Month 16: Travel Summary and Statistics


Sunset on Otres Beach

The last month has been all about being cursed.

I spent the majority of my time in Cambodia, and while I’ve had a truly incredible time here, I’ve had more than my fair share of struggles too.

Upon entering the country, I paid for a visa that they forgot to put in my passport, I was then sent upstairs at the airport to a darkened room because they thought I was a transit passenger and then they lost my departure card and stapled someone else’s to my passport.

And so the curse began…

After a few days of catching up on work in Phnom Penh, I decided to head straight down to the coast. I had planned to spend my month relaxing on a beach in Cambodia and I found the perfect place in Sihanoukville.

Pappa Pippo on Otres Beach, Sihanoukville

Otres Beach was Southeast Asian beach paradise I had been hunting for in Thailand and was unable to find. It was cheap, it was quiet, there were hardly any touts, there was fast wifi and I was living in an adorable bungalow on the beach, ten metres away from the ocean. I couldn’t have been happier.

…And then this happened.

Back attacked by sand flies

And then this happened. 

Wound on Lauren's knee

And then this happened.

Lauren's sprained and swollen ankle

While on Otres Beach, I managed to get sick and spend the entire night throwing up. The following morning I went for a swim in the sea only to find myself surrounded by dozens of jellyfish. My worst nightmare. It was terrifying and I’m grateful that I somehow managed to escape unscathed.

However, the curse had yet to truly take hold.

A few days later, I took a boat over to the incredible Cambodian island of Koh Rong.

secluded beach on Koh Rong, Cambodia

I had never seen sand so white and soft, water so warm and clear. There were only a few guesthouses on the island, meaning that a twenty minute walk would bring you to a kilometre stretch of sand with literally nobody else around. It was the definition of paradise.

… If paradise was swarming in sandflies. 

The photo of what looks like an acne ridden back above is in fact the amount of sand fly bites I received on my back during a few hours on a beach. Now imagine that covering my entire body. Yep.

A few days later I, of course, had an allergic reaction to the bites and they all swelled up into incredibly itchy pus-filled blisters. I looked so good!

When it came to my final day in Koh Rong, I spent most of the day swimming in the sea in an attempt to heal my sand fly bites. Upon returning back onto the beach to sunbathe, I felt an… unusual sensation in my bikini bottoms. Carefully making sure that nobody else was around, I had a quick peek down and was mortified to discover that yes, I had a fish flapping around my vagina.

How does that even happen?!

Kong Rong, Cambodia

Fish not pictured…

Although I loved staying on Koh Rong, I was more than a little relieved to be heading back to the mainland so that I could get away from all the sand flies! I couldn’t wait to start healing up so that I could enjoy the rest of Cambodia.

…And then I fell off a kerb, severely sprained my ankle and ripped all of the skin off my knee (both incidents pictured above).

I cannot remember the last time I’ve ever been in so much pain. I could not walk for a week. And then it didn’t help that a few days later the enormous wound on my knee became infected and refused to start healing. (Now, three weeks later, it’s just started to heal and my ankle is still extremely swollen and tender.)

It was around this time that I started to wonder if I was Cursed in Cambodia. I know that it’s a common theme for ridiculous things to happen to me while I travel, but this was getting tedious.

I spent five days resting and struggling to walk in the wonderful and relaxing towns of Kampot and Kep and when it was time to leave I finally began to feel like my string of bad luck was over…

… And then I poured a margarita on my laptop. My $2000 laptop that I bought just 4 months ago. My laptop that is not insured or covered for liquid damage. My laptop that I need to work on every single day.

Thank god I was leaving the country in two days time.

Sunset on Otres Beach

The incredible sunset on our final night on Otres Beach, Sihanoukville.

On a much more positive note, I have to say that despite all of the terrible things that happened to me over the last month, I left Cambodia desperate to return and having decided that it is now my favourite country in the world.

I think that shows just how amazing this country is… 

 

Onto the statistics for the month!

