An Intrepid Tour Leader
by Marlo Perry
14. Pig Rabies
4th December 2004
Hello one and all,
I thought I'd drop you a note about my goings on. Just finished a trip through Cambodia as per usual had an incident, with a passenger being "mauled by a wild animal" at the Angkor temples. I suppose I should rephrase that and say bitten by a domestic pig but it really doesn't sound the same does it? Little bit of a drama as rabies was a bit of a concern.
Went around the clinics in Siem Reap (the one near Angkor Wat) and then was phoning hospitals in Phnom Penh (the capital) to see if they could fly some vaccine in. The result: no vaccine available in Cambodia! So flew the passenger to Bangkok so they could clean out the pig bite and make sure he wouldn't start frothing at the mouth in the near future!
Was lucky that the trip was in Phnom Penh as the same time as the water festival. The festival marks the time of year when the Tonle Sap river reverses it course. For three days there are dragon boat races up and down the river and our hotel has a river view so we were able to watch all the activity. Fireworks and river floats each night.
Heaps of people came in from the provinces so streets were marked off so no traffic could get into town. Very very busy but our local guide did say that numbers were down by at least 50% on previous years because the harvest is late and many farmers can't make the trip in.
All the same being white and tall (for Cambodia) with light hair really made you stand out in the crowd and we were objects of curiosity for many of the local people who would stare and touch our pale arms. They were very intrigued by one of my passengers who was a rather big guy - happy Buddha.
I am really enjoying Cambodia at the moment, such friendly people. One night after returning from dinner with the group the staff from the hotel invited me out. I had no idea where they were headed but that rarely stops me so I piled on into the car and we drove down to the lake (Tonle Sap) It seems it was the final day of a Buddhist ceremony and everybody was heading to the temple for a good blessing.
The traffic jam was hilarious as it was 10pm at night and motorbikes, bicycles, carts and the odd car not going anywhere. We got out and walked the last few kms. Siem reap being the small town it is meant we kept bumping into people that I even knew - a few drivers, a few guides, the cleaning ladies from floor 3.
We eventually got to the temple where one of the girls bought a small plastic bag full of fake flowers, a few cents, a mirror, soap etc. Each item represented something like health, beauty, love, work and serves as merit in the next life. She gave it to a monk who then blessed her. I was more intrigued by the other monks who were sitting around untying all the little bags and putting the fake flowers in one pile, the mirrors in another, the exercise books in another and then counting the piles of cash that were in all the little bowls. Obviously the fund raiser for the year and a lot more interesting than a small fete with some sponge cake for sale.
Massive flooding in Vietnam and I was lucky I wasn't leading there over the past week or so. Many trips had to make alternative arrangements and a couple of groups got stranded; two in the train, a few in Hue and Hoi An and the best was the group that had to spend the night in the local post office on top Hai Van pass. So enjoying an annual festival was definitely a better trip to be leading at that time!
I am currently in Bangkok and my Mum and Kevin arrive in a few days. I am now off to the shopping centre. A friend in Cambodia has asked for me to bring back some cocoa butter moisturiser from the Body Shop as she is pregnant and concerned about stretch marks, she is also craving Hungry Jacks but I said I couldn't help her with that. Also to buy myslef a birthday present - either a digital camera, lap top or a scooter.
About the Author
Marlo Perry is a Group Leader for the Australian based tour operator, Intrepid Travel.
1. The Apprentice... 2. Trip One... 3. Half Way... 4. Tet... 5. Monkey Business... 6. Quick Turnaround... 7. Thai New Year... 8. Angkor... 9. Bangkok... 10. It Depends... 11. A&E... 12. Laos... 13. Routine... 14. Pig Rabies... 15. Burma... 16. Tsunami... 17. Songkran... 18. Sick Note... 19. Cycle Vietnam... 20. Street Kids... 21. My Life. Ideas Needed... 22. June Jambles...