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7 Mistakes I made in Cambodia

So being in another country and again for longer, I was happy I didn’t make any more 🤣

My list this time is again slightly funny but it shows how good the people are in Cambodia and how willing they are to help you

My 7 Mistakes

  • Leaving my wallet on my bed in the hostel whilst on a day trip 🙁
  • Assuming all Massages Parlours are the same?🤣
  • Being naive about why the girl in the girly bar was standing next to me for 10 minutes☺
  • Leaving the money with a waitress in a girly bar whilst trying to find my hotel key 😕
  • Taking out cash at an ATM without thinking about how you are going to exchange it!😶
  • Forgetting when you order dishes here that you get rice with everything🧐
  • Forgetting my age when biking 30 km in a day during the lunchtime heat🙄

1

Finding I left my wallet on my bed in the hostel when arriving at Angkor Wat visitor centre to buy a ticket

I really cannot imagine what happened to me would have happened and generosity and trust that Khmer people have in people happening anywhere else in the world.??

So whilst in a hostel in Siem Reap, I booked on a tour to go to The Temples choosing for a guided tour as it was my first time there.

You have a choice of two, sunrise or sunset and I opted for the sunrise as I had a limited time in the city and wanted to experience as much as I could.

So alarm clock on for 4 am (first time since I left England) and a quick wash and toilet stop and downstairs for a brief breakfast before leaving about 4.25

We reached the visitor centre where you buy your tickets to enter the temples and this is where the fun starts

Realising that I had left my wallet on my bed in the Dorm room I started to panic knowing I had heard all kinds of stories about thefts in Hostels.

Moreover having only about $20 dollars on me and knowing that the day ticket was $37 made it worse.

I spoke to the driver of the minivan and asked if we could go back to the hostel (I was sure the distance meant we could be back in time for the sunrise tour)

However, he explained that we needed the van to take everyone around the temples and there wasn’t going to be enough time.

Looking around I thought of options ( having $20 dollars ) I could still get back to the hostel if I could find a driver

10 minutes later no luck, then our tour guide came up to me after speaking to the driver and offered to pay for me to get in by buying my ticket and I could pay him back later on.

He then preceded to pull out the required cash and pay for the ticket at the kiosk.

After which he rang the hostel and told them my bed number and they collected the wallet which surprisingly was still there.

Going around the tour of the temples was great and made it special that not only paying for me but at lunchtime he found me to ask if I had enough money for lunch.

We finally got back about 2.30 pm and the guide happily waited outside the hostel for me to go and get his money.

At no point did he ask or remind me about it and at one point whilst on the guided tour I left the group and went off to take photos of the temples so I must have lost him for a good hour and he was just so relaxed about the whole thing.

Many thanks for all the help, and I would definitely recommend not only the Onederz Hostel in Siem Reap but also the tour guides they use.

If you are not sure about whether or not to get a guide I strongly advise it as they have great knowledge and are really worth their money and time.


2

Assuming all Massages Parlours are the same?

So after a very long day temple raiding ( or taking photos ), I got back to the hostel in need of a rest.

A quick nap made me feel worse so after going into the pool ( Onederz Hostel in Siem Reap is really the best) I went to grab some food and a few beers

Walking around the night market means lots of shops, bars, restaurants and massage parlors where the girls all offer anything from a feet rub to a full body massage.

Now having had a full aromatherapy massage in a hotel in Thailand of which the girl literally stands on you, pressing and prodding and hitting all your body as she roughly massages your body.

I then slept for about 8-9 hours solid and felt so good the next day

So the promise of relief from back pains, neck ache, and leg ache after walking around the temples for over 8 hours was something I wasn’t going to pass up.

Opting for a $7 dollar full body massage (there are cheaper, but I figured pay more and get better)

I followed the girl down a passageway into a large room with many mattresses on the floor and cubical curtains to separate them.

Quickly the curtains close and she asks me to remove my clothes, normal as I had done this before, however, rather than being given a pair of disposable paper pants like in Thailand she gave me a towel

Ok, I thought so Cambodia is not as developed in terms of tourists as much as Thailand so maybe it is better.

