|The 19th of June, 2011 was a beautiful day for a Sunday walk in the
high Lamo-she Massif of Western Sichuan, an area populated primarily
by Tibetans. Most do not speak Chinese; and rarely understand
English. Trish and I had been staying on a farm in an isolated valley
far from any tourists or tourist facilities – just the way we like it
|We had taken a glorious morning walk,
|and had stopped back at the farm to pick up some water. The Mastiff was in the entry
yard chained, but attached to a high wire allowing him access to most of the yard.
While before he had been kept on a shorter chain, now we could not get access to the
farmhouse without passing him. Since he had become familiar with our presence, and
the mother and sister who lived there knew we would be coming and going, we
thought it would be safe. As I passed the Mastiff,
|– I can’t call the monster a dog –
(Tibeten Mastifs are trained to kill wolves)
There, in a small store, a local woman
performed first aid. She cleansed my wound,
spread various ointments on them and gave
me some pain and antibiotic pills. Trish
bought me a much needed bottle of potent
baijiu—strictly to kill the pain.
I cajoled some farmers to take us out of the valley to the largest nearby town, Xinduqiao. It was a long rough drive (a story
in itself), but once there, the clinic there did not look inviting. There was a minivan going to Tagong, a larger town, but we
had to wait a half hour for it to fill before the hour-long ride. (It helped the pain that I had a sweet little Tibetan boy on my
bloody lap). There we found a more professional clinic and had my wounds cleansed again and stitched up (I found out
later that this is not supposed to be done with bites). They also gave me oral antibiotics, ibuprofen, and vitamin C — I also
had some more baijiu. Fortunately a young guide was there to help interpret for us.
Rabies vaccine was not available in Tagong; we would have to go to the city of Kangding. But it was late in the evening, so
we decided to stay in a hostel in Tagong. Early in the morning we were able to hire a car to Kangding.
In Kangding we were very fortunate to have an acquaintance that could help us. We called him while on the way (the driver
only spoke Tibetan), and he had a young tri-lingual man meet us at our hostel in Kangding. The day was a bit of a haze for
me. First we went to the Kangding Prefecture Hospital where a man in a white robe cleaned and re-wrapped my legs. I
thought I was going to get rabies vaccine there as we were approaching what we thought was the crucial limit of 24 hours
since the attack. But that was not to be. We walked to a nearby place, but it wasn’t available there either. Then we took a
long cab ride to yet another hospital that also couldn’t help us. Finally we found a small lab a block from where we started
and I received the first of five necessary vaccinations just at the 24-hour limit. (One problem was that they did not have any
rabies immune globulin (RIG), which I have found should be administered with the first vaccine, and we were not able to get
any until our return to Paris. Then, at the recommendation of the nurse, we returned to the first hospital for an antibiotic
Finally we made airline reservations for the daily morning flight from Kangding to Chengdu – no easy feat. Unfortunately
we couldn’t get a ticket for the next day – but perhaps just as well. I was pretty tired.
After resting the next day, we drove up through the mountains to the spanking new airport on the top of the mountains —
quite a feat for the Chinese. Later there was a connecting flight that took us to Paris via Amsterdam.
We arrived in Paris on Wednesday, the 22nd. We had emailed our friends who arranged everything for us and on Friday
we went to the Institut Pasteur for our second rabies vaccine and, more importantly, and more painfully, an hour long
process for 47 injections of Rabies immunoglobulin, which needed to cover the entire area of the wounds.
We weren't able to resume our trip until early August after the final vaccination and ascertaining that the laboratory tests
were positive. Because of the delay, we had to give up our plans to travel by land from Sichuan across Western Asia via
Kirgizstan and Tajikistan, but were able to pick up the trail in the Caucasus nations of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia—
but that's another tale.
He attacked me from the rear, biting and grabbing me by my legs. Instantly I was on the
ground, kicking and screaming helplessly. (The time still has not passed in my mind), but
somehow, I managed to crawl and yank myself out of the range of his rage and his chain—
luckily he wasn't able to get to Trish who watced in horror..
I must admit that Trish and I were both hysterical, screaming for help for what seemed an
interminable amount of time. Fortunately there was an outdoor sink where I could start
rinsing my wounds (the largest was the size of a small fist). We kept screaming, “Help!”
Neighbors watched from their decks but did nothing. Finally the mother and sister
appeared from the fields. The sister wrapped one of my legs in a long white prayer flag.
|The previous day we had met some friendly nomads, as well as a
conclave of monks who had invited us to lunch with them.
They were about a half-mile away and I convinced a neighbor
to take us to them on his motorcycle.
We had to interrupt the praying monks, but after seeing our
plight, the head monk directed an initiate to drive us to Shade,
the nearest village.
|While Trish and the monk went back to the farm to fetch our bags, I managed
to take some photos of the crowd who had gathered in the little store.
(I just can't pass up a photo op.)