Distance travelled: 1,930 km

Countries visited: 2

Cambodia, Thailand

Cities visited: 6

Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Koh Rong, Kampot, Kep, Bangkok, Sukhothai

Number of photos taken: 1492

Number of flights: 1

Number of buses: 8

Number of boats: 2

Money spent:

Cambodia: £666 over 28 days = £23.79/day

Yep. It hasn’t escaped my notice that while Cursed in Cambodia, I managed to spend £666 exactly…

Thailand: £35 over 3 nights = £11.67

Total amount spent: £701/$1115

 

The next month:

I am so excited for the next month of travel. First of all, I’ll be heading back to Chiang Mai, my former home, tomorrow! I can’t wait to revisit all of my favourite food places, eat scary food at the night market and catch up with all of my travel blogging friends. My main reason for returning to Chiang Mai, however, is for Yi Peng – the huge lantern festival where thousands of lanterns are released into the air at once. I can’t wait!

After Chiang Mai, I’ll be flying into Saigon for my first visit to Vietnam! I won’t be visiting the usual tourist destinations this time around though – instead I’ll be jumping on the back of a scooter and spending two weeks riding south and exploring the Mekong Delta. I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this but if it’s anything like the last scooter road trip I did in Northern Thailand then it’ll be pretty incredible!

 

Looking to follow along with my travels through my monthly summaries? You can read the previous month’s summary here, the next month’s summary here, or head on over to the monthly summary page to read from the very beginning!

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70 Comments

  1. November 19, 2012
    Reply

    Oh, this looks bad. What is that rash?
    Remember that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger ;)

    • November 19, 2012
      Reply

      I’m not sure what you mean by rash! The lumps on my back are the sand fly bites and the gash on my leg is from where I fell over.

  2. Alex
    November 19, 2012
    Reply

    The jellyfish swimfest is also my idea of hell too! The idea used to terrify me when I was in Asia.

    You are as accident prone as me – hope you recover soon though. I love your blog! :)

    • Lauren
      November 20, 2012
      Reply

      Aren’t they so scary?! Around 30 of them suddenly appeared out of nowhere and clustered around me! I have no idea how I managed to get back to the beach without getting stung. They were everywhere!

  3. Simon Oram
    November 19, 2012
    Reply

    Lauren,

    What a horrible few weeks you have had to endure! I really hope your luck changes in Thailand. You really need to get that drinking problem sorted, spilling drinks is not acceptable! ;-)
    Love the blog, keep up the good work.
    Simon

    • November 20, 2012
      Reply

      Haha, that made me laugh! Thanks, Simon! :)

  4. Sarah
    November 19, 2012
    Reply

    You are one tough ROCK girl !!!! The worst is over… The best is yet to come !!! I. Absolutely addicted to you and dave lol ….cant thank u enough for sharing all of this with us !! Im definetely your number 1 fan !!!

    Xxoxoxoxoxo take care of each other ;);)

    • Lauren
      November 20, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks, Sarah! Hopefully my luck will turn itself around now :)

  5. November 19, 2012
    Reply

    I can’t tell you how many people I know who would have broke after going through all that.

    That fish part though, made me giggle. No offense intended. :)

    • Lauren
      November 20, 2012
      Reply

      Thank you so much for saying that, Shaun! There were a few time when I came close to it though! ;)

  6. Elle of Solo Female Nomad
    November 19, 2012
    Reply

    What a shame that you had such bad luck in Cambodia as it looks so beautiful. Hope you have better times in Thailand – Enjoy!

    • Lauren
      November 20, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks, Elle! Cambodia was amazing. One of the most stunning places I’ve ever been to :)

  7. November 19, 2012
    Reply

    Oh dear what a month of bad luck you’ve had, although it certainly makes for funny reading. The bit about the fish made me laugh out loud. I also thought your swollen ankle was due to jelly fish stings at first before I read further and thought I may need to avoid swimming in Cambodia! You’ll have to let us know how the Mekong Delta is in Southern Vietnam as I’ve always only made it down as far as Saigon.

