Tuesday, October 7, 2008

PJ's Accident: The Sequel

(PICTURE: PJ after being cleaned up and bandaged)

On our second day in Sapa we decided to take a four hour road trip to Bac Ha, a mountain town famous for its Sunday market. We departed around nine in the morning for the northwest town. The first hour was spent in cruise control as we glided down the 36km mountain we had climbed up the day before. After going through Lao Cai -- and asking directions about ten times -- we jumped on an amazingly smooth highway. The stretch of road was far and away the nicest road I have seen in Vietnam. It seemed even nicer after five minutes of cruising on it when it abruptly ended and turned into the worst road I've ever seen.

I had heard that the road from Lao Cai to Bac Ha was under construction but hearing that and seeing it are two different stories. The road was a disaster. The whole thing was a stretch of deep pot holes mixed with gravel and dusty air...oh, and GIGANTIC CONSTRUCTION TRUCKS coming at us from both directions.

After about twenty minutes on this road, and passing many trucks, I made another passing move around an enormous garbage-truck-like vehicle when I heard Huyen scream, "PJ! PJ!" I looked in my rear view mirror and through the dust could see PJ picking himself up off the ground. I immediately pulled off to the side of the road and said, "I think he's alright. I could see him getting up." Well, PJ was basically alright...minus a hole bunch of cuts and scrapes.

For those of you who are counting, yes, it was PJ's second one-vehicle accident in as many days.

(PICTURE: Road Rash anyone?)

We were basically in the middle of nowhere when this happend yet somehow a half dozen people came to the road within twenty seconds of the accident. One family escorted PJ into their roadside shop which became our make-shift emergency room. Huyen washed off PJ and with the help of the random lady, cleaned PJ's wounds.

(PICTURE: Huyen cleaning PJ and the family who helped us out)

Just a thought that I think is pretty amazing. It's wonderful how wounds heal both literally and figuratively. PJ's father served in Vietnam during the war. Just think that only about 40 years later, PJ was in the same country, in "enemy territory" being helped/clean/treated by the same people who we fought against not so long ago. Call me a sap, but I think that says something great about the human spirit. Clearly if this family were Americans they'd be Democrats.

If you're wondering how the bike was, well, it was only slightly wrecked. PJ broke the gear shifter and a couple other little things. Luckily in Vietnam, repair shops are seemingly every 100 yards or so. After PJ was repaired, Huyen rode his bike to the nearby shop and had that repaired too.

As they say, "Third time's the charm." PJ, bloody wounds and all, insisted on getting back on his bike and riding it to Bac Ha. He made it the rest of the way without a problem. However, my ear has ached since from listening to Huyen say to me 1,000 times, "I'm very scared for PJ. I'm very scared for PJ."
(PICTURE: Getting the bike fixed)