Thursday, 18 August 2016

Cambodia Was It Really Worth It

Lies, deceit, scams, disrespect and a blatant blind eye to the child sex trade. Cambodia is a country that has suffered so much in the not so distant past, that has a beautiful side but it's vastly over shadowed by a deep dark side that nobody should ever have to witness.
I left Cambodia on the 8th August after spending 3 weeks between Siem Reap and the capital city Phnom Penh. For 10 days I have started to write about our Cambodia experience I start then realise I'm heading off into a huge rant about how angry I am with the country. I think I am at ease enough to write openly about our time there. I have blogged already about the first scam I encountered upon entering the country you can check that out here Cambodian Border Scam

Cambodia does have a beautiful side, some of the people I met were the kindest most welcoming and genuine people I have met in South East Asia. The Cambodian countryside away from the tourist areas are stunning and the way people live is humbling and life changing, but this is all let down by the conmen, scams, tuk tuk drivers constantly pestering you for business and sadly the vast majority of people who are simply out to get as much money from you as possible in what ever way they see fit.

I'll list the scams and cons I encountered during my 14 days in Siem Reap. They are listed in order of them happening.

  1. I Booked a Tuk Tuk driver for our 3 day tour around Angkor Wat. We agreed a price of $15 a day between 3 people. Day one finished the driver wanted $15. Day two finished the driver wanted $30. Day three finished the driver wanted $18. I can safely say he was given $15 at the end of each day.
  2. I stayed at a guest house in Siem Reap for 14 nights I agreed on arrival a charge of $10 a night a reduction of $2 from the original website price. When I went to check out the owner wanted $400 yes $400 I had witness the staff at the guest house change the price of rooms to customers and over charge people but never thought I would be asked to pay $400. The so called owner spent about a week emailing me saying if I didn't go and give him the cash in person he would report me to the embassy and get me detained at the border. A scare tactic that didn't work. There was also charges on the bill he sent from the days after I checked out.
  3. I booked a taxi to take us from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh I was quoted $180 for the 4 hour journey. Eventually I found a place that would do it for $75 but they admitted the driver wanted more because we were white. Locals get charged $40 per taxi.
  4. Countless people just coming up to you and asking for money now I am intimidated by nobody but other people might be and especially sole travelling girls I saw a few being backed up in the streets into bars and shops by men approaching them in lets say a not nice manner.
Now I am used to being over charged for things because I am traveller, people automatically assume I am filthy rich if I can afford to travel the world, but there is being slightly over charged and then there is taking the piss.

Some positives about Siem Reap, Angkor Wat is one of those places that needs to be seen to be believed, I will dedicate a blog to this place so watch this space. There is an awesome little place to eat near to the market and pub street called Le Tigre de Papier and I am not joking here you will have the best burger you will ever eat, pay the $1 extra to get bacon with it and I promise you if you don't like it message me and I will refund you the $10. Also tell them I sent you and you will get beer for $0.50 instead of $1 show them my picture I went nearly every day haha click here to see the burger, it's the double cheese burger on their menu.

There is also a really cool Mexican place called Viva, there are actually 2 in a short distance from each other the food is surprisingly good and you get huge portions, also all cocktails are just $1.50. Oh yeah in Cambodia they prefer you to pay in American Dollars although you can pay in the national currency Reil if you wish. All ATMs give you an option of Reil or Dollars I went for dollars as its always handy to have some dollars when travelling round the world so I didn't mind if I had any left over when I left.

Pub Street is like any other dedicated street for travellers to drink in while travelling round South East Asia, bar after bar after bar offering cheap drinks so that Gary and his mates from Clacton-on-Sea can get tanked up and act like ten men for the rest of the night.

I also found a really cool crazy golf course on the outskirts of the town, it was really hard to find but the company offers a pick up and drop off service for just $6 a Tuk Tuk which is a pretty decent price as it's a bit of a distance out of town. You're probably thinking this is not that dark just a few scams which is common practice in South East Asia, well it was when we got to Phnom Penh it got very very dark in Cambodia.

We had to leave very early to get to Phnom Penh as the driver we had booked had a customer to pick up at 08:30 so we got picked up from the guest house at 04:30 we did a 6 hour journey in 3 hours and 30 minutes the driver was one crazy bastard and we nearly came off the road a few times but we survived. We had no accommodation booked so headed to a coffee shop to browse through the usual accommodation booking apps, we picked a few places that were not too far away and after a couple of hours in Costa using the wifi and drinking cappuccinos that came with free danish pastries we set out to check the places out.

The first places wanted $9 each for a private room not too bad for our mate Ken but that would make mine and Lauren's room $18 the manager showed us the room and asked for a few hours to clean it as the guest had only just checked out. I can honestly say the room looked like something out of a hostel themed horror movie, it looked like some sort of wild sex party had not long ended with the stains on the bed and left over love rubbers as they are called in Cambodia. There was also a few small Cambodian reil bills knocking about, some rolled some not, I will leave it to your imagination what had clearly happened in this room. We politely advised the manager we would look at other options especially as he insisted he kept all our passports for the duration of our stay.

