Monday, March 21, 2011

Kampot Trip - Part 5 - Hoodwinked?

On our first evening in Kampot, we'd booked (and paid for) our tours and return bus to Siem Reap through a man named Rotha at the Kampot Riverview Guesthouse.  He'd written out our tickets, and I'd tucked them securely into my wallet.   For Day 2, we'd booked a 'Salt and Pepper Tour', which ended at 4:00 pm, but the bus to Siem Reap was scheduled to leave at 3:30 pm.  "Is no problem!" -  He reassured us we could ask our tour driver to take us back early.
When our tour on Day 1 ended late, we began to worry whether we'd be able to interrupt our tour on Day 2 to get back early.  What if there were a big group of people as there had been on Day 1, and we were somewhere far away?  How could we just tell the driver to turn around and get us to the bus station?  To be on the safe side, we set out in search of 'Smiles Tours' to double-check. 

The 'Smiles Tours' agent gave us a strange look.  "I don't have anyone booked for tours tomorrow.  Where did you book your tour?"  I took our ticket out of my wallet, and he smiled. "Oh, this ticket is for Kampot Tours, around the corner.  You'll have to check with them."   Gordon and I looked at each other in bewilderment.  How could we have a ticket for Kampot Tours when the brochure Rotha had shown us was for 'Smiles Tours'?   Strange.....   At Kampot Tours, the agent told us he didn't have any tour booked either!  Stranger still....

It was already getting late and dark, and we hadn't even had time to look for another guesthouse.  Then it dawned on us...  Rotha said the driver for the Salt & Pepper tour would pick us up at our guesthouse, meaning Kampot Riverview.  We we were stuck - We'd have to take the crappy room he'd offered us that morning after all.  While Gordon went in seach of  a phone card for our cellphone, I headed back to talk to Rotha.  (Oh well, it was only for one more night, right?)  Wrong.  The room was gone....already rented out, but Rotha said we could still have the room we'd stayed in last night.  (No way!  Over my dead body!)  Just as I was about to flip out, Gordon arrived, looking a little shaken, and said he'd been bitten by a dog!  (What else could go wrong?)   Fortunately, it hadn't broken the skin.  

That was the last straw.  We told Rotha about going to Smile Tours and Kampot Tours, and said we were leaving, cancelling the tour and wanted our money back.  We were fed up with this guy.  How could we trust him?    He said everything was already arranged - Either we forfeit the money or go on the tour.  "And how will they know where to pick us up tomorrow morning?'  'No problem, I will arrange for you'.  He dialled some numbers, speaking in Khmer, then told us all  the guesthouses were full.  (Now I was fuming.  I was convinced he was lying so we'd feel we had no choice but to stay one more night at this dump, and I wasn't buying it.) 

I told him we'd rather sleep on the road than stay another night in that room....and miraculously, he made one more phone call, and found us a room.....  right next door.  It was a much better place, albeit at a higher price than we were paying in Siem Reap, but we were in no position to argue.  As Rotha left, he reassured us our driver would there to pick us up at 8:00 the next morning.

Natural Bungalows is a lovely spot, right on the water's edge, with attention to detail in every aspect of their accommodations. All the rooms are in wood bungalows, extremely well built and luxuriously furnished.  The grounds are lushly planted.  A lot of loving care has gone into this establishment.  (They do, however need a little help with the English on website and their menu. - Where else can you get DEET fried vegetables?  Nothing like getting your required dose of mosquito repellant internally!) 

All the signs are made with rope on wood.
This one is both in English and Khmer

Sign advertising their offerings

We stayed in this bungalow, in the room on the left.
There was a separate room in the right portion of the bungalow

Gordon hadn't been successful in finding a phone card after all, so after settling into our room, we set off for the phone shop we'd passed while walking to The Bungalows.  The road was very dimly lit.  As we walked back, dogs growled and barked at us, then seven or eight of them began forming a pack farther down the road.  (This is really strange, since most dogs in Cambodia seem so docile.)  I could feel myself being overcome with fear.  I know dogs sense that, and now I was really afraid to pass them, so we walked back to the phone shop.  In my broken Khmer, I begged the lady to help us.  Thankfully, she walked with us to the entrance of the Bungalows, and only then I breathed a sigh of relief.

After a meal at their restaurant (which has magnificent tables made out of some of the hugest slabs of wood I've ever seen) we settled in for the night, wondering what more could happen?  Little did we know.....

OK, just a teaser....
Guess who was our driver for the Salt & Pepper tours the next morning? 

Yep, you guessed it.......  Rotha.

No comments:

Post a Comment