When it comes to traveling I’m always up for anything and everything. I love sight-seeing at places like the Great Wall; but I also enjoy the atypical experiences–eating rooster head and thirteen hour train rides. Regardless, I feel that my trips abroad have taught me more than I could learn in school. The rest of my family loves to travel as well which is why in the summer of 2012 I meandered through China, Cambodia and Thailand with my family.
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China was a blur of fireworks, incense and dumplings. Thailand a combination of temples, pad thai and elephants; but it was Cambodia that was the real adventure. Most of Cambodia was focused on the magnificent Angkor Wat which was built in the 11th century and remained a vast complex of temples. Within the temples there were magnificent, giant face carvings that peeked out from behind lush vegetation. While everyone knows that Angkor Wat is AMAZING, what I came to appreciate was less well-known – the quality mango milkshakes.
I have a tendency to go overboard when it comes to frozen sweets. I LOVE ice cream, slushies, smoothies, gelato, and quickly I found out, Cambodian Mango milk shakes. There were several reasons why they became my go to food choice. Most importantly, it was extremely hot and humid and the milkshakes were both cold and cheap. On top of that, there were street vendors everywhere specializing in milkshakes. I would ask for one by pointing to a fresh mango and they would respond by making a beautiful creation of an entire mango with ice and milk. It was heavenly. Soon I began having an average of 3 mango milkshakes every day. Little did I know that this innocent treat would be my downfall. At first I just felt a bit odd, but things started to go downhill quickly with the hallucinations.
My sickness, whatever it was, caused me to lose complete track of time and reality. I remember lying in bed staring up at the slow movement of the ceiling fan for what seemed like hours as my mind drifted. At one point I was convinced that our room was surrounded by armed guards that were about to shoot me. My only means of escape was to leap under my bed in one swift motion. Obviously. At another point my parents were so desperate for me to eat that they even tried to lull me into eating ice cream, when that attempt failed they knew something was very wrong. After three days of visions, restlessness, throwing up…my parents began to worry that I might have Dengue Fever. This prompted our decision to leave the humidity of Cambodia behind for Thailand, with its improved medical services. Ironically because we decided to leave unexpectedly, the fastest way was to take a bus to the border and then to cross the border by foot before boarding another train into central Thailand. This how is how I came to literally walk across the border between Cambodia and Thailand while deathly ill. I had lost about 5 pounds from my sickness, could barely walk, couldn’t eat anything without throwing it up…yet I stumbled across the border with my backpack on and clutching a huge pillow.
While our “vacation” to Cambodia turned out a bit more adventurous than originally planned, I did have a wonderful experience in Cambodia. I enjoyed Angkor Wat, the markets and…the milkshakes. However I did learn a valuable lesson. If you go to a developing country, DO NOT eat the ice – even if cleverly disguised in a sweet, addictive fruit shake.
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