Adventures of crashing in Vietnam, breaking my leg

Discussion in 'Face Plant' started by regder, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. regder

    regder Adventurer

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    Story time, excuse the length, jump to the pictures and TLTR at the end if needed.

    On an open ended backpacking trip through South East Asia, decided to buy a bike and ride through Vietnam. The plan was to ride south to north, possibly turning around and riding south through Laos and Cambodia. Picked up an XR150 in Saigon, rode around Saigon for a few days before embarking on my trip.

    On my second full day after leaving, after only 200km's or so, crashed. Going around a mild corner doing maybe 50km/h in the middle of nowhere, the front end washed out. Felt like I was riding on ice it happened so quickly. As I'm sliding down the road, I'm thinking it's not that bad, I'm not going to hit anything and neither is the bike. Once I stop sliding, do a mental check and I'm battered and bleeding from some minor road rash, but feel ok. Try to get on my feet, nope, not happening.

    The farmers watching this help me up on my good leg, and hop over to the other side of the road and set me in a chair. They also pull the bike out of the road. At this point I notice a faint dark line on the road where I crashed, I assume it was diesel based on how faint and slippery it was. As I'm noticing this, a scooter passes and crashes in the exact same spot, thankfully he was able to walk it off. The locals decide to throw some sand on the road to hopefully stop more people from crashing.

    After ten minutes of sitting, the pain in my knee is getting worse and worse. The locals help me take my jeans off to check my knee, looks swollen but no visual sign of any damage. They also blot some mystery liquid/antibiotic on my road rash. Once we come to the conclusion I'm not riding away, we try to figure out how to get me to a hospital. They offer to take me by scooter, but that's not happening as I can't bend my leg. After what seems like forever of me trying to explain via google translate that I need a car, they understood and called in a local cab driver. They promise to look after the bike and I'm off to the "hospital"

    The local hospital he takes me to looks like something out of a Saw movie. Everything is dirty, mould on the walls, bugs everywhere, just plain scary. The cab driver stays with me and explains the situation. They do an x-ray, no lead covering to protect my junk, done by what looks like a 15yo kid in jeans and a fake Adidas t-shirt. X-ray doesn't show a fracture, they tell me it's bruised, give me a leg brace and tell me to stay off it for a couple weeks, and a script for some mild pain meds and antibiotics. Total cost me maybe $30usd, gotta love communism.

    Now out of the hospital, I need to figure out where to go. I quickly google a cheap guesthouse nearby and tell the cab driver to drop me off there. Show up at the guesthouse, without a reservation or calling ahead, explain the situation and tell them it's hopefully 2-3 days. Can't even imagine what they were thinking. They're nice enough to take me in and help me into a room. The next day they offer to drive me to the "good" local hospital for a second opinion. The good local hospital, while much better than the first, is still far from western standards. Doctor looks at the previous x-ray, comes to the same conclusion as the first, and drains 5 syringes of bloody puss out of my swollen knee before sending me on my way.

    I stayed at the guesthouse for almost two weeks. They took care of me as if I was family. Fed me three home cooked meals a day. Made sure I took my meds. I can't thank them enough. Binh An Backpacker Guesthouse in Ba Ria if you are passing through.

    After almost two weeks, my knee wasn't getting any better, so they took me back to the "good" local hospital. Dr thinks I may have a ligament injury and orders an MRI. MRI tech doesn't want to do it for some reason, I think because I'm Canadian, not sure why. Finally he agrees to do it, and then turns me away when he finds out I have metal plates in my arm.

    No idea what to do at this point. I'm crippled in a foreign country and don't know anyone. Finally make the decision to leave the guesthouse that has been taking amazing care of me and go back to Saigon. The guesthouse owner arranges for the same cab driver from before to drive me to Saigon.

    I tell him to take me to City International Hospital in Saigon, which google told me was a good tourist hospital. What a breath of fresh air. Everything is clean and new, and everyone is super friendly and helpful. Nicer than any western hospital I have been to. Immediately see the head orthopaedic doctor, he sends me off to get an MRI. Explain the metal in my arm, and he brushes it off as no problem. MRI techs felt the same. MRI shows a clear fracture in my tibial plateau, where the big shin bone becomes the knee. He gives me the option of surgery to put in a plate and screws or a full leg cast. I go for the cast and decide to fly home.

    Travel insurance (World Nomads) came through and flew me home business class on their dime.

    Got it checked out by a local doctor as soon as I got home. He says that he would have operated if caught earlier, but the bone was not badly displaced and was already setting so I should be ok with letting it heal without surgery.

    In total, I was in Vietnam for 2.5 weeks after the crash. Got the cast off at 4 weeks and allowed to bend my leg but not bear weight. Allowed to start putting weight on it at 8 weeks, transitioning from crutches to walking as I felt comfortable. Started walking unassisted at 9.5 weeks. Felt comfortable in my leg strength to get back on the back at 10 weeks and 1 day. That was three days ago.

    Feels great to start getting back to normal physically.
    TLTR: Bought a bike in Saigon, crashed going around a corner on diesel. Injured my knee which wasn't diagnosed properly for two weeks. Flew home, and am now back on the bike after 10 weeks since the crash.

