After almost a week of being sick, I lost my voice. So badly that I had to get some treatment (not a fan of it at all).
Finding the nearest hospital, I put that in my google maps, grabbed the motorbike, and 10 minutes later arrived at the destination.
I’ve been to the hospital in Asia only once before. It was in Thailand 8 years ago. It might be that thais didn’t speak much english, but I remember that at least in the hospital, everyone spoke perfect english.
But here comes Vietnam. At the reception the only thing that the staff can say is “how can I help you”.
When I speak muted, they understand. But to make sure, I write in translator “I lost my voice”.
She prints something and points on some numbers on paper – this is the amount to be paid.
After I paid, she points at another number – thats the room number where I’m supposed to go now.
I go there. Classic way – doctor asks, I’m almost speechless, trying to talk. On google translate she writes that I’m supposed to pay where I’ve already been and come back. This time its triple the amount from the first one.
Standing the queue once again, some time later I’m back. She runs a quick examination, and says “inflamtiam”. I figured out she meant “inflamation”.
She writes something on paper. I ask via translator “how many days”; “how many times per day” in plainest possible english.
I get the answers the same way back.
Going to the pharmacy now. Showing the paper. Lady cuts me the exact number of pills needed for the treatment – no waste.
I put into the translate “receipt please” (important for reimbursement from the insurance company).
She doesn’t understand. I try another way “bill please”. It got the job done.
Time to eat something. I found the place on the way back from the hospital. Priceless, descriptions in vietnamese only of course. BUT, there were pictures! Pointing out on one of them, I have no clue what its gonna be, since the google translate keeps telling me it will be a hot dog. Luckily, it was a normal meat on the plate (just as in the picture).
And you know what? Being speechless in Vietnam doesn’t change absolutely anything (unless you speak vietnamese).
The moment you lose coverage/run out of credit or battery, changes everything. So only thanks to technology it is possible to communicate – somehow.
I even tried to learn some phrases. But it doesn’t always work. Do you know why? Cause viet is a tonal language – depending how you pronounce exactly the same words, the meaning might be understood or not. I almost mastered “nha ve shyn” which means “bathroom”. Almost, means I’m understood 7/10 times. With other things that I try to repeat after its being pronounced by google translate its more like 3/10 or less, depending on how long the phrase is (for longer than 5 words the success rate is next to none).
The only parallel situation so far I had in Burma (Myanmar) 7 years ago. Nobody spoke english. And that was the time when big data packages were either pricy as hell, or as in Burma, unavailable at all.
So universal sign lanuage is the only way to communicate in those cases.
Take notes dear reader. The ones worth noting from this chapter are following:
If you go to Vietnam, have AT LEAST 2 working smartphones (because if one gets damaged, lost etc. you are lost as well).
Top up more often than necessary. Wifi exists, but isn’t available at every corner. And if you run out of transmission of data, you are lost.