The country that asks you if your sick when you enter…has made me very sick

I like Cambodia.
Quite a bit actually.
But I wish I was elsewhere.
Actually, a five-star hotel would do, and then I would sway on the issue of Cambodia, but I just wish I wasn’t in this tiny, hot room where the cats yeowl me awake and my pillow feels like a folded pair of blue jeans.

Why this negativity all of a sudden? It seems I have a raging sore throat swelling my glands and making my lungs feel heavy with congestion. It’s three in the morning and the angry retaliation of my oral cavity against me in this terrible and sudden mutiny is keeping me from sleep.

The last time I was sick it was food poisoning, confining me to a tiny, scorching room on a hill in Phucket, Thailand. Supposedly Phucket is one of the most beautiful places in the world, when it comes to beaches, but I saw little more than our guest-house bathroom. I’ll admit, it was the nicest bathroom we’d seen in awhile, but only because it actually had a sink.

More than half the world spends their colds, upset stomachs and headaches in these air-condition-less conditions. More than half the world can’t afford medicine or wouldn’t know where to buy it.

Usually I am pretty good at reminding myself of how fortunate I am, and how grateful I should be. But tonight I just want air conditioning and hot salt water to gargle with. Or the medicine cabinet we had as kids, blessed with two nurse parents. It took me years to realize that ear-aches and sore-throats were things that sent most people to the doctor’s office. It sent me to mom and dad.

I hope that every other post I make on this blog makes you want to travel or makes you think about how unbalanced our Western worlds are with comforts we’ve come to misunderstand as needs.

But this particular post probably shows a window into how travel is not always so glamorous, and how hard it can be to accept a lack of comforts. It is almost never more than a quick pep-talk away: that all-embracing attitude that dives into dusty alley-ways, gulps down strange flavors and accepts the norms of another world. Tonight I am working a little harder to accept the norms of Cambodia.

But ever in my mind throughout all of this “whining” is the man who sleeps in the lobby, every night as far as I can tell.  The wicker sofa is his bed.  Perhaps some nights he wakes there with some sort of ailment.

Travel…or perhaps just life… is a constant, slow-working series of lessons in perspective.

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