Trip Start May 03, 2010
40Trip End Oct 18, 2011
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Where I stayed
On the way back we stopped at a temple and I spent a while chatting with some young monks. These monks were more like temporary monks, studying Buddhism while attending university
I spent the rest of that afternoon on the beach, but the waves in Cambodia are big like in southern California, so you can't really swim, and it's dark blue so you can't really see, and the sand is lined with litter, so it's not very pretty. Lame. And as soon as I sat down, a group of young girls circled around me trying to sell me a bunch of shit I didn't need. I kept saying no but then they just start doing what they're trying to get you to pay for anyway. Well, they got me for $17 for three bracelets, a lobster, a pedicure and a threading. I was pretty irritated with them and vowed never to let sales people bug me like that again. I should have kicked them for being so annoying . . . just kidding . . . not really.
Saturday night I started feeling much worse with a neck ache and some diarrhea, so I took a moto to a clinic in town, fearing that I had caught Japanese encephalitis. Japanese encephalitis is a serious virus carried by mosquitos for which the US vaccine cost $700. I passed on that fine opportunity and tried to find it when I got to Thailand, only to discover that the vaccine for adults had been discontinued and replaced by a live vaccine approved only for children by the CDC. So I still haven't gotten the vaccine, and the disease is rare but can cause serious central nervous system damage. The symptoms include neckache, so I was scared. The driver took me to one clinic where there was no doctor on staff, so they directed us to another clinic down the road, and after getting lost a couple times and asking another driver where it was, we finally found one that was run by a Chinese doctor. He had photos of himself, standing over patients who had all suffered serious physical injuries, most likely from moto accidents. One guy had a huge chunk of the skin on the side of his head hanging off, and the doctor was standing above him smiling in to the camera. That's why I always hire a driver. Anyway, he knew nothing about Japanese encephalitis but because of the diarrhea, he advised me to take the antibiotic that my travel clinic sent me over with, which I did. I felt fine the next day. But when we got back, I handed the moto driver $2 and he asked for $3
Well, I figured I should try to make the best of my time there, so I took a boat tour on Sunday to the islands for snorkeling and swimming, but visibility was zero. Besides that, we got caught in a torrential storm on the way out, so that me and four girls from England, Wales and Germany were all huddled in the middle of the boat holding beach mats over our heads because the tarp roof had been violently ripped off by the wind. It was raining and the waters were rough, so that the boat would hit a wave and water would come flying over the side of the boat and smack us in the face. This was just about the most unpleasant thing I've ever paid $15 to do.
The island they took us to was actually very pretty, and by the time we got there, the clouds had broken up and it was sunny again. They grilled us baracuda fish for lunch and served it with bread and cabbage salad, which was actually delicious. This kinda made up for the stormy ride
but we were still stuck with a most obnoxious Chinese guy who would not shut up. This was one of those guys who manages to alienate everyone around him in two seconds flat. Somehow he got a Cambodian woman to marry him, though I think her inability to understand English may have been the culprit
Monday I took a moto ride out to Ream National Forest for a guided trek, which was supposed to be an hour and a half. Well, it was more like a twenty minute trek, a forty minute moto ride
roundtrip to the trail head, plus another twenty minute ride to the beach, which was still ugly and useless. I couldn't believe I had managed another expensive and unrewarding day! I had booked an overnight bus for Monday night and was glad to get out of there. What a waste.
The photos on the advertisement for the ten hour overnight bus to Siem Reap showed spacious reclining seats with foot rests, covered in sheets, with pillows, and boasted two movie showings. I figured it looked pretty comfortable. But no, there were no sheets or pillows or foot rests. Yet again they mixed up the seating so I had to get up out of my seat and move to a seat that had no blanket and was next to the aisle
I arrived in Siem Reap at 6am to be greeted by Laos, the tuk-tuk driver with ABCs and Rice, the charity with which I had arranged to do some volunteer work helping teach English. He drove me through Siem Reap and out to a nearby village, Veal Village, where the volunteer guesthouse was located. But as I passed by bamboo huts, farm animals and naked babies, I had a feeling this was going to be a long three weeks...