Hello Phnom Penh

November 11, 2008 at 10:05 pm 1 comment

Ah finally Combodia!
I arrived in Phnom Phen a few hours ago.
I decided to go on a tour of the Mekong Delta before heading to Phnom Pehn, and so i bought a 2 day/1night option from an agency. I thought maybe i can meet another lonely wonderer but no, there were only couples and a group of 13 spanish-speaking Chileans. There was another solo traveler – an Italian – and as part of the tour we were assigned double rooms to share. Since we were the only solo ones, i assumed we would share. The way in which keys were distributed was chaotic and we were last to get ours. In the middle of the night, as i sat reading on my bed he comes into the room smiling. I knew of course why the butthead was smiling and it annoyed me. I didn’t realize however that he’d misunderstood the arrangement. After several attempts at conversation and even one attempt to get into my personal space, he finally asked in a resigned confused manner “but can you tell me, but why did you want to share a room?”

I aloofly explained what double room meant in the context of the tour and that single rooms were something you paid extra for and that since neither of us paid extra this was our arrangement for the night. He protested as if it was i who had misunderstood and led the poor chap on… I wasn’t as sensitive as i could have been and i think it’s because his vanity offended my delicate sensibilities – Did you really think that i liked you?

There were two options for getting to Phnom Penh. Slow boat and speed boat. Regretfully, I chose slow. As soon as i got on a man demanded my passport. I wanted to know why but he got angry. I ended up giving it to him. An hour later he returned and demaded money. For visa? Yes for visa. Why $22, visa only costs $20?

I didn’t feel like paying a service charge. Visa formalities are not complicated, why should i pay you so that i can sit in the boat while you do the visas in 10 minutes. It’s not like i have anything better to do. I want to do the visa myself! I did it myself when i came to Lao, Vietnam…

But all i really wanted to know was why he was chargeing the fee. I wanted an explanation. But he just barked at me. As the boat turned towards the coast, i thought we were coming to a full stop. Bag, documents, courage and all, I followed the man to the top of the boat. With each step i was loosing confidence and coming closer to just handing him my passsport and fee, i had even taken out the $22 and placed them into my passport becuse i couldn’t make up my mind (I am tired of Vietnamese scams). As he jumped to shore i got ready to follow, but just at that moment the boat pulled back and i couldn’t jump. “My passport, my visa” i cried out, but the boat man just smiled and waved his hand as if to say “later later.” (What does he know, i thought, he probably can’t tell a passport from any other document since he’s probably never travelled…) For two hours henceforce, i worried not knowing if i’d make it into Combodia.

What i didn’t realize – what he didn’t explain to me – was that he was taking the passports to the border by motorbike, that way they would be ready by the time we arrived there by boat. When we arrived everyone went tot the restaurant to relax, while i stood anxiously waiting for him to help me. He took me to an office where i checked out of Vietnam. Then he returned my passport to me and off i went to border (a kilometer or two away), by motorbike, by heavy backpack tugging at my shoulders, harly holding on, over bumpy unpaved muddy roads. First to one station, then another. One did the visa, 300 meters away another did the stamps. When i handed over the money i gave the $22 automatically. Perhaps i’d assessed the sitatuation subconstiously, having heard so many ambiguous stories about scams and trouble at these visa points, i didn’t want to risk being hassled for more than necessary. So i ended up the same $22, plus stress. Did i learn anything? No.

They didn’t even check the visas anyway. So had i stayed in the boat (if no one said anything) i could have come to Cambodia without a visa). We switched to a bus somewhere along the route and on the way into Phnom Penh encountered the festival. Thousands of Cambodians from all over the country celebrating independence day with music, carvinval and fireworks. It’s also the start of the water festival. So it’s going to be crowded and loud!

I am staying in a really busy guesthouse right near the lake, but i think it’s too busy for me. Too many travelers, too much tv, and too much cigeratte smoke. I want something more laid back and peaceful. Plus, they were out of rooms when i arrived so i took a dorm room since it was already dark. But i don’t want to stay in a dorm room and the bathroom in the place has no sink or hot water. So tomorrow, i’m going to wake up early and find a nice single room with hot shower and window. I’m also going to go to the doctor for my eye/skin allergy thing despite my contradictory feelings on it. I’ve been putting fresh aloe vera on it and it’s looking better so maybe if i leave it alone it will get better on its own? But what if it doesn’t? What if it cdoes but comes back next month like it did this time around? And yet, if i go to a doctor, i’m almost certain all he”ll do is nod, smile, and tell me to keep applying aloe vera on it and hope for the best because he wont have a clue to what it is.

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Entry filed under: travel. Tags: , , , .

Justify photos Vietnam (Oct 19 – Nov 11)

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Dina  |  November 11, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    From Garik:

    11/10
    Большой привет путешественнице.

    11/07
    >А ничего, что я еще и другие фотки в этих альбомах посмотрел? А твоей Ленке таки идет “тифозная” прическа :)) Вернулся ребенок-то?

    11/06
    >Еще раз пересмотрел фотки и подумал, что она молодец, что поехала :))

    Reply

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