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Published: April 23rd 2008
Made In Vietnam!
The X-Ray & Pollution.
We took the 13 hour sleeper night bus from Na Trang up the coast to Hoi An. Some points to know about these night buses....... 1.
It is best to get a lower bunk near the front, as there is more max head room to sit up and it doesn't make you feel sick. I think the leg room of the lower bunk is longer than the reclining leg length of the upper bunks as all the tall people from Sweden laying on top bunks looked like they were in a lot of pain 2.
Every one is given a pillow and a quilted blanket, during the night when the AC is on full it gets chilly, these items are necessary. But when the bus stops for a break the AC is turned off, the bus heats up and these items start to glow with multiples of foreign DNA which comes to life and stinks of every other person who has used them within the last 5 years. 3.
Break downs are a reality, also near misses with anything metal, mammal or human. These bunks have random working seat belts 4.
The on board toilet is normally locked, asked
why this is they tell you it is because they really hate cleaning the filthy toilet out, so why bother opening it. My advise is not to drink fluids at least 4 hours before the bus leaves, to take sips through out the journey. They do stop along the way but usually at crucial side splitting bladder bursting moments.
We found one of many brand new hotels just outside Hoi An centre, although the hotel looked finished we noticed building work 200 yards away, while I was completely devoid of any sleep I asked them if it was noisy staying there with building sounds. The answer was 'no no madam, very very quiet, promise miss', we stood and listened for a while and heard nothing, it was so peaceful but it was still only 7 am. We settled into a nice room and fell asleep. At 08.15 the first hammer could be heard echoing around the room, by 08.37 the floor buffer with steam roller engine was waxing the tiles outside the room, by 09.10 the angle grinder kicked in, then the sander finished the rendering symphony around lunch time. Minutes before midday, still devoid of sleep, I asked
The Hat Maker
So many hats.
reception what was with all the noise, when they promised there was going to be none.
They had a party of 20 arriving tomorrow and needed to finish things off. I had not slept for days and looked like I had early onset of plague. The hotel lady told me she thought I didn't look well at all, I told her that no sleep and all this noise wasn't helping much either, she nervously laughed, I didn't see what was so funny at that point as the noise didn't stop till tea time. During that day I was coughing up lergi, sweating like a pig and all my muscles ached like I had just swam the channel carrying David Walliams on my back. Although I had reclaimed my vocal cords my throat was thick with tonsil surprises again. Next day I went to the Hospital to get it looked at.
The Pacific Private Hospital was like walking into the ‘Carry On' film set of the 1960's. The architecture, the beds, the equipment, the medics in basic old fashioned uniforms was full of retro charm. The first thing I noticed was the excited expressions on the faces of the
staff, like I simulated the ghostly presence of Princess Diana on a royal visit, there were lots of wide eyes, smearky smiles, giggling and talking in hushed whispers behind hands, as if I was able to lip read pure gossip in VIETNAMESE. I was handed a menu by a chuckling balding Sid James guy, he spoke no English, but the menu had the prices in perfect English and all methods of payment available. It started with 1. Consult with Doctor $50 2. Two hour consult with Doctor $150 3. X-rays $45. 4. blood tests - HIV tests - $$$$ it went on.
A man approached me who was being pushed along by a shy colleague who looked excited that I was there in all my tall royal glory, even though right then I look nothing like Princess Diana, I felt just barely alive and more like Hattie Jacques with the pox. When the man was more composed he introduced himself as Mr. Hero, this was his real name, as it was on his name tag. He was more like Frankie Howard, solid, animated, excited, large eyebrows, very proud he could speak English well as learning English had saved him
from a life of certain hell, he told me that he could have been at best working in one of 400 tailor shops here in Hoi An which would be tragic for him as he could not sew a stitch, his wife was better at that stuff than him. Mr. Hero told me 'the doctor' was world famous special doctor, lived in France. Mr. Hero loved medicine but he was not a doctor himself, he loved seeing people go in sick and come out healthy, he loved English speaking people especially the Canadians which he thought we were the whole time we were there, even though I kept saying I lived in LONDON. Mr. Hero is one of those extra special people who make hospitals around this world work well; they are the final brick that holds the dam together, just like janitors and caterers.
The famous doctor crossed my path in movie style slow mo, there was nothing 'Carry On' about the attending world famous Vietnamese Doctor. He was in another league altogether. Bring on Hoi An's own Dr. Kildare supporting dashing good looks, clear skin, perfect slick hair line, no gray, perfect green scrubs under a pristine
white doctors coat, expensive looking stethoscope. He took great pride in his appearance. He glided in to the room and stood before me a whooping 5ft 7 inches in height, which is taller than average around here. He also spoke fluent English mixed with Viet and French from when he learnt medicine in Paris for seven years, his English was perfect and already worth the first $50.
