Tag Archives: Travel Smarts

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

Travel IQ

Funny because I actually did watch the Silver Linings Playbook (Loved it!) while in Auckland…but I’m not even just saying it to convince my self to be less bitter when I say I’m glad I scuffed up. Ask me when my flight lands safely in Bali though, because part of me is still having a ‘maybe you were meant to be on a different plane for a reason and [shit] the other one didn’t crash’ moment….BUT a touch on the personal side of lately.

For the first time in a while I realized everyone I was meeting was just starting their travels, and were travelling for weeks or a month, maybe two…to everyone I met in my hostel (Nomads Auckland—Beauty!! Rooftop hot tub HELLO!) I was some sort of travel legend. They wanted all my tips from Australia and New Zealand, taking my every word like gold. That’s all fine and dandy, I’m happy to help out…especially because I know that I researched everything (Except my flight dates) to death and actually felt confident I was giving everyone the best possible advice. As I sat on the balcony drinking my last flat white this morning it dawned on me that this wealth of information I have been sharing is all knowledge I’ve acquired in the last 4 months. In 4 months I have arguably learned more than I did in any given semester of my undergraduate degree, personal and tangible.

I didn’t think much of the people in my room at the beginning of the week but they all made me feel just a little more confident about going to asia and a little more proud of myself for getting as far as I have.

The boys from Minnesota: Both who pointed out how ‘fit’ I still was…even though I feel like I’ve fallen off the wagon. Also, they both couldn’t stop about how impressed they were that I had enough money to travel right after undergrad…which, I guess is pretty cool. I often forget what an accomplishment it is that I worked full time for the last 3 years of my undergrad. What this gave me more confidence in was actually my ability to support myself upon arriving home. This whole time I’ve been terrified about not finding a job, but I realized that I’ve never had an issue with employability in the past, and never have I had a year of solo travel or a completed degree on my resume.

Daniel from Toronto: An investment banker…money, not an object. Seemingly life sorted, visiting New Zealand for a month before going off to a new job…and yet asking me how to turn on outlets, what water is safe to drink, what hostel faux—paws are in NZ, what a good rate for something is, what activities there are to do…and I realized how much about travelling in general I have learned. From hand washing/drying on a bunk bed, to actually doing my dishes, to how to get the most out of a city in 2 days and everything else in between. I realized how resourceful I’ve become…and how I actually know where to find answers sans-wifi….and if not at least 5 walkable places to get wifi. Maybe not the most practical of knowledge…but knowledge learned none the less.

The Frenchman: So full of life! So excited, the guy that makes it happen….NOW. Perhaps impatient….but that’s not the point. The point is that he was eccentric, a bit intimidating, and yet just wanted everyone to have the best time ever. He drove a lot of people nuts for reasons I couldn’t really grasp until I realized how accepting I’ve become of different personalities, and how I’ve actually embraced the concept of ‘yeah but they’re a nice person’…not just using it as a mask to hide behind and bitch later. In the past that’s been a phrase to burry my judgements hoping to hide them from karma…but since travelling and meeting so many great, different people, I’ve actually come to believe it.

The Brazilian: Taught me a great deal of patience. Probably one of the worst English speakers I’ve met…but…BUT…perhaps the thing I needed as I head into Asia. To avoid being that middle aged woman in Italy yelling at the 80 year old man “WHY DON’T YOU SPEAK AMERICAN”…it was humbling, as I said to him, don’t worry, I don’t know your language. Really I’ve been so lucky to be in an English speaking country of Christian dominance. Not because I am Christian, but because growing up in the same culture I know what is and isn’t acceptable…I know how to act around the religious, the atheists, and the religious parents of the deviants… In asia I have no clue what to do…I’m attempting to learn please, thank you, and sorry and hope for the best…

The Danish guy: Not as creepy as Denmark in cairns…thank god… Who was like “FOUR months? How have you done it?!” I keep looking at my trip from the perspective of a 1 or 2 year trip and feel like I’ve done nothing, or that I’m being a cop out if I were to go home earlier…it’s always good to run into people travelling for less long, who are on what is, for them, a long trip. Not to say it isn’t…but to put my own in perspective…4 months, a third of a year, a semester, the difference between Canadian thanksgiving and Valentines day….A lot can happen in 4 months, and it isn’t a year yet but it is longer than lots of people travel for. I have been in constantly new and uncomfortable situations of learning, mistakes, and being totally alone across the world for 4 months…that’s not too shabby.

So, that is me tooting my own horn to pump up my confidence before I head off to Asia where shit’s about to get real. But it’s also my way of looking back and thinking of where my head would be at had I not met each of these people..The fun thing about travelling …and life, is that you’ll never know. I’ll never know how my trip would have been different had I not missed my flight. But worse things have happened, and for me, it was probably just the slap in the face I needed to be a bit smarter in Asia, and also realize who was there to support me an ocean away .

I have never been in contact with less people in my life and I have never felt like I have had even close to as much love and support from my friends as I do now. Even if realizing how amazing some of my friends are and how temporary others were was all I got from this (which it isn’t) it would be worth it. I have found a flight with AirTransat from London to Calgary for 500 bucks which will probably be my flight of choice home sometime in October of this year which is creeping up just a little too quickly. Also, I’ve been through a revolving door of travel agents, and I’m back at square one… My initial agent in Edmonton is actually the only agent that had travelled, was honest with cost/value, and on top of things. If you want details comment or message me on the “Anika” tab. He is honestly more help from Canada than any of the quacks here who can’t book flights or do proper currency conversions.

Yes, lots of writing….but I chose to get to the airport 9 hours before my flight instead of leaving my hostel at 3am…so deal with it.
I’m also getting ultra nostalgic about my time in Aus and NZ…so don’t be surprised if you see a post pop up about that too..

goodnight. xx