Monday, October 24, 2011
Alastair Taylor from Perth
Mark Collins from Canberra
Walter van Praag from Turners Beach - Tasmania
Starting from Hanoi;
Eleanor Blaney from Brisbane (2 weeks)
Jim Reeder from Canberra (3 weeks)
From Ho Chi Minh;
Andrew Edwards from Port Moresby, PNG (2 weeks)
Heather Lea from Revelstoke, BC, Canada (2 weeks)
Karina Deans from Adelaide (to Singapore!)
Cindy Brazendale from Turners Beach, Tasmania (2 weeks)
Mirjam van Praag from Amsterdam, Holland (to Singapore!)
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Ai, it has been a little while since I updated this blog. I obviously arrived home safely from Vietnam and made my way back to Tasmania. Then I got the call to confirm my availability for project in PNG, it was definitely on and I should get my act together!
With Cystic Fibrosis getting out of routine is always fraught with danger, I just survived Vietnam. So I beefed up my exercise, made sure I rode a little more, walked a little more and got myself in good shape to go help my mate Andrew in PNG. He is aware of my health, I stay with him, and he promises to look after me and take me to the gym regularly.
I am there now, to help out for three weeks. Three weeks I deem max without fresh air and good aerobic exercise. And I am just now entering my third and last week here. I ran with the Hash House Harriers a few times (life saver!) as they happily run (safety in numbers and good local knowledge). But I am starting to struggle now. Taking three different antibiotics and a barrage of other stuff, and I think I will be fine. Of course if it comes to the crunch I'll be on the first plane out.
Whilst here I am reading my second book on the El Camino de Santiago de Compostella, my next adventure.
EL CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
And why would a good Jewish born person like me attempt an 800+ kilometer walk with backpack? I will do it to bring attention to Cystic Fibrosis and Organ Donation and provide inspiration to people with disabilities. Of course I also think it would be fun, and might even be the source of another book or documentary - like www.coughingthedistance.com.
Slowly I am starting to work on logistics, taking names of interested people to join me, looking for sponsors who might like to donate money or goods. If you have a good reason to be involved, like to walk or support for 2-6 weeks in September/October 2012 do let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org). Although I will carry my own gear, we may have a support vehicle with us. The vehicle may not be seen for days at a time, but will carry team members that need a break (that won't be me!!) and do some sightseeing. Of course it is also important to have a vehicle for emergency backup as I do have Cystic Fibrosis and tides can always change - besides I am on the wrong side of the life-expactancy bell-curve). Things can always turn ugly, but really it also means people who want to come but not necessarily walk the whole way have the option to come along.
Friday, August 5, 2011
The night train home was uneventful apart from a dig sized cockroach, and we were glad to be back in Hanoi at the schwanky Rising Dragon Palace at about 5am yesterday morning.
I thought it was time to check the local pharmacy for insulin (Lantus) and sure enough the pharmacy my iPhone took me to had it in the fridge! Cheap too. I also bought some antibiotics that I was running low on! All without prescription of course, and all exactly the same packaging as what I get in Australia. Amazing.
Today we took a day trip to the ancient Vietnamese capital of Hoa Lu. The tour was poorly run but totally unique. It included an hour of cycling on the worst ever maintained bikes and an amazing row boat ride for about two hours through rice paddies and spectacular mountains. Mountain goats on the cliffs and going though caves, and rowing was done Vietnamese style with the feet!
My 8GB chip is almost full!!
Health holding out. For the life of me I cannot find any more saline sachets for nebulising and am using ventolin instead. I also apparently missed a CF clinic appointment in Devonport today :( Can't believe I stuffed that up.
Anyways, off to HoChiMinh City tomorrow with Vietnam Airlines and the day after back to Australia with Malaysian Airlines and Qantas.
So this may well be my last blog as I'll be busy eating and flying and trying to fit in my last massages!
Monday, August 1, 2011
Large green mountains around us, the buzz of typical railway activity, and in a sleepy stupor we ended up in a mini bus with other Vietnamese people. It drove us high up the green mountains to Sapa, a small But bustling town situated at 1600m. Sapa is one of the main market towns in the Lao Cai province, where several ethnic minority groups such as H'mong, Dao (Yao), Giay, Pho Lu, and Tay live. A crowd of traditionally dressed locals crowded the bus and followed us to the hotel.
