About halfway through our month-long trip, we stopped back in Phnom Penh for a night before setting off for Hoi An, Vietnam. As we were checking into a hotel, one of my friends hiked up a flight of very uneven, steep marble steps with her large backpack and fell, badly injuring her ankle. We settled in for the night, and wake up early to assess the damage. In the morning, my friend and I woke up early, anticipating that she might need crutches before we leave for the airport. Sure enough, our friend’s ankle was bruised, and hurt to move; she wouldn’t be able to put any weight on it. My friend and I had a task – find crutches for our handicapped friend!
We rushed all over the city with only two hours before we had to leave for our flight. We didn’t anticipate that it would be so difficult to explain. First we tried to explain it to the tuk tuk driver, acting out a limp. He finally understood, but didn’t know where to get them. On the previous day, we had passed a street full of medical supplies, but neither of us could remember where it was and the tuk tuk driver asked around to no avail.
One driver suggested we go to a hospital, so we went there. It was actually a very nice looking hospital. We walked around to four buildings, asking various nurses and doctors, who led us to different areas. Each time, we played a game of charades, limping and holding imaginary crutches for support. Finally, we spoke with a nurse who asked the doctor on her floor and from what I could surmise, they had crutches, but wouldn’t give them to someone that they did see/treat. I thought they might be able to tell our driver where to buy them, but instead he took us to the Russian Market.
I stopped in a nearby Pharmacy, and they told us to follow them through the massive market. It was starting to get late, so we walked as quickly as we could from one end of the market to the other, darting through small pathways with the pharmacist in the lead. They took us to three different stalls on opposite ends of the market, and the last one had a $15 cane with a very ornate handle. My friend tried to walk with it, but it wasn’t effective to support her weight, so we decided against it.
On the way out of the market, we saw an amputee selling books and he had an arm brace, so we asking him where he got it, thinking he may remember the one street with the medical supplies, but he didn’t know and then tried to sell us the brace off his arm. No thank you, sir. We don’t want to take your brace when you only have one leg!
After failing, we returned back to our hotel, 30 minutes later than we wanted, and very late for our flight. I carried our friend’s bag and my other friend carried her to the tuk tuk. At the airport we were able to get a wheelchair.
I propose this to be an Amazing Race challenge, 2 hours and find something very obscure that causes you to hobble around trying to describe it to folks. In hindsight, we should’ve looked up how to say it on the computer, or taken a photo of it on the internet. However, this would’ve only gotten us halfway there, since people who knew what we were talking about still had no idea where to obtain it. When we finally got to Hoi An, we went to a doctor, who diagnosed her broken ankle and gave her wood crutches.