I suspect that you’ll be reading this expecting to hear what a staggeringly beautiful place Angkor is. About how the temples take your breath away and make you bask in their magnificence.
I would dearly love to tell you that is the case, and I’ve love to be able to show you the images I took.
But I can’t.
My stomach was making all kinds of movements that did not bode well for the day; so my first action was to reach for the Imodium. I met outside with the others at 4:30am. For once on this entire trip, we could see the stars clearly, under skies that were reminiscent of home in their brightness. We then climbed aboard the bus and started to make our way towards Angkor. We had hired a guide for the day, and he stood up and laid out our plans for the day. They sounded fantastic.
We stopped at the outskirts of the park to buy our passes. We queued to ave our photographs taken and then received the finished pass. The process was incredibly efficient. We then completed the rest of the drive to Angkor Wat. The sky was still pitch black as we walked over a stone bridge, through an archway and onto the shores of a large pond. It was still far too dark to see any detail at all or even the outline of the buildings. All we could in fact see was Jupiter shining brightly overhead and reflecting in the pond below. The only other people here at this time were photographers. Their numbers scattered along the shore. We effectively had front row seats for sunrise. I set up my gear, taking a couple of test shots and trying to both focus and get the horizon straight by feel. Not an easy task when aiming at something that you cannot even see yet. The sky started to lighted, barely noticeable to the naked eye at first, but soon growing quicker and quicker. The crowds had now arrived and they grew larger seemingly in tandem with the light.
I was trying to concentrate on getting a good shot, but it finally came to be that I could not ignore my stomach any longer. I started to feel agonising cramps, and I broke out into an uncontrollable sweat.
I desperately wanted to stay, to finish watching the sunrise but I felt I had no choice and had to run for the toilet. I reached it and thew up, again and again.
When I had finished repainting the ancient monument, I fought my way back to the camera and tried to get back into it. But again my stomach started to cramp, even worse this time and fearing some kind of embarrassing incident I made an agonising decision to abandon the day.
I packed up my gear, and left the crowds to find somewhere to sit, until it either passed or I could find our tour leader. As it was, it was Thou that found me. He was excellent, walking me back through the crowds, getting a tuk-tuk and then providing me with water and some strange form of Tiger Balm, which he said to smell whenever I felt like throwing up. Its a few hours later, and I’m currently sitting in my bed at the hotel. Since getting back, I slept for 7 hours; or perhaps saying that I passed in and out of consciousness for seven hours would be more accurate. I’ve vomited a lot, I’ve been to the toilet for other reasons a lot, and I’ve tried taking on a couple of biscuits but they came back to visit shortly afterwards. Its the same with any liquids that I’ve had. So there we are. My entire time at Angkor was a very uncomfortable 90 minutes. The place that I’ve wanted to see since I found out about it, what was to be one of the highlights of this or any other trip. The place that I’ve been looking forward to so much, not just for its beauty and historical significance, but as a shot in the arm for this entire trip and it was over before it really began.
The moment that I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to continue was a hard one. All I wanted was right there in front of me, but for whatever reason this was the day that my body decided that its didn’t want what my heart and my mind did. It is quite upsetting. I ate with everyone yesterday – we all shared lunch, and then had a stir-fried beef for tea. No-one else has displayed any issues, so I don’t know where this has come from, but its come from somewhere. It isn’t past hope just yet though. I have one more full day here, and one more morning. Provided I recover sufficiently, I should be able to hire a tuk-tuk and get to a couple of temples. Of course that it dependant upon my body playing ball, and at this moment that it doubtful. I’m still being wracked with stomach cramps. When they strike, I’m forced into a foetal position on the bed until they pass. I can’t even consider getting out of bed and walking around.
But tomorrow? Tomorrow might be different.