All we knew was that we had 2 hotel nights and one 'home-stay' night here. I needed to do some meds and was hoping to get a hotel room.
Turned out we had to start hiking to our homestay at 930am and had to stay in the very dingy hotel restaurant and eat.
We quickly repacked our bags and left the wheeled weekend bag at the hotel, me carrying the absolutely bare minimum of meds.
The same crowd of local women and children were still waiting for us and with our guide they walked with us to the home-stay. Walk was great, as was the home-stay. the sales-pitch of all the locals and their babies and children was also great. We bought numerous bits and pieces of handicraft we didn't need. There were lots of rice paddies and lots of creeks, lively views and Vietnam Telecom/power poles and wires.
Doing good meds in the village was also minimal, but I coughed/expectorated plenty on the trail! Ree and I did keep up well with the small group of walkers. There were about 16 travelers that converged into the same hut with us.
It was a stormy night and we didn't sleep very well as the old tiles threatened to blow off the bamboo hut along with the rest of the structure.
In the rain we all decided to take a shortcut to avoid the worst mud and terrain. Late afternoon, via a waterfall for
lunch, we returned to the modest hotel in Sapa.
As typhoons were flooding cities in Vietnam we were saved as we were in about the only spared corner of the country.
Today we have a rest day and tomorrow we hike a little more and catch the night-train back to Hanoi.
Glad to be back in hotel room where I can empty my treatment bag on the bed and return each potion and device into the bag after using it. I needed a good session or two.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
I had barely recovered from a fever that came out of the blue the previous evening. Ree suspected my recurrent malaria (from my past travels), but I wasn't so sure. But i sure felt a lot better after the hotel manager had raced me past a few pharmacies (without finding any anti-malarian drugs) on his Vespa.
With all the happy punters picked up we drove for 3+ hours to be dropped off on the Cruise Junk at Halong Bay.
Again the humble price of the tour could not possibly cover the food, petrol or entry fees of the two days with Galaxy. Gazillions of tourists on the Bay, but no complaints there either, all was fantastic. An hour of kayaking, an hours walk through a cave...
Ree drifted off with the warm current during her late afternoon swim but was heroically dragged back from the ship's front to the safety of the aft ladder by fellow camper Pete. As she clambered on board I mentioned I needed more Panadol for my second fever spike (confirming it was indeed malaria). Ree was not impressed with my lack of compassion but the cocktails on board soon made us forget near drownings and malaria and refocussed our attention to the splendid cruise. The next few cruises were cancelled due to an approaching monsoon (I now remember reading the travel advice to avoid Northern Vietnam this in July/August).
It was all too soon before we were deposited back on the bus and eventually returned, in one piece, back in Hanoi at our perfect Dragon hotel in time for a nap and a bite prior to catching the over-night train to the Chinese border en-route to Sapan. The rain and thunder started as we hopped on board the overnight tourist train.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
At the airport we found the usual tourist desk where we spent the next 30 minutes planning our final week. We had already heard from other tourists about prices and what to look out for. We booked the whole lot from the airport at what we thought were very competitive prices.
Long and scary drive from airport to the Hanoi Old Quarters. Traffic here is much scarier than anywhere else we had seen. We almost wiped out a dozen vehicles in our taxi. Even the cyclists that narrowly avoided death by quickly maneuvering out of the way looked totally un-phased by the driver's driving.
The Rising Dragon Palace Hotel, the latest of the 3* Rising Dragon chain, was welcoming. Efficient check in and we were guided to the room by the gent who checked us in. Room is perfect. Best we have had. And all for under $40 per night including breakfast (just had it and it is excellent!). Wifi in the stylish room too.
For dinner we walked through the old quarters to a Vietnamese/French restaurant which was nothing short worthy of a Michelin Star; The Green Tangerine.
Walking at night through Hanoi is mind boggling. 90% motorbikes traveling at a rate of knots in all directions. It is amazing we have seen no accidents anywhere in Vietnam yet (we saw one scraped tourist in HoiAn and one man come off a bike in HoChiMinh).
