Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day 33 & 34 - Vietnam: Kindness of Strangers Part Two after a Night of Wretching on the Train

I've had food poisoning in USA, Mexico, Australia, India, Turkey, Botswana/South Africa, Colombia, Indonesia, and now Vietnam.

It was fate that my berth mates on the train ended up being Thuy, Thu An and Trang from the previous train ride. After catching up on our time in Sapa, we settled into our bunks and hit lights out at 9pm.

I had eaten dinner at a restaurant in Sapa, and its funny how you look back and recall details at the time that only become significant in retrospect. I remember choosing my restaurant carefully, thinking I sure would not want food poisoning on a train ride. And I remember eating my tepid and bland meal, searching for salt to make it taste better.

These were all things I thought about while puking twelve times in the tiny train bathroom that jolted me around like a rag doll as I got weaker and weaker. I gave up crawling to the top bunk and curled up on the floor of our berth, so I could make a quick exit to purge. I have to say I was a rather respectful puker with impeccable aim as the train sloshed around on the tracks.

At around 4am, Thuy saw me on the floor and I told her I was sick. I crawled on to her bed and curled up in her lap until we arrived to Hanoi.

After a shameless dry heave over the rail tracks upon exiting the train, I curled up on the suitcases and was rolled away by the man Thuy hired to take our bags (and me) out of the train station and to a taxi. It felt like we were going 50 mph when we were likely going 2 mph.

I arrived to Thuy's home and spent the day curled up on pillows on the floor. My body ached, I was nauseous and had an intense pain in my gut.

Thuy rubbed oil on my stomach and it felt very relaxing until all of a sudden, I realized the oil was burning, intensely. The heat kept increasing in magnitude like it feels when you apply Tiger Balm, but this turned from warmth to incendiary burning. I crawled to the bathroom screaming, "it burns. It burns," maintaining a slight awareness of humor in the back of my head that I sounded like Gollum from the Lord of the Rings, "It burns us! It burns us!" But the humor quickly escaped as I begin dry heaving (nothing left in me!) from the pain and stripping off my clothes, while Thuy desperately tried to wipe the oil off me.

But I have to say the intense pain in my gut went away after the burning oil episode, maybe because my body had other pain to concentrate on. And my nausea went away, until I tried eating a banana and an apple, which resulted in my 13th puke of the 24hr period.

Thuy was getting worried so we went to the doctor, conveniently located 200 meters down the alley. He gave me antibiotics for a stomach bacteria, and I'm happy to say I'm on the mend. Here's a meal of rice porridge and eggs whipped up by Thuy.

I found it fitting that Trang was wearing a shirt that said, A World Without Strangers. Once again, I'm overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers and feel forever grateful and indebted to my Vietnamese mother, Thuy, and her wonderful daughters.

Keeping clean is not an easy feat while travelling. My Vietnamese mother, Thuy, said, "Now I think u should have a hot bath. And I think your clothes are dirty. I will wash them." My clothes are dirty was the understatement of the year. They stink!

NEXT STOP: No plans but to recover!

No comments:

Post a Comment