So for this post I thought I would share a funny (well it’s funny now, it wasn’t at the time) story, and possibly a good lesson learned.
During our travels through South East Asia, we decided to travel through Cambodia on our way to Vietnam – I had always wanted to see the Angkor Wat temples, and it was yet another country that, because it was so different from my culture, just intrigued me. The night we arrived we paid a tour firm 50USD to pick us up the next morning and take us to the Angkor Wat temples, a crocodile farm and then a floating village. All was well, we slept for about 16 hours and were super refreshed after a hectic 10 days in Bangkok and Phuket.
Our tour guide turned up with his tuk tuk at our hotel about 30 minutes late, and as a very punctual person, naturally I felt this was disrespectful. But hey ho, we were on our way to largest religious monument in the world, not to mention we were in freaking Cambodia! Safe to say I was buzzing. Our guide was quite quiet on the journey there, got us passed the giant queues at the Angkor Wat temples, told us a bit about the place and then told us where he would wait until we were finished. All was well, we skipped off taking pictures and admiring the architecture. I was in touristy heaven.
Now this is where it started to get strange. After a few hours looking at the different temples, and our guide driving us to the different sections of the complex (And even offering to take our picture!) he drove us to a lake just 5 minutes from the temples and began to tell us that the floating village “had floated away”! I don’t know if he thought we looked stupid, but c’mon I think anyone travelling through Asia understands that a ‘floating village’ means the village is water-based rather than land – it doesn’t mean an entire village floats from place the place.
Anyway, we (well I being the bossy, no-nonsense type) decided to call him out on it. He just denied it, stuck to his story and pretended he never understood English. I was adamant he take us to the sites we had paid for, so asked if he could take us back to the tour company office. He changed his mind and said no, it was OK and that he would take us – he didn’t want any trouble. We would be taken to the Crocodile Farm first then the Floating Village. Feeling slightly satisfied, our guide stopped off at a shop and bought us both a bottle of ice cold water. If it was anyone else I would think oh what a nice gesture after trying to mug us off, but something inside me didn’t trust this guy.
Two minutes up the road and we were at the Crocodile Farm. Hurrah, he had actually taken us. No lies, no deceit. Or so we thought. After wandering around quiet dirty crocodile pits, we headed back to the car park to find that our tour guide had driven away without us! Perfect. Abandoned in the middle of Cambodia with half a bottle of water, just dandy. We asked the girls at the front gate if they saw him leave, they said he was away to get petrol. Well 20 minutes later, no guide and no petrol-filled tuk tuk.
The girls offered to try to ring the tour company number but there was no answer, I can only assume the whole place was quite dodgy. When they told us that our hotel was only a 15 minute walk down the road, it finally clicked. The water wasn’t a good gesture to make up for the lies, it was so we wouldn’t dehydrate in the walk back to our hotel after he abandoned us! Now it all made sense.
There was nothing we could do but suck it up, accept we were [slightly] conned and just drink our free water on a hot, sweaty and humid walk back to our hotel.
- Don’t pay for things in advance
- Always visit a tour guide office and not on the street/at a stall
Have you ever been conned while travelling?
Let me know in the comments!