Keith Cousins's Blog

March 5, 2011

We plan, God laughs

Hanoi, Vietnam. A peace comes over me, waking up at the Sunway Hotel and looking out the window. Fog blankets the city but my eyes are still taking everything in in high definition. Everything is rich, vibrant. My heart races – no nerves now, only excitement. It’s Christmas morning and my birthday all rolled into one.

“Enjoy the shower,” Mark, my classmate who has been in Vietnam for a week now, says. “I have only taken three since I’ve been here.”

After a full day of travel, he doesn’t need to tell me twice. It’s amazing, invigorating. Eight o’clock a.m. and I am ready to meet the day.

Breakfast is incredible. It’s a buffet – so many options but all I want is bread. Beautiful, fluffy croissants with rich, yellow butter. Bacon and eggs are an afterthought.

The view from the hotel restaurant’s balcony overwhelms me. Hanoi is bustling. Motorbikes buzzing past. Some people text, some smoke cigarettes, and they all flawlessly weave in and out of the pedestrian and automobile traffic.

A small girl hops onto a motorbike as though it is a habit formed over years – as if she learned it before even learning to walk. It’s quite possible.

A Bentley drives by. Did not expect that in Hanoi. A pack of motorbikes trail behind it impatiently. Honking. Trying to get by. The Bentley would not budge. I would make some sort of remark about how this is representative of the “haves” and “have nots” in Vietnam, but I think it speaks for itself.

The bus was supposed to meet us at 9:30. Instead, a van that fits five shows up. You have to go with the flow.

Plans are changed and the bus actually shows up. Next stop, the Hanoi Airport to meet up with the rest of Project Vietnam.

The bus ride lasted an hour but it felt like seconds. Hanoi through a window. Tall, skinny buildings. I quickly pick up the French vibes, which makes sense, but is strange since I know nothing about French architecture.

Honking. Honking. More honking. The honks are an announcement, letting the other guy know a motorbike is very close.

Vietnamese people are beautiful. I share a wave and a smile with a youth waiting at the bus stop. After he waves, after the bus starts moving – it hits me, it really hits me. I’m in Vietnam. I can’t emphasize enough the beauty. It will be hard to be objective here. How can I be when I am already in love with the people, with the atmosphere. Even the smell of burning trash is somehow sweet.

At the airport, more smiles while we sit and wait. Slowly the rest of the team arrives behind schedule due to a missed flight connection. Later, on the bus, one of the surgeons will tell me, “We plan, God laughs…” Sounds about right.

Random bits:

  • Mark is going to get himself into trouble.
  • Team Risky: myself, Lucio and Mario. We are all sorts of legit.
  • A reunion of sorts with my childhood ophthalmologist, Dr. Ching… It deserves its own blog so more on that to come.