Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sick in Sihanoukville-Dirty Part 1

I never get tired of telling this story. Perhaps I should.

It happened over a year ago while traveling around Cambodia. We had spent over a month in Siem Reap. Dusty, flat Siem Reap (as seen in photo below). I was ready for laying on the beach and swimming in the ocean. I was ready for coconut trees and tropical breezes. I was ready to be in my element. Sun-kissed and ocean frolicking.

What I was ready for on a subconscious level and realistically hoping would never happen in the three months that we were in Cambodia, did indeed happen in Sihanoukville. It happened as I was about to shine. And it instantly took all my glimmer away. Luckily, I could quickly laugh about it and hope it wouldn't happen again.

So, what exactly did happen, you might ask? Travelers bug. No, I don't mean a little bout of diarrhea or an upset stomach. I'm talking about 10 straight hours of losing your insides from both ends. And everything that comes with that while traveling in "foreign, far off lands." Might I add this happened to me in at home not too long ago. I was just way more comfortable at home...and somehow it is harder to laugh about it...hmmm.

The first bad decision we made was deciding to stay in a "boutique, modern" hotel. Upon arriving, it was obvious that it was neither boutique nor modern. It was though, still under construction. And the nice American owners assured us that they wouldn't start the construction until after 8:30am. Again, the boutique hotel was a very bad choice.

Some indicators that is was a bad choice:
*It was mid-upper in price range due to it's unique style, quaint bed and breakfast feel, and large, modern bar. By quaint, they meant that the walls were thin and there was only one other guest staying at the time. The bar was a bar. They were proud of it. It was empty. Even the owners didn't hang out ready to make drinks because there was no one to make drinks for. Sad. Lonely. Deserted.

*We quickly headed out to hit up some trendy restaurants with happy hours and loud music. Making an absolutely safe bet on food, we headed to the touristy Mexican restaurant where only whities (or Barang's as Khmer's call us...meaning "big nose") hang out. After fried rice and an Anchor Beer, we headed to a club and had a couple more beers before heading to bed relatively early in anticipation of a long day on the beach.
What I got was a long night. We went to our boutique hotel to quickly find out that the T.V. didn't work and the toilet ran if you didn't giggle the handle.

*At 3am my jolt to the bathroom hinted at a number of other problems with the boutique hotel. The first and foremost occurred around 6am when I'm sure that the other guests could hear me lurching my bowels into the unglamorous throne: the toilet altogether stopped flushing.

*For those of you with weak stomachs, I would stop reading now. If you can laugh about it, keep reading. At this point in the morning I was laying on the cold new tile floor. My hot cheeks squished against the cool, white tiles as I notices hairs and dust and other unidentifiable brown grime in the corners and stuck in the grout. Gross. While simultaneously vomiting into a tiny garbage can with a lever lid and filling the unflushing bowl with explosive liquid poop, back-splash began and the tiny, thin bag in the garbage can began falling down one side, then another, then the other.

I'm honestly not sure what happened after that. Somehow in my shaking, expelling body, I managed to stick my hand in the cold water in the back of the toilet and fixed the flushing issue. And I found more bags stick under the sink and continued vomiting and diarrhea and sincerely believing that I might be dying.

*The construction started at 7am. At least the other guests (if there were in fact other guests) hopefully heard the loud pounding rather than me throwing up and desperately moaning in the echoing "powder" room, "I think I'm dying, I think I'm dying, I think I'm dying."

At 8am, we packed our stuff up, I shook on the bed waiting for one more vomit session, after which we got the f**k out of there.
Lighter on my feet-12 pounds lighter to be exact, delirious, and feeling like I was going to lose my stuff in the middle of the street, we let a nice tuk-tuk driver take us the three more blocks to a large, multi-roomed, multi-leveled hotel (with breakfast included). The T.V. worked. The toilet flushed. The curtains opened. The bathroom was clean.

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