    • Lauren
      November 20, 2012
      Reply

      The fish incident was certainly traumatic! :) Swimming in Cambodia was wonderful though (aside from the jellyfish!). It’s probably the warmest, clearest sea I’ve been in!

  8. Chris
    November 19, 2012
    Reply

    Oh Lauren it never ceases to amaze me how one backpacker can fall foul to so many bad things! I’m sure the whole travel community is secretly thanking you for taking on all our bad karma tho!

    …and PLEASE be careful around all that fire in Chang Mai!haha!

    • Lauren
      November 20, 2012
      Reply

      Hahahahahahaha, I hadn’t even considered the possibility of me catching on fire from a rogue lantern!

  9. thepinaysolobackpacker
    November 19, 2012
    Reply

    awww, that’s sad to hear, but glad you still liked Cambodia despite all that happened. since you seem to be a beach lover, try visiting the Philippines, i believe we have some of the best islands in SE Asia.:)

    glad you mentioned about the lantern fest coz i’ll be around Northern Thailand this week and no definite plans yet, will certainly love to see those lanterns. Hope to bump into you! :)

    • November 20, 2012
      Reply

      Yep, I was in the Philippines last year..

      Maybe see you in Chiang Mai!

      • Robert Carpenter
        November 20, 2012
        Reply

        Hi Lauren,
        I returned back to Florida after spending 4 months in Sihanoukville.
        I am returning the first part of January. Would you mind sharing any information about visiting the Philippines as it is on my list of places I want to visit.
        Take care and be more careful.
        Robert

        • December 1, 2012
          Reply

          Hi Robert,

          If you click on the destinations tab at the top of the page, you’ll be able to see all of my post about the Philippines.

          I loved Boracay, Bohol and Coron.

  10. Angela
    November 19, 2012
    Reply

    You might want to stop thinking about the curse and start thinking positive. The more negative your thoughts are, the more negative things you attract. Just concentrate on what is positive and things will get better ;)

    • Lauren
      November 20, 2012
      Reply

      I’m actually a really positive person and wasn’t thinking about the curse – it was only when I came to leave Cambodia that I realised how unlucky I was. And like I said, the last month put Cambodia as my favourite country in the world, so I had an amazing time despite the incidents! :)

      But really, I don’t see how thinking positive would have stopped me from falling over or being attacked by sand flies… :)

  11. Sam
    November 19, 2012
    Reply

    Ouch, ouch and ouch!

  12. George
    November 19, 2012
    Reply

    was in stitches at the fish flapping part. Oh Lauren, that really is quite the curse. Ah well at least you enjoyed yourself I hope things are incredible in Vietnam I really want to go :)

    • Lauren
      November 20, 2012
      Reply

      I know, how ridiculous is that?! I couldn’t believe it, and then I couldn’t stop laughing! :)

      So excited for Vietnam!

  13. November 19, 2012
    Reply

    While on a week diving trip in Roatan I ran into the same problem with sand flies. The beach was spectacular and empty but the biting flies were everywhere. I came prepared with repellent and was OK.. some of the other people there were absolutely covered from head to toe in bites!

    • Lauren
      November 20, 2012
      Reply

      Yep, that would be me! The funny thing is I actually smothered myself in insect repellent but it just didn’t deter them. Evil things!

  14. JO
    November 19, 2012
    Reply

    At least it wasn’t bed bugs!

    • December 1, 2012
      Reply

      I’ve actually heard that sand fly bites are a lot worse than bed bugs. They itch more and become infected because the sand flies pee on you after they bite you.

  15. Amanda
    November 20, 2012
    Reply

    Oh Lauren. You need to kick this bad luck streak!!

    • Lauren
      November 20, 2012
      Reply

      I KNOW! Seriously!

  16. Greg Goodman
    November 20, 2012
    Reply

    Great stories… sorry about all the owies :)

  17. OH MY GOD. You have insane stories, I can’t believe the cooch fish, WTF?! I’m so sorry! But Cambodia does look stunning, we’ll be headed there in February! Have a blast in Chiang Mai, looks like we’ll JUST miss each other though, we’re there in December!

