Jonathan Sumner Evans
Sumner Evans
Software Engineer at Automattic working on Beeper

Seventeenth Day - Trip to Phu Tho 11/18/10

Written by Human, Not by AI

Well today we woke up with another driver in our midst. The one who owned our car. He had come in the night on a bus from Hanoi to try to fix it. He arrived at about twelve o’clock and then towed the car to a spot where there was more light. He worked on it but when we got up in the morning it was still not fixed. And that’s were my day began, with waking up. For breakfast again we had those pancakes but today Hannah and I had fried rice. After yesterday’s breakfast Phong had asked if we wanted to have fried rice instead of the pancakes. We accepted so mom ate some pancakes and we ate the fried rice. After breakfast, which was delicious, we got ready to go to Phu Tho (pronounced: fu taw, the taw sound ends abruptly). The car had to be towed to be started but it did start and we were on our way. This new driver was like a race car driver on a one lane road, that to the Vietnamese is a two lane highway. He was passing people on blind curves and on the straight parts if there was a gap of two yards he went through it. Mom was scared to death and even Phong who was leaning slightly out the window was going, ohhhh, made it oh oh oh, phew! that gave me a scare. In fact I don’t think that we ever stopped until we got to a gas station. Where we stopped to stretch our legs he had to leave the car on because it he turned it off it would not be able to start back up again. After we got gas we went on to a town were we said goodbye to the first driver who was catching a bus to Hanoi. We felt sorry for the guy, it wasn’t a good car and he was nervous because it was his first time to driving it. We stopped in a town for lunch. We ate at a street-food place but the food was good. But the weird thing is that once we were served our food they pulled up chairs and watched us eat. And afterwards they touched mom and pinched her and talked about her. Phong said that they were feeling if she was real. I truly think that we were the first westerners they had ever seen! Then we got back in the car went on to Phu Tho. We wandered around the town and went to a square where we walked around. You could tell you were off the beaten tourist path in Phu Tho because wherever you went people stared at you. Just like to people at lunch, well maybe not as bad as them but we were the center of attention. Phu Tho, though small, is actually a university town. We saw that on our little walk.

Mom and I had wanted to go to see the clinic that we think I was found at. Unfortunately there wasn’t very much information about which clinic and it could have been anywhere in the province of Phu Tho. (Phu Tho is the province and the town.) So we went to the two that were in the town and walked around them. The first one was a big place which was a hospital. There wasn’t much to see there but buildings but when we went to the second, a clinic. After we saw the first one we went to the next one which was more of a clinic. We got to go inside and see the waiting room. On the wall they had the prices of the operations. The most was only one hundred dollars! And it was a lung surgery! While we were at the the hospital and clinic, we learned some things about the Vietnamese health care. First, there are no nurses that take care of the patients in the room so the family must do everything for the patient. They must fix food, wash clothes, and do all the things that the nurse does in the States. Second, the operations are extremely cheap, like I said, (the most expensive was a little more than $100) and the reason for that comes in the last thing that we learned. Their health care is terrible. When our guide’s wife was having a baby in the hospital, she was in a room with I think six beds with twelve women, two to a bed, having babies! After that we found the place where we thought mom signed the papers that made me officially hers but when we got there and Phong asked them were the room was that the ceremonies took place they said that the place was in a bigger city in the province of Phu Tho.

After that we drive to the hotel. It was definitely the most basic hotel we have stayed in but it is a luxury hotel to the Vietnamese. The staff wasn’t very nice but we go the room OK It was only fifteen dollars for the room but Phong and the driver didn’t have reservations and would have had to pay an extra five dollars. They decided that it was too expensive even thought it was only twenty dollars! We said that we would just pay the five dollars and so that Phong could stay with us but he refused. Then Phong went to go find another less expensive hotel somewhere while the driver went to get the car repaired. We were left alone without anything to do so we played with one of our feathered things until he came back unsuccessfully but with water and some desserts for us. We thanked him for his generosity and ate the things. They were kinda like cakes with a couple of raisins. Then he left again to go find a place to stay. We went and had showers in the room.

I think that this would be a good time to tell you what the room was like. I always start at a door but this time I am going to tell you what it was like from the center of the room. Right underneath me would be a coffee table with a  very dirty tray with three towels that were about big enough for a doll, three tooth brushes, some soap which was totally useless because it was about the size for a doll, and some shampoo. If I faced at the door and then turned left I would be seeing a fan and some plastic slippers for you to wear. The slippers are all that many people have for shoes. If I kept on turning left I would be facing the first of the beds. The beds had no sheets and were lust some mats on top of wooden frames. There were blankets on the beds but rather scary. The pillows felt like someone had put big chunks of kinda soft stuff in it. If I kept on turning I would be looking at the two other beds in the room. To the left side of the the last bed was the bathroom. Inside the bathroom to the right was a toilet and then to the left of that was the sink. It was kinda weird because the water drained through a pipe and onto the floor. Then it trickled down to a drain in the floor. On the spout of the sink was tube that went to a detachable shower head. The shower didn’t have any partition for itself. It just went onto the floor and then went to the same drain as the sink. It got everything wet. The toilet, the sink the mirror… Literally everything in t bathroom got wet! OK out of the bathroom and onto the coffee table. If you looked back at the bathroom and turned left from there you would be looking at a wardrobe type thing and then to the left of that a door to what we think was an adjoining room and to the left of that a bench. if we turn just a little more we would be back at the door.

After our showers  Phong came back unsuccessful once again. This time the reason for his unsuccessful search was that most of the town was blacked out because of a power shortage. We were fortunate that our hotel either had a generator or just was lucky that the power outage didn’t effect them. We went with Phong to go find a street stall that had light. We found one just down the road and ate. The restaurant was just and extension of someone’s house. We saw the children playing in a room just behind all the tables. There was a TV in the room and it was showing Vietnamese soccer. Phong was saying that he doesn’t like soccer in Vietnam because it’s all rigged. People bet with other people saying that “I think that the game will be 3-2 and pay the players big bucks to make it that way.” No wonder Phong doesn’t like Vietnamese soccer. After dinner we went back to the hotel and asked Phong where he as going to stay. He said that he would probably have to stay at the hotel that we were at because all the others were out of power. So after all his searching he ended up just staying at our hotel. We went up to our rooms and then went to bed.