    XR150 ready for some adventuring

    [​IMG]

    Break, what break?

    [​IMG]

    Oh, that break...

    [​IMG]

    This is after they drained it, one is not like the other

    [​IMG]

    Wear your gear, road rash is not fun

    [​IMG]

    Not cheap Vietnamese gear

    [​IMG]

    Was a lot worse, almost healed here

    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    @regder , this is interesting on a number of levels. :thumb

    Most important: Glad that you're mending in the right direction.

    When did all of this happen?

    After Central and South America, and Nepal, and most recently before Nepal, Colombia, a run from South to North or North to South in Vietnam is on the radar.
    #2
  3. regder

    regder Adventurer

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    Crash happened on June 9, so about two and a half months now.

    I absolutely loved Vietnam, spent a bit over a week in Saigon before getting a bike. Everyone warns of the drivers, but I was honestly more scared in Colombia than Vietnam.
    #3
  4. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Thanks. If you have a bunch of pics, please consider a ride report of your experiences.

    Again, best wishes and thanks for the posts.
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  5. garfey

    garfey Scruffy Adventurer Supporter

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    DANG @regder!!
    Another of those "like but really don't like" posts. Glad to hear you're mostly recovered and hope your continuing adventuring spares you anything similar in the future.
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  6. Little Bike

    Little Bike Air/Clutz Sue Supporter

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    Glad you’re doing well, tibial plateau fractures are not fun!
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  7. thanosgp

    thanosgp Xr rules

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    Glad your ok mate.Best of luck for the future. Your trip vietnam-laos-cambodia is a lifetime dream that i want to fulfill later with my son.
    :nod
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  8. Catracho

    Catracho Adventurer

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    2F8CB1C5-0CAD-4D27-B800-BEF5363F2FAA.jpeg This was the river of oil I hit in Laos. A few miles up the road I saw some guys in the back of a truck dumping oil out of a 50 gallon drum. I think they do it to help seal the asphalt.
    I got lucky and only banged up my knee from the fall
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  9. regder

    regder Adventurer

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    Jeebus, good that you weren't hurt too badly. There's definitely some interesting quirks out there.
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  10. Migolito

    Migolito Prognosticator and MotoYogi

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    Damn! Not trying to be a nanny, but, were you wearing any armor gear?
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  11. Brtp4

    Brtp4 Powdercoat it. Supporter

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    Also glad you are "back on your feet". Tib plateau fractures are serious. Looking at yours, if I may, I suggest paying some attention to leg length. Ask doc, look at orthotics, etc. Long term, a small difference in length can be a real pain.

    BP
    #11
  12. regder

    regder Adventurer

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    Outside of the cheap gloves that burned through and a helmet, no. Real moto gear is near impossible to find in Vietnam. Don't think proper gear would have changed anything except the road rash on my arm and palm.

    Thank you, had a follow up yesterday, doctor said it's healing about as well as possible. Can't say I have noticed any difference in leg length. I have full range of motion back and am able to walk short distances without a limp. After that my lack of leg strength in the bad leg forces a slight limp.
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  13. Migolito

    Migolito Prognosticator and MotoYogi

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    Thank you for answering. Im thinkin of jeading that way and doing some motoring myself. I go agatt here, im just trying to get an idea of what to expect. On that note, since yoir just sitting around (: can you give those of us who havent been and idea of aome practicle stuff on being there?
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  14. regder

    regder Adventurer

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    You are unlikely to exceed 50-60km/h the large majority of the time so gear isn't quite as important as it would be with North American highways. The local "rules" of the road are a lot of fun once you get used to them, basically just do whatever you want. Just keep in mind that Vietnamese drivers do not check their periphery at all, basically just look straight ahead.

    If you can swallow your moto pride, scooters are the way to go. All of the locals have one, all the ghetto mechanics have parts and know how to work on them, and you're unlikely to go any faster with an actual motorcycle. If you must have a bike, like I did, the XR150 is the one to go for. The Honda Win's, although super cheap, were universally crapped on by everyone I spoke with. The only people you'll see on one are backpackers, the locals know better.

    If you are going to ride Vietnam, vietnamcoracle.com is an amazing resource.
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  15. Migolito

    Migolito Prognosticator and MotoYogi

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    Sorry about my crappy thumb typing above.
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  16. ukAdventurer

    ukAdventurer Been here awhile

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    Interesting post. I rode a few thousand km’s in Vietnam. Lots in Saigon as a commuter but several long distance rides too. Mainly up to Nha Trang, Dalat, and back. Then to Rach Gia. Mostly I rode rented Honda or Yamaha step-through automatics. Sometimes 2-up with luggage over mountains too. Impressive bikes. The roads are challenging and the traffic highly unpredictable.

    You’re right about gear there. It’s mostly crap but you can buy euro type gear, like helmets which I did, in Saigon. Or you bring good gear with you. I’m planning on 3 months in Vietnam this winter, so I’ll be sure to bring my gear.
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