    • December 1, 2012
      Reply

      Hahahaha! Yep. I really do. Hope you enjoy Cambodia and have better luck than I did! :)

  18. November 20, 2012
    Reply

    Awww, Lauren, you poor thing.
    Don’t worry. Once you get to Saigon, a bowl of pho will sort you out. It apparently cures everything!

    (I don’t know what snails will do to you, but you’re eating them anyway. Bwhahahahaha!)

    • December 1, 2012
      Reply

      And it DID sort me out! So astonished.

  19. Carl
    November 20, 2012
    Reply

    On the plus side of course, at least it was just a fish that… er, sneaked in and not a jellyfish! Haha!
    Hard luck on all that stuff, but thanks for the entertaining tale at least :)

    • December 2, 2012
      Reply

      A jellyfish would be 1000 times worse, yes! :)

  20. November 20, 2012
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, I love the cost info, I’m currently trying to figure out how much it’ll cost my bf and I to travel per month in Asia. £666 for one month sounds really good – how did your calculate your accommodation costs though now that you’re travelling with Dave? Does the £666 include half the cost of your accommodation? Perhaps a better question is how much, on average do you spend as a couple on accommodation in Asia per month?

    • November 20, 2012
      Reply

      Hi Amy!

      Yep, I keep my costs separate from Dave, so the £666 is for my half of food, accommodation, etc.

      In Southeast Asia we usually spend between $10-20 per night total for a private room in a guesthouse. The place we were staying in Otres was $14 per night, in Kampot it was $20 per night and in Koh Rong we paid $20 per night.

      We were treating ourselves to fancy places this month so you could easily stay for much less per night! :)

      • November 20, 2012
        Reply

        Wow, great news that it’s so cheap; especially compared to the horrific costs of living in London! I’m so looking forward to escaping! Thanks for the info.

  21. November 20, 2012
    Reply

    The post which puts together all the things I’ve been screaming with laughter about (FishyFannyGate) and ewwwing at (injuries are never funny unless they involve banana peels or come with a comic soundtrack) on Facebook.

    The Vietnam road trip sounds pretty epic by the way – can’t wait to read about it. Hopefully you’ll have better luck in Vietnam, Chengy!

    • December 2, 2012
      Reply

      I know! Can you believe how ridiculous this month has been?!

      So far, Vietnam is being kind to me :)

  22. Lynn
    November 21, 2012
    Reply

    Lauren ~
    The picture of the sunset is probably the nicest I have ever seen. It`s amazing.
    So sorry to read of your less than perfect adventure in Cambodia. Let`s hope it is smooth sailing from here on in.
    Your blog always makes me smile:-)

    • December 2, 2012
      Reply

      Thank you, Lynn! The sunset was incredible! :D

  23. cheryl
    November 22, 2012
    Reply

    Oh no!! I feel so bad for you. What a run of bad luck. Glad to see you’re still positive and excited about your travel plans. Hope the next month’s much better. :)

    • December 6, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks, Cheryl! I can tell you that the next month has brought nothing but wonderful things! :)

  24. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)
    November 22, 2012
    Reply

    Yikes! That’s quite the painful month. I hope you’re healing up now and I’m glad to hear that despite all that you still have such a favorable opinion of Cambodia.

    • December 6, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks, Ellen! Cambodia is INCREDIBLE! Seriously, I am desperate to return, even after all my bad luck!

  25. Sonia
    November 23, 2012
    Reply

    That’s a lot of misfortune at once! About the fish incident, one of my first childhood memories when I was 4 I think is holidays at the seaside and my mother jumping and screaming because she returned from swimming with a jellyfish in her bikini. (Worse than a fish!)

    • December 6, 2012
      Reply

      Wow! I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have a jellyfish! I don’t think I’d ever go in the sea again afterwards!

