Sunday, January 6, 2013

Weekend on the Mekong Delta

The Rice Lady
I spent a good part of Saturday attempting to sleep to rid myself of a cold. I didn't have much luck on the sleep side, but got some decent rest by sitting still for a change. Once I set foot outside of the hotel, momentum seems to carry me from place to place.

I went along with several others for a foot massage at what was supposed to be a very good place. Err... Well... OK, the opening phase of having a school of little fish nibbling my feet was amusing, made moreso by the reactions of one of our companions. It was definitely a bit strange, and she's definitely very expressive. The next phase was the actual foot massage, which was a workout for my feet and not always entirely relaxing.

Based on the attire of the women providing said foot massage, they were more accustomed to male clientele. I'm not sure how many times my foot ended up in the boobs of my massage chick. My feet have not had contact with another woman's chest since I was an infant. Not my scene. Nor that of my feet. Holy shit.

A Non-medic on a Medical Mission

For all of the detailed details about the medical mission, check out the International Extremity Project blog or Facebook page
I'm in Vietnam on a medical mission. My primary role in Vietnam is keyboard jockey for the International Extremity Project. Given that I'm not qualified to provide medical care, it seems to make good sense.

I spent the first two days working with an interpreter to start each patient's medical chart for the intake process. I spent Friday in scrubs -- in the operating room during surgeries helping prep, observing, and reassuring a patient. I've been blogging since we started preparing for the trip months ago -- and doing much more now that we're here.

Everything is an experience -- inside the hospital and beyond. I've now been here a full week. In some ways it feels like I've just arrived and in others it seems I've been here much longer. I can find my way to the vegetarian restaurant for pho and know we'll likely be the only westerners there.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I'm in Vietnam. No, Seriously.

I am in another country world.
It looks like a relic of days gone by,
but it was probably used earlier today.
Can Tho teems with juxtapositions of past and present. Herds of brand-new Honda and Yamaha scooters substitute for the bicycles of not-so-old travel pictures -- yet entire families still ride on the same two wheels, at the same time. Neon lights line the buildings along the riverfront, but the power lines just outside the city are strung along bamboo poles. Saffron-robed monks ride on scooters and use mobile phones.

It seems everything is in constant movement -- the river, the streets. Yet by about ten o'clock, everything unwinds to a quiet calm. As morning arrives, boats start converging en route to the floating market and people use the park across the street to exercise and do Tai Chi.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Good Morning Vietnam...

I was so tired the other night that I forgot to hit "publish." Heck, I just sat down to write about the trip so far and was surprised to see I'd already written this! Ha!
--
Night view from our hotel.
Actually it's nighttime, but I saw a t-shirt with Good Morning Vietnam on it downstairs in the hotel lobby. 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 flight from SFO to Taipei was a 14-hour marathon, the last two of which were very bumpy and uncomfortable, leading to my new self-imposed nickname of Hurley. Other options are Fiona and  Kermit. Honestly, it's not easy being green. And seriously, what international airline doesn't stock the seat backs with those handy little bags?