I wrapped the towel around me and lay on the mattress.

She started massaging my arms and chest and everything was going good until an older lady came into the room.

I figured this was the time to pay so I did not worry too much,

Then she knelt next to me and whilst the other girl carried on massaging my arm the older women put her hand inside the towel and grabbed my pantless crotch

Does Banana want a massage? she asked

Now being English and maybe because I was very surprised by all this (okay I can be naive at times, It took me till I was 30 before I realised that the funny smell that followed students around was actually cannabis)

Anyway, after maybe 30 seconds, I stuttered that nope Banana doesn’t need a massage, however, my back does

She looked quizzically at me for a moment- hand still holding my banana and said

But you sure? I think he does!

Least to say I eventually got her to remove her hand from Banana and managed to go back to the rest of my massage which was more aggressive as the Thai one and I suspect because I wasn’t wanting anything more.

However funny this is, it does highlight a serious side of Asia in that a lot of men come over here for the sex and the fact that women assume all men want this is a worrying time for the country.

What is more concerning is that to them it is natural and part of the job, during the time this was happening everything was conducted in a normal way and at no point did they look at me in any way other than it was part of the service

Strange I know😕

3

Being naive about why the girl in the girly bar was standing next to me for 10 minutes

So being in Kampot for a while I was surprised that for a sleepy colonial town there are girly bars opening up all the time.

Whilst they are relatively new edition due to I guess the mass exodus of expats from Sihanoukville because of the invasion of Chinese construction workers.

The origin of these bars having been shut down and therefore moved to the town of Kampot, which many of the locals are not too pleased to have this type of bar and its clientele.

So whilst visiting the Kampot Pepper Shop in town, I popped into the bar 2 doors down just for a beer and being the youngest guy in the bar (at 48🤣) I was suddenly inundated with girls

After ordering a beer I sat down at a table and waited for a drink when the girl stands next to me smiling, I said hello and realised quickly she didn’t speak English and whilst I smiled she still stood there,

What to do?

Luckily after a while she gave up and went away, but kept giving me looks from across the bar,

When my beer had finished I was approached by another girl this time who did speak English and she asked if I needed another drink, Funny in the west you are asking if you want or would like another drink, whereas here they ask if you need another one, implying that you want it is just whether you need it.

This time after bringing my drink she stood next to me and smiled before asking if I wanted to buy her a drink?

Then the penny dropped, the girl previously was waiting or expecting me to buy her a drink.

I guess being naive can have its advantages as the cost of buying a girl a drink in the bar is approx $3.50 dollars which when I am paying $1 for a beer and the average meal is $3-4 it can be an expensive night.

The more I studied the bar and its goings-on, the more they become more approachable when they know you are open to buying them a few drinks.

Then I realised how it works,

Basically, they are polite, listen to you talk, (whether they understand or not) smile and encourage you to drink more by drinking theirs quickly they get you to drink more and spend more.

Most, however, buy the odd drink for the girl that suddenly becomes attached to you in the bar, and when they feel too much pressure they politely settle up the bill and leave.

I enjoy people watching and that night I enjoyed how people adapt and react to certain circumstances.

I learned a bit more about the culture out here and how the west has changed the east into creating an industry in supplying the demand for certain things, whether they are good or bad.

4

Leaving the money with a waitress in a girly bar whilst trying to find my hotel key!

So for those of you wondering why I was sat in a girly bar in a town in Cambodia, let me explain, I had come into town to get some supplies to take back to the farm and stayed over the night in the shop.

Aiming to head out back to the farm the following morning.

After leaving to go out for food later than I had planned, I arrive back to the shop after it had closed and that I didn’t have any number of the people living there.

So after sending an SOS to the owner who was at the farm, I thought it safe to pop next door to the bar and wait for someone to come out and open up the front entrance.

However this took a bit of time and a few beers later I got a message saying can I meet someone outside, so not sure how long I would be and still having virtually a full pint left I got up to leave and after attracting the attention of a few of the girls in the bar, I gave $10 dollars to the girl who had got me the beers and said I would be back in 10 minutes.

