It was the morning of the 30th December, and we were well on our way out of China and towards Vietnam. Our aim was to cover the remaining 150km in two days to reach Vietnam for the New Year. Optimistic, we rose early from our roadside camp and made a quick breakfast before packing. This particular camp was over the roadside barricade and a short walk across a patch of loose rocks. After breakfast we had to carry everything over the rocks and then lift it over the barricade before we were to carry on our journey to Vietnam. Everything was going smoothly and the final piece of the jigsaw was to carry Finola's bike over the rocks and barricade, put all our bags on and simply cycle as far as we could that day. It was whilst carrying Finola's bike over the rocks that my foot slipped and gave way underneath me. I came crashing down with the bike on top of me and immediately cried out in pain. Something was wrong with my right foot and Fin came rushing over to see what the problem was. I tried to stand but couldn't put any weight on it and then tried to cycle but that was causing even more pain! My right foot had immediately swelled up around the ankle and we feared the worst. What if it is broken? Can we continue? We only have a few days left on our Chinese Visa. Can we get to Vietnam?
The problem with getting injured on the highway is that there is no where to go. The nearest exit was 5km away, so I tried to hobble down the hard shoulder using the barricade for support but after just 100m this was proving too much hard work, so we decided to hitch-hike for help and hopefully find a truck or somebody who could take both bikes and us to the nearest town of Mengzi. Luckily for us, just as we stuck our thumbs out (with me protesting this will never work!) a car pulled over into the slipway ahead of us. Fin rushed down to speak to the drivers and then all I saw was the helpful duo of Rico and Rennie running towards me as I continued to hobble along the barricade. These two were our shining lights, and they helped me along and into their car, before Rico took the responsibility of cycling my heavy bike behind us to meet up at the hospital.
Rico and Rennie were both Chinese from the nearby city, but were headed to Mengzi to help Rico's mum re-decorate her new home. They also both spoke excellent English which was lifesaving as they were able to translate for the doctors and for us as we arrived at the hospital. The hospital itself was tiny compared to the large multi-scale ones we are used to back home. A single X-ray unit, a few treatment rooms, a pharmacy and about six beds on the first floor made up the hospital. The first thing the doctor did upon arrival was to X-Ray my foot, and after two X-rays and the most nervous wait of the whole trip, the doctor gave me the news. Soft tissue damage he said. Rest he said. No breaks or fractures. I was instantly relived, the news meant I would have to stay at the hospital for 3 days of rest, before continuing, but continue we could. I do not know what would have happened had we found it was broken but this has reminded us that we need to be careful, and take care of what we are doing since we do not want to seriously hurt ourselves on this trip.
The Hospital was staffed with the doctor owner and his wife the head of the hospital. below them is a single junior doctor and a team of about six-eight nurses. Once I had been shown to my bed (Finola was allowed to also stay there in the bed next to me for the three days) it was photo time, with everything gathering around me taking photos and with Rico and Rennie translating it made for a really fun medical experience. JiauQuin the junior doctor was the king of the selfie and made it his mission to take as many photos as he could of the crazy English couple in their hospital. The hospitality we received from everyone in the hospital was one of the pinnacle's of the whole trip. On our arrival Rico and Rennie ensured we were all stocked up with coffee and breads from the bakery, before leaving us to rest for the remainder of the day. At around six everyone came to our beds for more photos, followed by news we would now be going to the local restaurant for dinner. So we all went together, the doctor, his wife, JiauQuin, Rico, Rennie, Rico's mum, Rico's Dad and anyone else who wanted to join us. We had a great time getting to know everyone, telling stories about our trip and taking photos with everyone. We found the town was famous for two things, rice noodles and an old station once occupied for the French and were promised that we were to go and sample these two local delights the following day.
The following day we were taken for rice noodles for breakfast which were delicious, with a large potion of noodles and lots of local spices. Following breakfast we were then driven up to the old french train station to look at the old architecture with me hobbling along on my one crutch. It was fun to see a different side of the town, and it was really nice change from the high rise buildings of Chinese progress. Our hosts were so friendly and were very proud to show us off to all their friends, and that evening arranged us our dinner that night in the hospital. We sat around with the nurses, the owners and Rennie joined us again for a hot pot and some sticky rice. It was a really great day and we were so lucky to find this hospital and be treated like royalty rather than patients. I was still feeling weak on my right foot so got some much needed rest that night, we then realized that it was New Year Eve that night and rather than spend it partying in Vietnam we had to laugh as we found ourselves seeing in 2016 in a Chinese hospital.
Our final day in the hospital was a day of rest, making sure my foot was properly healed before tomorrow's cycling. JiauQuan came to see us after lunch and told us there would be a meal that night in the hospital. At 7pm we went downstairs to meet JiauQuin and saw he was preparing a hotpot so we sat around the table joining him as we ate tofu and vegetables. We thought this was the meal he was referring to so ate our fill, only to be surprised by Rennie and Rico and the owners of the hospital with BBQ food and pizza!!! If only we hadn't eaten so much hot pot previously!! Rennie gave us both a present of some shampoo in a bottle like a hospital drip and it was such a nice touch from our new friends and reminds us we don't know what would have happened if we hadn't met them. We awoke the following day with my foot healed, the Chinese medicine and the prefect hospitality had worked and following a final breakfast of Mengzi rice noodles we were again on our way to Vietnam.
If anyone does injure themselves near Mengzi I can recommend the team at Mengzi hospital for their help and kindness. I could not have imagined having a better time in hospital than we did and it has become a real high point of our two months in China.
Tim and Fin
Buy me a beer!! Thank you
This blog follows my cycle ride from Reading, Berkshire to Reading, Pennsylvania.