Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cambodia bound

Today I woke up at the crack of noon, and decided it was time to check out Cambodia. After eating a hearty breakfast of fried rice with chicken and shrimp, I paid the $1.75 for the meal and headed out. From my guest house, where I paid $5 a night, I walked down the the market area towards the taxi hangout, where I was immediately asked by 5 people "where you go?" and "ok ok we go." They just figured that I was a rich foreigner willing to pay what ever was asked of me. When I refused to follow them and asked how much to the bus station, I got a range of prices that started high, then ended in my favor. The first answer I got was "70 Baht, ok lets go". When I still refused to go, a couple would begin to tell me that they were cheapest in town, it was too far to walk, etc etc. Finally I got the other drivers competing with each other, even stepping in front of one another rudely, and saying "I take you, let's go". Finally I agreed on 20 baht ($.75) and we left. On the way to the bus station, I started to realise that I had just been arguing with these dude for the last 5 minutes over less than a dollar. When I started to feel a slight bit ashamed, I suddenly realized that it wasn't about the money, it was a pride issue. These dudes had me pegged as a dumb, rich tourist, and gave me such price. I on the other hand am no such thing, and had already learned from another traveler how much the going rate for locals is to the bus station. Some people just pay the first price they hear because it's cheap, and that's why these guys can do it so much, make their own price. But like I said before, no self proclaimed, true blue backpacker wants to get caught paying the vacationer prices by another backpacker. It's almost like having your manhood called into question. When I was in Pattaya and decided to treat myself to a comfortable room, that was quit pricey, I later found myself lying to another backpacker at the bar when he asked where I was staying. "Oh, some little dump down the road, very cheap though". I didn't want him to think I was a two weaker or the dreaded "T" word. ( It rhymes with smourist).

A typical minibus scene in Africa

I got into a minibus, the one thing I hated most about Africa, once at the station. I hated them in Africa because they would cram about 30 people into a 12 person van, and take off. the door wont close? No problem, just hang out the door and find something to hold onto. In other words, it was every person's nightmare, who is over 5'6'', and needs leg room. They would charge double for my bag, and usually strap it to the roof or back seat and let it hang out the back hatch. I would be up against the wall of the van, knees to my chest, feet on someones bag, someones bag on my feet, a kid on my lap holding a live chicken up-side down by it's legs, and two people next to me. God help you if it's your stop first. So needless to say, the first time I started to get into the minibus in Thailand, I had something like post traumatic stress at the door, and may have had some ugly flashbacks. However, to my delight, everyone had their own seat, and when it was full, it was full. Once it left it picked up no one, no matter how many people got off. The AC and radio even worked. I took this ride a couple hours south to the southern most border of Thailand and Cambodia.

Customs makes you fill out phoney medical
papers, then charges you

Tomorrow Sihanoukville and the ocean.

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