Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.
Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink. Reviews
Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink - The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Samuel Taylor Coleridge Dec 06, 2008
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
< http://etext.virginia.edu/stc/Coleridge/poems/Rime_Ancient_Mariner.html >
The Vietnamese have a great respect for water and rightly so.
Most of the areas visited by Travellers are within a kilometre or two of water be it sea, lake or river. Even in Sa Pa or the Central Highlands, including Da Lat, you are never far from a possible deluge or torrent of water.
There was severe flooding in Ha Noi in the fall of 2008. Nor is HCMC/SaiGon spared - in early 2008 October water was about 25 centimetres deep on Hai Ba Trung and Dong Khoi Streets in District 1. Le Loi is regularly flooded every time there is heavy rain.
Hoi An, Da Nang and Hue all lie within the fall monsoon season and regularly experience extreme winds and flooding. This writer has seen the 2 metre tall guard huts of the Ha Giang Hotel in Hue disappear under water when the Perfume River floods over the Dap Da damn.
Water is dangerous - 55 people killed in Ha Noi in the 2008 incidents.
Then there is the extreme risk of disease.
As the water rises in the coastal and river plain areas, the water back-flows into the already inadequate sewer drainage systems. These sewers aren't like those found in Europe, Canada or America. In Canada many cities have dual sewage pipe systems - one for rainwater to which the street drains are connected and a second one to which the household sewage pipes are connected. And the pipes are buried deep.
VietNam is different. Ha Noi, for example, has sewage trenches about a metre deep below the level of the street. In fact, the drainage ditch covers often form part of the sidewalk surface. Furthermore, many hotel sewage pipes pass through an inspection trap on the ground floor.
Most of Hue has the sewage trench/sidewalk covers as well as a couple of particularly unpleasant 'rivers' into which raw sewage is discharged.
Hoi An has sewage rivers, on of which passes under the Japanese bridge, The Hoi An waterways are laden with fecal matter as there is pitifully little sewage treatment.
HCMC/SaiGon is little better. It is busy upgrading its sewage system with 50 centimetre diameter pipes, totally inadequate for the expected load, as well as having the sewage trench system in many parts of the city. There are also several 'rivers' which would be easy to walk across the surface of on a dry day when the effluent had hardened a little.
So what, I hear you ask, has this to with me, a Traveller?
Much, I reply.
Expect severe rains/flooding in the Hue-Da Nang-Hoi An area every September through early November season.
At this time many of the low lying parts of National Highway 1A from Ha Noi through to Hue are covered with water, so much so that even the trains, traveling on raised rails, have to stop running.
OpenTour buses, having seemingly adopted the slogan of about 2500 years ago by the Greek historian, Herodotus < www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/50/messages/270.html >, "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds", plow on through water as if they were fishing boats.
Heavy rains in the higher grounds cause flash floods and landslides with subsequent floods and kill, drown and maim people every year.
Travellers, too, could be amongst their number. Some 300 visitors to Sa Pa in 2008 were stranded when floods disrupted normal operations of rail and land transport. Boy, did they ever get to like packet noodles that were air-dropped courtesy of the Ha Noi government!
So what to do?
(1) Always keep an eye on the weather and learn of the forecasts;
(2) When crossing dry riverbeds be aware of the possibility of flash floods, particularly in the Highlands;
(3) Keep packed up and ready to move at short notice when there is a possibility of flooding;
(4) Carry a flashlight/torch, whistle (on a lanyard around your neck), duct tape and a small bottle of disinfectant;
(5) Don't wait to be helped - the locals have plenty to do without having to spend too much time on your plight;
(6) Buy household garbage/trash bags from a supermarket (they come in rolls in several dimensions) and place sets of clothing in separate bags and evacuate the air and tie a knot to seal the bag;
(7) Buy small bags, the type with a press together resealable opening, in which to place your personal electronics such as cell phone, MP3 player, camera AND AIR TICKETS/PASSPORT. A bag around each item then placed in a holder or case;
(8) Similarly protect books, etc;
(9) Computers/laptops should be placed inside two garbage/trash bags each sealed with duct or packing tape. Your writer lost a laptop, housed in a carrying case, during a 10-minute bicycle ride in a rain storm. Luckily, as I am an electronics technician I was able to recover the use of the laptop). Rain in VietNam is unlike most of that Travellers have experienced to this point in their lives;
(10) Carry all 'at risk' goods (electronics, books) with you in the passenger area of a train or bus. ONLY place items of clothing etc., in bags or backpacks in the belly hold of a bus. In case of the bus getting stuck in water only washable items will be exposed to the water;
(11) Never ride a boat in a storm;
(12) Watch out for flying debris in a monsoon wind storm;
(13) Place spare batteries, in a baggy, in a pocket;
(14) Remove dentures, etc and bag if the situation demands it. Similarly with contact lens;
(15) Don't panic and after secured your safety look to help others.
Remember, flood water is likely contaminated with fecal matter so be prepared to use the disinfectant. Given that drinking water supplies have such low pressure - particularly in case of power failure - assume that they, too, are contaminated therefore boil water if possible or use bottled water.
Don't condemn government preparations, or lack of, look at floods and storms as a unique experience that you are likely not to experience again in your home country. These natural occurrences affect everyone and everything - even the police who are not that effective under ordinary circumstances.
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