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A Vietnamese Wake-up Call

VIETNAM | Tuesday, 25 August 2009 | Views [859]

August 25th, 2009
My wake up call was early this morning-the original plan was to leave the hotel, (and it’s lovely porcelain toilets) at eight. But my ride thought that it may be more prudent to leave earlier therefore bypassing the Hanoi AM commute.  

“You, me, six,” he said.

“You, me, six, morning?”

“Yes,” he said.

However, the early morning wake-up call was not needed.  What the guide book doesn’t tell you is that Vietnam wakes up early, and alarms are completely unnecessary. I swear, every man woman and child in this country owns a chicken.

It’s ten-thirty now and we’re jeeping up mountain roads that are kind of like switchbacks.   The mountains here are covered in dense forest and blanketed in mist. The air is hot and wet-almost as if the air I’m breathing in is exactly the same as the kind I’m breathing out. It looks like we’re headed to the top of the mountains, but I have no idea for sure and now that I think of it, no real way to ask.

We finally reach a small peach orchard at 11:00. We’re at the mountain town of Hang Kia, home of the H’mong minority people. We park the jeep and I finally meet Tuong, my official tour guide. He welcomes me in English and then hands me an extra, extra large, navy blue polo shirt to wear.

“So you don’t get lost,” he says with a laugh.

He’s laughing, because I’m bright red. My skin used to be a pale and sickly white, now it’s a pulsing scarlet, resembling an intersection stoplight.

We walk five minutes to the clinic. The medical team has been working since daybreak and has seen over one hundred patients so far.

A girl my age with five visible tattoos is stopping locals at the clinic gate. “Hi, I’m the line Nazi, Leah,” she says.

She has a tough job. People are climbing over each other to get inside the clinic. I’d heard that some of these people had never received a health examination by a doctor in their lifetimes-I just wasn’t expecting there to be so many.

Across the grounds, I could see someone with a too-large-for-pleasure camera. That must be Trent.

Turns out, Trent was nice and helpful and wanted to iron out a plan for what I’d be doing.

My mission in Vietnam would be to:
Find a story
Capture said story on film
Listen to and respect various Australian bands

Sounded good to me.

Tags: camera, doctor, hanoi commute, jeeping, leah, medical team, oversized polo shirt, tattoos, toilets, wake-up call

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