The Day I Lost a Little Bit of Money a Lot of TImes





The bus from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Phnom Penh in Cambodia was old but really spacious and was only half full. So I got myself comfortable on the wrinkled leather seat and got out my Kindle as we pulled away. The guy came around to collect people's passports and money for the visa. I know this is really stupid and I still have no idea why, but I had no money whatsoever. I knew I had to pay for the visa but the light-bulb didn't turn on before boarding the bus. Having to motion to the guy that I needed to withdraw money, I then sat anxiously for the rest of the journey to the border. He didn't stop on the way so I got off the bus, walked through the exit to Vietnam and then boarded the bus again for the entry to Cambodia. I got my visa, realising that he must have already paid for me. Then we stopped for a food break and the guy took me outside to the ATM. My card wouldn't work. He put me on the back of a motorbike. I asked if it was free and he said yes. The motorbike guy took me 100 metres down the road to the ATM. It would only let me take out $50 dollars, at a charge of $4 dollars. Loss #1. I got back on the motorbike for the 3 seconds down the road. i got off and started to walk back to the bus but the guy shouted that I needed to pay him. I asked how much. $5! I was so annoyed and should really have argued. He didn't even have change so it cost me $6. I also know now that you can rent a tuk-tuk for a whole day for $15 dollars, so loss #2 was a pretty hefty one in relative terms. So I now had $9 to my name. We got back on the bus. After sitting for a while I felt something jab me in the rib. It was foot of the guy sat behind me. His big toe wedged into my rib cage. I huffed and tutted and shuffled around a bit. His foot remained comfortably nestled there.


The bus was delayed by about 3 hours, something to do with the boat across the river we had to get on. Someone on the bus bribed the boat guy and they let us on, otherwise it would have been 3 hours more. After a few more hours and as we neared Phnom Penh I could see the bus was driving past the hostel. It stopped to let people off and I scrambled to get my backpack, just as the bus pulled away. They wouldn't stop and I had to stand there as we got further and further away. Once finally off, I walked the 2km back to the hostel, hot and tired and moneyless. Once I got there, I was told I'd booked for 2 people. I had meant to book 1 person for 2 nights but accidentally booked 2 people for 1 night. So, because they were full had to pay. Loss #3. It doesn't seem much, but when you're traveling cheap it's painful to lose money - when you stand arguing to shave 30p off your tuk-tuk ride, walk to the shop to buy 10p cheaper beer, stay in a hostel with a cold shower to save a pound - to waste seven quid on a slip of the thumb is so annoying. I didn't have enough money to pay and they had no card machine so they said I could pay later. Lucky because I was hungry and grumpy and tired. It was late and I just about had enough to buy food at the hostel. I wanted to sit alone and indulge in some Facebook feed reading, but a guy came over to ask if he could take a chair. I grunted yes, barely looking up. He said I could come join them and I said it was fine, I didn't want to. After a further 3 'no's he insisted and pulled me over to the group. They poured me a beer from the beer tower and we sat outside around the pool. They were heading out so I shook myself awake, got changed and off we went. We asked the tuk-tuk driver to take us to a 50 cents beer place. I took out more money, another charge of $4 (loss #4) and we walked into a club. It was weird as all the Cambodian women were wearing what looked like full length prom dresses. There were lots of old white men. 3 seconds later we were back in a tuk-tuk ordering him to take us to 50 cents beer! He dropped us off at a brothel-y type place. I can't even describe what it was like. 1 second later we were in another tuk-tuk. The guy stopped us in a dark road and asked us if we wanted to buy cocaine. We said no but he was really insistent! After a fierce no, he finally dropped us off. It wasn't where we asked for and one of the guys in the group had an argument with him about getting our money back. He went mental and said he was going to slit the guys throat. We walked away. One of the guys asked to borrow money so I gave him $10. He walked to the shop and half an hour later came back looking white and said he'd been mugged by knifepoint. Luckily he only had $12 on him. I decided against asking him for my $10 back. Loss #5.

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