Asia is Not My Friend

When I returned from China in January 2019, I had a flu the likes of which I’d never had before. This was a year before COVID, but it had to have been some crazy bird flu, SARS, Asian flu, swine flu, influenza killer death combo. There was no way I was getting trapped over there, so I curled up in my window seat on the plane and hacked my lungs up into my sweatshirt the whole way across the Pacific Ocean. I was sweating profusely and had no voice for several days, but fortunately, the immigration guy didn’t ask me anything and just waved me back into the country after a two-second look at my passport. Thank god this was pre-COVID or I would have been locked up in some institution for sure.

Well, that flu wasn’t a fluke. Turns out that Asia has it in for me. Aside from crash landing into the Emperor Seamount chain and finding a watery grave, everything that could have gone wrong in my recent two-week trip to Vietnam did. My plane out of LAX was cancelled due to mechanical failure so I had to overnight there, my luggage didn’t make it onto my rescheduled flight and arrived in Hanoi only several days later after many phone calls, a few days in I got a cold that lasted for a week, and the second to last night of the trip I ate something that resulted in 12 hours of violent, projectile vomiting and 36 hours of traveling home clenching my burning butthole the entire way, trying not to shit myself (even though I hadn’t eaten in two full days) because Imodium was one-hundred percent ineffective against the multiple rare bacteria and one virus that had invaded my system, and four days later when I still had the fully liquid shits, resulting in me needing to take an antibiotic that had a possible side effect of tendon rupture and generally made me feel quite ill. Fun stuff.

That said, I still had a wonderful time. Partly this is because I went with a Vietnamese friend, so I had the insider track to a lot of great food. Going with my friend also meant that I could kick back and enjoy myself, while she planned everything. I was basically just along for the ride. But also, we didn’t run around trying to get to here, there, and everywhere. We basically had only three destinations: Hanoi, Ninh Binh, and a six day caving adventure in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. That was enough to get a flavor for both (northern) city life and the countryside.

However, I probably need to stick to South America where I’ve been traveling quite happily illness-free and drama-free for the last year. (Though I will be heading back to Asia in October…on a non-stop flight and to Japan, not the southeast.)


Ninh Bình

Central Vietnam

These are from the day before and the day after the caving adventure. More on that in a future post.

Other Caves

Mermaid Cave in Thung Nham Bird Park

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