Sometimes life gets in the way when you’re making other plans.
I woke up today quite ill. Coughing, sick stomach, headache, bone aches, chills. We waited a bit, hoping it was just something I ate and would resolve itself. Didn’t.
I finally told Richard it kind of felt like dengue fever - having had that twice in the Caribbean.
So he talked to the hotel, found the name of a hospital, and we headed there in the afternoon.
The usual testing, and yes, I have dengue. My third round. The best news is that there are only 4 kinds of dengue, so I have one to go - and then, theoretically, I’ll never get it again.
Anyway, after a few injections and three bottles of IV fluid, with my usual baby vein issues, I’m feeling much better. Absolutely the right thing to do.
There really isn’t a cure for dengue, it’s a virus - but the IV fluids, painkillers, stuff to bring down the fever, all make a big difference. Plus they gave me a massive dose of vitamin C, and I have B complex tablets for the next three days. I’m perfectly happy to take vitamins if they’ll help keep my platelets healthy.
We had a very nice tuktuk driver, the same sweet man as yesterday, who took us to the beach. Today he took us to the hospital and waited around for a while. We told him this might be hours, so he left. But came back every few hours to see how things were going. Took Richard back to the hotel for dinner, brought him back to the hospital to pick me up later in the evening. (And Richard had the café next door bring over a sandwich and cake for my dinner - quite a surprise!)
So we didn’t get another beach day, we spent much of the day in hospital. And will go back tomorrow. Dengue is one of those things we don’t want to mess around with, so I’m resigned to a few days of outpatient.
And it’s all because mosquitoes just love me so much. Well, and I sat by the pool one evening for better internet reception, and didn't realize how many mosquitoes were biting me til I guess it was too late.
24 March 2015
Before I talk about the beaches, I want to describe something interesting I saw this morning.
There are Buddhist monks we walk around at various times of the day - younger monks in training, middle-aged monks, and very infrequently we see an older monk. They all have robes in some color in the orange-to-saffron-or-ochre range, with the youngest monks in the brightest colors, and older monks in the more muted tones.
So today, this middle-aged monk in yellow ochre robes comes to our hotel and restaurant, and says something to some of the staff. Three or four of the young people gather, and I notice one young woman kneeling in front of the monk, eyes closed, hands clasped in prayer pose. The monk started chanting something, and the people stayed in their prayerful pose (though I couldn’t see if everyone was kneeling). Then the monk, who was holding a handful of red string bracelets, kissed the bracelets and proceeded to tie a red string around the wrist of each of the waiting people. I’m not sure if they gave him monetary donations, or what. But this seems to be a ritual, and I guess the monks walk around at certain times of the day doing this. Maybe it gives the people a blessing? Or protection? I really don’t know, and it seems rather intrusive to ask. It was just one of those interesting things to see happening, and wonder about. (Note: 26 March - two monks showed up at the hotel restaurant, but apparently had no takers today. And I'm rushing through this to tuktuk back to the hospital.)
Okay, so our hotel is near Serendipity Beach, in the town of Sihanoukville. The next beach, which pretty much is attached to Serendipity Beach, is Ochheuteal Beach. (Sounds like oh-choo-TEAL, but I’m not sure.) Anyway, these are the big party beaches, lined with bars and restaurants and clubs, music booming all night long, lots of young people drinking and partying late into the night. Or to the early hours of the morning. Periodic random
fireworks, which we can sometimes see and often hear. Just, the usual wild crazy 20-something party on the beach crowd.
Down the road and around a headland is Otres Beach (pronounced OH-trez), which is the mellow beach. The sand is cleaner. The water is clearer. There are fewer restaurants, and the partying doesn’t go on to the wee hours of the morning. This is the relaxing beach, the mellow beach. The family picnic beach.
We spent an afternoon checking out Serendipity and Ochheuteal, pre-party, and the hat was okay with the beach. The water didn’t look clean enough for either of us to want to swim, having been spoiled by the Caribbean. So we walked along the beach, enjoyed the water and waves and breeze, and wandered home.
Today, we had planned on a boat trip out to some of the islands off the coast. They're all supposed to be gorgeous, and some of the young people we’ve met have told us how wonderful it is to stay in a bungalow on the beach on these quiet little islands. If we had more time, we might consider it - but Cambodia only gives 30 day visas, so we’re feeling the time crunch already. Anyway, we thought we’d do a day trip to see a few of the islands. We had our tickets, we packed our stuff, and we went to the pier. And saw the rickety old wood boat, with narrow wood benches for passengers. We looked at each other. We had half an hour before boarding, so we sat on a bench and talked. Neither of us were enthusiastic about this sad looking boat. I think both of us had imagined something more seaworthy. And perhaps, having been stranded in the Solomon Islands for several days while the ferry wasn’t working, we both were a little unwilling to commit ourselves to a boat that appeared to be barely seaworthy.
We agreed to give it a pass. Might go tomorrow, might not. Tickets are non-refundable. But, well, peace of mind is worth a lot. After age 50, comfortable seating is worth even more. We’ll see if we’re feeling super adventurous tomorrow, or not.
So today we took a tuktuk to Otres Beach, which I wanted to check out. And this is the quintessential tropical beach. Just so gorgeous, with water like glass and bright colored boats bobbing in the harbor. Mellow cafés with thatch-umbrellaed tables. Fewer people, less music, and miles of scalloped beach to walk. Miles of almost empty beach!!!
We found a little place to hang out (The Happiness Café), and Richard settled down to watch our stuff while I walked the beach. Just so so gorgeous, indescribably beautiful, with the occasional silvery fish jumping out of the water, white and purple and pink and coral shells on the beach, soft golden sand under my feet. And warm crystal clear water, shining aqua in the shallows and blue in the depths. Plus a constant breeze so the sun never became too hot.
I walked a mile or so down the beach, past all the cafés, to the area where the beach was the only thing in existence. Just beach, water, and the occasional person. Not even sea birds, just quiet waves lapping the shore. Paradise!
As I walked back, I saw the occasional jellyfish. Which reminded me to pick up plastic bags as I walked - plastic bags in the water tend to look like jellyfish to turtles, who really love jellyfish for a meal. But the plastic bags get stuck in their throats and essentially kill the poor sea turtles. So I collected two handfuls of plastics, which I delivered to the friendly guy at the café where we hung out. He thanked me profusely, saying that he’d like to spend a whole day cleaning the beach, that the high tide brings up the plastic, and thanked me again and again. I explained about the turtles eating the plastic by mistake, and he agreed that we needed to keep plastic off the beach.
We were there during a very high tide, so the waves were coving much of the beach in some areas, and we could see that erosion is a constant problem. Some of the problem is that trees have been removed, but also the angle of the beach was just prone to erosion. People have made sort of levees with sandbags, trying to keep the waves from eroding the area where the cafés are located. Doesn’t seem to be working too well, but, well, rising sea levels and occasional storms and human development tend to make a mess out of coastlines.
We played in the water, hung out on the beach under the thatch umbrella (which was built around a huge tree), and had lunch. Watched the boats. Watched the people start showing up in the early afternoon. Watched boats load up with people to go to the little islands. We read. It was wonderful. Had a fabulous day.
Then our tuktuk driver picked us up as pre-arranged, and he took us back to our hotel.
Just a perfect kind of a beach day. Without worrying about being stranded at sea on a rickety old boat.