Wednesday, January 2, 2002

Day 1: January 4 -- Well, We Made It

As usual, nothing went according to plan once we hit Viet Nam. More about all of that later.

Let’s start with the beginning. My friends Shel, Nancy, Larry, and Helen were right on time to pick up all of the supplies at my house. We filled a truck and van with 35 large packages of supplies destined for Can Tho. When we arrived at the SFO Airport, we were descended upon by a couple of porters with large flat carts. In a couple of trips everything was at the EVA Aircheck-in counter ready to go. The check in staff had been briefed about our mission and were ready for us. Very nice and very efficient.

Then off to the VIP lounge for a relaxing wait for our plane. It was nice to have a quiet place to renew our friendships and meet our new team members. EVA really took great care of us and got us off to a great start. Their generous gift of free passage for our mountain of supplies will make this a very special trip for our team and the hospital. Everything went smoothly in Taipe, then we were off for Viet Nam. Everyone was all smiles and compliments for me for being so organized, and for moving things so smoothly.

Then, we arrived in Saigon…

We retrieved all of our luggage and supplies and proceeded en masse to the security check-out point. After several long discussions between our Resident, Dr. Ngo, and the airport security people, we were allowed to pass through. I think the hospital neglected to let security know what we were doing. Once outside, we were greeted by quite a few of our Vietnamese friends. The Cao Dia came down from Tay Ninh to welcome us and to bring Miss Phung to take the ride to Can Tho with us. The surgery performed on Miss Phung last year didn't take so doctors will investigate and correct any problems.

Hong and Thuy, my Vietnamese travelling companions, were there and ready to go. The hospital supplied the two vans I requested. Pretty good so far. We loaded the hospital vans and proceeded to a Mercedes "bus" that would take us to Can Tho. The bus turned out to be more of pregnant van. There was no way our team and our personal gear would fit. We caught one of the hospital vans and had them take some of our personal things to Can Tho. It took us a little while, but we were able to hire another van. Still, we were stuffed into the vans like sardines in a can. I had pictured a tour sized bus with air conditioning and comfortable seats to make our trip to Can Tho enjoyable. Silly me.

When we arrived at the hotel, we found out we were booked into the old Ninh Kieu Hotel, and not the shiny, new hotel. Disappointment #2. We are looking into switching hotels, but we are all safely in Can Tho and send our love to family and friends.

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