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13 October 2011 / leggypeggy

Do I look like I’ve been hit by the proverbial bus?

A barrage of motorbikes. This was taken in Hoi An, which has about one-tenth as many bikes as Hanoi.

No! But I do look like I’ve been knocked down by the not-proverbial motor scooter! Let me explain. Oh, and no pictures of my wounds just yet. Maybe if I end up with a shiner.

Late this morning, we arrived in bustling Hanoi, VIetnam. Poor John had arranged an airport pick-up for us—$22 for a 45-minute drive to the hotel. The driver wasn’t too bad, but would probably have had to pull over if his horn had broken. Nevertheless, we were irked for two reasons. Poor John was annoyed because the driver gave a freebie lift to one of his friends. I was annoyed because it soon became apparent that my seat (in a virtually new car) was soaking wet. Obviously, somebody had left the window open during some torrential rain storm. The driver giggled when I told him about it, and while I know it is common for Asians to laugh when they are embarrassed or apologetic, it’s still infuriating.

I was not at all pleased to walk into the hotel (even a budget hotel) with a soaking wet bum.

But after a change of clothes from the waist down, we set out to explore the old city. Everywhere we went, the streets were a sea of vehicles—cars, buses, taxis, minivans, motorcycles, motor scooters, bicycles, cyclos (pedicabs) and sellers’ carts.

Crossing the street is a nightmare. The traffic lights do change and the little green man lights up, but the vast majority of vehicles simply don’t stop, so you make a tentative dash, weaving between the vroom-vrooms and blaring horns. The element of danger is compounded by the fact that here is no such thing as a one-way street—even if the arrows point one way.

About 4pm, I must have been getting cocky because I saw a break in traffic and strode out into a road near the Opera House.

That’s when she nailed me—from behind. A woman on a motor scooter going the wrong way on a one-way street. The crowd was furious with her. I was lying face-down in the road, on top of my camera. I’d made a perfect three-point landing—on my left knee, my camera (just under the left boob) and the left side of my forehead. Poor John hauled me up. I gathered my things, and walked off slightly dazed and in search of a place to sit down.

I knew I was wounded, but I also knew I wasn’t bleeding (except a bit on the knee). But when I showed Poor John the emu egg on my forehead, he headed off to find a taxi to take me to hospital. I saw him standing beside a taxi negotiating with a fellow who suddenly rushed to my side and said he’d be right over with his cyclo. Oops! Rather than argue (although I rather ungraciously said I might as well walk) I took a seat, and scooted over so Poor John could squeeze in.

Our ‘driver’ pedalled up the road about a kilometre and stopped in front of a very swish building that looked more like an office block. No, no that wasn’t the hospital. So he pedalled on until we arrived at what looked like a hospital—a seedy one.

The Hanoi Opera House and surrounding traffic. Snapped a few moments before I was decked—a bit off to the right of the photo.

Once there, we tried several entrances (displaying my forehead each time) before we found anyone who did anything other than point us toward another entrance. Finally Poor John found a nurse who found a nurse who spoke a bit of English. She took one look at my head and disappeared into the surgery, returning with an ace bandage that she wanted to wrap around my head.

Just in time, a trio of young doctors in jeans and sport shirts appeared in the hallway, at least they said they were doctors. Poor John explained the situation. They examined my head and said the outside looked okay, as long as the inside (my brain) was okay. They said I might have an absess in a week and if that happens I should go to hospital. They too offered to wrap the ace bandage around my head, but I thought that was overkill. I am the walking wounded, but I don’t need to look it.

I suspect I’m concussed, but I’ve been awake now for five hours and I plan to stay awake for another three. We walked home from the hospital which was several kilometres way from the hotel. I haven’t been nauseous. The emu egg has expanded below my eyebrow. Two of my ribs are hurting like the dickens. They’re not broken, but they sure are bruised. It hurts to go up and, especially, down stairs. The camera still works, which is the most amazing and relieving aspect of all. A Canon 450D is tougher than I ever suspected.

I wonder how much I’ll hurt when I wake up, and where exactly the bruises inflicted by the motor scooter itself will be felt. Tomorrow morning we’re going on a junk into Ha Long Bay for two days and a night. Another medical emergency is the last thing I need.


Leave a Comment
  1. Sy S. / Oct 13 2011 8:12 am

    Hello Peggy,

    I think you are lucky that the accident was not worse…. but then again bad enough. I hope the swelling goes down fast on your forehead and you are less stressed out with the wounds to your ribs. And yes still having the capability of using your Canon camera was good news.

    I read all of your posts…. even though I don’t comment on some. Be safe!

    Sy S.


  2. leggypeggy / Oct 13 2011 10:27 am

    Thanks Sy. You are so right. I am very lucky the accident wasn’t worse. Just bad enough to make for a good blog entry—and to be a pain, literally, for a few days/weeks.

