While in Malaysia, we took a trip within a trip. To Siem Reap, Cambodia. That, however, has to be the subject of another blog post.

On the last evening there, we had a sampling of Khmer cuisine at the Meric restaurant of our lovely, contemporary, Hotel de la Paix.

Sitting the traditional way at the Meric Restaurant, Hotel de la Paix, Cambodia

It came with our room package so it was a “must-do”. Danial, always the adventurous one, had Khmer food from the very first day. It was the first time for hubby and I. Hubby was very selective when the seven-course sampler was served. Me too, I guess, but I had more than he did. Especially since our waiter brought us the cut bird chillies!

Sampler of Khmer cuisine at Meric Restaurant, Hotel de la Paix, Cambodia

Sampler of Khmer cuisine at Meric Restaurant, Hotel de la Paix, Cambodia

I think that did it.

The next morning began with a couple of trips to the toilet. Later at the airport, I started to feel really queasy. Didn’t feel good after the coffee and certainly on the plane, although I really love nasi lemak, the portion that Air Asia served didn’t even begin to look tantalising. I ate it half-heartedly.

Arriving back in KL, it was more trips to the loo. I should have gone to the doctor then, but with all the unpacking and laundry I had to organise before leaving for Kuwait a couple of days later, I didn’t.

One of the things on our packing list for Cambodia had been “Imodium” – diarrhoea pills, but we forgot to buy some before the trip. Sometime back a pharmacist in Kuwait introduced me to Ercefuryl which, unlike Imodium which only stops diarrhoea, also kills the bacteria causing the diarrhoea. I never travelled out of Kuwait without Ercefuryl but this time I didn’t bring any with me and I wasn’t sure if they sold that here in KL. Anyway hubby bought me some Imodium at the pharmacy nearby our apartment and two tablets later I was fine. Better than before. The pharmacist said after the first two tablets, take one “when needed.” And I took them religiously.

It was a week after Eid and Malaysians were still celebrating Eid (“Raya”) the Malaysian way…open houses and more open houses and that afternoon we took Mum to my brother’s open house nearby. He and his wife had prepared an impressive spread of briyani with lamb, beef and chicken dishes to accompany it. I couldn’t eat much after a hearty lunch at home so I managed a small plate. I probably shouldn’t have but you can never say no to a Malaysian host, not even my own brother! LOL

I guess all this time it was building up and I didn’t realise it.

It was there and yet not there? I think although the Imodium kept the food-poisoning at bay, it didn’t really go away. The next day, the last day before we left KL for Kuwait, was full of errands. I couldn’t eat a thing all this time. The Imodium was almost gone. I should have made time to go to the doctor. Shoulda. Woulda. Coulda.

By dinner time I was so hungry but still didn’t really fancy anything. Finally settled for some soupy Udon noodles with thin beef slices. It was good and I enjoyed it.

The next day, Saturday, was fly-day and we had an early start, leaving for the airport at 7:15am. After checking-in we stopped at the pharmacy where I was hoping to find my Ercefuryl. Just to make sure I was ok on the plane. They’d never heard of it. Instead the pharmacist said, “Customer selalu beli Pill ‘Chi-Kit’ Teck Aun. Dan charcoal pills”. (Customers always buy “Teck Aun ‘Chi-Kit Pills”. And charcoal pills.)

Pil Chi-Kit Teck Aun

So I followed her advise and bought some. I took some immediately, said our goodbyes to Dan and boarded.

It must have been the most uncomfortable flight I’ve ever experienced. The visits to the loo. The stomach cramps. The gas. I didn’t eat a thing all the way and only managed a couple of cups of tea and some fruits.  I couldn’t even look at the food the cabin crew was serving hubby, let alone smell it! That’s it. I told hubby that when we landed in Kuwait, the first thing we did would have to be a visit to the doctor.

Although we got home at 4pm we only managed to get an appointment with Dr Iman Badawi at the International Clinic at 5:45pm. I felt so weak after more than 20 trips to the loo in one day. I found my strips of Ercefuryl at home, took 2 tablets and slept it off while waiting to go to the doctor. Hubby kept himself busy calling the landlord and coordinating with the Janitor, Abu Kazi, to fix the bedroom air-conditioner. I jumped when he woke me up at 5:30pm to go the doctor and can you believe I tried to get out of it saying I felt much better now? No way, hubby said. We’re going to see Dr Iman. So off we went.

Dr Iman said I was badly dehydrated and there was a lot of gas. She said charcoal tablets and diarrhoea didn’t go together! Now why would that pharmacist ask me to get some? And what was the effect of the traditional medication Pill ‘Chi-Kit’ Teck Aun, I wondered? A couple of minutes later I was down in the lab where two nurses started looking for a vein to prick, get blood, attach a drip. I was put on a drip for one hour to rehydrate. They did a skin test to check if I was allergic to the antibiotic Dr Iman prescribed. When there was no reaction, so they proceeded to administer it via the drip.

