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Just when i thought it was safe, the country poisions me, Travel-log (day 71) Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam

In sickness, travel, Vietnam on October 29, 2007 at 16:50

WARNING: THIS POST IS LARGELY ABOUT VOMIT AND POO
I was enjoying my relaxing time in Sapa. I woke up thursday late and found myself craving water spiniach and garlic. I managed to find it easy enough. I ate it and i enjoyed it. I walked around, i used the internet, i walked around somemore. Eventually i also ate a small bag of kettle chips, a small peice of chocolate, and some curry fried vegetable rice. All harmeless foods, or so i thought. By 6pm my stomach began to hurt violently. The cramping sensation felt vaguley familiar and registered as food posioning. I tried to sleep, and i guess i must have managed an hour or so but then around 8pm i bolted awake with the sudden realization that i was about to puke. The good news is that i made it to the bathroom. The bad news is that i only managed to make it tot he sink. As im sure you can imagine, it would not go down the drain. I had to remove the plugs to the sink and let it drain onto the floor and used the shower to wash it away down the drain. I felt much better. The pain in my stomach had become a dull ache. I managed to sleep that night albiet very poorly. I woke up friday in the morning. I laid in bed for a while and decided that i needed to go get some sort of food and somethign rehydrating to sooth my stomach. They don’t have gingerale here so i ended up buying one can of coke, one can of tonic water, one can of soda water and 3 small bread rolls. I only managed to stay outside for 20 mins before i ended up crawling back up the 4 flights of stairs to my room. I got back into bed. I managed to eat 2 bread rolls, drink 0.5L of water, and one can of coke. 3 hours later i found myself runnig to the bathroom. Then the pain started. Different from before, this was full body pain. I could not find a position that did not hurt. All of my bones were screaming in agony. I finally figured out that this was a fever. I took some pills to try and bring it down and releave some of the pain. It didn’t help. Somehow i managed to fall in and out of conciousness but between cold chills, feverish sweating and clear delirum i had the fan on the window open and was sleeping under a heavy duvet. SOmetime in the morning i woke to a knock on the door. Tine and Ken had come to tell me they had arrived in Sapa. As i got up i realized i was soaking wet with sweat and that nothing hurt anymore. HA! fever broken! I wasted the day away mostly in bed. I did manage toeat breakfast and dinner and was hopeful for sundays long bus journey to Dien Bien Phu.
Sunday morning arrived for me at 4 am when the roosters started crowing.. the sun was not yet up. I tried to go back to sleep but the damn birds wouldnt let me. Eventually i got out of bed, finished packing, spent some quality time with the toilet, and took a shower. All the while i was ordering my digestive system that it had better behave itself. At 7 am i was downstairs and ready to go to the bus.
And then there were two.
Dien Bein Phu is not a popular western tourist destination. We paid the hotel $13 basicly to take us to the intersection the bus would come by and have someone wait there to get us on the right bus. A bus arrived around 8:15 beeping and speeding around the corner. With hand motions our guy tells us this is the one. I look at the Dutch guy and we both start laughing.
Question: How much can one 18 x 6 x 6 ( all in feet) mini bus hold?
Answer: 36 vietnamese people, 5 aisle sized boxes, one huge duvet not compressed but wrapped in plastic, 5 suitcases, about one square foot of random stuff i could not identify because people were sitting on it, one tall dutch guy, one fat american, and 2 large backpacks.

And that was just on the inside. Our seats of ocurse were in the back. We waked over boxes and people. My feet never touched the actual floor of the bus, in fact i couldnt even see it. The conditions were horrible at best. But thepeople were estreemly friendly. No one spoke a word of english and they knew we did not speak any vietnamese yet they kept speaking to us and waiting patiently for our replies. After 3 hours the bus started to clear out a bit and we were able to get more comfortabe. The next 3 hours were filled with more fun. A minor accident with a huge box of apples ( it fell off the roof while we were speeding down the road) created an instant party. Apples were passed around and laughs were had. I was having a wonderful time, and then my body reminded me that i was in fact still stick. I found myself pleading with my large intestine like people plead to God when they think they are going to die. Only instead of promising to be a better person i promised to eat more fiber and less spicy food. The last 4 hours were torture. The curvy mountian roads were mocking me with landslides and rock piles. Slowly we sped along and finally arrived at 6:20pm. We got off the bus and tried to figure out where to go when a guy came up and in his 5 word english vocabulary said. Hotel. two people 1020 dong. He meant 120,000 dong ($7), it was more than i wanted to pay but at this point i just needed a real toilet and i didnt care about anything else. So we went accross the street and booked in. I spent ample quality time in the bathroom and thanked my digestive system for wcollectively achieving a small miricle 10 hour bus ride. We went to explore town but after about 90 mins i started to feel ill and left mr dutch guy to go back to my room. The digestive system i once praised was now causing me extreem distress. I made it back to my room and finally broke down and took the 2 pink pills for travelers diareaha. I tried to just let it un its course but it was just too painful.
Today is my last night in Vietnam. Hopefully i will beable to survive the journey into Laos. I will be without a phone until i get to thailand in aprox 2 weeks.

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  1. So so sorry. Food poisoning is beyond awful. I can’t believe you did it by yourself over there. Get better!

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