Ignorance would be bliss

March 16, 2016

We take a four hour, air horn blaring bus ride from the hill city of Da Lat, Vietnam to the seaside resort of Mui Ne, Vietnam. The bus doesn’t stop where we thought it was supposed to (we hear this is common in Vietnam) and we end up five kilometres (km) from our hotel.  The taxi drivers waiting for the “suckers” on the bus want 90,000 Dong (our four hour bus ride was only 78,000 Dong) for the five km drive.  We think, “what!  That will pay for dinner tonight”!  So we strap on the backpacks and it takes an hour walk (in crazy heat) to reach our booked accommodation.  Our room overlooks the ocean.  I drop my backpacks and I am in my board shorts before Christine has her backpacks off.  I run down to the beach all giddy like a baby who just had a diaper change.  I get ready to do a running dive into the South China Sea and, at what feels like mid-flight, my alert bell rings loud and I STOP before getting my toenail wet.

Vietnam 3 Mui Ne March 10-14 2016 -- 54

My Freudian id tells me, “let’s have fun, just do it!”.  My Freudian ego counters, “wait a second, you know there is something wrong here”.

This is not the first time the hairs on my neck … my arms… my back… my legs… my ears… my nose (getting to be an old man sucks – hair grows everywhere I don’t want it and no where I do want it) spring up alerting me to take a step back and assess the environment.  Twenty-three years of being a registered nurse seriously bites at times!  I don’t share my silly thoughts with Christine.  I figure ignorance is bliss, and at the end of day, it doesn’t matter anyway …we are here!

For instance, we check into our budget accommodations, black fuzzy material is growing on the walls and in the caulking and I think, Stachybotrys atra (black mold).  I jump into the pool; does anyone really check the chlorine levels in here?  I wonder if I am at risk for Cryptosporidium or Shigella or any other recreational water illness.  I look at the mattress and think, Cimex lectularius (bed bugs).  I look at the sheets… questionable if they have been washed and I know they are hung to dry and I think Scabies (only killed by hot water and a hot dryer).



In case you are wondering, no, I do not carry a blue light with me.

Smoking is everywhere!  Exposure to second hand smoke has been linked to heart disease and lung cancer.  It is like we are smoking the cancer stick itself!  We have been on eight-hour bus rides with someone coughing up a lung.  I know Tuberculosis is coming back with vengeance around the world, many with resistance to antibiotics, and I know there is nothing I can do but hope for the best.   I think, it is ok, Mantoux test and/or chest x-ray when we return to Canada.


When I use bathroom facilities, I look at the shower floor and “see” Tinea Pedis (Athlete’s foot).  Our shower sandals are absolutely indispensable.  The toilet has a little, discrete, innocent garbage can next to it.  The can has a pretty, little swinging lid to cover the toilet tissue that is put into it (necessary in many places where their sewage system cannot handle toilet paper).  I look at the lid with disgust and wonder how many poopy hands have spread Escheria Coli (E-coli) all over it.  I am not even going to mention the handle of the bum gun… oh my gosh, just imagine where that thing has been!

Vietnam 3 Mui Ne March 10-14 2016 -- 142

We go out to eat.  The cows here are so emaciated; I wonder how the heck do they have ground beef.  Do they import beef?  Christine see’s a juicy hamburger, I see Variant Creutzfeldt – Jakob (Mad Cow) disease and imagine myself being unable to move and becoming mute before I kick the bucket.  Chickens feed next to toilets and, once killed, they are treated like a dirty rag… Avian flu.  Sprouts come on a side plate for my Vietnamese Pho, and all I see is that darn E-Coli all over those stringy bits. I know I shouldn’t eat them… but Pho without sprouts is not Pho!  The rats here are huge… Leptospirosis.  A latte? I wonder if the milk is pasteurized?  Do they use filtered water?  How many parasites could be in water? Am I getting Schistosomiasis or Amebiasis?  I feel better because I have my steri-pen with me.  In reality, UV light does not kill parasites, but it will get the E-Coli… oh good!  Ah heck, we can de-worm when we get home.

So, you get the idea.

In any event, I have come as prepared as possible.  We have a mixture of bandages, q-tip applicators, alcohol swabs, cling bandage, sliver remover, “second” skin, Poly-to-Go spray, Polysporin for pink eye, tincture of iodine for wicked dirty cuts and antibiotic ear drops.  There is Sinutab for day or nighttime relief, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Robax Platinum for my old achy body when yoga will not stretch it.  Lamisil ointment for our wet, moist feet.  Reactine and Benadryl should save us if there are any type of allergic reactions.   For any of those gastrointestinal issues, Scopolamine and Imodium could save some clothing.