On the drip at International Clinic

I started to feel better really quick. Well, better than before. The blood test results came and my white blood cell count was higher than the normal which meant there was a high level of bacterial infection. I have to go back to the clinic two more days for antibiotic jabs and have been prescribed a carb-only diet without sauces or oils. Lovely. And only bananas and apples without skin.

But I am getting better. And the moral of the story is: Always see the doctor immediately when you get diarrhoea, wherever you are – don’t wait three days! Don’t listen to the pharmacist, well, at least not on travel day. And always bring Ercefuryl 200mg if you can find it!

The indispensable Ercefuryl 200mg

Where: Cambodia

When: Day 2, 13th Sept 2010

One of the many highlights of the Angkor experience is to watch the sunset from Phnom Bakheng, probably the only temple built on a hill. It overlooks all of Angkor and we’re told that the views are spectacular!

It was constructed at the end of the 9th century as the state temple of the first capital of Angkor.

The climb up Bakheng Hill to the temple is reasonably difficult, but apparently not impossible. Lots of people would rather do it though than pay the USD20 for the elephant alternative. You guessed it – we took the elephant – more for the experience of riding on an elephant than running away from the trek (she took all three of us in her elephant seat!) The driver’s uniform was really cute with a tip pocket on the back of the shirt. You couldn’t missed it!

Tips please! 

Once on Bakheng Hill, we still had a bit of time to climb up to the temple before the sun started to set. The steps to the top of the temple were, however, another story. It was a real challenge.

It was very steep to the top and each of the steps was very high and very, very narrow. On top of that, there was nothing to hold on to except the side of the steps.

Bakheng Hill steps up to the temple

 

I couldn’t help wondering how all those other people did it. We saw them holding on to the side of the stairs but there was a section of the steps that collapsed and I began thinking …”What do we do when get to that part?” It scared me.

Hubby and I decided to try anyway. We made it up two steps before hesitating to continue then…cold sweat and all, we decided to abandon the attempt. The steps were definitely too high for me and hubby himself cringed. We thought: we might make it up to see the sunset but we wondered HOW were we going to get down later especially since it was also going to start getting dark then.

Danial was the brave one: he went up climbing one step at a time holding on to the sides like everybody else and came down very carefully holding on to the previous step. Oooooffff…I wouldn’t have survived!

Danial braving the steps up to the Bakheng Temple

 

So we never saw the sunset from the top of Phnom Bakheng. We only heard Danial’s description of what went on up there and of course we read accounts of other tourists who braved the steep steps up to the temple like he did.

Danial was happy he went up there – but for us, definitely no regrets!

It wasn’t really a planned destination. I was going to stay in Malaysia for three weeks mainly to sort out Mum’s physiotherapy but then two weeks after I got back to KL, hubby and I decided I should stay on till the Eid celebrations in mid-September. I had so much to do. He would come back then and we would return to Kuwait together.

He always liked a trip within a trip whenever we came back to KL together. For the “R & R” he always said. And for the three of us to spend some time together. And this time we would go just after the Eid celebrations.

So all the time he was in Kuwait on his own, he was researching where to go this time. Of course, initially, he picked our own Langkawi Island. Again. Then it became Phuket in Thailand. Then the Mulu National Park of East Malaysia.

Why don’t we just spin the wheel? :)

Spin the wheel!

Then finally one evening he told me he’d found our destination – Cambodia. Danial loved the idea. I thought it would be interesting too since we had never been on a holiday anywhere east of Malaysia ever. Plus, Cambodia is steeped in history and we anticipated it would also be a humbling experience for all of us.

Everybody else asked “Why Cambodia, for goodness sakes? All three of us answered the same answer. “Why not?”

And so it was. We flew directly to Siem Reap which was the capital city of the Siem Reap Province in north-western Cambodia, and the gateway to the Angkor.

Arrival at Siem Reap

Hubby had booked our stay at the very contemporary Hotel de la Paix or the Hotel of Peace on the Sivutha Boulevard because everything was nearby especially the markets and Pub Street, which although is best known as a watering hole, has many nice restaurants. 

Signs pointing the way to the "Noon Night Market" in Siem Reap

The hotel car was waiting for us when we arrived and off we sped to the hotel, to check in, freshen up and get started.

Sopheak, our guide explained our itinerary for the three days of tours and after a bit of tweaking we were all set to get going with our historical and cultural experience in Cambodia.

This is what we're going to do

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