    As for reading the posts. I’m delighted that so many people drop in each day, but comments are completely optional. My children don’t even comment, but if they did, they’d probably just roll their eyes and say ‘oh mum’. 🙂


  3. Louise M Oliver / Oct 13 2011 7:12 pm

    Hi Peggy,
    I’m s sorry you were run down like that. I haven’t checked the time difference between here and Vietnam but I hope you see this and know that I’m thinking of you and empathising with you. I hope too that you don’t feel unwell for more than a couple of days. What a miserable thing to happen when you’ve been having such a wonderful time!

    And are you all staying in the same hotel? I was initially surprised to read that you’re in a hotel but thought that perhaps camping grounds and tent sites are probably a bit few and far between in urban Vietnam. I’m interested to know how you’re getting on and hope to read very soon that the egg on your head has disappeared and that you had no headaches, that your breathing is much improved and that you’ve pretty much forgotten that you had an accident.

    As always. ‘hello’ to Poor John and best wishes.



  4. Laura / Oct 13 2011 10:47 pm

    hope your head isn’t hurting too much anymore and your boat didn’t sink in ha long bay (apparently they do that from time to time…also hope you’re back before you read this! 😉
    anyway, I wanted to tell you the nr. one rule to survive traffic in vietnam:
    walk SLOWLY! that way they see you comming and can drive around you! it takes a bit of courage and getting used to, but it works a lot better than standing at the side for 5 min before starting to get frustrated and run…
    And be carefull in saigon, it’s a lot worse there.
    Do they still have these beatifull purple flowers on all the trees in hanoi? we weren’t sure if that was a seasonal thing.
    anyway, safe travels, I think this counts as your one obligatory accident/illness per trip 😉
    xx Laura


  5. Your loving daughter / Oct 14 2011 8:51 am

    Ohhh no poor mummy! I’m relieved it’s not worse but it must have really hurt. At least you don’t have lame collarbones like me tho! I hope you wake up relatively pain free tomorrow/today!


  6. leggypeggy / Oct 14 2011 2:22 pm

    Thanks all for the good wishes and advice. I’m doing pretty well. I think all of the top left half of my face will end up being black—a giant shiner. The knee, ribs and left arm hurt, but overall I am in better shape than I expected.
    We’re on the junk (no it hasn’t sunk yet) for another four hours. Three of the women on board are nurses, so I have plenty of people to turn to if I suddenly take a turn fo the worse. 🙂
    Imagine my surprise—in the middle of Ha Long Bay—to discover about an hour ago that I have WiFi. The world shrinks.


  7. Nona / Oct 16 2011 7:40 pm

    Oh my Peggy, that is awful. I hope this turns out ok. I was also hit by a bike from behind and experienced a huge hematoma on my leg that had to be drained couple of days after the accident. I’m really worried about this. Are you icing the swelling? I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you get through this.


  8. leggypeggy / Oct 17 2011 2:35 am

    Thanks Nona. I think I’m improving, but I’m keeping an eagle eye on the lumps, bumps and bruises. So far, so good.


  9. susan / Oct 21 2011 10:14 am

    Memories of mother hit by a young man on a bicycle and she spent the night in the hospital. So sorry to hear this and hope you are recovering okay. They say the third day is the worse so hopefully that is true and you are on the mend. Be careful. Love you , Susan


  10. leggypeggy / Oct 22 2011 5:51 pm

    Susan—I thought of that too. I was with mom when it happened. I look dreadful, but except for the ribs, I’m in good enough shape.


  11. Wanda Causby Rabb / Oct 23 2011 12:06 am

    Just catching up on your adventures and had no idea you had been injured. Judging from the look of your black eye, I can only imagine the other bruises. I’m thankful you weren’t hurt worse but am sure this was bad enough to contend with. Stay safe!!


  12. leggypeggy / Oct 23 2011 12:54 am

    Aw thanks, Wanda. I’m so lucky it wasn’t worse. And I feel so stupid for letting it happen. But I’m healing. 🙂


  13. hiMe / Sep 22 2014 6:38 pm

    I’m sorry you had an accident. For us overseas Vietnamese coming to hospitals in Vietnam, we have to agree with whatever they tell us to pay and the price is usually inflated many times the real cost!…


    • leggypeggy / Sep 23 2014 8:28 am

      Thank you hiMe. I know it is hard and expensive for Vietnamese people to be sick or injured in Vietnam. I was lucky to have those young doctors come along to see me.



  1. Poor John disappearing into the sunset! « Where to next?
  2. My shiner—a battle scar « Where to next?
  3. Plenty of pedal power in Vietnam « Where to next?
  4. Hit by the proverbial freight train | Where to next?

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