Holiday in Cambodia
Trip Start Jan 09, 2006
52Trip End Aug 15, 2006
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We made it to the border of Cambodia. We even made it across the border. Hell, we got all the way to the bus station to catch our bus to Siem Riep. Well, you can't ask for everything....
The Scam Bus
The Scam Bus is something you read about in guide books but you never realllly expect to end up on one. Hell, it's in every guide book around so you figure, "hey, they can't still try that Mickey Mouse crap, can they?" Oh, they can-
It starts simple enough, you pay for your ticket from point 'A' to point 'B'. It's a cheap ticket and cheap is always warning sign but when you look around, there is no other option so, cheap it is...oh boy is it. In between you cross the border into Country 'B'. You leave one bus, cross the border and then grab the next bus waiting to take you to your destination. Only, there is no bus. Well, there is a bus, "...But bus broken, we fix, few hours, no problem". In actuality, the 'bus' is (and was) parked on the side of the building out of view. It works, hell it runs fine....fine for a rust bucket held together with chewing gum, bailing wire and luck. That's not the case. See, the 'tour company' in country 'B' wants you to stay at their guest house so they can squeeze more of your $ out of you. The best way to do this is to make sure you don't get into town until midnight. The guest house is out of town and to walk elsewhere at midnight is not the safest bet....at least, that's what they hope you will think. So you get to wait for the bus to be 'fixed'. However, if you pay $10 extra you can take a taxi that will get you into town "quick quick, very fast!". Funny how the taxi gets you into town early so you can get pick your hostel/guesthouse before dark, remember it's "fast fast", and cost the same price as a night at the guesthouse you would have ended up with had you waited for the bus....crafty...
Except, taxis isn't so "fast fast" and they try the same thing with you in the taxi. Seeing as we were warned in advanced about this scam from the trusty guide book we sat back and watched everything unfold. We watched them sucker 4 taxi loads, which had to have 4 people in them each before they left, we watched them pay off the local Tourist Police(!) and we sat there and watched while they laughed at us the whole time! BRILLIANT!
We also watched as they told other travelers stuck in scam hell to wait for the last taxi to leave (with 4 poor unsuspecting Japanese tourists) because the bus was 'suddenly' fixed. No sooner had the last taxi left than our creaking, smoking rust bucket came belching to life and creeping around the side of the building where it had been lurking all along.
Lets just say our first four hours in Cambodia did NOT leave the best of tastes in our mouths nor did we have any grand expectations that things would improve...after all, 1st impressions are lasting...
So, roughly 4 hours later we get on our bus and start the long (6-8 hour) journey to Siem Riep. We already knew the stories about the roads in Cambodia so we knew the bus ride would be a real challenge....(see 'Rite of Passage' in dictionary) See, there are no 'roads' between the Cambodian border and Siem Riep....
Let be clarify. There is this thing that extends from the border to Siem Riep, but 'road' is a gross miss-use of the word. They call it National Hwy #7. It's more like a dirt track, a dirt track for motocross racing...a very old dirt track. We actually watched as an on coming truck (term used very loosely to describe that vehicle) lose a tire while headed the other way. Not get a flat, the freaking wheel came off and went rolling past the front of our bus while the 'truck' went sparking into the side of the road just shy of the ditch. The two drivers got out and just stood there scratching their heads....wow.
Seriously, the track from the border is nothing more than a dirt road that contains more pot holes than it does dirt. The word on the street is that Siem Riep Airlines owns the road and they refuse to repair it because they want people to fly in instead of taking the less expensive SCAM BUS! Yet another example of The Man trying to keep the little (Scam Bus) guy down.....Shady.
So, there we are, bumping and swerving along when we finally pull over at our 1st rest stop. And what to my wondering eyes does appear, but a rusty old taxi and four dusty Japanese. Apparently the 'fast fast' taxi, ain't.
Finally, around 1am we roll into Siem Riep and the Scam Bus delivers us to the Scam Guesthouse. We have already decided on the bus that it doesn't matter WHERE they drop us, we are NOT staying at their place. It's the Principle of the thing! We will not be screwed again!
So, like I was saying, we roll off the bus at around 1am. It's late, we're tired, my eyes are still bouncing in my head like rubber balls, I have no feeling in my right butt cheek, we stink(even Rachel, Imagine!) and all we want is some sleep. "come come, just hava loook. Nice! Nice place, you like come. come..." Rachel gives me that, "I'm tired and don't wish to be bothered look" so we look. Or, at least I send in my pit bull, Rachel, to look. She comes out rather impressed(and still smelly) and says, "well, it's not bad...and it is late(a bit sheepishly)". So, we decide we'll stay....suckers. See we grab our sh@t and head to the room...only, that's not our room...our room is another 2 flights up, is smaller and has no A/C as promised. The room we were shown is now 'more more'.....BOOM
For a tired, smelly and sore girl, that sweet little thing can curse up a storm! Whoooh! Mama Keane, you would have been proud! We were done. We lit out of there like the place was on fire. Shame it wasn't. 1:30am found us hoofing down deserted streets waiting for the next scam to stumble upon us....However, sun shines on a dogs ass on occasions and as luck would have it we found a swank little number a few blocks up the road. It cost a few more green backs than the Scam House but damn it, it was worth it. Hell, it even had cable TV and a bathtub! Good god! We haven't seen a bathtub in 4 months!
Ahhhh, to be clean, snuggled up and watching TV all the while indulging in the miracle of conditioned air!
.....could it get any worse?
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