Tag Archives: bad news bears

Ridin’ in the Rain

I’m sure I made it clear in my post about renting a bike in Hanoi that I do NOT have much experience on a motorbike. Yet here I am, bombing around a city with insane traffic.

In spite of the traffic, I really enjoy getting around on a motorbike. It is pretty freeing, especially when the main traffic laws you must follow are 1) not driving on the sidewalk (which people still do) and 2) not going the wrong way up a street (which people still do). Other than that (and not having a bazillion people on the bike… which people still do), there isn’t much to worry about. Even the traffic lights and signs seem to be more like suggestions than laws. So I don’t have to worry about breaking laws when I am riding.

I do have a zillion other things to worry about, though.

When I rented the bike, Danny (at the shop) laughed when I said that I’ve never been so spatially aware in my life since coming to Hanoi, even when walking. He laughed because he said the opposite is generally true of the Vietnamese. But so far I haven’t had my personal bike-space invaded too badly.

Although I thought I could handle my lightweight little automatic Yamaha, even in the traffic, I still worried at first about riding in the rain. Not just because of the danger of water on the road, but also because of the reduced visibility. But I was enjoying it, especially because when I got to go a little faster (30km… whoo!!) it felt like I was wearing a cape instead of a flowery unflattering rain poncho. BATGIRL ON A BIKE. So I was enjoying it.


There is rain, and then there is RAIN. You know how people say, “God is in the rain”? Well, I’m here to tell you that if that is true, God freaking loves Hanoi. A lot. Especially today.

I woke up and it was POURING rain. Buckets and buckets of rain. And I could hear thunder. Unfortunately I had a meeting at 8am, so I was going to have to go out in it. I put on all my kit and started out.

Despite the raincoat, I was already getting damp just trying to wheel the bike out of our door yard. I got it out, locked the gate, and jumped on the bike. Which then would not start. And then it did, but as soon as I gave it some gas, it would stall.

Remember I know nothing about bikes. But I tried a few more times and it finally decided to catch and go. I rode down our wee lane to the main street… which was completely flooded. I mean, when I put my foot down to navigate the corner slowly, my foot and leg disappeared to more than halfway up my calf. That was the worst flooding I came across, but there were huge, scary puddles everywhere.

My visibility was poor. My eyes were full of rain (as was my mouth half the time). There was a good litre of water pooled in between my arms on the raincoat. Water was coming up from underneath somewhere and I was soaked through.

And then the lightning and thunder caught up to me.

That was pretty terrifying, actually. The thunder would sound simultaneously with the lightning flashes overhead. It was so loud that I could barely hear all the honking horns that are perpetually sounding in Hanoi.

In the end, I made it to my appointment, just two minutes late. I was the first there though, so I suppose everyone had a struggle with the rain today. Hopefully the next ride will be a lot drier.

PS: I am adding a “rain” tag to my WordPress tags. I have a feeling it’s going to come up a lot over the next few months in Vietnam!

>Weekend of fires


I’m glad my bus wasn’t on fire but there were other fires that were pretty tragic this weekend.

On Saturday, the Camden Market in London caught fire, forcing 300 people out of work and doing millions of pounds of damage.

More sadly to me, Namdaemun in Seoul burned down on Sunday. This actually caused me greater sorrow, as I have never been to Camden Market but have seen Namdaemun many times. I was at the gym when the news came on the BBC, and all I could do was stop the treadmill and stare at the tv, mouth open, horrified. I feel sad for the people of Korea – that gate has protect the city from tigers and Japanese alike for centuries.

>Maybe I SHOULD have pooped my pants…


Today was the first day that I had a minor breakdown and I haven’t even started teaching yet. You know what sucks? Being in a country where you don’t know the language and being told that there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with your shit. How serious? Herniated disk in my lower back. That’s how serious.

Apparently the second doctor was not just sought out because he can speak pretty good English… the first doctor told Ellie (my supervisor) that I was going to require surgery. Eep! That’s when I started to get a little bit uptight. Then they took more x-rays and this doctor very clearly showed me where my back was wrecked. Right at the bottom and it ain’t looking good. The disks are all squished together and there is no arch in my back. Then he did this thing where he pushed on my toes and the toes on the right side are big wieners… can’t hold their own. But this guy says that surgery is the last option he wants me to take (goody) and that I should start doing effing physio every single day. Nice. Starting today.

I figured today’s therapy would be like yesterday’s… and it was. And it wasn’t. Most of it (up to and including the traction contraption) were pretty much the same, so I will skip it. The only new thing was the Coffin of Sand. It was a coffin-shaped box with sand in it. The sand was covered with a blanket. I got to hop in, and they closed the lid with my head poking out (good thing my head wasn’t inside the Coffin, or that’s about when I would have started protesting). It just got really warm. If I could get one and bring it home, I totally would. I would sleep in a Coffin of Sand every night, it is pretty comfy.

That was the last good thing to happen. Today after the traction contraption I was in serious pain. Couldn’t get up off the bed pain, couldn’t stand up pain, couldn’t walk pain. And no one can fucking help me because they don’t speak English and I don’t know how to say “help me I’m dying” in Korean. They understood when I started crying though – I don’t think they wanted me to scare the other patients. I was taken back into the doctor (who speaks English) and he gave me my prescription for more painkillers (yesterday’s were crap) and then to the nurse to get a shot for the pain. And this is how much it hurts, boys and girls… the shot didn’t help. And joy! I get to go tomorrow again. It is no wonder just stretching hasn’t been helping my back – herniated disks. It is probably a good thing i am here… no one in Canada x-rayed and no one thought it was serious. Now I’m going to kick my back’s ass. I have to – the kids want to be picked up. They want me to sit on the floor with them. I have to sit on the floor sometimes to drink beer and eat dinner. And I want to do those things without feeling like a 400 year old woman.

Other than my back though, things are great.

Original Comments:

Erin wrote (on 29/08/05):

I can completely COMPLETELY understand. It took a blood infection to get me into a hospital here and I too cried and felt the drugs were crap…
Plus side we know how good eastern body positioning and love of MRI’s and x-rays is! They are nothing if not careful. Gambate my girl! and remember our yoga postures!

and-errhea wrote (on 24/08/05):

Oh, baby. You must be in aych-eee-double-hockey-sticks. And I know that you are a tough-as-shit Cariboo Country girl, and I mean skeleton-of-titanium tough, so for you to complain about this stuff is a big deal. I hope you’re feeling better soon, ready to kick some cute 5-year-old Korean ASS!