Hawkers selling food everywhere, and young people sitting on woven mats having picnics with beer! Everybody happy and peaceful. The main food was dried cuttlefish which was hammered flat with metal bars, and grilled on coals right there on the very narrow pavements. There was no room for us to walk on the walkways, and like everyone else we walked on the harrowing road with traffic buzzing around us. This was one heck of a special evening.
At a small pharmacy I bought my granulated oral Acetylcysteine (an expectorant not available in Australia) at half the price I get it for in other countries like Holland and Singapore or HK.
Apart from the walking around we also hired bicycles for $1/day, which was a good exercise. My smell is next to none, and I did not smell the motorbike fumes or the market smells. Even going through the fishmarket as part of a cooking class I must say I smelled nothing fishy. I felt the resorts pool chloride in my eyes, but did not smell anything :( I do occasionally smell certain things, but am pretty much spared from any bad smells. Even if I don't wash for a month I still don't smell!!
Health doing remarkably well. Lung function is even getting better! I do need to watch my sugar levels, and remember to take more insulin with the food. Vietnamese food has cane sugar in it. Also I eat a lot more fruit here. How can you resist the Pomelos, the dragon fruit and the bananas...
Cycling from Vietnam to Singapore is starting to look a little daunting now I've seen how they drive here. No rules to speak of. Riding against the traffic is fine and crossing I. Front of traffic is accepted too. People dodge each other in a miraculous manner, usually within millimeters. Drivers beep their horns repeatedly when overtaking, even when there is no need for it. They do not beep when we would feel compelled to blow the horn mercilessly - when a truck or motorbike cuts you off or threatens to ram into you.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Wherever you go people are selling you things. A bit of a drag, but hey for a few days it is ok.
We walked halfway to the beach along a road buzzing with mopeds and bicycles steered by locals and tourists alike. All with one hand on the horn! Even saw a 5 yr old cycling along!
When you get too hot you flag a cab and for a couple of dollars they bring you to your destination. Beer and water are both about a dollar a bottle. My Casio watch broke in time for me to buy a Rolex for $25. I better arrange something with my bank to cover this shopping spree!!
Anyways, how can we carry it all hone without crushing it or incurring excess luggage fees. We'll find out on Tuesday or Monday (not sure which flight yet as we are wait-listed. If we get stuck here we won't mind in the least.
As I prepared all my meds this evening it occurred to me I might have trouble carrying it all in Spain next year when I am planning to walk 800kms on the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. I'll be carrying everything in a backpack. Plus I got one blister just walking around shopping!!
One other thing. My Big Buddah CF belly is revered here! People call me Happy Buddah every time they see my belly or see me eat! Getting measured up was fun too.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Before we got to the airport we had a surprise stop at a touristy road stop which provided us with an excellent lunch. I wasn't going anywhere near a diabetic hypo after the Elephant Ear fish and the sticky rice ball and everything else we ate here - all for under $20 for two.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
We drove around the corner from the temple to the big Tien Gang tourist centre. There we passed the tourist bait and got onto a wooden boat to cross to an island in the Mekong river.
The treat here was tropical fruits complimented by live Vietnamese music with traditional instruments. After walking along a little trail littered with tourist souvenirs and home made candies (made in front of us) we found an old couple who had been assigned to pedal us back to the main boat through a narrow jungle channel.
Before we knew it we were back in the luxuriously air-conditioned car which drove us another couple of hours to a large hotel in Can Tho. We were seriously hungry as fruit is not enough for lunch. Fortunately I had a good supply if snacks with me. Need to watch those sugar levels!
Apart from the little island we visited we never did leave civilization!
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
We almost enthusiastically booked the whole holiday with Mr Long, but back at the hotel realized it was way out of our budget. We will treat ourselves to an overnight trip to the Mekong Delta with him tomorrow. He had our entire holiday planned out for us, we hope we didn't put him out too much.
Had a belly and back ache this morning, but that is not unexpected with the new food/water and no kefir from home.
puffing, because I use the firestairs whenever I get the chance.
We notice a few cyclists in the traffic and poked our noses into a bikeshop or two. And a bakery and a huge high tech store,...
