We had planned to go to Sihanoukville directly after our stay in Takeo. Four years ago, I missed out on this beach town and I was envious of travelers who I had met who gushed over how calm and pretty it was. I really wanted to go this time around to check it out. We actually spent the whole week debating how we were going to get there. We could take the bus back to Phnom Penh and then take another bus to Sihanoukville: $8.00 each for about a six hour day of transport. OR we could take a shared taxi directly from Takeo to Sihanoukville: $20.00 each for about a three hour day of transport. We went back and forth. Takeo was so cheap for us to stay the week, but $12.00 could pay for a night in an air-conditioned room in Cambodia!
“Why not go to Kampot instead?” Some new travelers to NFO suggested.They agreed with what everyone had said, Sihanoukville is no longer the calm, untouched town it was when I was in Cambodia last. So, we changed our minds and decided to go to Kampot via a shared mini-bus for $5.00. We laughed when we squeezed in among 18 other passengers in the shared mini-bus. Luckily, not all passengers were traveling the full hour to Kampot, and by the time we arrived in town, there were only 8 of us sitting comfortably in the mini-bus.
We were told it would be easy to walk from the drop off point to find different guesthouses in town or along the river. We weren’t told that the mini-bus might drop us off at a diffferent location, farther away from the round-about that was our point of reference. It was steadily raining when we arrived, we had already told the tuk-tuk drivers (that were asking if we needed a ride through the mini-bus window before we even came to a complete stop) that “NO! We don’t need a ride!” but after walking for 5 minutes in the rain, we really had no clue where we were going. I knew we weren’t going far, so I hollered after Andrew that I was getting into a tuk-tuk. We climbed in, I thought we were going to one guest-house, Andrew gave directions to another, and then the tuk-tuk driver totally ripped us off . (Btw, Cambodia operates on dollars and riels- so it’s always a bit tricky when you go to pay in a different currency than what was stated, and you almost always get change in both currencies. I know, it’s weird.) $3.00 for a tuk-tuk ride that should have been $1.00!?! And I know, it’s only $2.00, right? But in Cambodia, it’s different, and when I know I’m getting ripped off, these huge red flags go up and I get defensive.
So, we’re standing outside the tuk-tuk, Andrew is trying to get the driver down to $2.00, I’m asking the girl who came out of the guest-house how much it would be for one night, listening to Andrew get ripped off, and the girl says it’s a whole $8.00, I freak out. In my head, all I could think about was how Ernesto told us a room (at the guesthouse I thought we were going to) would be $5.00 and all I could think about was “Great. This woman is watching us get ripped off by the tuk-tuk driver, and thinks she can rip us off too… No. No. No, I’m not staying here for $8.00. I told her we could stay elsewhere for $5.00, but she didn’t budge. I stood under my umbrella indignant as all hell and she came down to $7.00, but no more. And then I made us walk across town, in the rain, to stay at the $5.00 a room guesthouse because I’m too stubborn for my own good. I could barely walk because my flip-flops were soaked and slippery, my Nalgene bottle smacking my legs hanging down from a zipper because my (horrible Osprey) backpack doesn’t have adequate water-bottle pockets, my tri-pod mount fell off my camera that was dangling from my arm – because I couldn’t fit it into my (horrible Osprey) backpack, so I practically fell over trying to pick it up out of a puddle, all while Andrew walked at least 30 steps ahead of me because a. his legs are twice as long as mine and b. he gets over-eager about finding places and doesn’t always remember to wait for my 12″ shorter self to keep pace with him.
We got there, and the $5.00 a night room had a broken ceiling fan, so we decided to move to the $6.00 a night room with a working fan. So, in sum, I made us walk across town, in the rain, miserable, to save a whole $0.50 each. I am (not at all) awesome. Worse, we had lunch at the guesthouse restaurant and it was ridiculously over-priced, and not very good, especially compared to the amazing meal we had for dinner elsewhere. I pouted about our lack of solid communication, the tuk-tuk driver ripping us off, and my own stubbornness. We agreed to make sure we are on the same page about where we’re staying in the future, and I took a much needed nap. A short sleep, and a respite from the rain made me feel loads better. We walked to Rikitikitavi, a restaurant Matt recommended to us that proved to be amazing (and cheaper than the food at our guesthouse, I might add).
Blissful Guesthouse (Not worth walking in the rain for. Possibly not worth it at all. Spring a couple more bucks for a nicer place, and definitely don’t eat here- that’s for sure not worth it)
(Near Saltworker’s Circle)
+855 92 494 331
Riverside Road, Kampot, Cambodia