Tuesday, April 24, 2007

And now, Toothache in Ho Chi Minh!

So, it turns out the migrane thing was probably the end result of me ignoring a growing pain in my tooth for the past few days. See, while flossing I took a big chunk out of one tooth, which since then has been causing me hassle and made eating a no-no. The old toothache diet is a pain (pardon the pun) but it works.

So I finally gave in yesterday and went to the doctor onboard, who said he could get me to a dentist in Ho Chi Minh. Yes, that's right. Now, many people can say they went to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, but how many do you know who were Rockstar enough to get dental work done there? Look, here's my request form from the Doc to prove it!

I struggled through my 2 hour library shift, conjuring up all sorts of grisly dentist-surgery scenarios in my head, and then went for the port-agent pick-up at 2pm. I'd been relieved to find out a guest would also be accompanying me, with a tootache herself. Eric, too, came for moral support.

The FV Hospital, which stands for Franco-Vietnamese (not, as always comes into my head first, Female Vocalist, it's a harmony-line thing they write in our music scores) was a very pleasant surprize, with stealable pens, internet cafes, English forms and airy, clean waiting rooms.

When I eventually saw the young lady dentist, she was very competent and told me that yes, there was a big hole in my tooth, but that the tooth was not bad, and I was to return tomorrow once she'd taken several impressions of my teeth, and drilled and filed the area temporarily. She took an XRay even to confirm her thoughts.

Eric spoke to her in French for a while, while I had play-dough in my mouth, and I was irked when she asked him if I spoke French and he said "Non....peut etre un peu". When I registered my annoyance even with several implements in my mouth, that I DO understand more than he gives me credit for, I think she got the picture.

So, I have a white packed area in one tooth, which already feels better, and tomorrow there'll be a personalised filling all ready for me at noon.

The other lady needed a root-canal, which there isn't time for, so she left with 4 different types of painkiller and no, I'm not exaggerating.

The price? Well, 3 million, 5 hundred and 90 thousand Vietnamese Dongs.

Any idea? OK, there's 16,000 to 1USD, so that's $223.80 which (although once again I'm annoyed at my delicate constitution requiring this maintenance procedure, see last post!) I can't really grumble at I guess. You can just see the figures here. I LOVE this stamp on the letter, too.

Back to the ship (I did a sneaky in-port manning dodge through being let out for medical reasons!) we headed out on the 5pm shuttle bus from the port into Downtown. From the dropoff at the Rex Hotel, we walked towards the electrical market but before we got there, we bought perfumed paper from one of the many stationary stores. I also managed to get what I wanted, a new memory card for my camera. Now, I know nothing about memory cards really, but onboard the ship I could buy one with 512MB for $89. At this store, I bought one with 1G for $20. Nice! And, as you can see, it works! This is the lady I bought it from, shame it's not in focus, her starting price was still low at $25, but you have to play the game.

We bought iced drinks from Highlands Coffee, they have these ingenious carrier bags for take-out with divides so the drink stays upright. I had an Avocado surprize, it was basically big chunks of avocado with ice (which you're not really supposed to consume here, but what the heck) and condensed milk. Mmmmm.

We were now at the Ben Thanh market, which evidently carries on until night-time, although there was an indoor section which closed up at 7pm. Eric tried on a bunch of hats in this store, I think he looks like Pete Doherty in this hat (a good thing or not? You decide!) and my trial-choices were too terrible to photograph, let alone publish. I'm not a hats gal, I suppose. The market proper was outside, with many food stalls and many shoes, very few of which were available in sizes big enough for either myself, or Eric (tee hee! Sorry)

We passed this great sign (what more could you possibly want?!) and Eric bought me a gorgeous kitschy wooden sign from this carving shop, that reads "My Room" with a small yapper-type dog above it. Kitschy Kitschy COOL!

After a quick try on of dresses in a store called Orchids (I am a girl, after all) we headed back for the ship in the shuttle bus, because Eric had to play bass at 9.30pm. There were guys offering scooter rides back to the port for $1, but my tooth is still delicately throbbing too much in my skull for that kind of motion!

Oh, and I have another food item that will join the collection of foodstuffs bought on a curious or misinformed whim (see "I Just Can't Eat It!" Turtle Jam post). I thought it was a huge mango, but once I'd paid my dollar to buy it (I thought it was rude to handle the merch) I felt it was kinda too hard to be a mango. Then, as we drove back, I'm pretty sure I saw a street-vendor cooking them, sliced up in a wok.... Anyone got any ideas?

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