Two Savages in Southeast Asia


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Painkillers make it
Very difficult to write
A haiku. Sorry.

It wasn’t that bad, but we did get in a motorbike wreck today. We’re fine. We’ll get there in chronological order.

We awoke at Tanya’s and puttered around for the morning, helping her with her math homework (she’s doing factorization and root-finding for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th degree equations) and playing Spiral Knights, our new vice.

Daniel and company arrived at about 1pm to take us to the magical tropical island where we’re planning to spend the next two nights. We followed them, driving at Vietnamese speeds (read: faster than an American would drive) along the freeway, then slowing to more sane speeds as we jumped off the highway and onto deeply rutted and potholed roads. We wound back towards the ocean, and all was well until the bus came.

Daniel was the lead bike, followed by his friend Quoc, us, and Hung with Tanya. As we rounded a blind, curve, a bus came from the opposite direction in our lane. With the choice of hitting the bus or ditching the bike, I ditched the bike trying to turn in some loose gravel. We both flew off.

We both immediately sat up. We were both bleeding. Evan was in better shape than me, so he raced over to assess the damage. In the meantime, Hung and Tanya had caught up with us and stopped to help. He barked orders at them, fumbling in my pack for our med kit. Thankfully we just took a first aid course before coming on this trip!

In the following couple minutes, I was moved into the shade, my wound was rinsed out (yay for magical purification bottle) and wrapped, Daniel and Quoc turned around to see what had happened, we determined that the scooter was fine, some locals stopped, and we determined that there was a doctor’s office/hospital literally down the block. Bleeding and still disoriented, I was loaded onto Quoc’s bike and driven down the road to get checked out. My head was swimming with images of my wound, which had strange-colored tendrils falling from it.

The doctor, who I spoke to through Daniel and Quoc, thoroughly cleaned the wound (oh, did it burn!) and stuffed me with painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and anti-biotics. He threw a week’s supply of gauze and wraps into a bag with some additional pills. We discussed the possibility of stitches, but he recommended against it because stitching on a joint is problematic in many cases. From what I remembered of the wound, there wasn’t enough skin to stitch, anyway, since there was just a gaping hole where much of my skin used to be. My thigh muscles were twitching like mad, activated I supposed when I cut part of them off on a rock. Evan had his ankle abraisions looked at and washed out. I laid down on my back on the cool, shaded floor of the hospital, presumably in some mild state of medical shock. The doctor charged us 160,000 dong (about $8 US) and released us.

Still reeling, I got back onto the motorbike with Quon and we continued to the island. He excitedly taught me Vietnamese words for things like “dog meat” on the drive (I sadly don’t really remember them, hyped as I was on painkillers), and seemed thrilled that we’d tried balut and pig brain. We paused for some photos at a particularly scenic ridge, and when we returned to the motorbikes one of the kickstands had sunk into the nice-looking pavement. Not so nice after all, I guess.

We parked the bikes, grabbed our bags, and boarded a boat to hop over to the island. Daniel made this same trip some years ago, and he knows people on the island, the same people with whom we’re staying. We unload all of our gear in the house, then eat a delicious second lunch of fresh-caught seafood. It’s now 3 o’clock, but we scarf it like we haven’t eaten in days. We pile back onto the boat and head out to snorkel as the light begins to fail and evening comes on. Evan and I teach Tanya about snorkeling and its dos and don’ts, and she eats it up. She and Evan and everyone else jump into the sea for a sunset snorkel, while I wait on the boat (my wound is much too open to expose to non-sterile sea water…), watching the clouds blow about and the sun sink into the sky. I get reports back from Evan and Tanya of brilliant blue starfish and flaming purple corals, and we head back to the island for dinner. Though it’s only been a couple hours since “lunch”, we again fall on the food like wolves, loving every bit of the deliciousness. Sadly, Evan can only eat the rice porridge, since he is not yet free of his stomach ailment… in exchange for his stories of under the water, I regale him with tales of how sumptuous the food is.

We re-dress my wound (as it has already soaked through the doctor’s bandages with blood, iodine, and wound goo) and head out for some hot milk. Vietnamese coffee would keep us up all night, so this is good enough. Before everyone else is done, we’re bushed and head back home. A mattress on the floor in front of a fan is our bed for the night, and we readily fall asleep.