered into the room next door which had a sad looking kid on the bed with a thermometer under his arm.  I tried to explain my problems and after having my blood pressure and temperature taken I was told that I needed an ultra sound, so I switched beds with the sick kid and in came the ultra sound doctor, thankfully he spoke good English and I managed to explain my problems.

Within seconds of starting the ultrasound the doctor declared with utter delight that I had a huge stone in my gall bladder.  It was literally like it was Christmas come early for him.  I asked him how I treat it and he told me surgery at which point I burst into tears.  Thankfully he then added that this was not what was making me sick and it was not a problem to just leave it.

Ultra sound done and I am diagnosed with gastroenteritis, I am pretty sure I could have told them that, but hey ho.  Tim was being dragged off by the admin staff and was being made to pay for each part of the treatment as we went.  I could hear him arguing that he couldn’t pay 1 million dong as he didn’t have it.  At this point, desperate to get treated I dragged myself from my sick bed to remind Tim of the exchange rate and that 1 million dong was actually 30.  Before I know it I have a selection of pills and sachets to take and have a drip plugged into my arm.

An hour later and I am set packing with a bag of drugs and an invoice that sets out every item used to treat me including a fee for the one hour that I used the bed!  Worth every penny!

Thankfully Tim had been a very good nurse and went out for lunches and dinners on his own, returning with supplies to keep me healthy and hydrated.  He even became best friends with the girl in the mini mart who had told him all about the picture she was knitting.  I thought it was a bit odd to be knitting a picture but I didn’t question Tim on it, when I finally made it to the mini mart myself I discovered that the 'picture knitting’ was actually a cross stich tapestry, perhaps picture knitting could be an entirely new hobby Tim??!!

After another day of being room bound and recovering watching Animal Planet I couldn’t take it anymore and finally ventured out to sit in the sun on the roof top pool and to see the beach that we had been missing.  The beach was absolutely huge, it was bustling with Vietnamese people playing volleyball and football and had a few tourists milling around getting their last few rays of sun.  it was a shame to have missed it but thankfully I was back to normal and finally eating and Tim’s toe was healing and no longer septic and minging. 

Nha Trang is a major holiday destination for Russians with a direct flight from Moscow.  Whilst the beach is nice, I am not sure that I fully see the attraction as I have never crossed paths with so many rats in my life.  They were literally everywhere at any time of the day.  We saw them chilling on restaurant terraces in the evening, popping out of the drains in the midday sun and sprinting down the deserted streets at midnight.  I wonder if this has something to do with the distinct lack of street dogs in Vietnam? There has not been a single stray dog in any city the entire way up the coast, yes you guessed it, they are all on the chopping block ready for dinner, sad but true.

I definitely won’t remember Nha Trang for being the beach capital of Vietnam, I will literally remember the 4 walls of my hotel and the crazy programmes on Animal Planet.  I think that my favourite was ‘Strange Animal Relationships’.  This had a Dog that was friends with a deer, another that was friends with a dolphin, a cat that was friends with a bear and my personal favourite a baboon that was friends with a bush baby.  I think that I have seen every episode of River Monsters and am forever pleased that I didn’t take a dip in the Kwai or the Mekong having seen the monsters lurking in them.

Back to full physical health and my mental health recovering from the TV-athon we were back on the road to Hoi An.  We had booked our train tickets in HCMC and were told that the only sleeper tickets available were hard sleeper local class trains.  Vietnam has a series of private companies that add slightly more expensive but nicer carriages onto the local trains for tourists.  We were definitely not in one of these and when we got onto the train at midnight our beds were warm and unmade with someone else having just got out of them, awesome.  Regardless we got into bed and tried to sleep with the carriage being shaken on the rails like an earthquake of at least 6 on the Richter scale.  We had a series of random people opening our carriage door looking in and then walking out without closing the door. There was a stop at 4am where a few people got on and off of the train and this marked wake up time for the other 4 members of our carriage who swiftly lit cigarettes and turned on their radios.  We stayed under our covers to try to get a few more hours sleep but it was largely fruitless especially when one man decided to sit on the end of my bed on my feet.  I have adored sleeper trains on our travels so far, this was by far the most uncomfortable and sleepless night train yet.  

Thankfully we managed to find a cheap taxi to get us to our hotel in Hoi An – let’s get out of here.

Hopefully we can both stay healthy and actually see some more of Vietnam on this trip!
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Roo on

I hope the delicious cheap cocktails didnt make you sick! Yeurgh that hospital sounds pretty bad, but at least you discovered your... (giant) gall stone, such a clever idea to use an ultrsound to discover bali belly! :-)

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