As an outdoor photographer, most pictures are taken early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is relatively low on the horizon. The scene appears warmer and the sky begins to turn golden. In 2017, my plan was to photograph the rice terraces in northern Vietnam at sunrise. Early in the morning, I set out to climb a mountain near our accommodation to take photos of a higher position in the valley. It was still relatively dark at the beginning. In the distance, a campfire was burning somewhere - at least the air smelled like that.
So I ran up the steep slope quickly, because the sun would rise in a few minutes. In my mind, I had already completely planned the photo I wanted to take. My focus was on the sun rising slowly over the hills.
Before I could press the trigger of my camera, I heard an aggressive growl behind me. I turned around and saw a big black dog slowly but surely running towards me. Since I was not prepared for the situation, I probably made the biggest mistake that could have been made in such a situation: I started to run. As my sporting abilities are more than limited, the dog naturally caught up with me after one second.
The dog opened his mouth and bit me in the right calf. I tried to get rid of him, but he had me firmly under control. Only by kicking I could shake him off for a few seconds. Again I tried to run. A second time the dog grabbed. Again the right calf. This time I stumbled and fell to the ground along a rice tray. When I looked around, the dog was no longer in sight.
I just wanted to escape from the situation. My white socks were brown and red because of the dirt and blood when I arrived exhausted at the property. Luckily, I did not have to handle the situation on my own since my travel colleague had been waiting for me. We discussed what exactly this dog bite meant for me. Soon we realized that I should definitely go to a doctor because the danger was close to rabies.
At that time, we were very far to the north of Vietnam, almost at the border to China. The local people barely spoke English. So the language barrier made it take some time for us to explain to the Vietnamese that we were looking for a doctor.
After an hour or two, we finally managed to convince a Vietnamese to drive us to the next hospital with his truck. I was very happy about the help from the vietnamese guy, because the wound meanwhile also caused pain. Without him, we would never have reached the hospital.
Arrived at the hospital, we couldn’t find any person. Our driver told us that the staff was having lunch break. After a while, the first nurses arrived. The driver kindly helped us in the hospital to describe our problem. After the wound was taken care of, the doctor put a syringe in my arm and tried to explain that I needed four more syringes over the next three weeks.
During the next three weeks, the journey continued from North Vietnam to South Vietnam. Unfortunately, the exact day I needed an injection was no hospital nearby. We sat countless hours on the scooter to look for a hospital. From each of the hospital visits, I could write my own story, because the craziest things happened there.
Unfortunately, my body coped very badly with the stress of traveling in combination with the syringes. In the end, I got a very high fever - the return flight over Beijing to Germany was terrible. However, I am incredibly grateful that we were able to travel this beautiful country.
By the way, the picture of the sunrise and the rice fields never came into being.