How much would YOU pay to be bit by a rabid monkey: More good times in Phnom Penh

Have I ever mentioned how much I loathe monkeys?

In India, on an island just off Mumbai, a monkey once mugged me with a snarl for my bottled water; in Ubud, in Bali, a monkey lunged at me and dug his claws into my leg and wouldn’t let go. I wasn’t even teasing him with out of reach bananas like the other people in the monkey sanctuary.  It was spite, pure and simple.

Monkeys hate me. In Chinese astrology, I’m a tiger, and a tiger’s mortal enemy is apparently the monkey. I am rather inclined to agree.

I had finally recovered enough from my bout of inexplicable tummy bug to haul my exhausted, drained self out with Doug and his parents to tick off the sights of Phnom Penh. Bad move.  I should have known it would all end in tears- after all, this was the year that saw two of my laptops die in one week; this was the year where my wisdom teeth went apeshit on my jawline and wreaked all sorts of collateral damage; this was a year where all sorts of things had gone horribly awry. I should have known better than to tempt fate by going to Wat Phnom, the Wat that is at the top of a hill littered with wild monkeys. Yes. Wild monkeys. My favourite kind.

I steered clear of the monkeys.

I have photos of myself off in a far corner away from the monkey, petting a very nice cat whilst the other tourists took pictures of a rather photogenic monkey that was apparently looking after two kittens. Only after the monkey walked away did I venture near the kittens to have a look.

Did I mention how much I loathe/fear monkeys?


My nemesis and the adorable cats


So, yeah. Cute cats, no monkey.  I moved in closer. Aaaaaaaaand, yeah, the monkey leapt up from its hiding place and bit my arm, drawing blood from both tooth and claw.

Since I didn’t fancy dying of rabies on my holiday, Doug and I caught a tuk tuk to the local international medical clinic where I was lectured sternly for having lost my immunization records (they are somewhere in a garbage dump in Turkey, I imagine) and for having failed to have my booster shots for rabies, typhoid and diphtheria when my original vaccinations expired.

That would have been some time around 2008 when my yellow fever also expired. I’m a bit of a careless traveller.

Do you know what happens when you haven’t had your booster shots? You need an immediate round of immunoglobulin shots. How many you need is based on your weight. Oh, how I wish I could have been, say, 10kg lighter! If only I’d done a lengthy ashtanga yoga retreat before coming here! I could have saved about $200– not that $200 is a big deal when your total bill comes to $1299 (including a nice, new round of typhoid and diphtheria and rabies shots!).


Here, let me show you some pictures to remind you to get your freaking booster shots when they come due. Avert your eyes if you can’t handle pointy metal things or bleedy bits.


There were about 12 shots in all: one on each shoulder, 4 or so around each of the two puncture wounds and another on each hip, just above the underwear line.  Apparently I was the bravest little soldier they’d ever had in that clinic when it comes to rabies shots as most need to be held down, screaming for mercy. I cracked jokes.

The tuk tuk driver who took us out there (and who took Doug to the hotel and back to grab my credit card when we found out what the bill was going to come to) told me that we foreigners were just wasting our money on these fancy, expensive clinics. Whenever Cambodians get bit by a monkey, he said, they just cover the bite in Tiger Balm. After all, tiger is the nemesis of the monkey just as the monkey is the nemesis of the tiger. No worries.

Click photos to enbiggen.  (No one needs full sized shots of needles, do they?)


Waiting for my 12 shots


Preparing the needles


Detritus of immunoglobulin


Needle #8 going in


Look! Bleedy!


And finally, from today, outside the Genocide Museum, in a charity gift shop for helping polio survivors, I met my nemesis again. A monkey in a wheelchair. This monkey didn’t dare bite me.


I put this monkey in a wheelchair for life! Ha!


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About MaryAnne

I live in Hanoi. I used to live in Shanghai (hence this blog’s title) but I left in 2013. I tend to travel. I cook stuff. I read a lot. I try to scare myself silly with regularity. I write about it all. A lot.