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The Traveling Lotus

Vietnam Epilogue: Saigon (HCMC)

VIETNAM | Thursday, 24 October 2013 | Views [606]

We arrived in HCMC, and the bus had luckily dropped us off one street over from the hotel we had booked. We walked over despite our injuries since it was so close and checked in. We ate lunch and then headed to the International SOS Clinic to get Alison's injuries checked out. I was planning on getting checked out myself just in case, but didn't when I learned there was a $120 USD consultation fee. Even though I have travel insurance, I would have had to pay out of pocket and then open a claim to get the money back. I figured the doctor would do the same thing I had been doing, clean the wounds with hydrogen peroxide and iodine, cover it up with gauze and send me on my way. Definitely not worth the $120.

Alison had X-rays and ultrasounds taken, and sure enough, it was serious. She had fractured a bone in her elbow, but was extremely lucky as it was close to being a complete break. Regardless, I felt and (still do) feel terrible even though I don't think I could have handled the accident any better than I did. Alison is a massage therapist...her arms are essential to her career, and now she has to find alternative income while she heals. Hit me up if you have a simple job you need done!

While we waited for the doctor to come follow up with Alison's diagnosis, I called the travel insurance company and opened a claim for her. Jackie and I then left to meet Sean, who had just flown in from Hanoi. We went to have a delicious Indian dinner, and returned to the hotel to meet Alison, who had been put in a half cast and given a sling. She was told she would be fine in three weeks. Yay! ....we were all thinking.

The next day we took a tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels. It was hot, it was sweaty, the roads were bumpy, and my knees were hurting like crazy from walking so much with the bruising, bandaging, and damaged skin trying to scar over on my knees. Alison's arm was really bothering her, and we were annoyed by the tour guide who rushed us through everything. The guide insisted we would have to crawl on our hands and knees to go through the tunnels themselves, which I was extremely bummed about, as I was really looking forward to going through the tunnel. I became extremely frustrated when I learned I could have easily crouched since I am fairly small, and would have only used my knees at one point, so I missed my chance for no reason but a thoughtless guide. The guide hustled us out to the exit and barely gave us time to use the WC or get snacks, so I was happy to return to town. I am glad I got to see the tunnels, but recommend doing it on your own if you want to do it right! The nice thing is they dropped us off close to the War Remnants Museum, the one museum I really wanted to see. Definitely a powerful museum, one that really makes you question humanity.

The museum closed, and they kicked us out, and unfortunately ended up in a fixed taxi. I recognized that it wasn't legit right away and wanted out after my experience in Hanoi, but the girls thought it would be fine. I commented on the meter, and how he drove us around the block, but it wasn't until Jackie saw on her GPS that he was definitely cheating us by going the wrong way that they wanted out, too. The fare was already up to 75,000 dong even though we were still only about a third of the way, and the full fare shouldn't have been any more than 50,000. So, Jackie made him stop. Unfortunately, I was in no mood to fight, but the girls had gotten out already, I guess thinking I was going to take care of it again, which I had no desire to do in my exhaustion and pain. I could only scrounge together 67,000 dong, although the driver saw I had a 100,000 and tried to take it. Finally Jackie found 3,000 dong, I threw the 70,000 on the seat and got out. We found a legit taxi, and made it to the hotel for only 27,000. Sigh.

Luckily, Jackie had found a great hotel, right in the middle of Backpacker Alley. The road is stuffed full of delicious restaurants, little shops, and the most exciting thing of all...convenience stores!!! HCMC is the the only city in Vietnam I traveled through with convenience stores. Anyways, we met up with Sean who had done his own thing while we were at the tunnels, crossed the street and ate a delicious Italian dinner, meandered down the street and into shops, and stopped for a drink and shisha at a major intersection to people watch. What a great city for people watching! After a while, I noticed my feet were really swollen and started to think about returning to the hotel. As a drunkard knocked over a table of wine on some girls, and they threw wine on him in retaliation, we knew it as time to go.

The next day, Jackie and Sean took off for Phu Quoc, and Alison and I decided to extend our stay in Saigon since her arm was really bothering her. She went back to the clinic, and a different doctor fixed the cast she had on, which was poorly done the first time. The doctor also told her she needed to get a permanent cast in a couple of days, and really should consider going home.

As Alison deliberated, we walked to the art museum and slowly meandered through it. We headed over to the famous Ben Thanh market because it was so close, but only lasted about ten minutes. We ended up having to taxi back because the seemingly simple day had taken so much energy in our weakened state. The second cast was now causing a lot of problems also, so Alison returned for the 3rd time to see yet a 3rd doctor. By this time, we had already decided to scratch India from our trip..there was no way Alison was going to be riding camels, etc. However, this 3rd doctor said Alison may need a pin, so Alison made the decision to go home right away, which I fully supported. She booked a flight that left at 5 a.m., and should be arriving home soon. I hope the flights were bearable with a full cast!

Anyways, I obviously chose to stay. I am in the perfect place (Saigon) to recuperate a wounded knee...I don't have to walk far for anything. There's so much good food within a 3 minute walk here! Plus, my injuries don't warrant a need to rush home. I have been pleasantly surprised by Saigon. I was expecting to hate it, but I honestly thought Hanoi was more crowded and chaotic, albeit more authentic. I do plan on heading to Cambodia soon, as I will have been in Saigon for about a week, and don't want to waste too much time.

The new plan is to take my time in Cambodia, seeing all the beaches. I originally wanted to do just this, more time in Cambodia, Thailand, and work my way down to Singapore, so I am returning to that plan. I honestly never felt right about India. I want to see India, of course, but my gut has been telling me all along it wasn't the right time for it. So, I think this accident is a way to blatantly say "Don't go to India! Slow down!"

To get all existential on you readers, I thoroughly believe everything happens for a reason. I think there's a reason I should slow down; there's a reason I should wait on India. It will be interesting to see if the reason manifests itself right away or takes time. I also do hope the reason for Alison injuring such an essential part of her body is a very good reason, too!

Life certainly works in funny ways.


Tags: backpacker alley, cu chi tunnels, doctors, great food, hcmc, saigon, taxi scams, vietnam, war remnants museum


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