The big Indochina trip: taking care of business 

At the end of November I wrote that I had left my motorbike with a travel agent in order to try and sell it. Well, just a few days after leaving Laos I got a message from the travel agent saying she had sold it to some backpackers and now she wanted to know how to send me the money. I told her to send it via Western Union since they have offices all over Asia. Thinking I would be able to collect the money in  few days, Yini and I continued traveling on Cambodia just like planned. When the money didn’t arrive however, I started getting worried and messaged h the agent again, only to get the reply that she was in the hospital and couldn’t send the money for a few days. I waited and and waited, and she kept postponing. The days following our failed excursion to Anlong Veng were spent in trying to solve the problem. After many e-mails back and forth, and several phone calls, it became clear that she either had problems with the bank or had no intention of actually sending the money (she could have kept it, I’m far too trusting sometimes). Either way I figured the best solution would be to simply go back to Laos and collect the money myself. I knew that it would take two days of travelling and cost a fair bit what with bus tickets and two border crossings, logically it wouldn’t be worth it, but by now it was a matter of principle, I was determined to get the money come hell or high water.

So, yesterday I set off and after twelve hours on the bus and inflated prices at the border, I arrived back in Pakse. By the the travel agency was closed but after a quick phone call we agreed to meet up at 7:30 the next morning. When I came there the place was closed and locked with no-one in sight. For a few minutes I thought she had skipped town but inept waiting and eventual she came and gave me my money. I hopped on the next bus back and now, 13 hours later, I’m in Siem Reap again. I spent more than half the money I got for the bike on the trip to retrieve it which is not really worth it, but at least now I can keep travelling without having to think about it anymore.

No pictures for these days but a couple of observations :

Laos and Cambodia are very similar in many ways, both the nature, the architecture, the people and the culture. Of the three countries I’ve visited so far, Vietnam is the odd one out.

Cambodia does have it’s own currency (Riel) but everyone, not just the tourists,   uses US dollars, the ATM gives you dollare and prices on menus and shop signs are in dollars. Riel are really only used for small change. while speaking about money, Cambodia is surprisingly expensive, both Laos and Vietnam (which is much more developed) are cheaper.

So far, I don’t think I’ve taken a single bus in this country that’s arrived at the time the ticket agent said. A lot of time you also have to transfer buses seceral tines during the journey  even though the ticket agent said it’s only one bus. I’m not sure if they are lying or just don’t know the situation l, but I suspect the ticket agents tell you what you want to hear rather than the truth of that means they can sell a ticket.

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