Misfortunes in Vietnam

We've been in beautiful Vietnam for two weeks, and I'm starting to think it might kill me.

After a lovely start in Hanoi, we ventured off to picturesque Halong Bay where I promptly got Nate's cold.  

I spent a 13-hour long overnight train ride hacking, blowing my nose and wondering if there was a way to block the smell of shrimp paste emanating from the large bag of puffs our fourth cabin passenger brought along for our ride together in close quarters. 

Turns out there's not.

Nate and our friend, JP, on the sleeper train.  This was pre-shrimp puffs.

Nate and our friend, JP, on the sleeper train.  This was pre-shrimp puffs.

Things were looking up when we arrived in Phong Nha, a scenic rural area of central Vietnam.  

We checked into the Phong Nha Farmstay, a fantastic little bed and breakfast with a pool and movie nights and live music.  I celebrated by sleeping for the first few days. (thanks, cold)

Then we set off for an overnight trek through the jungle to see some of the biggest caves in the world.  We spent an awesome two days hiking and exploring three different caves, dipping in and out of rivers and enjoying the outdoors.  My cold was a pain, but at least the scenery was nice.

Exploring inside one of the caves.

Exploring inside one of the caves.

The night we got back, we all celebrated around the fire back at the farmstay having a nice glass of wine and talking.  Around 9 p.m. I headed to bed upon which commenced the fiercest food poisoning I've experienced in my life.  

After a full 12 hours of retching my guts out, the vomiting subsided.  

Enter: diarrhea.  

Nate and I basically re-enacted that scene from Bridesmaids well into the afternoon, although we were moderately more polite with each other.

A few hours in, my period was like, "Hey, I'll join the party," blurring that fine line between stomach pains that meant, "We need a bathroom NOW," and "Oh hey it's just me, your uterus, being a huge jerk."

After nearly two days of this, we couldn't lay around anymore.  We'd signed ourselves up for a four-day motorbike ride from Phong Nha to Hoi An, and we'd been excited for it for weeks.

So I chugged some water, popped two anti-diarrheals and hopped on the bike.

The first day was amazing.  Beautiful scenery as we biked along the historic Ho Chi Minh Trail and saw breathtaking mountain views at every turn.

Biking along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in central Vietnam.

Biking along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in central Vietnam.

The second day, however, was a bit rainier.  Needless to say, these scenic back roads don't have rest stops, so when you've got to go, you're best off pulling over and trying to find some roadside cover.

Rainy motorbiking in Vietnam

Rainy motorbiking in Vietnam

Today, I did just that.  I didn't whine or act girly, I just signaled that I was pulling over and told Nate and our guide that I had to use the ladies ("take a wee" was the actual phrase I believe I used because I'm an infant).  

I walked back to find a spot where I could step into the brush and not totally flash every passerby.  I did my business in a bushy area and managed to only moon two motorbikes and one truck.  Success.  I got myself in order and headed back to the bike.

An hour later we arrived at our hotel and I felt a pinching in my sock.  I took off both socks and my wet shoes and noticed blood in both.  Then I went to take a shower and noticed blood of the inside of my pant leg as well.  

I hadn't cut myself, so I couldn't figure out how I was bleeding until I noticed a tiny bug in between my fingers.  It was biting me, and I had a hard time pulling it off.  I told Nate I was being bitten by a little centipede.  He put it in a kleenex and took it into the bathroom where he said the worst words he's ever said to me:

"Babe, this is a leech."

Yes, ladies and gents.  We discovered that I was covered in leeches.

As any level-headed adult would, I began to flip my SHIT.  I threw off all of my clothes, and Nate inspected me from head to toe (literally... no stone left unturned).  He found three more including one ON MY NECK.  Bless his heart he was so calm even though I know that leeches are his worst nightmare come true.

He squashed all four remaining leeches while I ran into the shower screaming, "EW, EW, EW!"

After a full 20 minutes of scouring the Internet for any case of a woman getting herpes or some ungodly disease from leeches, we inspected all of my clothes, and Nate even went through my shoes wearing a headlamp.  

Because I'm 12, I immediately started e-mailing my Mom who is ALWAYS sympathetic to my illnesses except for that one time that I busted my lip open running across our wood floors to hide the chocolate chips that I'd stolen from her baking cabinet (that time she laughed).

Now, with the leech episode behind but still haunting us, we're drinking the $17 bottle of imported French wine that Nate bought me along with some "I'm sorry you got leeches" peanut mnm's.  

One more week, Vietnam.  Please be gentle.