Saturday, October 11, 2014

Cambodia Vacation, Part One: Getting to Siem Reap


I had a great time in Cambodia. It was a unique trip to say the least. I had to do a lot of improvising and modifying to make it work. Still, I learned a lot about myself on the trip. You really can't ask for more than that when you travel.

Deals Galore!

One day I was browsing through Google Plus when I came upon a post from +Agoda, the hotel booking website. It had a big list of hotels and resorts in Siem Reap, Cambodia for up to 75% off. Well, that made me take notice for sure! Every so often, Agoda has limited time deals that they post on Google Plus. I love, love, love it! I had a few days until the deal expired, so I went home that night and booked a room at a fancy hotel. I generally like to stay at one cheaper place for the majority of the vacation and one fancier place that I found a deal on. This was perfect!

I have used Agoda a few times, and it has worked out pretty well for me. Make sure you take the card you booked the room with. If not, you could risk being charged twice. That is the only thing I have had to be concerned about.

For the cheaper room, I used +Booking.com. They have a great selection of decently priced rooms to choose from. As for the visa, for Americans, and I think many others, you just fill out some papers and pay when you arrive in Cambodia.

Booking the Plane

For the flight, I used +KAYAK. I have used them numerous times in the past, and it has worked out well. This time, however, the cheap flight on China Southern Airlines was contracted out to something called Vayama. I later learned that Vayama has some very terrible customer reviews. It would be a less than stellar experience for me.

Three months after booking, and less than two months before my flight, I received an email from Vayama stating that my returning flight had been canceled. They gave me two options to choose from. Either leave a day later or a day earlier. I had already booked my hotels though. And my vacation from work was set. There was no way my boss would give me more time to be on vacation. Therefore, I had to choose to leave early. I would lose a little money on the hotel, but at least I would have visited Siem Reap for five days.

A Week of Hell

Despite the disappointment over the flight, I remained excited to visit Cambodia. One of my friends had been there, and she had nothing but good things to say about it. I read a bunch of blogs about what to see, watched some good documentaries about Angkor Wat, and dreamed about all the things I would be seeing.

Then, on the Monday four days before I was set to leave, I was poisoned! Food poisoned. It was terrible. I kept working, but it was one of the least comfortable periods in my life health-wise. I could not sleep because every 30 minutes I was running to the bathroom... I'll leave it at that. I continued to work, but I was eating basically saltine crackers and drinking water or Gatorade only. A pharmacy had given me some tiny bottle of liquid medicine and minuscule pills to take, but that only helped for hours.

On the morning I was set to leave, I almost decided not to go. I was slightly better, but I still was having stomach issues. There was no way I could make it through the flight, much less enjoy myself on vacation. However, as I laid there staring up at the ceiling, I decided I could get medicine at Incheon International Airport and just make the best of it.

I arrived at the airport and went to the pharmacy. I had some of my symptoms all translated into Korean and ready to go. The guy spoke English very well though, so it was unnecessary. He handed me a box of pills. And... they worked!

This ailment would keep me sidelined for a bit. I still had a great time. I'll write about dealing with getting better, getting worse again, and fully recovering just in time... in the next post.