During this time I collected my key and returned which then I discovered that the girl was suddenly busy with other customers and shortly afterwards decided to leave early – presumably with my $10 dollars🙁

Lesson 700 and something in life, don’t give money to strangers and expect it back🤣

5

Taking out cash at an ATM without thinking about how you are going to exchange it!

As with most Asian countries, money is king and their currency offers us sometimes lots of notes to ours, especially in places like Indonesia and Vietnam where you get much Rupiah or Dong to your pound.

However, Cambodia is slightly different in that whilst they use Cambodian Riel everywhere ( When I landed in Siem Reap I cashed in my Thai Baht for Riel) but they have to complicate things by also accepting the good old US Dollar!

Now, most things are cheap in Cambodia, I guess that is why a lot of western ex-pats live here but it is worth remembering that when you go to the local ATM to draw out cash and it offers you the choice of Riel or Dollar.

Whilst it is sensible to take dollars as they are easier to carry and also higher in value so you don’t have a lot of notes in your wallet as opposed to taking the same amount in Riel.

What you do have to remember is that drawing $200 dollars out in one go (it saves on transaction fees from the banks) also means that you end up with 2 x $100 dollar notes.

Which then presents you with a problem in that as most meals for 1 will set you back around $4 dollars and a G&T will cost on average $2.5 dollars you can see how they are going to love you giving them the crisp $100 dollar note when you come to pay your bill.

Now Cambodian’s are Buddhists and are very nice people and as in Asia life is all about face.

People are normally unwilling to create a scene or raise their voices in public or around anyone they don’t know especially foreigners then you can imagine their reaction on receiving the large note.

They will smile politely and in my case go off to find somewhere they can exchange the note in order to give you change.

( this actually talk about another 20 minutes)

Which was funny as I had stayed in the restaurant for an extra hour to drink two more G&T’s just so the price would be a bit more total was around $16 dollars.

So when drawing money out, either go for $180 or thereabouts so at least you get some change or pop into the bank and ask them to exchange it for lower value notes- but be where some will try to charge you commission on the exchange.

TIP OF THE POST

When you are given change back in dollars make sure you check they are not ripped or dirty as they can and will be rejected at most places as for some bizarre reason in Cambodia US dollar bills that have a slight rip in them however small will not be accepted as legal currency( this also goes for any that are old currency, in that they were printed before a certain year)

6

Forgetting when you order dishes here that you get rice with everything

So in Cambodia, the food is pretty good, yes not as spicy as Thailand or varied as say Singapore.

But the food is cheap and providing you are visiting different places you will enjoy the choice on offer.

Although, occasionally you will want to push the boat out and maybe order a few side dishes.. just to mix it up a bit taste-wise.

But be warned that almost every dish comes with rice so ordering that cheaper veg dish that is about $1.5 dollars as opposed to the usual $3-4 will probably also come with rice.

They won’t think anything if you order 2 portions of rice they eat a lot of it here, so make it clear at the start unless you want a huge meal 🙂

7

Forgetting my age when biking 30 km in a day during the lunchtime heat

So at my age, I am well aware of the need to keep my body fitter and a good friend back in the UK who runs a boxing Gym and is always smiling when I say I want to get more fit

( his normal remark is something like more? let just start first 🙄)

Well, Kev the good news is I am starting just slowly 😂 and this has happened since I moved to Asia in that I am either running or biking somewhere and actually have lost weight since I have been out here and continue to get better every day.

But during the day between 10.30-3.30pm, the weather here can get very hot and humid which makes doing anything too strenuous less appealing and certainly not recommended.

So my usual 12-15 km bike ride I do is okay as long as you go first thing in the morning or after 4 pm in the evening as you can then cope with the heat better.

Trying to do the journey from the farm to Kampot which is about 16km one way in the morning and then trying to return at lunchtime was pretty much not a good idea.

The only good thing was there are plenty of rest stops and places to get water or energy drinks from, which was needed.

However my legs finally gave up about 2km from the farm and I had to admit failure and walk the rest of the way pushing my mountain bike, which by now felt more like a motorbike being pushed through wet mud.

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