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Published: August 11th 2012
I thought I was going to get out of SE Asia unscathed. I even made a comment to my Japanese traveling companion about how I was lucky that I hadn't gotten sick from the food yet. Well, everyone knows that you are bound to jinx yourself by saying such things and sure enough, I feel victim to a terrible food poisoning the very next morning. Terrible would really be an understatement. I was considering going to the hospital at one point. Yet, considering I was in Cambodia when this happened and I did not feel like trying out their health care system, I was able to tough it out. But it was rough! More about that in a bit...
I left Vietnam for Cambodia in route back to Bangkok where I am catching a flight to China. I only had four days in Cambodia, but that was enough time to visit the two places that I most wanted to go to: the killing fields and Angkor Wat. I caught a bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap that got me to my destination by mid afternoon. I got to the hostel (which was another adventure in
itself due to some bad planning on my part and loss of wifi at the hostel in Ho Chi Minh City) and met up with my Japanese friend, Jun, who had flown in about an hour before. Our hostel was nothing to brag about, but it was run by a really helpful and nice British guy who had moved there a decade ago, married a local and had two kids with her. (It was a pure coincidence that our hostel in Phnom Penh was also run by a British guy who was traveling through the country 15 years ago and just stayed.)
While they have similar rules of the road to Vietnam, there were many things that I instantly saw as different from the other countries I had visited in the region. First, was the level of poverty. There were lots of people around begging for money from crippled older people, to kids and others with severe body disfigurements and such. I didn't look it up, but I'm pretty sure Cambodia is the poorest nation in SE Asia. Another thing I noticed is the kids in general; there are a ton everywhere but they are all really
cute and lively kids whom seem to always be quick with a smile. Prices are unbelievably cheap, as well, and I was a big fan of the 50 cent draft beers that could be found at most any bar. Which brings up another interesting thing... The currency. They use the US dollar for just about all transactions of any nominal value. You actually can only get dollars from the ATMs (which made me think I made a mistake the first time I got money out) and if the total cost of what you are buying is big enough, they will only accept dollars. This is because the real is very unstable and where they would also take dollars in Vietnam and Laos, that was mostly because those countries knew the dollar tended to hold higher value than their own currency, but there currencies were still worth something. But, in Cambodia their currency is essentially not worth much at all, so while they use it, the dollar still prevails.
Martin at the Siem Reap hostel suggested we go explore on the river front and the night market. The night market is where I think I got sick. It
was a great market and Jun and I ate a huge meal for only about $3. A few beers later on the river and we were ready for bed, planning to go to the killing fields where the mass genocides occurred during the Khmer rouge in the morning. I slept terribly that night but I thought that was because of a rather hot room (each person had their own fan for sleeping) and that I was sleeping on the thinnest mattress on the floor. I also noticed my stomach hurt, but thought that was more aches from sleeping on the floor. Well, the morning told me why I didn't sleep. I threw up three times in the morning. I felt a little better after the morning vomit spell and thought it was out of me, so I decided to still go to the genocide museum before going out to the killing fields. I barely made it through the museum though and before I left, I had thrown up 4 more times and was breathing really hard, and could barely stand without being dizzy. So I went back to hostel, asked Martin if I could have an air conditioned room (which
he happily supplied along with an emergency bucket and extra toilet paper) and I hunkered town to battle it out. I had several more bathroom runs the rest of the day, and the time in between was spent sleeping and trying to catch my breath (it was the breathing issues that really had me worried and considering going to the hospital). I slept on and off for about 18 hours straight until the next day and still didn't eat anything for almost two days. But, the following morning, while weak, I knew whatever it was, it was out of me. I was thankful it ran its course relatively quickly (considering how severe it was and how long similar things have lasted with me before) and Im glad it wasn't anything more serious. But, it did mean I missed the killing fields! My only consolation is that I was feeling well for Angkor Wat two days later, which I was definitely not going to miss. (I will write about that in another post.) For now though, I can say in my last week in the SE Asia, I feel victim to its infamous treachery of food positioning and came out ok
as most all do.
Photos are minimal because I stuck at my hostel...
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