Monday, March 31, 2008

Here, I am!

I made it safely to India and am now exhausted, tired, and alone. Well, not completely alone. But yeah, I'm in India. Longer update later.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


So, I spoke too early. There are modern toilets, but upstairs - away from where they tuck those with handicaps such as myself. Yeah, that makes sense.
Yeah, I'm still at the airport... going on my 4th hour... I feel like Tom Hanks in that movie where he's stuck in the air terminal.

World's Best Airport

So, that's the tagline for the Kuala Lampur International Airport, which I'm at right now. I have to admit, it's probably the nicest airport I have ever seen and very modern, except for one thing - the toilets. Now, I'm not one to complain because I have been in some pretty bad toilets, but a modern airport is supposed to have toilets, no? Apparently not because they have the squatting kind - which is impossible for me to use with two bum knees. And I happen to have a 7 hour layover. Ergh.
Oh, the good thing is that there is free internet! Whew, the world hasn't come to and end.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Leaving on a jet plane...

I am off to India today! I'm actually kinda scared cause I have been living a posh life here in Saigon, but I'm sure I'll make it. I'm actually most scared about my knee, but now that I'm able to walk more than 100 feet, I may be ok.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Wasting away

I've spent the last few days cooped up in the house, playing Wii with my little cousin. I feel ok, but I don't think that I have ever had absolutely nothing to do. I feel like I should be outside, exploring, etc etc, but the fact that I can't ride a motorcycle and can't walk quickly puts that option out of the picture. So, I'm literally wasting away (seriously - somehow in the last 2 weeks, I have managed to lose 6cm from my waist... maybe playing the Wii really is exercise?!) and probably going to die of Vitamin D deficiency.

So, I'll comment on a few things in the news recently, as that's all I'm able to do is read the New York Times about 400 times a day.

  • Public Health Risk Seen as Parents Reject Vaccines - So, I'm a big fan of public health (oh dear, that's an understatement) and vaccines are routinely referred to as the ultimate public health success. Without vaccines, we wouldn't have eradicated polio nor dramatically reduced the incidence of numerous other childhood, and adult, diseases. So, how do I feel when I see parents reject vaccines because they feel like it? I feel as though these parents are selfish. They are putting their children and other children at risk of easily preventable infections because of one study, widely discounted by scientific circles, that suggested vaccines cause autism. Now, autism is a serious matter and the hooplah over vaccines as the cause just distracts from the search for the true causes of autism. So, get your children vaccinated! (And curiously, it's always the upper middle class suburbs that end up with measles outbreaks. Why don't we quarantine them? Oh, right, that's not politically correct.)
  • A Case of the Blues - This is a long read, but worth it for anyone watching Congressional elections this year. Basically, it explains the uphill battle the Republicans have in the upcoming election and a profile of Tom Cole (R, OK). All in all, it made me hopeful that the Democrats would get more seats in the House and Senate. However, like the Presidential election, I will not be overly optimistic because anything can happen. What do I think the Democrats need to do? Campaign in this election like any other - campaign hard, campaign lots, and get voters to turn out. Democrats can't win simply because they think they'll win.
I feel like there were more articles, but I can't think right now. Apparently, my brain has atrophied as well.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cabin Fever

Today, I left the house for the first time in 48 hours. Yeah, 48 hours. I'm about to go stir crazy, much like in The Shining (except without the murderous rampage). I went to the clinic I used to work in and got a second opinion on my knee. Good news is that I get to keep my leg. Bad news is that I just have to take it easy, which is tough for a girl who cannot take it easy.

So, to bide my time, I'm honing my Wii skills, watching The West Wing and Big Love on DVD, and reading Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen. However, I have to slow my reading down, because English language books are a rare commodity in Vietnam and I only have this and two other books for the next 6 weeks (4 of which will be in India, where I expect I will be doing a lot of reading).

Saturday, March 22, 2008


So, I've finally put up my photos and here they are:

I am still working out the kinks on what is public and what is private... so forgive me and check it out now and again in a few days. Maybe by then, I will be able to figure out flickr.

Bad turn of events...

So, I've been holding off on posting this because I was worried that people would be worried. So, first of all, I want to say that things are ok and I am ok and everything will be ok.

Ok, after all that, I will tell my story. It's been a bad week, to state the obvious. Last Friday, I was out with a friend and we were out late and I fell off of his motorbike. Yeah, fell off his motorbike. It's a much longer story than that, but that's basically the gist of it. Fortunately, I was wearing a genuine racer helmet (which everyone makes fun of me for, but now no one can say that it hasn't come in handy) and my friend was only going about 5 miles an hour. I came out without a scratch, which is unbelievable considering all I was wearing as a tank top and a skirt. However, I came out with a good sense of fear of riding motorbikes (but still hopped on one the following day - it's impossible to avoid here in Saigon).