We checked out the War Remnants museum which was absolutely horrific for lack of better word. How can you make a vietnam war museum anything but horrendous. Ree left the premises teary eyed within 10 minutes, and I saw the Napalm section and left the building too :(. Lest we forget! Unbelievable that the USA was responsible for the atrocities. I am glad the world has changed, but not everyone has learned enough judging from what we still hear about in the media.
In the afternoon we met Long, the tour guru guide who looked after several friends of ours in the past. He will guide us tomorrow and help us formulate plans for the rest of our as yet unplanned journey.
Because it is a standard cable I figured the hotel would have a similar cable somewhere. My google translate app came in handy, except when I explained it was for a medical instrument they put me on the back of a scooter and raced me to a pharmacy that was still open. Of course they had no power cable! The friendly hotel man calmly raced me through the frenetic traffic: Unbelievable how much traffic there is on a Sunday night. Loads of young men with gorgeous girls in terribly uncomfortable heels and tight shimmering little 'numbers'. Families, couples with babies... all racing around each other on mopeds and scooters. Some didn't wear a helmet, but the few pedestrians walking around trying to calmly cross really I'd need the helmets.
Anyways, we ended up arriving at a mobile phone shop. No cable there either. Back to hotel. Another Samaritan took over. I readjusted my little plastic skull cap and secured my thongs for the ride. This time visited the same phone shop again and finally to a camera store. A heap of the right cables, dusty and used ones, were lying in the display there. The shop girl still had to make excited phone-calls before selling one to me.
By the time I got back to my room I was glad to have a nebulizer working, but even more glad I survived the roller coaster ride.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Changed money and arranged taxi and hotel from a friendly Airport tourist stall - one of many.
To regain our health we booked two nights in a fancy $70
hotel, and wow, check out the double Queen bed!!
Plenty of food and drink, no need for nebulising en-route, but every time I dozed off I got a headache (breathing related). Being a daytime flight meant I stayed up and watched Harry Potter and read my book.
Only carrying hand luggage we arrived at the prebooked Concorde Airport Hotel. Hand luggage was FULL of medications for Ree and I, as our luggage was checked through (overnight) to Vietnam.
When Ree crawled into bed at 11pm she noticed huge disgusting stains on the sheets! Had to get sheets changed which took till midnight. Then my Nebs and it was 1am before I got to sleep. That was 3am Australian time - and so that was a long long day with the 6am start and 8hr flight....
Up at 6am for a proper saline treatment with my Flutter. Rushed down a bit of breaky from the extensive selection and caught provided transport back to KLIA for the final 2 hours to Ho Chi Min!
Sunday, June 5, 2011
The small ultrasonic nebuliser runs on 2 AA batteries and is an excellent travelling accessory for me. At home I use the very expensive and fancy e-Flow nebuliser, provided to me by CF Tasmania.
Very happy to have been able to donate my target donation to CF Tasmania! Still trying to raise a little for 65 Roses day, where I only have $10 out of the hoped $1000 target!! Ai ai.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Dean Saffron visited me for a weekend to take photos. Him and Mark Cushway are planning to make a book and/or exhibition about older people living with Cystic Fibrosis. Dean had a good time in Devonport. We even got him on the motorbike to visit Cradle Mountain.
As I am a proud City of Devonport Lions Club member I was very happy to lead half a dozen Lions members to rattle the tins in Devonport on May 27, 65 Roses Day.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
65 Roses Day, 27 May, is an opportunity for all Australians, not just those directly involved in the CF community, to get involved, participate, and help make a difference! Go to www.65rosesday.org.au where you can buy merchandise, donate or just read stories and watch videos about inspirational people with CF who are seizing every day!
Funds raised go toward research and support, and ultimately a cure. $5 million has been raised over the last 12 years. During this time, the average life expectancy of a person with CF has increased by 10 years. In the 1980’s, average life expectancy was 17. Due to improved research, today it’s 37, but it’s still just 37.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Very excited about the new bicycle path! Just a shame it is on the industrial side of the road. Maybe once it is finished I will get the full picture, but right now it just seems soo wrong! If it was on the shops side those shops and the footpath would have a bigger buffer from the car traffic and the shops would become more cosmoplitan perhaps... Anyways, they stuck me in the paper (oh, and please dont smile for the photo you world adventurer you!).
