February 19, 2012

Cambodia: Arrival

First, the tropical birds and their singing chorus. Then the geckos. Then the meep-meep-meep of tiny horns in small cars zipping down the road, and finally, the cacophony of high pitched barking dogs.

My first sunrise in Phnom Penh. 6:20 AM here. 3:20 PM at home.

The sounds of sunrise were much more impressive than the view, as all I could really do was watch the sky change colors against the outline of a partially constructed concrete and rebar building across the street.

I'm sitting on the balcony of our hotel in Phnom Penh with a mean case of jet lag. Despite traveling for approximately 24 hours straight between departing our house and arriving at the hotel, I was only able to sleep a totally of 4 or so hours last night (I'd guess).

Given how long the travel was, I expected to be more destroyed when we arrived, but I surprised myself by arriving in reasonably decent condition. I actually think I owe my 10 day Bikram challenge a little bit of credit as I found myself more in tune with how I was feeling than I typically do on flights. I stood up and did miniature versions of camel, side angle posture, bow-pulling pose, and forward bend on several occasion. Also, in addition to the large bottle of water I brought, I downed the small bottle they gave us and I took a glass of water every time liquid was offered. Bikram definitely put me in the habit of drinking more water than I ordinarily do.

12 hours on Korean Air from SFO to Seoul was a very pleasant international flight. Bibimbap for the first meal = delicious. The remainder of the meals were edible (which, sadly, these days, is a fairly good performance).

I took the time to bask in uninterrupted consumption of media for pleasure: 2 french films, 1 Italian film, 1 American film, 1 600 page Vogue, 1 Vanity fair, and half a national geographic. Talk about indulgence! This is another reason why I love to travel. My brain gets exposure to things outside its everyday experience -- I can actually feel myself thinking differently.

We had a very tight connection in Seoul, which was exciting. Incheon was overwhelmingly huge and more crowded than any airport I'd ever been to (or perhaps just the mad dash made it seem that way).

Then just 5.5 hours for a second Korean Air flight, some fitfull sleep spells, a quick e-visa clearance through immigration, handing the customs form to agents, and we were outside in the humid air.

We had the typical arrival confusion -- it looked like our hotel had closed for the night when we arrived. But, once we sorted that out, we were fine.

A quick dip in our plunge pool to rinse off, some wine, melatonin, and lights out.

Unfortunately, I woke around 4 AM with some seriously painful intestinal cramping. Immediately, I regretted forgetting to use bottled water on my toothbrush. While I was in quite a bit of pain, I was thankful to think back to struggling on the mat in Bikram -- I could tough this out, I could breathe and focus. This too would pass, I told myself (which was much easier to do once I realized that while it hurt as much as when I had kidney stones, it was located along my large intestinal path, and I didn't have any signs of a fever).

I went outside and did some yoga while staring at the stars, reminding myself to enjoy this moment, to accept it, and to breathe. Eventually, I went back to bed, and tossed and turned 'til sunrise, when thankfully, I discovered that the pain was gone.

Off to Phnom Penh adventures.

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