So I am writing this post in the lounge floor of the One Stop Hostel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It’s almost 4 PM, but as my day started early around 0630, I figured now would be a good time to get my affairs in orders and send a few updates. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to post about this trip or not, especially as this year’s trip has nothing to do with medicine whatsoever (i.e. GapMedics). However, I was reminded yet again that this is my personal blog and therefore can choose whatever topics I would like to talk about.
Today began with an early start due to this wonderful guide (http://www.fodors.com/world/asia/cambodia/experiences/touring-phnom-penh-2814532), which gave me wonderful directions to seven different places. Since you can definitely walk around Phnom Pehn (though, would I call it walker-friendly? – you definitely need to not be afraid of walking on roads and/or around rubbish), it was great to simply tour the city on my own two feet. However, what took the most out of me was not the amount of walking or the heat or the price of admission to these various places (which were steep). It was the non-stop calling from tuk tuk and moto drivers alike asking if I needed a ride. At first, being so naïve, I thought they were genuinely caring for my well-being, as a 20-something old-young woman roaming the streets of Phnom Pehn by herself. But when the tuk tuk drivers began following me asking where I was from and how long I was staying here, that’s when my suspicions began to rise. My one bit of advice to anyone traveling to a foreign county – spend a day researching anything and everything about the places you’re going to. It may “seem” like a waste, but it’s better to go into a country well-informed than become a pawn in the large scamming scale.
So when, on my way to the Royal Palace, a tuk tuk driver came up to me and told me that the Royal Palace was “specially closed” this morning and pointed to a few monks leaving, I knew I was being scammed instantly. Rather than letting him take me to another destination “until the Royal Palace opened” I told him no thanks and that I would rather get pictures of what I can outside. Lo and behold, the palace was open. And although I KNEW this guy was scamming me and I had one-upped him, I still couldn’t help feeling irked. I mean really, I’ve been to so many other places and in those cities, none of the tuk tuk drivers ever harassed you to the point where you were sick of going out. I was so read to cave at the end and just pay a $1 to get a ride home so that I can avoid the constant “lady, tuk tuk?”, “miss, where are you going today”.