  26. November 26, 2012
    Reply

    I was just there and loved it too, but the sand flies are TERRIBLE! I got bitten up too. Nothing like what you experienced, but it was bad. Otres is amazing and so was Koh Rong. I’m smitten with Cambodia too!

    • December 6, 2012
      Reply

      Aren’t the sand flies awful? And oh my god, they are so itchy!

      Glad you enjoyed Otres and Koh Rong, I think they’re two of my favourite beaches in the world!

  27. Torre – Fearful Adventurer
    November 27, 2012
    Reply

    I can hardly wait to see the gory photos that come out of your scooter trip.

    • December 6, 2012
      Reply

      It’s not going to be pretty…

  28. November 30, 2012
    Reply

    WOW I seriously cannot believe all of that happened within the course of one month and even through all that you still consider Cambodia one of your favorite countries! Really must be incredible then! We are heading there in a few months and I am looking forward to it! After 6 weeks in China I am soo soo ready for South East Asian foood!!!

    • December 6, 2012
      Reply

      It really is that amazing!

  29. December 3, 2012
    Reply

    You have the worst luck! I remember seeing you tweeting about the sandfly bites (I had those in New Zealand and they made me cry) and the knee and ankle injuries, but the fish?! WTF?? That’s just insane! I’m glad you made it out of there alive, and hopefully your next attempt at Cambodia will be better.

    • December 6, 2012
      Reply

      Hahahaha, yes I kept the fish quiet on Twitter haha! I can’t wait to get back to Cambodia. I don’t know what I’ll do if the bad luck continues when I return.

  30. TammyOnTheMove
    December 7, 2012
    Reply

    Oh my, your posts always crack me up so much. How can one person be so unlucky? :-)

  31. December 13, 2012
    Reply

    “yes, I had a fish flapping around my vagina.” This just made me laugh so hard I literally spat tea all over my keyboard :) I’m new to your blog but I absolutely love it! Planning my own trip at the moment so I’m off to trawl your archives for ideas :)

  32. […] Lauren’s monthly round-ups typically re-cap her incredible travel experiences and her cost of living expenses. This particular round-up for the month of October was “all about being cursed.” A little bit of everything goes wrong for Lauren during this month and it sounds like she would be a great candidate for our next piece in the travel health disasters series. Check out her post here. […]

  33. Jessi
    August 1, 2013
    Reply

    Hello Lauren,
    Just curious how you were able to only spend about 700 pounds for the 2 countries? Where did you stay at and such? Could you give me some links I’m trying to visit next year! Thank you!

    • August 2, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Jessi,

      Cambodia and Thailand are incredibly cheap that I usually spend under £300-500 in each country! I splashed out a little for this month actually :-)

      I stay in guesthouses, which are usually under $10 a night, in Southeast Asia and eat street food and that’s about it. It’s so easy to save money in Asia when you’re travelling on a budget that I don’t really have much advice. Take a look at guesthouse prices online and you’ll see they’re very cheap :-)

  34. JFK
    January 29, 2014
    Reply

    I also got my legs bitten by sandflies. I didn’t even know sandflies were so nasty; I thought they were just annoying. But then my legs became blue’ish where the bites were…
    Luckily by now-ex had some cream with antibiotic in it that cured those nasty bites. It took a couple of weeks to go away though.

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Aren’t they awful? My bites never became blueish but I do still have scars from them, over a year later.

  35. May 11, 2015
    Reply

    I am currently in Cambodia – covered in sandfly bites & I haven’t even reached the islands yet I’m only at the start of my year of travels but Otres is definitely one of my fave places to date..those sunsets are amazing!!! Your experiences sound crazy!! As unpleasant as your jellyfish experience must have been thank you for confirming there were jellyfish – I saw loads of dead ones up on otres 2 but my boyfriend assured me there wouldn’t be any where we were swimming! Loving your blog..can’t believe I’ve only come across it now!

    • June 30, 2015
      Reply

      Thank you so much for the comment, Natalie! :-) And good luck on Koh Rong with those sandflies!

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