If things get real serious, the first aid kit has Azithromycin (already used because of my “Princess” system) for waterborne gastro-related illness, Acetazolamide for elevation sickness, Acetaminophen with Tramadol HCL for pain, Hydralyte for dehydration, Valacyclovir for coldsores, topical corticosteroid for skin irritations, DEET to avoid nasty malaria, Dengue fever causing mosquitoes, Malarone if we develop Malaria symptoms and Proctosone in case all the sitting on buses, trains and planes bring on an undesirable berry or two.  Finally, Aspirin 81mg prophylactic for the long flights; or heaven for bid, I have a stroke (it would never be Christine).

See, I told you having a nursing background can be a downer when traveling.

And getting back to my swan dive into the ocean… as it turns out, Mui Ne, Vietnam is a rather dirty and filthy place.  As I was about to jump into the ocean, the strange looking brown ooze along the shore line and sandal piercing broken shells all over the coastline convinced both my Freduian id and ego… ALERT… don’t you dare jump in!

Vietnam 3 Mui Ne March 10-14 2016 -- 105

But, as they say in Vietnam … “it’s no problem”!


Mark and Christine





15 thoughts on “Ignorance would be bliss

  1. I sure hope we get you both back safe and healthy Mark and Christine! What an experience!! Canada must look like luxury living now! Can’t wait to hear about your next stop! Sandy


    1. Hi Sandy. Internet in Vietnam is monitored by government, we had a very difficult time getting on our website, so just able to respond now that we are in Thailand. Don’t worry, all is good. Canada is the BEST!!! Without a doubt! We knew that anyway, but traveling really, really reinforces it! And just wait till you hear some of the cost stories I have coming up … we think Canada is expensive. We actually have it purdy darn good! So spoiled. Enjoy a Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks for me 😉


  2. When I remember coming to your place to checkout the Borkholder furniture, I couldn’t help but think that you two are very very clean people and that you would have an ‘interesting’ time in SE Asia. I’m glad that you can still enjoy some of your time despite the ‘red flags’ all over the place! Trust the Journey 😉


    1. Hi Chantel. Internet in Vietnam is monitored by government, we had a very difficult time getting on our website, so just able to respond now that we are in Thailand. So fantastic to see you in our inbox! You are correct, we are “neat freaks”, but that is part of the challenge that makes travel so rewarding and interesting. 🙂 Hope the water cooler is treating you well.


  3. Very interesting read. That beach looked beautiful, I would have been ready to jump in as well…….until you see the last picture and realize filth. Wow, I see now how having a nursing background is both a curse and a blessing. At least you sound like you are well prepared with all your meds. Continue to enjoy both the good and bad.


  4. Makes you want to strap on sterile gloves on your hands feet and anywhere else they would fit :).
    Stay safe happy and healthy!! Mick


  5. Haha….I also had an extensive medical kit as a nurse travelling thru Asia in the 80’s. The flagyl for the giardia I got in Nepal was particularly helpful. All part of the experience! I remember feeling like travelling in Asia felt like work alot of the time but I have just great memories now. All grist for the mill….enjoy!


    1. Hi MJ! Internet in Vietnam is monitored by government, we had a very difficult time getting on our website, so just able to respond now that we are in Thailand. So glad you are able to follow us. Nice to hear from you. It is great that you got back into street nursing … still my fav for sure! I have several times here I have wanted to reach out, homelessness is everywhere, but we are keeping a low profile.


  6. Okay…that was good. I have been enjoying all of your blogs but this one I particularly enjoyed – speaking my language!! Very happy for you two and learning lots from you so one day if I can convince my diarrhea phobic husband to travel past Hawaii we will be prepared. Looking forward to hearing about your next adventure!


    1. Hi Lori. Internet in Vietnam is monitored by government, we had a very difficult time getting on our website, so just able to respond now that we are in Thailand. So happy to see you in our inbox. Glad you have the time to follow us, you must be so busy! I actually thought of you several times during those experiences and as I wrote that post. Glad you liked it 🙂 It is all 100% the truth … darn nursing background! 😉


  7. Yikes! I’m not sure I could handle what you are doing, guys. Glad you are still having fun and thanks for alerting us to the armpit beaches of the world….can’t you invest in some catheters and go without going to any bathrooms at all?
    Stay safe! Enjoy yourselves! Miss you!
    Xo Sandy & Marty
    Ps Had a wonderful family time hiking in Sedona. baby Evelyn loved it!


    1. Hey Sandy and Marty …. Internet in Vietnam is monitored by government, we had a very difficult time getting on our website, so just able to respond now that we are in Thailand. You could do it. We did the Inca Trail, you can do anything! But I am seriously thinking that we may want to re-think the Bhutan trip. 🙂


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