Thursday, February 3, 2011
The Australian Online Bookshop now carries my two favourite books on Cystic Fibrosis and has them on special for a limited time!!
Walter and the Mucous Monsters (Katherine's fabulous kids book) is marked down to $16.42 (that is rounded down to the nearest cent I am sure): Click here: http://bit.ly/mucous1
Coughing the Distance with Cystic Fibrosis is marked down to $18.89: Click here: http://bit.ly/cough4cf
Support Cystic Fibrosis, spread awareness, become an organ donor, but if you haven't read about the cycling adventure across 10 countries, with 1000+ pills in under 100 days you haven't cried/laughed/smiled yet! Coughing the Distance with Cystic Fibrosis is a must read for anyone who has or who knows of anyone affected by Cystic Fibrosis or any disability! Inspiring reading for all.
Friday, January 21, 2011
- to read just click for bigger version -
That's right, my wish has been granted! I have now successfully collected $4095 for CF Tasmania!
Great publicity to have me in a nationwide magazine like Take5! I hope people who read it will register as an organ donor with Medicare after they read it, or donate something straight to CF via the link.
Happy happy happy, but what is my next adventure??? Always open to suggestions! Just leave a comment or email me at email@example.com Do remember I am always strapped for $$$, so my original plan/dream to venture across Greenland's melting icecap (Coughing on Thin Ice) was just not feasible... yet!
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
As far as I can see we were the winners! Although not traditionally, we were recognised as the oldest crew. I handed out some CF postcard propaganda on the last day educating people about CF and urging people to register as organ donors and donate to CF. We came about 30th in a field of 35. I was by far the least experienced crew, and when we came 24th in the last heat I was most impressed.
Also discovered that my books are available on Booktopia! Coughing the Distance is for sale for $25.50 including postage in Australia, and Walter and the Mucous Monsters is for sale at $21.40. Of course you can always email me and receive the DVD documentary free when ordering both books for $45 including postage. Of course you can find these titles on Amazon as well!
Keep an eye on this site to see what I am planning next! In 2012 I am still keen to do the El Camino de Santiago walk in Spain... Sponsors apply within!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
one more race, and the Nationals are over. No better way than to dive into the deep end like I did. I learned quickly and destroyed the
minimum number of sails (one jib and two spinnakers), and still kept the skipper happy with my performance somehow. I have learned techniques and skills and although still feeling a little keel-hauled I will get over it.
Health is remarkably good, must be all the salt water/air (both of which I consumed copiously) and the exercise that went with it! Can highly recommend sailing to people with CF, but maybe refrain from starting in a national titles!
Contact your local sailing club and attend a class.
Monday, January 10, 2011
belly used to be.
Cascade Premium Light is the beer of choice here.
Two more days of racing. I am back onto muesli and weatbix breakfasts and feeling up to it!
Have you visited your Medicare branch yet to register as an organ donor or donated to CF Tasmania? Now is as good as ever.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
many tents, but all survived. As the other happy campers had proper breakfast Jim raced off to get the sail fixed and get some odd bits and pieces. We had breaky at MacDonalds.
Rains eased off at noon an wind picked up. We were on the water from 12-5pm again for two back to back races. We DNF one race for a variety of inexplicable reasons, but didn't finish last on the last one!
Better wind, more experience, sunscreen and a change of gloves and booties made for much less painful experience.
Six pack has hardened up, pain has gone and we are on our way to glory!
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Thank goodness we made it home in one piece! I'd not realized we'd be in the water so long. Two races back to back. We were in the water from 12-5. I am a little bruised, scraped and burned, but it was absolutely awesome!
After injecting the wrong insulin in the
morning I recovered with loads of sugar. Lots of cereal for breakfast followed by 2 burgers with the lot and I was ready for anything!
Phew, three more days of this, that is if the boat survives my novice means. So far we have capsized twice and ripped two sails. I need a beer!
I am pretty sure everybody knows I have Cystic Fibrosis already. Both Jim the skipper and me both wear our Realise the Dream bracelets.