top of page

Cambodia - the Sick, the Dirty and the Perspective

When we arrived in Cambodia, it was dark (shocking), and I was sick. I mean SICK. Ok I could have been worse. It could always be worse. We caught a 10 and 1/2 hour bus out of Bangkok headed straight for the border. We rerouted our plans because we have four friends traveling into Thailand beginning December 15th and leaving late January. Rather than retracing foot prints in Thailand when they arrive, we opted to knock out Cambodia first.

Back to the story. I was SICK. It started with a sore throat the day after landing in Bangkok. That night my entire body refused to let me sleep. It wanted to be sick and I mentally refused to acknowledge it. I knew we had an eleven hour bus ride first thing in the morning and.... I already struggle with motion sickness.

This. Is. Not. The. Time.

I actually started to question myself in thinking that I make myself sick every time we go on a new mode of transportation. Maybe I really create this illusion of motion sickness in my mind so substantially that I get sick the night before.

The next morning I was drenched in sweat, nauseous, dizzy, my body ached and I had no appetite. I had to eat. I cannot get on a moving vehicle without eating (I know this). The nearly eleven hours on the bus were sooo uncomfortable. I was dizzy, very lightheaded, nauseous, and worried that I contracted Dengue Fever in the one day we were in Bangkok (not even possible 🙄 - hypochondriac over here).

When we got into Cambodia my thought processes were so distorted probably due to lack of sleep (who actually sleeps when they're sick?), lack of food (no appetite), and lack of hydration (it's pretty difficult to hydrate on a trip that long - you don't know when the next time you'll be able to pee again). I just needed sleep. But, we'd been on a bus for eleven hours, and I decided I needed to walk around. As soon as we put our luggage down Zach started to feel it. Within twenty minutes of walking around the town his face went white and he was flushed with sweat. He was really about to pass out.

The city of Siem Reap is very entertaining. You immediately feel like you are in Cambodia when you arrive. I had no idea what that would feel like, but this is it. In twenty minutes, sickness and all, I fell in LOVE with Siem Reap, Cambodia. Lighting fixtures everywhere, music everywhere, street vendors, a pub street, the night life is vivacious.

The next morning after we rested, both of us felt 100 times better, but still not 100%. But we're in Cambodia. And a dizzying bug neva killed nobody. So Zach and I rented bicycles and rode them from Siem Reap to Angkor, around Angkor, and back to Siem Reap (about thirty miles). There is so much culture here. So much happiness. Happiness is stronger here than many places I've seen. And I can't help but think that it's because of what they've been through. The people who have experienced the most heartache are usually the people with the most appreciation. We saw at least three or four weddings while riding our bikes. The music played sounds similar to Indian music. Dozens of families lined up having evening picnics in the center of the city street medians. SO much culture here.

A wedding being held at a temple in Angkor Wat.

I met a girl at the end of our day who said she really hates Cambodia. She really hates the dirtiness. The child labor. The pushy vendors. I told her she had better not go to the Philippines then. And it made me think. When we walked into Cambodia, I LOVED it. INSTANTLY. I loved it. I was sick, and felt like dying. And I loved it. What else could you be looking for? The depth of history that is here is really amazing. The Khmer people's personalities are so animated and uplifting. When she walked in she hated it. It's interesting to see the varying perspectives that people have on countries. Your perspective is created entirely by you. Not by the country. What you see - you choose to see, you WANT to see. Your perspective is set by your expectations. Every where else we have traveled so far has been so pleasant to me. So rewarding. So unique in it's own way. Culture shock hits everyone at a different place and different time. I'm really loving discovering countries without expectations. It's the most amazing experience walking into a place, having no idea what the turnout is going to be. Having no expectations for it.

I've said to Zach, I'm curious to see what my perspective on Manila and the Philippines will be in two years from now. Right now, we are in Cambodia. There are parts of it that are dirty. Parts where all you smell is rotten fish and trash. But I love Cambodia. For me, I know where the difference is. But I'm still curious to see if my perspective will change.

Neither one of us know what this mystery bug was. But what we do know is... I didn't make this up in my head in fear of a bus ride. 🙌🏼 (Yes I'm high fiving to that).

-AS @travelingsnow

bottom of page