Hello From Korea

We’re on our way. With a big 12 hour “pause” between the first flight and the second. Thank goodness for transit hotels. Genius idea. Six hours to rest and shower and change and feel human again before heading back out to the airport to kill another six hours before an 11+ hour flight. Unfortunately, I only rested for about 2 1/2 hours. Because my body is still on Cambodia time and it woke up at “8am”. Whatever. I’d rather sleep on the plane (“night” in the USA) anyway. But now I have a couple of hours to kill in the dark while Husband and the others sleep. So you get a random-ish blog post. It may be a tad on the whiney side, but I promise, overall my impressions of this trip are very good.

It just would have been better if we’d left a few days earlier. Before my hives got out of control and I woke up from a Benadryl induced nap to find my mouth swollen and the skin around my eyes tingling in a scary kind of way. At that point, calling the visiting doctor for yet another shot in the rear didn’t seem ideal, so we got a car to the hospital. There’s a super nice one in Siem Reap, run by the Thai. It was surreal (the theme word of our entire vacation, we’ve decided) … the place was completely dead. Okay, two other people in the waiting room of the ER. But that’s it. The nurse wore a 50’s style starched white uniform complete with cute white hat and everything. I felt like I was in a cheesy hospital soap opera. After a quick exam by the doctor who spoke decent english, I got my steroids via an IV in my hand a four different prescriptions… two for allergies, one for steroid pills, one for the stomach upset that comes from taking the other three. And we were back to the hotel in time for dinner on New Year’s Eve.

By that time, Husband was adamant I eat as “normal” a diet as possible, and I was still swollen so we ate at the hotel restaurant. It’s a small three star place and I think the restaurant mostly gets used for the buffet breakfast, so they seemed a bit thrown by six people for dinner which was a little funny on such a popular night for eating out. Anyway, after that we went back to the room and watched TinTin (bought on DVD at the Old Market, of course) and Husband ran out for some Swenson’s ice cream for all of us. Yum. We were all in bed well before midnight, as usual. And then at midnight the very happening club across the street made us well aware that we were ringing in a New Year. Fireworks, horns, much yelling. In my sleepy haze I was a little scared someone might shoot off something too dangerous for such close quarters and every scream seemed a little ominous. But all was well.

New Year’s Day we had to check out of the hotel by noon, but our flight wasn’t scheduled until around 11pm. What to do? We asked for a later check out, or even to have the room another night, but they were booked solid. They let us leave our luggage in the lobby, and we wandered the streets. Which really isn’t anything like it sounds. The hotel is in a perfect location, right on the edge of the Old Market and a block from a small mall. We had lunch at a restaurant with a name that sounds like a newspaper (The Sun? Can’t remember. I’ll look it up later.) that served delicious pancakes and french toast until 3pm. Being as I’m a bit weary of SE Asian club sandwiches (they all come with fried egg. Is that normal for a club? I’m thinking not.) I was loving the blueberry pancakes. Then we went over to the mall to catch a movie at the “personal theater”… it’s basically a small room with a big couch and a large screen TV and they pop in a DVD. Had surprisingly little choice in family friendly movies, given they can buy pretty much anything at the market down the street. But we picked Mirror Mirror and all but Drew seemed to enjoy it. And it killed another two hours. Then we went back to Swenson’s (it’s an American ice cream chain. And their $1.95 Happy Brownie sundaes with whoppers instead of brownies (because they were out) were delish!). After that, still a few hours to kill, so we went back to our hotel and asked them to get us a car/driver to take us to the Cambodian Cultural Village. You actually have to ask for a car, because on the streets the only taxis are tuktuks. I’m okay with tuktuks so long as we are on slower streets by the markets. But when you’re talking 45+ mph roads with buses and vans? Not so much.

The Cambodian Cultural Village was, in a word, surreal. Definitely need the pics to give you the whole picture. Basically the idea of the place is to give you the history and show the range of villages and cultures living in Cambodia. So there’s a small wax museum that takes you through history, and a small artifact room with some freakishly stuffed native animals and archeological
artifacts. And then you go outside. There’s a small road that leads to a number of smallish model villages. A floating village, a Cham village, a Chinese village, etc etc. At some of the villages they do little shows, and there’s a stage area where they were playing very loud music and crowds were gathering so I assume a bigger show was about to start. Leah has had her fill of crowds and we forgot bug spray (big mistake. huge!) so we kept moving. There was also a very small “zoo” – about 5 different kinds of animals – that the kids loved and an absolutely bizarre Through The Looking Glass garden of odd painted sculptures that you have to see to believe (a giant calculator. No idea why). And also some of the major Cambodian buildings/monuments shrunk down so you feel like you are looking at them from a helicopter. If we’d gone earlier in the day and armed with lots of bug spray, I’m sure we would’ve spent more time there. Should you find yourself in Siem Reap with kids needing to kill a few hours, I highly recommend it.

By the time we finished there, it was just about time for our original driver and guide to take us to the airport. We asked to go at 7pm, thinking we’d check our luggage and then get dinner there. They have a Blue Pumpkin (a very popular chain in Cambodia. Very western friendly decor and food and free wifi and we just love the place) actually at the airport, by the gates. Just one problem. We got to the airport and they wouldn’t let us check our luggage until 9pm. So there we were, stuck on the check-in side with 8 bags and only a sad little deli for dinner. (The food was not good. And that is being kind.) When we finally did check our bags, a little before 9 (Husband found someone from Korean Air who said we could check in earlier) we found out we were not on the 11 clock flight, but on the 10 o’clock flight! Our travel agent got the flight info wrong on our itinerary. Thank goodness we got to the airport so early!

The flight from Siem Reap to Seoul was happily uneventful. Once here, we tracked down the one and only Starbucks in the airport (where my grande hot chocolate was more than twice what it costs at home!) and sat down with our gadgets to use the free wifi. Which is when I read an email from our house/pet sitters telling me about the “excitement” at home. First, husband’s car, which they are borrowing, has had all kinds of tire trouble. They ended up replacing one tire and rotating the rest. But second, and much worse, Pixie seems to have gotten into something and started puking and swelling up. They had to take her to the emergency vet I think on New Year’s Eve. They think she’s doing better, but she’s still not herself. And I’m kind of freaking out. That may explain why I only managed 2 1/2 hours sleep after that. You guys, some of you know all the pet troubles we’ve had in the last few years. In four years we lost three cats and a dog. I can not deal with any more pet traumas. And I love Pixie like she’s my baby. I need her to be okay. Please say a prayer for her. I wish there were a way to get home faster. And I’m thankful this news didn’t come in the middle of our trip.

Meanwhile, my own swelling issues are not gone, even though we are well clear of SE Asia. I can feel my hives reappearing on my ankles. I’m due for more medicine, but I need to eat first and everyone is asleep. OY. This trip was really really good. And now I really need it to be done.

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