Thursday, June 23, 2011

Raisin Bran Happy Dance

Leah and I ended up leaving Bridgette in Battambang because she had a hearing to attend there the following Monday, and traveled to Siem Reap with the lawyer and administration manager to meet with another group of clients. Siem Reap is home to Angkor Wat, so I knew that it would be a rather big tourist town. However, I wasn't expecting CAMBODIA: THE DISNEY WORLD EXTRAVAGANZA!!! We were tired and muddy from walking through the provinces all morning, so it was pretty startling to drive into Siem Reap and see the Cambodian Las Vegas. Huge, beautiful resorts lined the streets, some starting at $500 a night. There were manicured walkways and gardens everywhere, and iron lampposts guiding your trip to the temple (it looked exactly like Williamsburg, VA at night). I don't usually even see this much money in the US; Leah and I stared out the window, shocked at the change in scenery from this morning. A few hours ago, I was trying not to slip face-first into a rice paddy, and now I was surrounded by malls, luxury hotels, and cars that I don't think I'm rich enough to look at, let alone ever ride in. There's a direct flight into Siem Reap, so many of these tourists probably only fly directly here, walk around Angkor Wat, and leave again; I'd argue that they never really visited Cambodia.

"I don't think we're dressed well enough to walk into any of these restaurants," Leah commented. I looked down at the caked dirt streaked up and down my trousers, and felt the dried sweat on my forehead and neck acting as a strong adhesive to which my limp hair was plastered. I sadly agreed.

Because the next day would be filled with meetings and traveling back to Phnom Penh, we wouldn't have a chance to see Angkor Wat. The lawyer was kind enough to drive us by the entrance, and we expressed great interest in the...well...the inky black nothingness where apparently the temples are. I'm sure it's awe-inspiring in the daytime, or maybe even with a flashlight. 

We pulled up to an outdoor Khmer restaurant right across the street from the temples. There was a huge grill, with various raw meats you could select waiting behind the grates. I learned how to eat fish off the bone (or, rather, the Cambodians laughed at me as I made a mess, causing one of them to take the poor carcass away from me before I did more damage). We also had some Cambodian cheese, which, as I'm finding with most dishes here, was made with beef. Chicken feet rounded out the meal, the black claws jutting out toward my plate as I slowly chewed my rice. At least I missed out on turtle meat, the slimy, gelatinous meat that some other unfortunate interns had to gnaw on the previous week. 

We finished our work the next morning and headed back to Phnom Penh, stopping only once about an hour outside the city for some lunch. I gratefully ran inside my guesthouse, ready to jump in the shower and take a long nap.

And then the food poisoning started. Dear God, the food poisoning.

What started as a brief stomachache morphed quickly into a feverish, horrific explosion of what I was certain were the beginning stages of organ shutdown. I sadly huddled in a bed sheet next to my laptop and frantically searched for a doctor. After working in healthcare for three years, I've turned into a terrible medical snob ("I'm sorry, you graduated 2nd in your class at Harvard? You're not touching me."), so I was pretty worried about my options. 

Apparently I was very dramatic on the phone, because my mom was ready to ship my dad to Bangkok to meet me after my medevac. Luckily, I felt better on Monday just as quickly as I became ill on Saturday, so he didn't have to fly halfway around the world. I had a really rough time trying to find light food to eat, until I took a trip to Lucky Supermarket, the western grocery store. Here's what I found:

I wanted cereal so badly, and here was my favorite brand! I did a happy dance right in the middle of the aisle, causing quite a few people to pull their children away from the crazy lady and her raisins. I picked up some milk from Singapore, cereal from the good ole U.S. of A., and a bowl and spoon from Malaysia, so really, I was still getting an international culinary experience. 

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