I’ve talked about my love for travel and my endless ability to be clumsy. But I haven’t told you about how I am not good with heat. Canadians are just not built to tolerate 100% humidity and 46 C weather. So, let me tell you about that time I travelled solo to Cambodia and passed out because of the heat.
Heat exhaustion is real thing, people
I’ll be honest, I was a bit of a non-believer. Like, how do you pass out from just being hot? Oh, how wrong I was.
When I’m travelling, I’m not good at pacing myself. I want to see everything, meet everyone and learn everything. Which means that even though I’m trekking several miles a day in unforgiving heat, I don’t have a “slow down” or “take a break” button.
If you’re going to pass out, you should do it at a temple…
After 4.5 hours of exploring the temples and climbing up and down the most ridiculously steep staircases known to man (and constructed by man) in the searing sun, I may have…unintentionally…um…taken a break in the shade by sitting next to a large stone and uh…passed out.
I could not handle the heat as well as I thought and my excitement at discovering Angkor Wat’s mysteries clouded by judgment. I obviously did not heed any warning signs and dropped to the ground. Unceremoniously. There is really not pretty way to pass out.
And the crazy part? I didn’t even remember passing out. All I remember was walk towards a brick wall and thinking that I needed to sit down. And then nothing…
I came to a few moments later as 6 Cambodians were peering at me from above. It took me a few moments to realize what happened and what was happing.
Someone was pouring water on my head, face and neck. Another was putting smelling salts under my nose and dabs of it on my temples and forehead (FYI – that stuff burns!). A woman was fanning me and trying to get me to drink water. An elderly man was pulling my fingers to crack my joints and folding my ears forward. Yet another was trying to get me to accept candy (from a stranger no less!) to up my suger levels.
I’ve travelled solo for years and haven’t had anything this serious happen to me. There are rarely any good stories out there about young women who pass out alone somewhere. Usually, they left there, their stuff is stolen or much worse…
And that’s why Cambodian people are amazing and their hearts are so big. They saw a stranger needing help and everybody rose to the occasion. Not one person, but at least six!
And the help didn’t stop there! Once I came to and was feeling steady on my feet, someone located my remork driver (based on my name and country of origin) and he made his way through dirt trails (and probably breaking a bunch of rules) to pick me up. They found a way to spare me from walking 5 km to get out of the temple area what to the remork driver parking area.
Thanks to their kindness and attentiveness, I felt well cared for and soon regained some colour in my cheeks and a bit of energy to at least survive the ride back to the hotel.
My remork driver also radioed my hotel ahead of time to let them know what happened. When we arrived, several staff members were at the front gate to help me to my room, where they had already stocked it with ice cold water, bananas and turned on the air conditioning to make that I made a speedy recovery. (Again, I cannot say enough good things about the Golden Temple Villa).
To show this level of kindness to a stranger, I can only conclude that Cambodians have very big hearts.
P.S.: I was the 11th person to pass out at the temples of Angkor Wat that afternoon. The temple staff keep a list! Want to stay off the list of people who pass out at Angkor Wat because of heat exhaustion? Read this!