The second place just round the corner wanted $12 each a night again for Ken this was fine but for me and Lauren we'd be paying $24 for the same room as Ken plus this one had no AC and my god was it hot in Cambodia. The rooms were small and smelt very strange and the woman advised we could only use WiFi in the public areas. After a little debate we decided again to keep looking, it was then we came across a few hotels, one very high end that wanted £70 a night and one a little older but with a buffet breakfast in the morning and a roof top pool and bar they wanted $25 a night per room a little pricy. We decided the rooms were clean the beds looked comfy and the prospect of free all you can eat breakfast pushed us to check in for a few nights.

We ended up staying for 5 nights the hotel was called the Queen Wood and although the staff were friendly and the breakfast was decent enough something just didn't sit right with it had a strange vibe. This hotel was welcoming of the sex trade in Phnom Penh, we soon realised that there was a lot of young local women with very old western men. Who am I to judge these men and women in my opinion can do as they please providing all parties are happy with the process but it was apparent some of these women were not there out of choice, we witnessed men keeping hold of these girls personal belongings so they could not leave. We also witnessed very very very young girls working in the "girl bars" where you can go and choose the girl you want to take back to your hotel. Now there was a french school trip staying at our hotel around 15 boys and girls aged between 13 and 18 with their teachers so we thought maybe the hotel was legit and these people we had seen were maybe just using the bar area as it was on the roof and private and they were not actually staying in the hotel. It was only when we started reading the hotel guide book and the signs around the hotel in detail when we saw the request from the hotel management for all guests not to have sex with children on their premisses,

NOT ITS ILLEGAL YOU WILL BE PROSECUTED it was a nice polite reminder that the hotel doesn't approve of it happening in their hotel. We checked out the next morning and left Cambodia we headed straight to the border and back into Thailand.

The blatant blind eye to men having sex with children, buying them drinks in bars getting them drunk and acting like this was normal was sickening. It made me so angry that I had given my money to this country that I had paid for a visa and put money into the economy. If I was travelling on my own and did not have Lauren to look after I think I would have confronted some of the men I saw with these young girls, thats how angry I was at witnessing it.

Oh I almost forgot to mention the monstrosity that is "The Killing Fields" how this country can live with themselves is beyond me, they have glorified the horrific acts of Pol Pots by displaying in a huge glass cabinet the skulls of some 3 million men, women and children that were murdered in the 1970s, 3 million of a population of just 8 million. Literally displaying these peoples heads with information on how they were murdered. Now I am all for history and remembering the people not the acts of the tragic acts in the world we live in but to display these peoples heads in a cabinet for some sort of shock factor is sickening. These people were murdered, tortured and treated like animals they should have been left where they were to rest in some sort of piece not dug up and displayed so tourists can come and pay to see them. I had no idea what I was getting into before attending and I wish now I never did.

The only good thing I can say about Phnom Penh was the Irish Bar we found called Paddy Rice, the food was awesome but sadly although they advertised it EVERYWHERE they didn't have draught Guinness just cans for almost $10.

I have been told that there are other areas of Cambodia that are nothing like this, my good friend Tony has lived in the South of Cambodia for a while now and I am gutted I never got chance to go and see him but after 3 weeks of Cambodia I'd had enough, after witnessing girls as young as 12 and 13 in bars with men over 50 drinking and dressed like adults was enough for me. I will never tell anyone not to go as it's your choice if you want to visit but I know i'll never go back I have since spoke with people who have travelled all over the world and experienced some horrific things but Cambodia is the place they say they will never return to.

In my opinion Cambodia is not worth the $30 entry fee but Angkor Wat certainly is so its catch 22. I think everyone should walk round the ruins of Angkor Wat but also think nobody should put money into a country that glorifies its most tragic event in its history and turn a blind eye to the child sex trade.

This is the longest blog I have written to date, I am still angry at what I saw. Maybe one day I will get over it but that won't be anytime soon I can assure you of that. I have never been to a place where I have constantly felt on edge, Cambodia has this vibe to it that all is not well and something is going to happen at any moment, it is certainly not nice to experience.

Thanks for reading.

Richard :)



  1. Didn't know it was this bad. Great article.

    1. Yeah its worst than I thought too! I have a picture on my Facebook page of the NO SEX with children sign on our hotel door

  2. As two single females traveling together, we often felt taken advantage of all over SE Asia so Cambodia wasn't all that much different for us. The hawkers outside of Angkor Wat were hands down the most aggressive we encountered. We had children follow us probably a half mile before they gave up trying to sell us magnets. We got REALLY frustrated with this by the end of the day. It was just exhausting having to say NO a million times over. I know what you mean about feeding the economy of a country you did not enjoy, but we just look at is as another experience for the books. Safe travels!

    1. I know what you mean! We saw a group of girl beg bar staff to ask a man to leave as he had followed them for 30 minutes trying to grab them and touch them! He attempted to grab my Mrs while we were sat drinking luckily I've mellowed since travelling or I'd have reacted a lot differently!

  3. Tragic blog. Never fancied the place tbh, and this cements it for me.

    Hope you don't dwell on it and continue to enjoy your trip.

    Look forward to your next piece.

    1. Thanks mate! hope you are well? its a hard one as Angkor Wat is out of this world and is a must see if you do ever travel this way.


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