02.28.2009 92 °F
I know we have been MIA for the last two days, but it's only because our days have been jammed packed with fun. Our last day in Vinh went by so quickly. We went to the hospital, said bye to many cute kids and to most of the staff. Although many of them said "see you again soon" so I am not sure if they understood that we were leaving for good, or if they were just being optimistic for our return soon. Either way, it made the good bye easier. Conrad and I definitely would love to return to Vinh sometime in the future, whether it is to work in the hospital again (which we both would definitely do) or just stop bye and say hello to our friends. We had an excellent visit here and made so many memories. It was very sad to leave them all, especially when they said how much they would miss us. They stuffed us full of yummy food over the last few days, gave us some delicious candy from the region as a thank you, and gave me some (regifted and moldy...) flowers to say thanks. It's the thought that counts!
On our last day we sadly did not give English lecture. Everyone was too busy, since it was also national health professionals day (thanks to Uncle Ho who started the holiday in the 50s). Instead, we met with the medical director and vice medical director to talk about our month at the hospital. It was an excellent meeting. I thought it would be a few mins long since they dont speak English and our french is basic, but we had two of hospital friends as translators, and it was a really productive and optimistic meeting. They wanted to know how we enjoyed the hospital, Vinh and the doctors. They asked for our advice on improving health care at the hospital and within the local communities. They asked about asthma and future directions they can go to fight it in the community (of course I went on to several tangents about the role of public health, education and preventative medicine...). They asked about other possible projects medical students could do in the future. They asked about ways they can improve English skills among doctors. They truly just want to be better at everything, and their dedication will prove them far into the future, I hope. At the end of the meeting the medical director wanted to take us out to dinner, but it turned out we all already had fun plans, so we had to decline.
We went to an awesome dinner part with the entire Emergency department. It was an assortment of chicken with lots of beer. The table was segregated for "tradition." All the doctors (men) at one end, nurses at the other, and me at the cusp. It was great because they wanted me to drink beer with the men and cheers with them too, but since I was also a girl and on the cusp, I didnt have to do it all the time. Conrad had to drink with the big boys. The only bad thing was that all the nurses were talking about me, my weight and height. No idea why but they wanted to know. They were making guesses. One lady guessed I weighed 80 kilos!! I almost died. I know I am much fatter than I have ever been, but geez, 80 kilos (176 lbs!) no way. One of the nurses was right on with my weight and height, so we cheers-ed together.
Other highlights from our last day: we stopped for bia hoi at this place we always walk by en route home. it was alot of fun. One guy who worked there came up and wanted to take our order. He didnt speak any English but started off with "Sprechen sie Deutsch?" It was amazing (for me)! I got all excited! As we were leaving, some locals wanted to 100% with us, and we obliged. Also alot of fun. I think we have more than 10 pictures of us 100%-ing with people.
Also, we went down to Ho Chi Minh Square last night to celebrate national doctor day with many hospitals. More singing and dancing, and luckily we did not have to sing! Afterward, we went for coffee and this delicious frozen yogurt (it was literally a thing of breakfast yogurt that was put in a freezer). Then back to the house to crash.
Today, it was pouring and storming for a few hours. The first real rain of our whole trip. We couldnt believe it. Conrad and I were afraid the one and only flight out of Vinh (ours) would be cancelled, but luckily it stopped. One doctor and the head nurse took us to visit a war memorial 30 km outside of town today. It was in honor of 10 single women, who volunteered to rebuild the roads that were destroyed when the US bombed in the war. They were all killed with one bomb, which left a huge whole in the ground (still there today). We had an awesome lunch with our doctor friends and then were escorted in our hospital's ambulance to the airport.
Now it's on to the Mekong delta...