So, that was actually not too bad, just a little frightening. What was bad was that on Wednesday, my knee went out. I twisted my left knee (those already in the know are aware that I have already had two knee surgeries on my right knee) while opening a window - yeah, opening a window is hazardous to your health. Subsequently, I couldn't walk and ended up in the Hanoi International SOS clinic and walked out with an MRI, two knee braces, crutches, and a diagnosis of a strained lateral ligament in my left knee. Since then, it has been an adventure getting from Hanoi to Saigon (I arrived last night in Saigon) and I have experienced the draconian practices that those with physical disabilities have to confront everyday. One example is the 3 hours and paperwork required to get a wheelchair at the airport. At the airport. As though no one in a wheelchair has ever flown in Vietnam.

In the end, I am still going to India next Sunday and hopefully will be off crutches then.

So, at the end of a week with a motorbike accident and a window accident, I am exhausted. Literally. At least I have Codeine.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Drumroll please....

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose.
I am coming home to California! :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Walking, talking, and chewing gum

I have been in Hanoi for two days now and I can say that's enough. I did a self-guided walking tour of the old quarter and found it to be not much of a tour at all. All of the sights were either impossible to find (we went down two random alley ways, at the advice of our guide books, only to wander into people's homes) or closed. Not as much fun as I would hope a walking tour would be. Then, we had dinner with a friend and his fiance, which was good.
Today, Megan and I did the museums, including paying our respects to Bac Ho (a.k.a. Ho Chi Minh). Then, we did a tour of the Museum of Fine Arts, which was nice, but no one was there. Then, a tour of the Ho Chi Minh Museum, which, frankly, was much more propoganda than I could handle. In the afternoon, we headed to St. Joseph's Cathedral, which is the cutest neighborhood in town. It's old, with nice boutiques, and has the feel of a neighborhood (no other part of Hanoi or Saigon has this feeling). We had dinner at this street stall that sold some deep fried goodness, the contents of which I could not make out.
Then, on a typical cyclo ride we go! We took a cyclo through the old quarter for an hour. I'd have to say that the old quarter is much prettier at night - maybe it's the decrease in hawkers and you don't really see all the grime of the city. We wanted to find some bia hoi to finish off the evening, but as is typical, when we were looking, we could not find it. Oh well.
Tomorrow morning, we head out to Halong Bay and I'm stoked. I'm tired of being in a city and tired of people trying to sell me something. I need to just chill, relax, and lay out - which is what Halong Bay is for. It's our one indulgence on the trip, as we're going on a 3 day, 2 night tour on a luxury boat. So, forgive me if I don't update in the next few days (other than to update on where I matched).
Oh, I have to add a note on the northern Vietnamese accent - specifically, that I cannot understand it. For people who don't speak Vietnamese, it's hard to imagine how two people speaking the same language cannot understand each other. However, for those who speak Vietnamese, it's easy to understand. The north has different words for things (kind of like "soda" and "pop") and they pronounce nearly every consonant differently than the south. I have spent half the time talking to people here asking them, "Can you repeat that?" or "What did you say?". It's really annoying. And I know that my Vietnamese isn't that good, so that just adds to the fun! I'm definitely not saying one is better than the other - just that it's very hard for a southern girl in the north.

Monday, March 17, 2008


That's all I know - yes, I have matched! That's the big news of the day.
Other than that, I hopped on a plane and went to Hanoi today, walking around with Megan, who has been a super trooper as she has been walking around as myself despite her jet lag.
That's it... I can't think of anything else right now.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tardy slips

So, I have a little quirk that requires that I arrive every place on time, or even early - I just cannot be late. It's a very helpful quirk in most circumstances, like work, movies, etc. However, at other times, it leaves me waiting for the other person (especially at parties, dinners, etc.). Well, I was reminded that I need to reign it in after I was left sitting and waiting for people 3 times in the last 3 days, totalling about 90 minutes of waiting. Yeah, 90 minutes of waiting. Lots of waiting and nothing to do...

