It took 50 hours, numerous translators, and every test they had available in the hospital to be done for them to finally discharge me on their terms. Diagnosis: acute bronchitis, which according to my mom means they still had no idea but there was not much more that could be done. Rest, antibiotics, and more rest were the only things on the horizon for me and after 3 more days at hotel Galaxy in Lao Cai we finally attempted a true escape.

We caught a day train to Hanoi and began to settle in for the 10 hour ride on the most uncomfortable bench seats we’d encountered yet. Just when we thought we had finally bid adieu to Lao Cai for good and we began to drift off to sleep, I awoke to a startling discovery that I had forgotten to pick up my passport from reception upon check out. In my semi conscious haze I had gone through the motions, paid my bill, and walked out the front door without a care in the world. All of my energy had been focused on propelling myself towards the train station and our next destination. I couldn’t wait to get out, however, Lao Cai seemed to have other plans and we were forced to disembark at the second stop and hire a taxi to take the one hour drive right back to where we started, home sweet Lao Cai Galaxy Hotel.

Needless to say I was embarrassed, truly upset that I had messed up on something so simple yet essential. Max saved the day once again, speaking German to a Vietnamese-German family to make all of the necessary arrangements. At two in the afternoon we found ourselves back exactly where we had started that morning, in the hotel lobby making plans yet again to make a break from Lao Cai city.

It wasn’t until 6 am the next day we finally arrived in Hanoi. While I’m still not 100% we are finally starting a new chapter of our travels, hopefully one much less eventful and stressful than the past week has been. It was an experience I could have missed in Asia but one that has taught us a lot. Lao Cai will forever be a memory that will make us equally laugh and cringe. And for me, it serves as an important reminder of the lenghts good friends will go to take care of each other. I owe you one Schneider…let’s just try not to cash it in right away…a little bit of peace and quiet will do us both some good!

The end…of this story 😉