Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tired, Safe & Sound in Vietnam

Scooter ingenuity in Can Tho.
We have arrived, collected our gear, and dispersed to our various rooms and own devices for the evening. Some of us planned nothing more than a shower and some reading, while others opted to head along the river a couple of blocks to find food. (Personally, this bag of pretzels is as fine a feast as I need right now.)

The EVA Air flight from SFO to Taipei was a 14-hour marathon, the last two of which were very bumpy and uncomfortable for many of us. It was nice to have about an hour to wander around the airport before hopping on the flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Of course, after a few of us attempted to throw Jenni into a tizzy by being the last onto the plane, we buckled in, the plane pulled back -- and stopped. Our flight out of Taipei was delayed two hours while they replaced a computer. Of course, since the plane was fully boarded, we got to spend those two hours on the tarmac. Luckily the entertainment system worked.

We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City and practiced our speed walking to get to the passport check area of customs before the rest of the plane arrived. We all made it through quickly and proceeded to gather up our checked bags. (Note to self: Use purple duct tape on all supply boxes to make them easier to spot among the myriad boxes carousing the carousel.)
View from the Golf Hotel at night.

Once we'd gathered all the bags we did another speedy dash to get the baggage through customs inspection. With the exception of one of the surgical devices, the agents questioned nothing and we cruised through to find more of our contingent waiting on the other side. Our group of 14 nearly doubled with the addition of people who had arrived earlier in the week or converged from places other than Northern California. 

We stopped for lunch about halfway to Can Tho at an outdoor restaurant under a huge thatched roof. They served whole fried fish standing in a rack as if it was swimming instead of flopped on a plate. The frying curls the scales, so it looks kind of like a porcupine. It was nice to be sitting still in a chair that was not flying or rolling for a change.

Due to the flight delay, we arrived in Can Tho around 6p instead of midafternoon. The benefit is that  it feels more like a "regular" day, which should help with the whole time adjustment thing. It's 9p now and I'm purposely NOT doing the math to figure out California time until tomorrow.

So far, I've seen more Honda scooters here than mosquitoes. (Thankfully this does not require repellant because they're everywhere. I saw very few bicycles, but maybe 100 scooters for every car? Most of the adults wear helmets, but that doesn't mean they're not carrying helmet-less children -- even infants -- with them. People rig all sorts of trailers and racks to carry things. Human ingenuity is amazing stuff.

The hotel overlooks the Mekong Delta on the Hua River. The bridge and the night lights are very pretty.

Most of us will meet at 7a for breakfast to be at the hospital (20 min cab ride) by 8:30 to start work: organizing supplies for the operating rooms and doing patient screening. 


˜Kim

4 comments:

  1. Was seeing those kids on the scooters with no helmets scary????

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    1. As a mom, it's definitely scary seeing kids on scooters without helmets. Today I saw a baby -- in a bamboo high chair -- on a scooter in front of his mom. It's all very normal to the people here, but quite amazing to me!

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