A short drive lead us to the capital of Laos; Vientiane which had real shops and looked like an actual city! I didn’t realize I had missed a little civilisation until we drove in and got especially excited when I saw a Western supermarket.
I learned that Laos is the most bombed country in the world something I had no idea about. Bombs are constantly being found by people as they work on the land. We visited the COPE centre, which helps rehabilitate bomb victims (and others) who have lost their limbs. Places like these certainly help you to realize just how lucky you are. We were privileged enough to meet a young guy who had lost his vision and his hands due to a bomb – his energy was just brilliant and was a testament to what the centre does.
We celebrated our last night in Laos with western food in the form of pizza! It was pretty amazing.
Sadly, the next morning I was very unwell again (probably nothing to do with the pizza) and got to discover that the healthcare in Laos is very limited. My tour leader took me to the local hospital, as I was getting no relief from my abdominal pain and all the other stuff that comes with stomach bugs, which was an absolutely unreal experience. We got a tuk tuk ride to the hospital and I was taken through to the emergency room almost immediately, which was good, as we needed to fly out of Vientiane around midday, giving us limited time. They lay me down in a bed and the doctor came over the question me. His English was extremely limited and he didn’t seem to have a vast knowledge of medical care. He felt around my stomach and made twisting motions indicating cramps while I nodded, he then laughed – I did not think this was a good sign. He told me I would need an “infusion” and some other things I did not understand. Fortunately my tour guide was able to decipher that the infusion meant a saline drip. He also wanted blood tests done and for me to stay there overnight. There was no way I could stay overnight, but we agreed upon a small saline drip and blood tests. I wondered how clean the needles were.
He then proceeded to sit down at his desk, which was between the grand total of 2 beds in emergency and commenced drinking his canned coconut juice, occasionally barking instructions at the nurses in the local language. I lay in agony waiting for some sort of pain relief, which came in the form of a large injection in my arm. The pain subsided fairly quickly, but what replaced it wasn’t ideal either; something in that injection had given me an overwhelming sense of anxiety – it was awful – all I wanted to do was rip the drip out of my arm and get out of there. I had to concentrate strongly on staying calm and telling myself it would wear of within a few hours – which it did. While I waited for my blood results I noticed the doctor was writing on all of the forms of my fellow patients “good health” – he didn’t seem bothered to write more details to enlighten them on their conditions, nor did he seem concerned at all if I’m honest.
I’m just glad I got out of there without picking up any sort of serious infection and managed to make the flight to Ha Noi.