I received some terrible news from Laos this morning. Nai told me yesterday that he was going to Vientiane today to send me email. He’s not very tech savvy, so this is always a big deal and a proud moment for him, to show off his internet skills. Sure enough, there was an email from him in my “In Box” this morning. I eagerly clicked it open, only to read that it was written by a friend of his who has some moderate English language skills. He wrote that Nai had been badly injured in a motorbike accident and was in the intensive care unit at a Vientiane hospital. The doctor thinks that he needs an operation and they’ll probably have to transport him to a Thailand hospital with better facilities than those in Laos. Because the family has no money to speak of, they need about $4,000 for the operation.

I am totally devastated; writing this is very difficult for me. This is my best friend in the world, someone whom I love as a brother–more, actually. The money doesn’t matter. Of course, I wired it to his bank account today. His mother has access to the account, so she’ll have enough to pay the hospital bill. I also called Nai’s brother, Pui, who speaks a little (very little) English to confirm that Nai is in the hospital, to make sure that the friend wasn’t scamming me. It’s confirmed–he’s in the hospital, though Pui couldn’t tell me much more than that, due to the language barrier. That’s tough, not being able to communicate. I have a couple of Lao language books, so I’m going to really work at learning the language, but in the short term I can at least put together a few phrases to find out what’s going on.

That’s about all I know now. I don’t know where he’s hurt or how badly. His friend wrote that he might have to stay in the hospital for a long time, so it doesn’t sound good. One positive note is that Nai had to be fairly lucid and coherent to give to his friend his Yahoo Mail username and password.

Damn those motorbikes! Nai had a serious accident a few years ago, doing a face plant in the middle of a road near his house. This one sounds much worse. I constantly ask him to be very careful if he’s going to ride his motorbike. I’m sure he was, but there are many others in Laos who just don’t pay attention to what they’re doing (or are too drunk while riding). I’ll keep you updated, but please remember Nai in your thoughts and prayers.