Saturday, 3 October 2015

Had I known that, I would have gone to the East coast ...

were the words I overheard in my favourite Vietnamese restaurant today (this post drags  on over several days, so 'today' is relative!)
I have no idea what the context of the discussion was, but this sentence seems to summarize the experiences of the last few days.

No need to cover air quality or traffic volume of Vancouver again; I've ranted enough about that for a while.  No, this is different. 

Ever since my cell phone slipped out of my hand during a hectic night bike ride half a year ago it sports a fancy spider-web pattern on its glass screen.  Now enough minuscule glass elements have fallen out of the cracks to affect operation, so I came to the conclusion it was time to replace it after seeing a worthy replacement on the Wind Mobile website. But the phone hasn't been available in ANY of the Wind Mobile stores in Vancouver for over 2 weeks.

Isolated incident?

 Right after the visit to the Wind store I visited the Walmart right next door to have a passport photo taken for a visa application. 

Never ever printed !
 The nice young woman 'manning' the photo booth informed me that they've been out of ink for their photo printers for 2.5 weeks.   Fortunately Cambodia offers electronic applications for visas and consequently I only needed my picture in electronic format ;-)

Isolated incidents?  Maybe.

Today I walked into a Walk-In-Clinic to get my Hepatitis A and B shots updated and to inquire about  Malaria  preparedness for my trip.  Guess what the dyed-hair lady behind the reception counter said!
We don't have a doctor today, come back tomorrow. 

Isolated incidents?  Incidents YES, Isolated NO.

Third most liveable city on the planet? What have those journalists at The Economist been smoking? 

Update:  Today the  walk-in-clinic actually had a doctor ready to heal the public. I'm waiting in one of those mini doctor's rooms they shove you in from the main waiting area and am awaiting the arrival of the man in white.

And the disappointment doesn't take long.  Travel vaccinations are not covered by Medicare. If I decide to have the  vaccination here, I pay for the doctor's time, then I have to go somewhere to buy the vaccinations, and go back to a doctor and pay again to have them administered. Definitely not a one stop process.

If I had feigned an illness in addition to desiring vaccinations everything would have been free.  Yes, we're training our children to be liars.

Personally, I don't like lying, so I will go to a so-called Travel-Clinic, where I have to pay, but at least they can do everything in one visit.

So I google travel clinics. They all  seem to be part of the same company and the one in North Vancouver is closed on Saturdays, i.e. today, as I find out  after being on hold at a 'receptionist'  call center.  The ones in Vancouver are open but don't have any appointments left for today. After some wrangling with the 'receptionist' I score an appointment  in the early afternoon somewhere in Burnaby.  Fortunately it is sunny today and the Burnaby location is within easy cycling range (<30km) so  I don't have to take the car!

Once I get there, it is actually quite pleasant.  The young office assistant lets me charge my battery in her office (imagine going to the doctor and asking for 500 ml of gasoline!). She also tries to calm this traveller by telling me that the mosquitoes in Hong Kong are ferocious but don't carry Malaria. She instantly realizes that life isn't fair when I tell her that I've been to Hong Kong 3 times and have never even seen a mosquito there. 

The doctor determines that my Hepatitis shots are good for life and that according to current health maps the mosquitos in the countries I intend to travel miraculously are infected with Malaria everywhere, except in a very narrow corridor along my travel route.  Let's hope the mosquitoes have read those maps!  I also learned about and am now equipped with a remedy that stops traveller's diarrhea dead in its runny tracks. And NO, it's not the one advertised on TV, that one doesn't work. I also get vaccinated against Typhoid and buy 2 tubes of insect repellant (those mosquitoes might not have Malaria, but they might still carry Dengue Fever). All for $120 of Canadian currency.  

How uncomplicated life in a different place now seems.  An excerpt from a travel report of ShaunMcKeogh.

If you adventurous, do as the locals do an grab a motorbike, look for the guy sitting on his bike on almost every street corner. Decide on the price before you depart but know that it should only costs about 50,000 - 120,000 dong for a 30 minute trip (as a guide). Your bartering skills come into play here, its all the fun of being in Saigon!

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