Friday, 11 May 2012

Scam, Almost, Phnom Penh May 4th 2012

Almost Scammed and Sihanoukville again..

If there are going to be problems in Cambodia, then more than likely it's going to be today. Firstly, I don't have a bus ticket, just a paper receipt given to me by the guesthouse. Secondly, as part of the deal, the bus stops outside here, so they say. Well, it doesn't take much to realise the trap I've just potentially fallen into - I can see an enforced tuk tuk ride to some obscure bus stand costing me well above the going rate. Also, without an official bus ticket, I might not even be allowed on, or be forced again to pay, regardless of paying the guesthouse my $7. Bus is supposed to pick me up at 12, so with a few hours to kill, its off to the buffet breakfast place by the riverside and scoff as much as possible, enough to last the 5 hour bus journey down to Sihanoukville at least.

12.30 pm is the scheduled departure time, 11.50 now as I wait in the reception area for the supposed pickup at 12. Midday comes and go's with no sign of a bus. Don't worry they tell me, bus will come. 12.20 Still no bus, not looking good for the 1230 departure to Sihanoukville. The staff seem preoccupied, not concerned with my plight. At worst case I can get on a later bus since they leave every hour, and another $7 isn't going to break the budget by much!. 1235 and I am directed towards a tuk tuk. As I suspected, a tuk tuk ride to somewhere, hopefully a bus station, and I don't have to pay they tell me.

Actually it's just a short ride to the Central Market area where the bus company has its office and ticket desk. A bus is there, a few people are on it, space for me hopefully. Tuk tuk driver is a staff member of the guesthouse, and is about to make a hasty exit. "what about the bus ticket, get me the ticket", I shout, shoving the receipt at him.It's a well versed scam on tourists, guesthouses issue receipts and pocket the money without the bus company knowing anything about their prospective passenger. Their mistake of course was having a staff member drive me to the bus station, otherwise it would have been an $8 ticket for the next bus. I have my ticket after  10 minutes of arguing and deliberation between driver and ticket counter staff and on the bus at last. The schedules are clearly not going to plan, but since I don't have time constraints doesn't really matter that much. Another bus pulls up. Backpacking tourists get off and get on this one. It's a full house as the 1230 bus turns into the 1330 which actually pulls away at 1320!

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