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.
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