Monday, October 09, 2006

Something about the Children Hospital N0 1

It is expected to have an afternoon shower everyday during the wet season in Ho Chi Minh City. Usually days start with a sunny morning followed by a cloudy noon and then an afternoon of showers, just enough to wet the floor. One day in the hospital, I walked out of the office and I found something was different. Usually the hallway of the hospital is full of people; you would see people sleeping on the floor, clothes hanging between the pillars etc. but it was empty that day! Then I realized the corridor was flooded and everybody was calm. It seemed flooding was not a new thing for them, well it was for me, so I borrowed a camera and took pictures of the moment.

A few of my moon festivals were spent in the other countries such as Italy but none of them feel the same as in Vietnam. Mid-autumn festival aka Moon festival is celebrated in Vietnam by having moon cakes and decorative lanterns displayed but it’s not a holiday. Instead of a holiday for family reunions, moon festival here is more like a holiday for children and lovers. The children hospital number 1 had arranged folk activities in the courtyard of the hospital on moon festival. It started with two dragons chasing each other followed by dancing lions, a martial arts display etc. You can still see the influence of Chinese left behind after 1000 years of domination. Later that night, I went to the center of the city. In front of the reunification palace, the night was lit up with two gigantic disco lights and lots of stalls selling stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with moon festival such as handicrafts made from coconut shells. There were two stages on each side of the DL Le Duan, there weren’t any shows but children talking on the stages. The only way to tell this was the celebration for the moon festival were lanterns that weren’t even lit up hanging along the DL Le Duan and an arch with two lantern shapes on each side.

I had buffers and reagents prepared for the experiments, I asked doctors to start sending me some clinical specimens to see if the system works. I got 2 suspected entrovirus infected patients’ throat swabs and vesicle specimens. I had the RNA extracted and one-Step RT PCR performed and the result revealed entrovirus positive by electrophoresis. Everybody in the lab was happy with the result and the PR of the hospital, who I haven’t seen for weeks, showed up and congratulated me. I have never knew news could be conveyed so efficiently. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was some kind of espionage system built in the electrophoresis device. Once the result showed positive for what they were interested in, the key person would get informed.

The lab was planning a trip to Vung Tau beach about 100km from Ho Chi Minh City with me last weekend. However Xianshan typhoon struck the center provinces of Vietnam, so the journey was postponed. This weekend we managed to go and I was told that they would pick me up at my hotel at 6:00. Saturday, I was awakened by the phone ringing, at 6:15! I rushed down to the lobby and felt embarrassed for keeping 8 people and an ambulance waiting in my hotel. Well, taking an ambulance for a city tour wasn’t a first for me, but this time the flashing light was installed on top of the car and the hospital logo was emblazoned on the side. I got in the ambulance and wondered: would they turn on the siren if we got stuck in a traffic jam? Of course turning on the siren is useless in Ho Chi Minh City if we get stuck in a traffic jam, but the advantage of traveling in an ambulance is no toll fees are needed, thus we can bypass the lines at the toll stations.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your posting. what an amazing journey you are taking right now!