Friday, March 14, 2008


So, I am harboring the world's largest mosquito in my room. Well, I have never seen it, so I don't know if it's exactly the world's largest mosquito, but it is at least the world's hungriest. I know this because on each arm, I have evidence of its nightly feedings and my daily torture. Ergh.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Diversionary tactics

So, I revived this blog as a way to chronicle my travels, and a way for my friends and family at home to keep track of where I am. However, today, I will take a little bit of a detour and talk about one of my other passions - politics. People are always surprised that I'm interested in politics, but I find it not surprising in the least. As a woman, I should be interested in preserving women's rights. As a physician, I should be involved in ensuring quality, affordable, and accessible healthcare to all people. As an immigrant, I should advocate for the rights of all new Americans. As a citizen, I should be aware of the political landscape and cast my vote. In short, I think I have plenty of reasons to be interested in politics, none of them surprising.

Watching the coverage of the Presidential race from another country is weird. It also happened last time I was in Vietnam (in 2004, I recall watching a debate at the New World Hotel with a bunch of American expats). I am a registered Democrat and have always voted for a Democrat, so it is no secret that I wish for a Democrat to win the Presidential election (I also hope that Democrats gain a bigger margin in the House and Senate). However, I see this possibility threatened by the bitter fight for the Democratic nomination. Of course, I cast my vote (absentee, on the day before I flew out to Vietnam) and I have my preference for who will be the Democratic nominee. However, I would be happy with either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama - just as long as they can beat Senator McCain. That's all I, and many others, hope for - a change.

Change seems to be the word for both campaigns. Who can provide better leadership to make changes to the status quo. However, I'm skeptical as to how much change can actually happen (other than a change in administration). We need dramatic change on healthcare - yet I doubt we will actually achieve it, regardless of who is in power. We need equally dramatic changes in education, immigration, the environment, foreign policy, and countlesss other issues. I'm skeptical that a new president can really change things as much as they promise in their campaign speeches - but regardless of my skepticism, I am hopeful.

It's also interesting to see what Vietnamese think of American politics, which can be summed up in, "I am glad Bush is out." All in all, I am impressed with what people, both Vietnamese and otherwise, here know about American politics. I have to say that I live up to the "stupid American" stereotype when it comes to politics in other countries (ask me to name the leader of Vietnam or presidential candidates in any other country and I am at a loss).

So, those are my two cents, and more. What do you think? (and thanks to everyone for their comments... bring them on!)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Run, Lola, Run

So, a few hours after writing a friend to say that I have yet to experience any serious traveler's health issues (read: GI discomfort), I experienced just so. Yeah, lots of fun. Woke up at 3:30am and haven't slept since. Home from work, sick today, hoping that will help and will be back in the swing of things tomorrow. Let's hope.

Red hot

Sorry for not posting over the last few days, as I spent the weekend in Phu Quoc Island, off the coast of Vietnam. It's a popular vacation spot for Vietnamese and foreigners alike. It's little more than than a simple island with a few pearl farms and famous ridgeback dogs. Yesterday, I spent the entire day on a boat fishing, swimming, etc etc. Turns out Vietnamese people get seasick easily because half the boat upchucked at one time or another in our 4 hour journey (fortunately, not myself). Also, turns out that you burn if you don't put on sunscreen, so I am sitting in pain right now, because somehow, I forgot to put sunscreen anywhere but on my face (lucky I didn't forget that!) and so my arms, my bcak, and my chest is as red and hot as a freshly boiled lobster. Yummy.

Oh, yesterday was International Women's Day, which in Vietnam is celebrated like Valentine's Day (instead of celebrated as a day to think of all that women have accomplished). So, when my tour guide for my night squid fishing excursion showed up, he came with a rose. It was cute. Overdone, like my tan, but cute.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

2 weeks' notice

In two weeks, I find out where I spend the next four years of my life.... ergh.

Need I mention that my TMJ has started acting up again?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sick to my stomach

So, I spent all last night curled up in bed, hoping that my stomach ache would go away - and it didn't. I've been hoping that the bad feeling in my stomach all weekend would go away by Monday, but had no luck, so left the clinic at noon today (but not after a CBC and an abdominal ultrasound - totally overkill, but oh well). In short, my stomach's rolling and nothing helps it (I've tried starving it, feeding it, soda water, porridge, ginger, anything). Add to that a little bit of a fever and some dizziness and you have the most vague symptoms ever.

Oh, also add to that the anxiety of having filled out my rank list and waiting for match day. Match day. It's finally upon me. It's hit me that I cannot live this simple life, wandering the world, dabbling in this and that forever - that I really, someday, must actually settle on something to do. I guess it happens to even the good ones. I'm just not ready. Maybe I'll be ready when July 1 rolls around. Or maybe I'm just hoping I'll be ready when July 1 rolls around.

Oh, I have lots of pictures. But seeing as I had lots of time today, but looking at a computer makes me dizzy and sick to my stomach, I was unable to actually put them up. Will soon, promise.