He asked all the right questions, such as had I come across the border by land from Cambodia recently? Yes. Had I been in Ho Chi Ming City more than 4 days? Yes. Had I had AC on a lot of the time? Oh god Yes. Had I hung out with any bird watchers lately? Not as a rule Id only hung out with a postcard seller, a travel agent & hotel manager, a tailor and assistant, a curious cleaning lady who loved looking at my laptop and at all my photos. Apparently H5N1 Avian influenza is rife right now, along with dengue fever, Hep A, Typhoid, malaria and Japanese Encephalitis. I asked what this was, he said it’s a glamorous name for the plague which is caught around here by Mozzies
The Shoe Makers
So many shoes. All same same but different>
who hang around the wet rice fields and dine out on domestic pigs and wild birds, but I was not to worry as I had no bites and it is NOT contagious from human to human, had I been visiting any rice fields on a tour then got serious headaches, stiff neck, maybe a concern, but not for me. He confirmed it wasn't JE. He did say a lot of tourists are falling ill with upper respiratory problems due to all the pollution and crazy strains of weird disease that is floating about the boarder atmosphere and HCMC, there is a good reason why everyone wears face masks.
Dr. Kildare performed all the right tests, which was the next $50 of the bill, he told me my throat was covered in ulcers and looked like a bad case of Pharyngitis fused with the muscle aching it certainly was bacterial. I gave him the list of meds I had taken in the later part of Cambodia while by the coast, this was after being dowsed in water by the water monk, I did not write a blog about it as I was too ill, I was given levofloxacine 500mg x
The lantern maker
many many lanterns
3 a day which I admit wiped me out, he shook his head in a disappointed way. 'Oh deary me this is a shame, this ruins everything’ the antibiotics were totally wrong for me, these pills were to treat pneumococcal pneumonia he asked if Cambodian clinic man had tested my blood first? No he didn’t, but I did only pay $10, thinking I was quid’s in. He said that the antibiotics I took were too strong and too higher a dosage for what I was presenting back then, what he believed had happened was that they have got rid of my initial problem but they have blown my immune system to pieces and it may take a while to recover fully. He could not give me any more antibiotics so soon.
He gave something for the chesty cough, but he advised I use alternative medicines and treatment like acupuncture, he told me to look into herbs, he concluded that after one year of stress followed by one year on the road my body is just tired, all this change and moving about takes its toll. He was so cool. I really needed to rest and he meant proper rest
Young boy and his craft...
Small Buddhas found everywhere but go towards the Life Start Foundation.
this time, drink lots of pure orange juice and gallons of water and sleep whenever I can. He told me not to busy my mind, a busy mind is a busy body, Qi energy was low and my first base chakra by the coccyx was all silly & cockatoo, to let it rest so no writing, talking or sightseeing. I love Asian doctors; they understand the psyche and body work as one whole and use natural remedies first before anything pharmaceutical.
I was told to take off all my clothes but keep my pants on, in front of the male radiologist and his strange friend; my eyes were on them the whole time. This broke down to the next $50 of fee. They didn't even give me a bottom exposing gown to wear which I would happily have paid extra for. I had nothing to cover my modesty, I tried to cover ample bossomage behind both folded arms but this turned in to a very Barbara Windsor moment. Next, I had lignocaine sprayed into my mouth followed by a laryngoscopy that prod around the backs of my throat, this thin looking probe took photos of voice box, pharynx, larynx.
The Pinapple chopper
This gave me eye ache just looking at her frock.
I gagged. It felt numb in my mouth for ages after, I sat hanging forwards so not to swallow my tongue. We could all see clearly on the screen pharyngeal ulcers and yucky looking membranes which had thick congestion clinging to it, my voice box had left over scarring from previous ulcers possibly from the Cambodia episode hence why my voice went again in Na Trang. Dr. Kildare talked me through all my blood test results; remarkably my cholesterol is a perfect. My white blood cell count was naturally low right now, just when I need these little white cells to fight off these foreign invaders in this foreign country. My X-ray showed bronchitis as he outlined the fuzzy polluted parts with a wall light box, a long baton and equally long dashing ER type French Anglo words. Thank god I have never smoked.
We arrived back to the hotel and walked through the new front door that they were still building. The noise was ridiculous, the angle grinding and sanding was too much, my body felt like it was pulsating. I complained to reception and held up my X-rays, they promised when the party of 20 arrived (which
they had already) the work would stop, I said but what about the noise coming from the party of 20? Silence prevailed in the reception area. I said we are moving nearer to town in the morning, they got upset, she reached out and grabbed my belly squeezing and shaking it as she pleaded with me to stay, they pleaded and promised that there will be no more work after that day, that day being a Sunday, day of rest.
Monday morning at 08.05 am the loudest noise ever shook the bed and us in it and came from the reception area, I looked like a zombie as I slung on my dress and went straight out there and confronted the lying toe rag of a receptionist who promised there would be no more noise. Not only were there work men in the reception area but a pneumatic nail gun and pneumatic drill were working in sync with each other, Id had enough. She lied. I told her that she lied; she agreed she lied, but would I like to stay some more days with NO additional discount and maybe do a trip with them? She didn't really care
Many many Balloons
very same same but not different.
how bad I felt as for them it was business as normal. We moved to a far better place in town and managed to get some peace and quiet.
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