Saturday, April 1, 2017

Chilling in Phnom Penh

I thought that I had booked some flights from Vietnam to Cambodia and back.  I was getting ready to leave Ho Chi Minh City and head to Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and I went to look in my email to find the airplane ticket, but upon checking the email trail, the fly-by-night online operation I booked with never booked the ticket.  I had booked Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh, as well as Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh with Travel2Be (avoid them like the plague), but they had never booked my tickets or charged my credit card.  Phnom Penh to Siem Reap was OK and I had the ticket; I had booked that one through someone else.

So I had to find alternate ways to get to the places I needed to go around the same times.  I booked a bus to Phnom Penh, since it was only a six-hour trip, and then booked a plane fare from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City, both of those voyages through the hostel in Saigon. So now I was covered again.

I've never been entirely happy with most of these third party online booking agents.  There are a lot of them, especially for Southeast Asia, and it seems like sites like Skyscanner are sending people to these third-party sites more lately.  Many of them don't have any contact info or method of redress if things go wrong.  Up until now, I've used some of them warily, and it has worked out, but I imagine if one little detail goes wrong, you are stuck.

I took the bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, and got to Phnom Penh right after it got dark, and it started pouring rain.  I got out my umbrella and walked to my hostel since it wasn't too far from where the bus stopped.

Phnom Penh has been an interesting place to visit, but the place just doesn't grab me like some places do.  It has been raining a lot, too.  This morning I woke up, and it was pouring rain to the point that the streets were flooded.  But this afternoon it has calmed down.  It does look like it is going to rain all week.  Mostly I've just been walking around checking it out, but I did go visit the high school that was turned into a death camp, S-21. Of the tens of thousands of people who entered, only a small number were known to have survived. Many sent here were told they were being relocated to new jobs, or some other ruse. People who wore glasses were killed for ostensibly being "intellectuals."

In Cambodia, the US dollar is pretty much the de facto currency. The Cambodian riel  is the official currency, and when you pay with dollars, you will usually get back a mish-mash in change of riel and dollars. If you are due less than a dollar back, your change will be riel for sure, because nobody messes with US coins. Also the ATMs give out dollars; some might let you choose between dollars and riel.

So I've just been chilling in Phnom Penh for the last few days, getting ready for my next journey.

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