The morning I got out of Calmette hospital, Andrew and I hopped on a bus to Siem Reap. We didn't want to miss a beat. I luckily didn't have to lug around my backpack immediately upon getting my IV removed thanks to my companion's upper body strength.
I was kept hydrated thanks to fresh coconut water as I browsed the beautiful and intricate carvings and designs all around the temples. Rocking my badass bandage on my right hand in the photo below.
The photo credits here go to Andrew because I lost my camera (actually, my dad's) in the back of a truck somewhere in Yangon, Myanmar.
It's been a long while since my trip to Cambodia and I've held off on writing about my experience for several reasons. Particularly because this was one of the most terrifying yet amazing trips I took this year. Another being that this was my first time visiting the country in which my parents were born. I had been promised by my dad that we'd go as a family when I was younger but those dreams always fell through so that being said, I was already in Hong Kong and Cambodia was a short $60 flight away.
As a lot of my close friends know, I got a high fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit during my Cambodia excursion which lasted 4 days of the (~) 12 that I planned on exploring my parent's home country. Andrew and I started off Cambodia in the south in Sihanoukville and the island of Koh Rong. Sihanoukville was hyper-touristy and I was frequently asked if I needed my underarms plucked. (Hey, some things just don't matter when you are traveling on a budget and schedule!) Koh Rong was glorious - we kayaked, snorkeled and roasted mini crabs that Andrew caught over a bonfire on the beach. Amid all of our fun, we paid little attention to the awful sand flies that kept attacking us in hordes and feeding on our blood. Thinking about it now still gives me shivers. Any bare flesh we had ended up being covered by these sand flies while each smack we'd deliver to the demons wold leave skinny trails of blood down our bodies. There were so many sand flies, I became slightly traumatized by mass flocks of tiny insects and had mini-nightmares when I returned to Hong Kong...but that is another story!
After our little honeymoon-like escapade, we returned to Phnomh Penh, the capital of Cambodia with intentions to see S21 and the killing fields during the Khmer Rouge reign. I really wanted to see and learn about this because this is what my parents experienced as children in Cambodia and then refugees. However, that night we came back I just became exhausted and knocked out early in the evening fully dressed in my dirty clothes. I woke up at around 3-4 am to shower because I felt sticky and dirty and returned to bed. When I woke up in the morning, I was even more exhausted and fatigued. I felt extremely hot and dizzy which I attributed the humidity of the country and assumed would go away after breakfast. Breakfast came and went with none going into my stomach because I lacked appetite and I told Andrew that I needed to lay down for a bit. An hour past and my fever just got worse and worse. Andrew hesitated to take me to the hospital because I didn't want to go to a third world hospital and I am slightly apprehensive of the idea of hospitals in general. Another hour past and I knew I had to go somewhere for help because my fever and fatigue were not improving.
We took a trike to the nearest hospital which ended up being the French Cambodia Calmette Hospital. To my dismay, no one spoke English and only spoke French and Khmer. I understand Khmer a decent amount but I cannot speak it and I became more than nervous as I could understand them expressing how awful of a position I was in without being able to communicate effectively. I had an IV put in and it was one of the most painful medical experiences of my life and I cried. I tried so hard to not cry but I was terrified and there were nurses around me in flip flops and no gloves in the hospital. I thought that if I wasn't going to die from the fever, I would die from the lack of sanitation.
4 days and 4 nights came and went with lots of drugs, care and rest. There were a lot of things I wish I could have foreseen or done about what happened but these are lessons for the future. I am glad I wasn't alone during this all because the rare times I was alone were the times I was most afraid.
If you're reading this, thank you Andrew.
It's time for reflection but I don't know where to begin. I've finally mustered some energy and motivation to put this blog together now that my extreme jet lag is starting to wear away. My body has been waking up at 4 pm Los Angeles time thinking that it is 7 am Hong Kong time.
How do I describe my 6 month experience with anything but a whirlwind? From meeting new friends from all over the world to taking international business courses and learning exceptional amounts of so many different cultures, this is a semester I will never regret and never forget.
I met most of my great friends on a hike to Victoria Peak and they became the people I traveled with time after time...starting with the Philippines and ending with Thailand over the course of the semester. Over this time, I realized how ignorant I was to outside cultures and while I initially blamed this on the educational system with which I was brought up, it really came down to my own minimal self-exposure to the world. I'm so very happy to say that I've learned an enormous amount about myself, life, travel, and what it means to care for others.
I returned home a few days ago feeling ready to return to the reality of productive college student existence and ready to spend quality time with my little brother who I missed the most. It is nice to escape the humidity of Hong Kong and rejoice in the beauty of my temperate LA but while I feel so different and changed, everything back home has remained the same. I cannot say I didn't expect this as I did but it is just peculiar to finally be here and witness it in action.
We picked up some bikes for the day and took a cruise through the dusty roads that flow between temples upon temples. Andrew was left at the hostel for the day to rest and sleep in. I promised him I'd go and take some photos because he did the same courtesy while I was bedridden.
Some of the very old temples now under increasing regulation by the Burmese tourist authorities. We found this out the more difficult way...
The next day or so we took a taxi to Mount Popa, or should I say Mount Poopa.
Mount Popa mandates that guests only walk up barefoot amid monkeys, monkey urine, monkey blood, and the other excretions that come from the bodies of monkeys. It was suggested that we carry large sticks to frighten them from coming too close to us, especially if any of us were more nervous than usual. I encountered a young Burmese boy who took pleasure in his duty of shooing monkeys away from tourists. These monkeys could get quite feisty and were obviously carrying some level of intelligence.
I'm not sure what day it is but I'm now in Myanmar - it's a seemingly long while since China. I'm waiting for food at the Golden Emperor Restaurant in Bagan just doors from Winner Guesthouse where we are staying with some friends we met up with in Yangon. Andrew has a severe high fever which we speculate and fear is dengue fever. I just got out of the Calmette Hospital in Phnomh Penh, KH, where I stayed for 4 days bedridden with a 40 degree Celsius fever. Unfortunately, it is Andrew's turn for the fever which is terrible for him since he's looked forward to Myanmar the most between us both. It hasn't been the best of luck for the two of us in our three week mini-adventure across SEA. I really hope he does not get as ill as I did. He's currently in bed back at the guesthouse as I wait for takeaway food to bring him. We are considering flying to Bangkok to seek more western and serious medical attention.
To continue, I'm very concerned. I don't have that many days left and I cannot leave Andrew alone in the hospital. If we do go, hopefully Andrew recovers quickly, but as I said, we haven't been the luckiest. Burma may well be the nicest Southeast Asian country thus far. The people are kind and do not (yet) hound you for money nor do they harass you for tours. There are very few tourists since the country just recently opened in 2010. The number of pagodas and temples is just astounding as well - literally every corner you turn! The roads are great for bicycling and our friends said its the best before/during sunrise when were is absolutely no one else on the road. I imagine its just you, your bike and the cool morning air. I hope Andrew gets to experience some of this.
All Ankle Recovery Asia Azores Barrier Reef Belize Berkeley Burma Cahal Pech California Cambodia Camping Canada Caye Caulker Central America China East Asia Europe Fiverr Gluttony Go Slow Guangdong Guangzhou Hair Loss Hiking Hong Kong How To Internship Island Long Distance Luohu Commercial City Maya Maya Ruins Myanmar New York North America Ocean Ontario Paddleboarding Philippines Portugal Post Travel Post-Travel Reflection San Ignacio Shenzhen Sickness Snorkeling Southeast Asia South Korea Stress Study Abroad Taiwan USA Vietnam Yunnan