Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cambodia/Thailand Itinerary

Most people know this by now, but I had been planning on visiting the Philippines for my final big trip. Of course, after the typhoon and a bit of rethinking, I decided to change plans. Instead, I'm going to do one massive trip that spans two countries: Cambodia and Thailand.

My Cambodia trip will stay in the Siem Reap area so I can check out all the famous temples (and Tomb Raider locales). My Thailand trip will mainly be in the Bangkok area, but also on the outskirts in the Kanchanaburi area for some other popular attractions (and another movie tie-in). As all my reservations and bookings are 99% done at this point, I felt like sharing what I have in store come mid-February. (I know it's a ways away, but I've been in planning mode for a while now and just want to get all this down and out there.)

I will leave from Seoul on the morning of Saturday, February 15 and fly to...


-Arrive in Siem Reap
-Go to hotel (which I'm withholding the name of for paranoid reasons)
-Visit famous Pub Street and Night Market and go to the Red Piano (where Angelina Jolie frequented during her filming of Tomb Raider)

-Angkor Wat (Sunrise)
-Angkor Thom
-Ta Prohm (the Tomb Raider temple)
-Angkor Wat (since I only went for the sunrise before and it wasn't open proper)

-Floating Village
-Beng Mealea (a day trip out of Siem Reap, but some cool looking temple ruins overtaken by nature)

-Check out of hotel & go to airport/fly to Bangkok
-Go to hotel (name withheld)


-Start a tour at 8 AM and visit the following:
--Grand Palace
--Wat Prah Kaew
--Wat Po
--Long tail boat in Chao Phraya & Thonburi Canals
--Wat Arun
--China Town
--Wat Traimit (optional)

*This is my birthday
-Look around Bangkok area, shops, etc.
-Go to Siam Niramit dinner show

-Check out of hotel by 7 AM
-Get picked up by tour for the following in the Kanchanaburi area:
--War Cemetery
--Thailand-Burma Railway Museum
--Boat trip on River Kwai
--Bridge over River Kwai
--Train ride along Death Railway
--Krasae Cave
--Wampoo viaduct
--OPTIONAL: Elephant Riding (I might skip, as I've heard things about how they mistreat the elephants)
--Check into Kanchanaburi hotel (name withheld)

-Tour picks up at 8 AM for the following:
--Erawan National Park
--Erawan Waterfall
--Hell Fire Pass
--Tiger Temple
--Go back to Bangkok that night and go straight to the airport.

-Super late/early flight (like, 2 AM-ish)
-Arrive back in Seoul

**The whole trip--plane tickets, hotels, tours, food, etc.--is costing me roughly $2000. Also, every tour I'm taking is a private one, so just me and the tour guide. No groups. The companies, tours, and hotels are well reviewed and recommended via Trip Advisor.**

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Emergency Hospital Visit

What's the deal, body? I've had more health issues since I've come to Korea than... ever in my life. So to set the scene a bit, let's start with the last couple weeks. At school, everybody has been practicing and preparing for this big school festival. Our English department was putting on (a very, very bizarre version of) The Wizard of Oz with some of our smartest kids. I had the role of narrator. Then, my parents came to visit last week. We did lots of stuff. It was fun. But at the tail end of their trip, I started getting a cold. (The weather has been changing lately, and it's been getting colder and colder out.) So most of this week, I've been dealing with coughing, sneezing, and all other types of sinus/cold issues. And as that began to deteriorate... yesterday happened.

About 9:30 PM on Thursday, I suddenly start getting this sharp pain in my lower left back. And it very quickly increases. At first I think I pulled a muscle or something... until I found there was no amount of twisting, turning, stretching, bending, laying, etc. that could ease the pain. It just got worse to the point it was crippling. I didn't know if I wanted to cry or throw up. Or both. The pain caused the adrenaline to kick in so hard I was shaking like Michael J. Fox during an earthquake. I tried a hot shower, which worked... until the shower stopped, and the pain came back full force. I was pretty freaked out and had no idea what to do.

About 10:20-ish, I decided I needed to go to the hospital. This wasn't something I could sleep off (I wouldn't have been able to fall asleep with that pain anyway). So I make it to Sanbon and find the Emergency Clinic. They run a couple tests and hook me up to what I'm assuming to be a morphine IV. After about an hour, they tell me I have a kidney stone. The pain had gone down considerably, and they were going to give me one more injection of something and send me on my way. But then it all came back full force again, so they increased the drip, and I hung around for another 45 minutes or so. They gave me a few meds and I eventually went on my way (where I had to take a taxi home, since it was after 1 AM and nothing else was running at that point). Oh, and I had an appointment with a urologist the next morning.

So I get home and send messages to co-workers telling them I won't be coming in the next day (which I felt REALLY bad about considering it was the big festival day when we gave the big play performance we'd been building up to. Talk about letting people down). I finally get to bed, and after about 5 hours of restless sleep, I got up. My back was fine in bed, but the more I started to move around, the more the pain started to come back.

I made my way back to the hospital for my appointment. The doctor then had me do a whole bunch of tests. I wandered around the hospital to different areas so I could get all of these done, including 4 blood samples, 2 urine samples, an x-ray, and a CT scan. Then I got to go back to the doctor, who eventually told me I did, indeed, have a kidney stone and it was thankfully only about 2mm in size, so no surgery would be needed to get it out. I'd just have to wait for it to come out the natural way.

So as usual, I end up bringing up an insane amount of pills and an appointment check-up for next week. The entire process from last night through now, thanks to the wonders of Korea healthcare, only cost me roughly around $250. I'm sure you could add another zero to that and get the price for the same treatments in America.

But now I'm pretty exhausted. The pain has subsided quite a bit for now (thankfully... I've heard it compared to the pains of childbirth, and some say it can even be worse than that). It comes in waves, but only sticks around for about 5 minutes at most. But seriously, Korea... I only have 4 months left. Could you, ya know, let me not have any more health issues during that time please? Thanks.