Tag Archives: Scams

Scambodia

Writing is therapy. Writing is therapy. Writing is therapy.

Deeeeeeep Breaths. I’m one of those people who really loves a deal…aren’t we all? But more than loving a deal, I hate feeling ripped off. Which is why I got to the train station in Bangkok at 5am to catch a 6 hour 3rd class bus with wooden benches to the Thailand-Cambodia border instead of paying 6 times more to take an air con direct bus…and took the local back of a pick up truck transfer to the border from the train station to save a dollar over a taxi… and got threatened to get thrown into Cambodian prison by skipping the scam visa line. All because, I am a person of principle. I am that person that doesn’t care if it’s ‘only’ 5 cents…it’s the fact that I got shorted. Perhaps I should be a lawyer with my conviction…but either way it’s going to bring my notoriously low blood pressure to a boil for the next month.

They try to charge you 300 baht extra on your 20 dollar visa at a fake visa office…then they shoo you into a free shuttle…by they I mean the cops…and you get into this shuttle before you can get cash….and then you go to this bus station where the buses are double the rates in Lonely Planet…not because of inflation…where they have no ATM…or wifi…and no free shuttle back to PoiPet (the border). Its okay you don’t have cash, you pay on arrival…just 10 dollar more. It’s supposed to cost 5 dollars to get there…you’re charging me 10….plus 10…are you joking?! I don’t care if it’s only 20 bucks. But when you get here with the US cash you were smart enough to get before hand, they will make sure you exchange it for riel at a rate of 3000 to 1 instead of 4000 to 1….and you always pay with USD in Cambodia anyway. And for the record…No, these people don’t need it. Yes, many Cambodians are poor….poorer than many countries in Africa….but not these people. I would be willing to bet the 3000 thai baht I pretended not to have at the border scam to say they (‘government’ officials and the people operating this bus scam cartel) are some of the best off people in the country.

In addition to this, thanks to fellow travellers and Lonely Planet…I didn’t get one of the bus tickets from Khao San Rd for 1000 baht that then forced the expensive visa on you and made you pay for the bus to transfer buses ahha ….little victories.

Anyway….I did bypass the first line to pay over 40 USD for the 20 dollar visa…then the next place was still a scam but I pretended not to have money and cry…so they let me not pay the baht…which isn’t actually part of the fee…proof? Other people had 20, 50, 80…and ‘sure, fine’ was the answer. Here….at this bus station, I’m angsty because I got into the van after having an ‘in hindsight freak out’ regarding the almost ‘going to Cambodia border prison’ so I just followed what I knew was a scam. BUT I did break all my thai bat down to 100 bills when I left Thailand so, I have it all in separate pockets and pulled the ‘look this is all I have’…so I’m getting a bus to phnom penh for 15 dollars…which is actually close to the list price…but, it’s a crammed van, potentionally air-condition-less…and I will arrive at 3am. So, sometimes you have to just go with the scam…and hope you beat part of it. Kudos to anybody that gets through that border without hassle….(its only the Thailand TO Cambodia Poipet border). Sometimes ignorance is bliss…visas are probably actually free ahah. Anyway… I will be travelling for 22 hours in total spending 22 CAD…it would have costed 50 for a 1 hour flight…you do the math on time cost/value…and stress…

To top it off. the journey that arrived at past 2am in Phnom Penh included planks between the seats with people sitting on them for all 9 hours….g to the hetto

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Singapore!

Islam, Judaism, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu….religious places EVERYWHERE….and integrated right into the city center…quite impressive actually. I didn’t go in any, but seeing the kaleidoscope of religions and cultures was a treat to the senses. Funny that of all things that’s what stands out to me about Singapore as I head to Malaysia (at about 2pm….probably should have left around 8am, but I’m too busy trying to find a Yoga teacher training to care..) It wasn’t my first impression though….I actually thought to myself “wow, looks like I’m staying in China town/This is just like Richmond (Vancouver)”….then realized ‘no, anika… you are just in Asia…’.

Anyhow, I arrived midday on Thursday after not sleeping my last night in Bali. I got attacked by bed bugs on Nyepi and refused to go to sleep…instead I spent copious time doing core workouts and mastering my head/forearm stands and deciding what to leave behind in exchange for the few souvenirs I caved and bought in Ubud. 5:30 am cab to the airport and I was off to Singapore! Landed…all signs in English…all staff speaking English…I felt like and ignorant American but I was truly ecstatic that English was prominent once again. I met some sweet people in my dorm room at Backpackers@SG which was a great hostel-clean, helpful, free wifi and breakky! We went to little India for dinner and I passed out while they did a cruise down the river from Clarke’s Quay which the definitely recommend if you are passing through Singapore!

I did a 20km loop walking yesterday (Auckland all over again), met up with a friend from home for a bit, got some solid hawker food, sliced ice cream, and gazed at the building with a boat on top. My friends partied there the night before and paid $44 for a vodka coke…soooo be ware of drinking at clubs in Singapore!

I proceeded to walk Orchard Road, have some amazing dim sum, then head to the Singapore Art Gallery which offers free admission on Fridays from 6-9pm! It was great to go to the museum (not just for air con and free water) to have a taste of upper crust living, which many Singaporeans have (mean income of 75k/yr)…and have the luxury of admiring art, which unless free, is a very low priority in travels. Exhibits included the weight of history and one about south east Asian history specifically which was a great intro to the next few months of my trip.

I wanted to go to the light show and shows at the promenade, but instead found live music in little India and headed back to the hostel. The lady at the info booth said it was nothing compared to the Bellagio…which I thought was interesting….it also made me really not feel like walking there. Although the Singapore map makes it look a lot bigger than it is, it was still a solid 30 mins one way.

I heard somewhere that Singapore was one of the cleanest cities in the world which is an appauling statement in my opinion. There was mad pollution and still heaps of garbage….the city center was immaculate but otherwise it was your average city on most counts. Anyway, one more country done! Off to Malaysia, where I was supposed to spend 10 days….and ay spend 20 and fly to Cambodia, because everyone I talk to raves about it…but more importantly it has arguably some of the best food in the world. And I’m running in to a problem where with the heat and humidity I’m not hungry enough to try them all in one sitting!

Oh, I have just remembered as well, I met an old Singaporean man in a park who sat down and told me to write post cards instead of skype and about some cemetery, and limped and spoke broken English….then he asked for TWENTY dollars for food, when I said no he said ‘fuck you, bitch’ and stormed off….gotta love a good attempted scam.

Also, I paid the extra 70 cents to take the air conditioned express bus from Singapore to Johor Bahru on the Malaysia border…Best decision of life.